Thursday, January 29, 2009


Oh, man: I should have called the UMass Snow Emergency Hotline before waking up, showering, getting dressed, and walking to the bus stop. I figured that, since yesterday was a snow day and campus was closed, today would surely not be a snow day. And I was right, sort-of: campus doesn't open 'til 11. My shift ends at 11. Hence, no work.
It is 6:45 am and I am fully awake, sort-of.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How else do I spend my time when there's real work to be done?

Not really feelin' the semester: not just yet. Perhaps this owes to the non-transition from winter break to now; the shatty weather; the cold of death which is slowly but steadily taking over my respiratory system, keeping me awake nights with its phlegm-producing capabilities (gross, I know: I am sorry); or the fact that Januaries are always the least fun month of the year, in my experience [my experience beginning Junior year of high school, that is, prior to which January was just another month - a cold month, it is true, but a month just the same]. Before I get too whiny - which I feel I have been lately, and for which I apologize - I should mention some random, awesome, and awesomely random things about myself, my environs, and etc.:

1) About 100 pages into This is Not It and it's sort of hit-or-miss, but in the best sense. The sense that some passages/narratives are a little "meh," but others just floor me. Like this one, for instance:

"It is the night of the world. Life is dark and hidden from me. The animals cannot sleep. The mountains are complacent and stalwart. The caves are shy, without light. The plains don't want to be flat. The desert is listless, waiting. I have been sitting here a very long time listening to the wind as it races past. It is howling and wailing, it is crying. It pules. It shakes the glass in the windowpanes. I stare out into the dark night. I am completely alone, my hand caresses my neck. The beauty of the world stretches away from me" (57).

How could a person not be moved by this? I wondered as I sat in the grad lounge this afternoon, listening to the water tick in the radiator, eating a soggying sandwich. These gorgeous, declarative sentences.

2. Today, the career counselor advised I buy a suit for interview purposes. (This means I need to be interviewed, right? Heh.) I was excited by this suggestion: how many times have I fondly looked through the "suiting" section of J.Crew, only to flip to something more relevant to my lifestyle, like flip flops? Well, friends, now that I have the permission of someone trained to advise such things, I will no longer feel ashamed when lingering over those previously-forbidden pages. (Aside: for the record, I'm not going to buy a J.Crew suit: not that any of you thought I would. I don't have that kind of $$$! I'm looking for a real job! But, I will consider Banana.)

3. I am obsessed with "Crocodile Rock."

4. Not normally the type to daydream about vacations, I keep punishing myself by conjuring images of Tahiti/Cancun/Pensacola/California/THE EQUATOR/anywhere else that doesn't have snow. I'm baffled by this fantasizing; after all, I grew up in MN, which is a lot colder than where I am now. And my apartment is adequately warm, and I just bought onehellofa coat. What gives?

5. E. and I went to brunch this past weekend for the first time in a long time, and it was the nicest. I wore a zip hoodie and had three cups of coffee.

6. The trotting animal can restore red hearts to red.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting excited for the Superbowl, if only for the culinary opportunities it affords.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


What's this? I'm at work on a Sunday morning, and have in fact been here since eight? YES. Don't ask why, since I myself don't know. I guess sometime [during the past two months], my boss asked if I would be available to work some Sundays, and I said Yes, being that my Sundays are free of any formal obligations. So here I am. I know I didn't volunteer to work on this specific weekend day, else I would have made a note in my day planner. But, you know, I get up early and like getting up early. And I like money and making extra money. And I'll be done by four, so I'm not complaining. Someone also brought in coffee this morning: mmmm.

