Professing * Reflecting

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

48 hours

In approximately 48 hours, I will be boarding a plane headed to the Deep Red, where I will spend a week with the family--all of the family, including divorced parents, sister, brother-in-law, and their children.

On the one hand, I am excited. I only see my family twice a year. I have warm, fuzzy Christmas feelings. As I do every year, I optimistically anticipate a warm, fuzzy visit.

On the other hand, I am panicked. I know my family. We are a moody bunch. There will be drama. By day three, I fear I will be hypervenilating through much of the day and will be slugging wine (as my mother and sister will be) by 4:55. I will become Medusa the Mediator. Sis will be bitching to me about Mom. Mom will be bitching to me about Sis and Bro-in-law. Bro-in-law will seek me out to bitch about Mom, who will have been tipsy at dinner and will have found the perfect stinger to direct at Bro-in-law--in front of the children. Dad will take me on daily guilt trips involving my inconceivably stubborn reluctance to live in the Deep Red, but most of the time he will stay out of the way--making trips to the grocery store, washing dishes, and mopping floors. I will listen to all, but disappear frequently to hang out with the nieces and nephews (until I hear: Where is Medusa? Why does she keep disappearing? Is this her water glass? Is this her wine glass? Is she smoking again? Medusa!!!!).

Maybe none of this will happen and maybe I am being self-fulfilling prophet/Scrooge. I hope so. If it does happen, I have several coping strategies: 1. "Fogging": a technique prescribed by ex-shrink, by which one listens to complaints but remains disengaged (mentally and psychologically) and only offers stock sympathy answers such as "I am so sorry you are feeling so angry" or "Yes, I know that is hurtful." My family is likely to catch on to this pretty quickly, but I will try it; 2. Retreat: I have a hotel room this year. Do not know how I am going to explain retreat to room, but it worked when I was a teenager; 3. Important-work-to-do excuse: I have tried this before, but I am going to try to institute new have-to-work-on-upcoming-article-for-two-hours-per-day policy; 4. Walking: The kids and dogs love to go for walks. If I can get past Dad (who has strange notions about fresh air being somehow dangerous--which goes a long way in explaining my frequent feelings of suffocation and subsequent hypervenilation), this might work.

Now that I have explained my crazy family dynamic and my own craziness, I am feeling a bit guilty. Unsure whether or not to post this. I hope I do not come off as a nasty, ungrateful twit. I love my family. I do. I want to spend time with them. My biggest fear is that I will not be able to return to my work when I return home. I am feeling so excited about it right now. I am finding CFPs, writing abstracts, starting research on the article and the conference paper. I want to do the research and the writing and to post about writing/research. (I don't think I will have access to the blog while in the Deep Red.) According to ex-shrink, spending time with my family often puts me (for weeks after) in a "whirlwind"--a manic pattern of insecurity and guilt which makes it difficult for me to work and which I usually deal with by going out every night, drinking heavily, dallying with my boys, etc. Must remember this and must try to avoid this. If this happens, must remind myself how happy I was thinking about and doing my work.

OK. I feel better now that I have blogged this out of my system. Sorry, though, for the dark holiday fare.

Time to TCB. Final grades are done (YAY!) and ready to be submitted. Will do last-minute (read: all of my) Christmas shopping and laundry for trip today. Will do packing tomorrow. Should I go to favorite WPAS's show tonight? Hmmm. . . will consider.

Will miss blogworld. Happy holidays to all.


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Doing the Awake Things

Still on the high from yesterday. Got word from the journal editor that I can submit the article next month. Woo hoo! Managed to get one set of exams graded and plan to do another today. Should be doing Christmas shopping, as I leave in one week for my sister's--in the Deep Red of the U.S.--where there are four children waiting for presents from their favorite aunt. Should also be paying bills and attending to the thousand little details that I must attend to before spending an entire week in the Deep Red without hypervenilating any more than I already do when spending an entire week with my family in the Deep Red. Yes, that sentence is supposed to leave one as breathless as I feel when thinking about all I have to do.

What am I doing instead of grading or getting ready for my trip? Nursing a hangover? Wondering why I said all of those things to all of the wrong people in the bar last night? Turning Demetrius or Feste or Cassio or Romeo out of my bed? No, no, and no. Amazingly, I did not go out last night. Made myself stay in my office at school into the evening, until I had finished grading exams. Came home. Went to bed early. Did not even have a glass of wine. WHAT HAVE I BECOME?

I will turn to my online astrologer for answers. This seems to be a whore-o-scope of the Dr. Crazy and Profgrrrrl variety:

Here is your horoscope for Wednesday, December 15:

Passion of one kind or another is definitely on the agenda. It's up to you to decide whether it's going to be the angry kind or the ardent kind. Yes, you can actually channel that heat you're feeling. Get busy.

I am feeling passion of a very certain kind. Dare I say it? Passion for my work. I am positively on fire with ideas for this article, the conference presentation, and even for the (non-existent) book from my (moldy) dissertation. I just found out that I can very possibly get funding to hire a research assistant next semester. Already making a list of what I want him or her to do. Yes--ardent passion for my research.

