Archive for the ‘Tantrums’ Category


I woke up this morning with this song running through my head.  Clearly my subconscious was trying to tell me something, because I don’t remember the last time I actually listened to it.  But so yeah, this is pretty much how I’m feeling with six weeks of the semester done.  In a nutshell, I am cranky.  What makes me cranky, you ask?  Well some of the things are my own damned fault, all of which fall under the heading of “procrastination.”  Other things are totally out of my control: resurfacing of the road that I have to take to go anywhere, clueless colleagues, fucked up institutional politics, students who don’t come to class prepared (but it was the Freshmen, and to their credit, they lasted this long – usually I have to give the “I can’t teach people who aren’t prepared” speech much earlier),  the stupidity of texting.*

*Let me interrupt the actual content of my post to provide you with Crazy’s manifesto on texting: The only thing that texts are good for is to confirm plans, to say you’re running late, to communicate some brief thing like “bring home milk” or “I had a good time” that doesn’t require a conversation.  Sending one text every other day to a person with whom you went on a date on Monday, well, that’s just irritating.  Either ask me out again, call me to talk to me, or just don’t bother.  Because what’s the fucking point?  I mean, really!  I mean, I guess the point is that you’re keeping your hand in, letting me know that you’re “thinking” of me or something stupid like that, even though you’re busy, or something, but I’m not impressed.  Texting as part of 21st century dating is b-o-g-u-s.  I think that we should all just say no.  Hell, the days of guys I dated having pagers in the early-to-mid-90s were better, because at least they couldn’t contact me with the pager. 

But so in my funk last night I decompressed, finished knitting a Baktus scarf I’ve been working on, watched Grey’s Anatomy and Project Runway, and had a delightful night’s sleep and I slept in until 8:30, which was lovely.  Then, upon waking, I sprung into action, paid my bills, caught up with some email, made a hair appointment for this afternoon, went to the grocery store and to the wine store, and now I’m going to do some stuff around the house during the next two hours.  And then I’ll get my hair cut, and then I’ll come home and make something for dinner.  And spend a nice evening relaxing some more and then I will do more things tomorrow.  So there!



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So I had this fantasy of painting my bathroom this weekend.  I have all the things I need, and I like painting.  BUT.  Before I can paint I need to a) remove a towel bar that the fool who owned the house before me put up above the freaking toilet.  Now, I’m sorry, but that is just stupid.  My bathroom is gigantic, so this was not done because of a space issue.  I got one half of it off easy as pie.  The other half…. apparently is secured behind the freaking drywall and it is not budging.  So basically I’m making a giant hole in my wall but I can’t remove this motherfucking thing.  GAAAAHHH.  And I also need to remove the fucking broken tp holder (one half of it came out of the wall before I’d even moved into the house, and then I glued it back on but it fell off again.  The other half?  Much like the fucking towel bar, it seems to want to remain in the wall forever.  SIGH.

So anyway, I need to figure this out before I can even begin to think about painting.  I may give up for a while and clean the kitchen instead.

And it’s a gloomy rainy day and I have grading and crap to do as well…. also I still haven’t done my writing for the week and I have to grade and also I have dinner plans tonight (which I’m looking forward to, but motherfucker).  And now I sat down at the computer to write this whiny post and Mr. Stripey has decided that it’s time for love, so now I’m trapped here unless I want to spurn his advances.  (Obviously, I will look for any excuse not to do the things that I have to do.)

Fuck fuck fuckity fuck fuck fuck.

Ok, time to return to the impossible task of ripping shit out of the wall.

Edited to add….  I reign victorious over the previous owner!  (Who, incidentally, had installed the towel bar and tp holder *wrong* and so that explained my difficulty.)  The offensive decorative fixtures are removed, and the spackling of the walls is complete!  (I love spackling.)  So now, I shall commence with cleaning up around the house, maybe do a bit of grading, and then ready myself for a lovely dinner out as a reward.  Huzzah!

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Ok, so you know the news I got yesterday?  Well, like a dutiful department citizen, I sent an announcement to the person who announces whenever a faculty member has a faculty accomplishment.  I then realized that person wasn’t going to be around, and forwarded the announcement along to my chair.

Person #1 (the announcer) did send an email in reply, which I wasn’t expecting, saying zie’d get around to sending out the announcement next week.  Let’s note that I wrote the whole freaking thing for the person, so in the time that it took to tell me it would happen next week, the announcement could have been sent.