One hundred pages left in the anthology: I'm hoping to finish today or tomorrow, before the onslaught of semester reading will take over my schedule. Last week, started Lynne Tillman's "This is Not It," which I'm really liking so far, both in terms of its underlying structure/ideology and of the writing itself. And after I'm done with Tillman? Alice Munro, DFW, and books for class. Also, I'd reallllly like to read Mark Bittman's "Food Matters," but it's not in the 5-college library system and there are 39 holds on the one copy in circulation at the public library, so I'mna have to order it.
Yesterday, while picking up a few of my book for class (Books for Class), I perused the German area of the textbook section (conveniently next to the English and French areas). I looked through the book for German 310, reading a few of the stories and exercises, and decided that I'd like to practice German again. I won't really have an audience, or a purpose - aside from self-improvement/the pure enjoyment of German. But, these purposes will be enough. Now, onward to!

Friday, January 23, 2009

My thoughts on this are "TGIF."

Well, my last-ever winter break is almost over, but I wouldn't say that I'm mourning its passing. Perhaps I should be, being that this is quite likely my last winter break of all time - barring certain career choices - but: I am not. Don't mistake this oddly-worded intro as complaining, since I enjoyed my break. It just didn't feel like a break, what with the teaching and the work at the key office and the true beginning of the Job Hunt and other assorted schtuff that I was doing. Admittedly, I'm a little relieved that the semester's starting; the workload will be intense, but I'll have fewer formal constraints on my time: cha-ching. I get less stressed when I feel (rightly or not) that I have ample time to get everything done.

In good news (though many of you have found this out through some of my other online social networking/microblogging avenues), I have a job interview on Monday. A real interview, for a job I'm totally excited about. I'm trying not to psych myself out, and I'm trying to prevent myself from fantasizing about My Awesome New Life, Made Possible By This Awesome New Job (A Life That Features Granite Countertops And Stainless Appliances & Sundry Other Comforts). But, my self-discipline is only so great! Those countertops have never seemed closer! Wish me luck!


In kind of a strange mood this morning. I'm chalking it up to the weather, to my scant sleep this week. Seasonal Affective Disorder? I'm not sure that these chalkings are correct, but they'll do.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Still plugging away at the anthology, though one of the stories I read yesterday (Double Exposure) I was less than fond of. In it, the adult narrator recalls the time when, as a ten year old child, he met Sylvia Plath. He and his mother were living in England in an apartment not far from Sylvia's, and they ran into her one day en route to meeting her elderly neighbor. Lonely and bored, S. invited the two of them for tea the next day, during which date the three of them exchanged polite conversation and ate pastries. That was the narrator's only meeting with S.: she committed suicide a few days later. Eventually, the narrator went on to write poetry (not very good), then give up writing because of his evident lack of skill. Said narrator also went on to abandon women - much, in fact, as his own mother and S. had been "abandoned."

Hypothetically, at least, I don't have a problem with an author using a major historical figure as a character in a story. It's an interesting challenge, to be sure, requiring one to incorporate enough fact to make the figure recognizable as him or herself, but also to add enough person spin on said figure so that he/she does not appear wooden: a mere congregation of the well-known tidbits. That was my problem with this story: the Sylvia character was wooden. Her dialogue was rendered awkward by the author's blunt insertion of historical facts in places where no such pronouncements would normally occur ("Oh, please, don't call me Mrs. Hughes - 'Hughes' is the name of my ex-husband, not me"). Maybe I'm being picky. Or maybe I'm not. After all, I didn't start the reading of this story with a chip on my shoulder; I'd never heard of the author, and I was pleased (initially) with the appearance of such a famous figure in such an otherwise unassuming place. Maybe this story just serves to testify to the difficulty of writing quality historical fiction...

In other news, I am freezing my ass off. My house is plenty warm, but the office, with its ceiling-high plate glass windows, feels like an igloo. Scratch that: igloos are supposed to be warm. Right? The temp this morning was -10 - nothing, compared to what's going on in the Midwest/Maine - and I think the high for today is supposed to be 9. I am whining, yes I know, but I am incapable of surviving these low temperatures! My fingers are icicles! I cannot physically move any closer to the space heater, lest my pants ignite!