I am also feeling extreme anger towards my particular institution--anger that is fueling the research passion. I am slowly realizing that the oppressive, anti-intellectual fog that seems to hang over my institution--ok, a pseudonym: Foggy College--is very real. Before this year, I had thought that I was being a bit paranoid about this. My students have always commented on the "progressive" nature of my teaching and my subject matter. Because I consider it to be tame, I have chalked this up to their inexperience. More and more, I am realizing that they are comparing me to other professors at Foggy C and that my teaching and the material is indeed relatively progressive. I have been talking to new hires who are feeling the same fog and wondering if it is real. I having been paying careful attention in faculty/administration meetings (about new policies and new programs) and in casual conversations with more senior faculty. I have found one underlying refrain in these meetings and conversations: "We are all for intellectual freedom and all, but . . . .".

This is scary. The most potent expression of this anti-intellectualism comes when I discuss my research with my chair and others who have been around Foggy C for some time. While they encourage me to do research (as do new policies), they make a clear distinction between the research I should be doing at Foggy C. and the research that "sounds like what might be more appropriate at a research university." One of these higher-ups even recently referred to words such as "semiotics" and "epistemology" as "academic jargon." (Excuse me for a moment . . .WHAT THE FUCK CENTURY IS THIS?!?!?!) What I do or want to do clearly represents some kind of threat that I do not fully understand.

So, yeah, my passions are both ardent and angry and I do plan to "get busy." It just will not be the kind of "getting busy" I am used to reporting here. I think Dr. Crazy posted about this once: all passion ultimately dims in relation to the passion I feel for my work. I just hope I can sustain this and not revert to my usual hijinks. I am sure I will continue to dally a bit in those (ab)normal activities (after all, it's only healthy and it's only me) but Feste and Cassio are on tour, Demetrius is busy with rebound (from She-Whom-He-Loves) hijinks that have nothing to do with me, and Romeo has fallen off the cave-dar. My lack of interest in those passions may be more a result of these circumstances than it does with the rediscovery of my academic self.

In any case, I am happy--overwhelmed but happy--with this new state of affairs. OK, carrying on to the awake things before the morning is over.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

On a high

Could be the "exaggerated sense of well-being" that is listed as a side effect of that sweet elixir, Tussionex (By the way, should this be listed as a "side effect" or as "one of the top ten reasons to ingest this drug"?), but I am pretty certain it is because:

1. A journal solicited--out of the blue--an article (based on a talk I gave at a conference last year) from me for consideration in an upcoming issue. Really good journal and this rarely happens in my field (unless one is important, which I am not). Very, very excited (in spite of minor details, such as not having an article-length version ready for review).

2. Paper accepted for conference in the Spring. Love this conference. Love my idea for the paper (of course unwritten) that I will be giving. Love the Rockstar Professor (the academic equivalent of a WPAS) who flirts and drinks with me at this conference every year.

3. Despite the stacks of ungraded exams that are piling up by the minute, I can see the light at the end of the dark tunnel that was this semester.

4. If I get through a good amount of the evilly constructed but easy-to-grade exams by this evening, I might actually be able to go out tonight (and I do not have to be anywhere in the morning or in any shape to "be doing the awake things in the morning").

Of course could and should spend night and tomorrow working on that article. Fuck it . . . will enjoy bliss, even if short-lived, for now.


Saturday, December 11, 2004

In the stars?

Here is your horoscope for Saturday, December 11:

Relationship matters could take quite the surprising turn -- and a casual friend you've been attracted to for some time may be the reason. Just don't be diverted from your goals. Play your cards right and you can have it all.

Hmmmm . . .would that be a casual friend I have been attracted to and HAVE slept with or a casual friend I have been attracted to but HAVE NOT slept with? Because, as we know, I have pretty much slept with with all of my friends, i.e. the "surprising turn" in my case is no surprise. Am I wrong to equate the astrological euphemism "surprising turn" with "hot sex"? Is the "surprising turn" something else entirely?

I am off for a holiday party/weekend in a coastal town, and I am as happy as a little child or perhaps a sailor on leave. I am free! free! free! for the moment, at least until it all comes crashing down with exam grading next week. Am going with my friend, Paloma, and our gay husband, Antony. Would of course like to have hot sex with my gay husband, which he knows since I constantly suggest such surprising turns in our relationship, and which amuses him, especially when Paloma and I battle over his affections.

Know enough to know, however, that Paloma, Antony, and I will just end up naked in a hot tub having a drunken discussion about how, in Antony's words, "pussy just isn't that interesting." Sigh.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Great Mirror Scenes: What Next?

My life is devolving into silliness, and I am feeling the need to return to the ideas I was originally exploring in this blog (for example, here and here).

With classes ending, exams starting, and sex-deferred grading piling up, I don't know when I will be able to return to the mirror posts. I do, however, think it would do me some good.