My chair hasn’t bothered even to congratulate me.  (I know he will, to be fair.  When he gets around to it.)

My problem is that actual, I don’t know, real accomplishments are such a low priority in my department, something that produces absolutely no enthusiasm, and THAT is the thing that pisses me off.  On the one hand it pisses me off personally, but on the other it pisses me off because other departments on campus are better off than we are because they do such a better job of celebrating faculty accomplishments in research – they get more resources, and they get more respect.  But apparently we would rather not have those things.

Look, I know I’m being a baby about this.  And, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter.

I swear to god – I should just stop playing the game of how we announce such things, send my own damned email to the dean and the provost every time I do something, and tell my department that it can fuck itself.

Edited to Add: Writing the above post actually allowed me to let off steam so that I didn’t do anything rash, and my chair both congratulated me and announced the thing to the department.  In other words, I really am a big baby and incredibly impatient.  I still stand by my view of my department culture and priorities, but I have been appeased, at least for the time being.

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A wise woman would not be blogging right now.  She would be grading.  Because she has approximately 7.3 trillion things that she must grade, and problematically, she has not graded them.

Lest you think that she has not graded them because she accomplished the writing that she needed to accomplish, I do think that I should admit that I’m way behind on that as well.

If I can make it to the end of March, I think it will be cause for wild celebration.  Because at the rate I’m going, I really don’t know that I can get that far.


(For what it’s worth, all of the things that I have to grade I’ve had for no longer than one week.  I’m not behind in the sense of being way late in returning things.  This is the thing that I fear will be the case if I don’t get my act together, however, given the current state of things.)

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It is not my job to educate my colleagues (who have been at this university as long as I have or longer) about how colleagial governance works.  It is not my job to teach my motherfucking colleagues how to do their jobs.  It is not my job to hold incompetent idiots hands so that they don’t look foolish.  It is not my job to spend my time on a flurry of emails that are ultimately not my problem.

However, instead of telling people to go fuck themselves today, I have been busy holding my tongue and trying to keep a level head.

You can see how well that’s going.


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And surrounded by books about violence, trauma, abjection, and the mundane features of everyday life.

Oh, and also they should notice that my email is out of control, and that the only thing that brings even the tiniest smile to my face is a movie about the atrocities of war that I’m teaching in one of my general education classes.

As you might intuit, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed out.  Now, part of this is my own doing.  I’m the brilliant person who volunteered to be “on” at the writing group tomorrow, which means that I’ve painted myself into a corner where I need to produce some writing by tomorrow.  I didn’t absolutely “need” to do that to myself, but, as you see, I know that I procrastinate and this commitment means that at the very least I will knock out the beginning of this thing, which means my life won’t be absolute hell over my spring break.  Getting started is the hardest part.  Once I’m started, things will progress with ease.  (Shut up.  I have to tell myself that right now, and you have to keep quiet about the fact that it’s not necessarily true.)

And then there’s all the grading.  Much of it I’m actually excited to read, but having papers from three different classes is not ideal.  Also, are you aware that midterm is fast approaching?  And that means you’re supposed to write midterm exams for your students?

I won’t even get into something that is frustrating the hell out of me that’s related to a service task.  Something that all of a sudden I’m being included on emails about that I’m not even responsible for.  I’ve been mulling about what to do about that since yesterday, and trying to figure out a politically sensitive way to tell people to go fuck themselves and that I’m not their mommy or their teacher and it’s not my job to tell them how to do the jobs with which they were charged.  As you’ll notice from the above description, I have yet to discover this magical politically sensitive way to communicate with those in question.

But so anyway, I basically am in a state where I rock back and forth and mutter obscenities.  And now I have to get started with my writing morning, because, well, maybe that will make me feel better?  Or at the very least it will tick a task I don’t want to deal with off of my list.

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Edited to describe how little is possible in the course of a day….