This wknd: Boston, thesis work, baked goods, movies, & other assorted fun things. Bonus fun: three day weekend.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The procurement of all things.

At the laundromat this evening, I had a sudden realization: 2008 was a year of major sports gear acquisition. Prior to K8, my only piece of "sports gear" (defined as apparel featuring the name or logo of any professional, minor league, or collegiate team) was a Michigan tee purchased at the Goodwill in Galesburg. This tee, which came with a hole already developing in one armpit, was used exclusively for exercise and/or bummery. I never wore it in public.

But this year, something miraculous happened: I started accumulating sports gear. A brief rundown of the acquisition:

1) Easter: Eric's mom sent me a care package, feat. candy (lots, assorted), a journal, and a Wisconsin Badgers tee. I wore the tee tentatively at first, feeling like a bit of a fraud, but eventually grew into it.

2) September: While in Madison for a wedding, E. and I stopped by the UW bookstore, where I purchased two tees, one that reads "Sconnie," the other featuring a cartoon of Bucky the Badger. The latter (which is, ironically, the better fitting of the two shirts) was $5.

3) November: Loitering in the activewear section of an unfamiliar TJMaxx, I found a Red Sox "baseball style" tee. Its cuteness (red sleeves, purposefully distressed logo, ruching at side seams) impressed me. And, it was only $7, so I bought it.

4) Xmas: E's sister got me a Wisconsin hoodie, to accompany my growing collection of t-shirts, and Eric got me a Brewers tee.

So there you go: Bam. Including the original Michigan tee (which is in a sorry state, but still used for exercise), I now have seven pieces of sports gear. I still don't have any caps, but I don't wear hats except when the weather demands it. Ditto pants, but sports pants seem much harder to come by than shirts. Will this sporty trend continue into 2009? I'm pretty sure it will. Goal: diversify teams.
One of my goals for '09 is to read at least 50 books. I'm not doing so well at meeting this goal - not yet - because for all of the new year, I've been reading the same book: The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction (2008). Which leads me to wonder, in a situation such as this (i.e., reading a certain number of books in a fixed amount of time), does an anthology count as one book, or several? If several, how many?
I'm guessing that one anthology = one book, but I felt like putting the question out there.

Also: this is hilarious.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Braving the elements from in here.

Yes, that's right: another storm anticipated tonight. I wasn't even aware of this impending "weather," as we Minnesotans like to say, until my mom called me (in the middle of the dinner I was at) and said, "Well, I know you don't watch the news, so I thought I'd tell you that there's going to be a massive snowstorm out East."

I was indignant! I do watch the news, though I didn't today. I read more news online, too (though many of you wouldn't believe it since I'm always only posting links from Yahoo, but that's because I have a Yahoo address I use only for online shopping/signing up for stuff, and I sometimes run into mildly interesting human interest stories en route to checking that acct. You know.). But, in the end, I was glad for the advance warning. Back from the dinner, I am in my slippers sipping cocoa and preparing to edit this cover letter.

This will probably sound dumb, given our country's current economic state, but I'm excited to be applying for jobs. My excitement owes largely to the facts that 1) I have five months until graduation, and so the real urgency of needing new employment hasn't set in; and 2) the job I'm applying for is pretty damned awesome, and it's in my dream city - which is very likely where I'll be living next year(!) I don't want to share too many details - nothing is finalized, after all - but I am getting psyched for post-graduation life.

Query: do any of you, reader friends, have job search/application tips you'd be willing to share? It is certainly true that I've never had a real job hunt. (For those who may be wondering, I went straight from undergrad to grad school, an assistantship lined up for me when I got here, so I didn't have to find employment on my own.) Indeed, it is strange, this job hunting.

Friday, January 9, 2009

It is time:

That's right: I am going to see Bride Wars tonight. Not without a modicum of shame, mind you, but not so much shame that I won't publicly divulge my activity. Something about women in wedding dresses beating on each other amuses me endlessly! Well, I hope there will be beating...or at least swatting. Girl fighting.