I have a lot of things to do.  Like, I’m not sure how I’m going to get them all done.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I probably won’t get them all done, but I think this may just be something that I’ve got to accept.  So let me make a list:

  1. Lots of stuff around the house (laundry, straightening up, cleaning bathoom, kitchen, making the spare room bed, vacuum).  This wouldn’t be imperative except Naomi is going to be my house-guest this week, and when people come to stay at your house you need to make sure that house is clean-ish for them.  She arrives tomorrow, pretty much right after I finish teaching.  And I pretty much accomplished none of this.  Because I realized that Naomi wouldn’t arrive until like 7 PM.
  2. Do some cooking for the week (as won’t have time between teaching and having house-guest).  I did make stock yesterday, so the cooking shouldn’t be that big of a deal, and, in fact I should be able to accomplish it while I’m taking care of #3 and #4.
  3. Phone date with a colleague to discuss a thing.
  4. Phone date with my aunt to catch up.
  5. Work out.
  6. Reread The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and prep for teaching them in my gen ed classes.  I’ve spent much of the day bargaining with myself about this.  I now am in a position in which I must wake up at 5 AM to read.  Because I’m an idiot.
  7. Throw assignments up on Bb for all of my classes.  This can’t wait, as it turns out they are going to have their first assignments due in 1-2 weeks.  I also played the negotiation game with myself on this one, figuring that I might as well do this at the office in the morning before I teach.  Because why do today what you can do tomorrow?
  8. Take care of about 2 hours worth of annoying administrative things like email, etc., none of which can wait.  I did a few of these things, but really only like 20 mins of the 2 hours worth.
  9. Oh, and I need to write an abstract for a conference, a project that also can’t really wait.  I thought about this, and I have high hopes that I’ll actually write it by Friday….

Fuck my life.

The only good thing is that I did get the prep done for one of my four classes this weekend, and, in addition, prep for another of my four classes won’t take much time and I don’t need to reread for it, as I’m teaching something that I know inside and out.  Oh, and I suppose another good thing is that once we get past this week I will no longer be teaching shit that I’ve never taught before in 3 of my four classes.  That’s positive.

That said?  I really need like a week in order to get on track.  Problematically, I won’t get that week until sometime in March, at which point I’ll need like 2-3 weeks.

It is week two of the semester and I am officially behind.

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Ok, you all know that I’m ticked off about the new MLA dates.  As if I needed yet another reason to be ticked off about them, I learned today that one of my classes is in danger of being canceled.  Now, in these times, this is not a totally uncommon thing – for a class to be canceled very close to the beginning of a new semester.  The problem, as you might imagine, is that that I will be at MLA until late Sunday.  The decision about whether to cancel my class – and then to replace it with a new class for which I have not done any preparation – will happen Wednesday afternoon.  In other words, I will likely begin the semester on Monday missing a syllabus for one of my classes.  Now, you might say that I should stop my whining.  I mean, surely I can just write a syllabus and do some prep drunk in my hotel room at the MLA convention in the middle of the night, right?  Because, seriously: I’m scheduled solid from morning to night every single day that I’m at the convention.  Because I’m a person who does the networking thing, which is what the convention is for.

The truth of it is this.  I’m so upset about the new dates because I love the MLA convention.  I really, really do.  And I feel like the change in dates is forcing me to choose between attending the MLA, which is arguably an important professional activity, and attending to the professional responsibilities of my job.  Do I never attend MLA again?  Do I attend MLA and begin every spring semester tired, frazzled, and potentially unprepared? I have heard so many people say, “Oh, I’m not going to the MLA – I hate it – but I do like the change in dates.”  I wonder why their opinions matter, if they don’t go anyway.  Sure, the old dates were inconvenient.  I’m not saying that they weren’t. But one thing that they did have going for them was that every single person was on break during those old dates.  The new dates are still inconvenient, and they still have the potential for horrible weather conditions for travel, and they still happen very near to the holidays.  According to my friends with school-aged kids, they are still totally inconvenient for families.  As far as I can tell, the one thing that’s different about the new dates is that they disadvantage anybody whose academic calendar doesn’t begin the Tuesday after MLK Day.

I don’t know.  I suppose I’m mourning what had become an annual tradition, an annual way to engage with my broader discipline and to catch up with people I don’t see anywhere but at the MLA convention.  This will either be my last or second-to-last MLA for the foreseeable future.  And I think that sucks. 

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Defining Moment

Prompt: Defining moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

I’m sick of all these “moment” posts.  Individually?  They are fine.  Taken together, it’s like I’m writing on the same prompt every three days.

Also I’m grumpy.  I have less than one week left of sabbatical, and if there were any way that I could just bail on MLA this year, I would do it.  I’m already strategizing about how to shirk my responsibilities next year and not go, and then about how I will just never go again.  Because you know why?  I need that week before classes start to get my head on straight.  It’s not about prep.  It’s about sanity.  I am thinking about starting this semester exhausted and I hate it.  HATE.

But so anyway the defining moment (or series of moments, whatever) is sabbatical.  And if you don’t understand why, then I can’t explain it to you.

And with that, I’m going to go off and grumble and drink more coffee and hope that my mood improves.

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I have been awake for about the past 45 minutes and finally accepted that the idea of going back to sleep was some sort of fantasy that just wasn’t going to happen.  I am losing it people.  Losing.  It.

Now, you might be wondering why, exactly, I’m losing it, why I’m sleepless with the stress, when I’m on sabbatical and, in theory, I have nothing to be stressed about.  I’m going to make a list, which will hopefully purge some of my stressful feelings.

  1. In two months, I will be back in the classroom and my sabbatical will be over.  I am not as far along on my book project as I need to be, and I feel like the future is encroaching on the present of my sabbatical, making it impossible for me to get anything done.
  2. In six months, I’m apparently hosting a conference, and everything in the whole world is fucked up with it.  That’s not really true, but it is true that I need to focus attention on the details of it. (See “future encroaching on the present” in the previous item.)  And I keep trying to take deep breaths and to say to myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect, and that everything is going to come together, and that it will all be fine, which I know is entirely true.  Or at least very likely to be true.  But I feel very,  very overwhelmed by all of the things with it and I have very little support in getting them done.  Note to self: after I am done with this venture as well as another leadership sort of venture, tell everybody to fuck off and never take any of this sort of thing on again.
  3. Did I mention that my sabbatical is almost over?  And that my mother convinced me a year ago to go out of town for the week of Thanksgiving?  And that every single part of me regrets having agreed to that now?
  4. I would also like to state for the record that I think the January dates for MLA are bogus and I don’t give a shit that people found the December dates tiresome because they got in the way of their holiday plans because you know what?  With the new dates, classes start the day after MLA ends.  Like I fly from LA to Crazytown on Sunday (missing all of everything that remains of MLA on Sunday because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get back to Crazytown until 6AM Monday morning) and the new semester begins on Monday morning.  That’s right – the day after.  Not a week later or something.  This would not be a big deal if I taught at an institution a) where my teaching load was 2 classes, and b) where I had TAs who could just run things for me while I got back into town.  But you know what?  That’s not my reality.  What this means is that whereas before I got to go on a nice trip between Christmas and New Years, now I have to cut short my time with family (which MLA appeared to think was a good reason for changing the dates, though I fail to see how these new dates would be better for me if I had kids – I think it would just mean that I’d be prohibited altogether from going to MLA) in order to get my shit together for the four classes that I teach between Christmas and the new year.  So, from me to you, MLA, I would like to tell you that I think these “new dates” are bogus in the extreme and that they hurt people who teach in contexts like mine.  Way to continue to privilege people at higher tier institutions that are not teaching intensive, MLA.  Nice work.
  5. Did I mention that my sabbatical is over in 2 months?
  6. I agreed to work with this M.A. student, and, how do I put this?  Well, this is a student who is very bright, but who also, it now seems, is under the illusion that s/he is going to tell me what his/her thesis project is going to be regardless of the fact that the whole point of an advising relationship is that s/he should probably listen to my advice about the project.  I’m not saying that the ideas of her thesis shouldn’t be hers – obviously they should be.  But the whole point of the exercise of a thesis is entering into a scholarly conversation.  You can’t enter into that conversation effectively if you don’t narrow the scope of your ideas, if you don’t justify your claims, if you don’t really dig into the theory that you intend to use.  Now, again, this is a bright student, and I did agree to work with this student for a reason.  That said, the recent communications that I’ve had from this student make it very, very clear to me that I’m going to have to be a hard-ass from the very beginning and basically take a “my way or the highway” approach to advisement at the outset, which I don’t love. That said, this student thinks s/he will go on to pursue a Ph.D., and I cannot let this student write what s/he proposes and do my best for that student in terms of that ultimate goal.  (One of the things that’s difficult about teaching in an M.A. program like mine is that many of the students are completely delusional about a great many things in academia.  Seriously: more so than the undergrads, because the strong undergrads would never go to graduate school in our program.  So I find that in teaching our grad students, I end up spending a lot of time being like, “Here is reality. No, that’s not like just a suggestion, but reality. No, you don’t just get to do what you want even still.  No, it doesn’t really matter if you agree because you don’t actually have the qualifications to disagree yet.  Did I mention that I’m not actually a mean lady but rather that this is reality?” instead of actually teaching content.  It’s really exhausting and if I had my way, I would only teach in our undergrad program.  Interestingly, however, it’s the faculty in my department who encourage such delusions  who don’t ever teach in the graduate program because, you know, it would be inconvenient in terms of their schedules.)
  7. Waaaah!  Sabbatical! Don’t WANNA finish sabbatical!  Want sabbatical FOREVER!