In other news: I am freaking out in my brain about my thesis. I realized - at about 4:45 this morning, inconveniently - that I have only 2.5 to 3 months to finish all my editing. Yikes. Fortunately, I won't be teaching after winter break, and fortunately too my spring course load won't be terrible. But still: who can blame me for seeking respite in Anne Hathaway movies?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

For which I am grateful.

All of these good things happened today:

1) Eric made a successful (and delicious) frittata for breakfast. (Note: the frittata I tried to make a few days ago ended up as more of a "scrambler," due to the fact that I tried flipping it before the bottom had set. I would have preferred cooking the top in the broiler, but I have no ovenproof skillet. Yes. But, Eric's patience, coupled with my sub par flipping skills - a bit of the 'tata ended up on the counter - yielded an excellent second attempt.)

2) Second day of teaching went well, despite my being flustered for the first few minutes of class. (Copier mishap: don't ask.)

3) The campus bookstore was having a major after-Xmas clearance, so I got a book of short stories by Alice Munro AND a Laffy Taffy for $5. Holla!

4) My dermatologist concluded that the tiny bump on my neck is not, as previously thought, skin cancer.

5) Netflix arrived. Two discs of "How I Met Your Mother," season two. No work shall henceforth be done.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I am freaking out in my brain.

Though I did, several posts ago, poo-pooh NYResolutions, what I didn't realize is that I'd soon be fulfilling a sort of constant, un [or under-] stated resolution of mine: catching up on the last ten years' worth of movies. It is no secret that I am painfully, woefully - almost unbelievably - behind the times when it comes to movies. Case in point: Saturday, E and I went to Blockbuster, so anxious were we to begin season two of "How I Met Your Mother" that we could not wait for Netflix! Of course, season two was completely checked out, so we scooted to the comedy section. I casually remarked that I'd never seen "American Pie," and Eric stopped cold. A woman in the next aisle over stopped cold. I stopped cold.
"Are you serious?" He asked, though he knew I was.
"Well," I said, in a paltry gesture of self-defense, "I figured that I'd heard all the jokes from it, so why should I actually see it?" But, even I was not convinced by this lame explanation.
Mid-length story short, I finally watched "American Pie." And you know what? It wasn't bad. Yes, I'd heard the jokes before, integral to our pop-cultural fabric as they are, but the storyline was also kind of cute. AND, for the first time in a long, long time, I actually remembered high school: the gossip, the absolute horror at bodily malfunctions (of self, of others), my [admittedly brave] choice of asking a totally random dude to prom - and then going with him, and then not dancing the entire time. Prom: O.M.G. What an ordeal. I don't think I've ever seen so many girls crying in a public bathroom.

Also in fulfillment of this unstated yet critical resolution was my viewing of "Anchorman," which I also [surprisingly] enjoyed. What's going on, here? Why am I enjoying these movies which I would previously have sniffed at? There's been a major shift in my sense of humor. Scratch that: in my public sense of humor.

Right now, I am minorly freaking out in my brain. In approximately two hours, I'll be teaching my first winter creative writing course and I am terrified. What's new? you may think (those of you acquainted with my terror). And the answer is, not too much, except the intensity of said terror. Aaaaaaaaaah(!)

Friday, January 2, 2009

I am basking in the glory of my own small productiveness.

Some productive things I've done thus far in 2009:

1) Reinstated the use of a loofah (so much more effective at generating a lather than a plain ol' washcloth);
2) Sorted through my clothes/gathered clothes for donation/then donated them;
3) Paid all my billz;
4) Made a few lesson plans for my J-Term class (which starts Monday).

And tonight, I'm going to make a frittata for the first time. It does strike me as odd that I've never made one, considering 1) how much I like eggs(!) and 2) how much I like creating dinners from random stuffs in the fridge. There's a first time for everything, though; tonight, I will bask in the glory of my first (and hopefully awe-inspring) frittata.