Ok, writing all of that out actually was helpful.  Because do you know what it’s made me realize?  Yes, I have a lot of things to do, but the reality is that what’s making me feel all discombobulated is the fact that I only have two months left.  Which means that I really need to privilege the research I want to finish over the other things.  That isn’t to say that I can just let the other things go.  I do have to deal with teaching stuff, and I do have to deal with the stuff for this conference.  I do have other responsibilities.  But, for example, it is ok for me to spend this weekend working on research stuff and not worrying about those other things.  It is ok for me to make a list of things to finalize for the conference that is short for each week and to know that the whole world won’t come to an end if I don’t get all of those things done Right.  Freaking.  Now.  It is ok for me to resent the two trips I’m taking, even though probably I’ll really enjoy both of them, because the timing of each is horrible.  (The one small blessing of this winter travel season is that I’ve refused to travel for Christmas this year.  Do you know what my fantasy is, by the way?  Never traveling between Nov. 1 and Mar. 1., and never traveling for any holiday that falls outside of those dates either.)

So.  That’s what I’m going to do.  I’m going to accomplish research things this weekend.  I am not going to worry about the other things nagging at me, but instead I am going to check things off of my research to-do list.  And when next week begins, I will make a manageable list of things to accomplish for non-research projects, and I’ll take care of them as quickly as I can so that I can spend the rest of the week focusing on research.  It’s really simple. I just have to believe that my needs matter as much as (or, in this instance, maybe even a little more than) everybody else’s.

I guess that’s the thing that I’m struggling with most right now as I’m watching my sabbatical slip away.  I’m really struggling with my anger at people who don’t do their part, who don’t suck it up, even if only every once in a great while, and help other people out.  I’m really angry that people who are compensated to be in leadership roles don’t actually lead, and I’m really angry that I always seem to end up in a position where the weight of the world is on my shoulders and where I’m in danger of fucking everything up.

And I know part of the issue is that I take on too much, that I say yes to things before thinking, that I’m persuaded into doing things.  And I know another part of the issue is that when I’m surrounded by people who are slackers, my impulse is to pick up the slack, even when I’m already stretched too thin.  And I also know that part of the issue is that I basically think people are disgusting who check out after tenure, and I don’t want to be that sort of disgusting person.  But I’m angry, and I feel like I’m being robbed of this time that I’ve really earned.  And I don’t really know whether I’m robbing myself or whether other people are robbing me or some combination of the two (probably it is the last one).  But I’m sick of it.  I’m sick of everything that is not related to my own individual classes that I teach and to my own individual research.  And I feel like that is the feeling that makes people check out, and since I don’t want to be that sort of person, that scares me.

I don’t know.  I guess I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to return from this time away, time that hasn’t really been as far away as I’d have liked for it to have been.  Right now, I feel like I’m going to return with guns blazing and ready to tell each and every person who doesn’t pull their weight exactly what I think of them.  (Note: this would be bad.)


Ok, you know what I need to do for right now?  For right now, I need to stop worrying about what other people are doing or aren’t doing.  I need to give myself permission for my research to be my number one priority.  I need to cut myself slack with the things that I’m not doing perfectly.  I need to allow myself to enjoy the next two months.  I need to stay on track with the good habits I’ve been practicing with diet and exercise.  I need to take a deep breath.

It doesn’t matter what other people are or aren’t doing, and it doesn’t matter whether I perfectly accomplish every single thing on the planet.  What does matter is that I don’t look back on this sabbatical and regret having wasted it being stressed out about things that I can’t control.  So, enough.  I am going to believe that what matters most right now is me.  I am going to believe that by taking care of me that the other things will fall into place.  I am going to stop punishing myself, at least as much as is possible.

Phew.  Ok.  I think I’m done.  Thanks for listening to my early morning tantrum. 🙂

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