I have been toying with some ideas, which I have listed below. I would love any suggestions on these or other possibilities for future mirror posts.

My short list:

1. Lacan (Jacques Lacan, Jacques Lacan, lemme love ya Jacques Lacan) Have put this off, but the whole mirror stage thang may be the Greatest Mirror Scene of All Time (or the Greatest Delusion of All Time, which amounts to the same thing).
2. Fight Club Because I like looking at a half-naked Brad Pitt (have I mentioned how shallow I am?) fucking--oops--fighting other men, and because--hell--the whole film is a Great Mirror Scene. I am also starting to think that homosocial desire (of which I am sooo the conduit) is an elaborate mirroring strategy.
3. Calpernia in Soldier's Girl There are actually two Great Mirror Scenes here: When she pulls open her robe to look at her half-naked body in the dressing-room mirror and when she sees herself (with a five-o'clock shadow) in the mirror behind the bed, just after Barry says, "You look like an angel."
4. Truffaut's Stolen Kisses I may not be able to deal with the French Mirror beyond Lacan, but I think that Antoine's mirror is terribly funny and interesting.


Monday, December 06, 2004

Is it possible . . .

. . . to grade 31 term papers in one day?

. . . to grade said papers if one also has meetings (but not teaching) and errands to run?

. . . to still call that consultant from Fancier U and inquire about that position without a) tipping off my chair (like this phrase) that I am searching about for another job; and b) appearing woefully naive?

. . . for me to make my friend, Falstaff, get Romeo's number and then to call him without appearing to be a stalker of some sort?

. . . to be in love with Demetrius but not want to be with Demetrius and in fact want to date others, like Romeo?

. . .that Romeo is a proxy for Demetrius (remember Romeo and Demetrius share the same nonpsuedonymous name), onto whom I am projecting all of my unresolved and unresolvable feelings for Demetrius?

Some things I am wondering as I sit here with a foggy head, refusing to get into the shower (which I should have done approximately an hour ago). The foggy head is a result of one glass of red wine at dinner + Tussionex cocktail before bed. My pharmacist, whom I called last night and who--yes--knows me by name, predicted this: "No, Medusa, is not dangerous, but you will not want to be . . .how to say . . . you will not be wanting to be getting up or be doing awake things in the morning." Love my pharmacist.


Saturday, December 04, 2004

Snapshots of an evening

I have been inspired by Profgrrrl's great photoblogging to do a bit of my own.

I am consistently amazed by Profgrrrl's culinary skills. I have tried to imitate her presentation style, with bad results. This is (hilariously) what I had for dinner last night . . .

. . . before I went out and had several of these:
fire water

This is Feste's microphone. That is not Feste underneath the exit sign:


This is the hand of one of my favorite Whore Pants All Stars, just before he got ill on bass:

all star on bass

This--which I found atop my new down pillow complete with new 600 thread count pillowcase (my head hurt, so I recently splurged)--is what I very wisely did not take when I got home:

holy syrup


Friday, December 03, 2004

Dr. Tussionex

This week I have traded my whiskey and wine for the greatest drug of all time, whatever it is that they put in Tussionex cough syrup. I wanted to do a drunken post about the sluttier side of my holiday, but I have been sick sick sick. It might have been fun to do a high-on-cough-syrup post, but the stuff doesn't allow one to sit upright for more than ten minutes. Big, BIG fan.

Anyway, I am feeling better but no longer feel inspired to write about my (ho)liday exploits. In short, my bed featured a rotating cast of Whore Pants All Stars, old and new. (Note: Whore Pants is a punk band whose primary members are Dr. Crazy, Profgrrrrl, and me. If you haven't already, you can read about its conception in the comments to this post.) I am fairly certain that these exploits will continue, so I am sure to be inspired to discuss the details at some point.

In my sickness and cough-syrup fog (have I mentioned how truly delightful this stuff is?), I have been pondering two questions: 1) Why do I seem to sleep with all of my friends? I had not fully realized that I do this until I started the blog and had to say repeatedly, "Yep. Another friend in my bed."; 2) Why did I do my best to push away the newest WPAS, Romeo (who did sleep in my bed but whom I did not fuck), with my annoying tough-girl routine?

Romeo was geniunely interested in me. We watched movies and talked until 5 a.m. Very little making out, even though he is the most gorgeous man I have ever seen in person (and that includes Matthew McConaughey, who was at a weekend-long house party I attended a couple of years ago). Yes--I am shallow, but Romeo is also funny and sweet and fun. We "clicked" and he kept commenting on how amazing the "clicking" was and how glad he was that we had met. We hung out until 4 p.m. the next day. I, in full-on tough/cool girl mode, treated the whole thing as if it were very casual. I could see several of my remarks along these lines made him uncomfortable. Worst of all, when he asked if we could see each other again ("Because I would really like to"), I was dismissive: "Well, yeah, you have my number, right?". Stupid, stupid guarded Medusa. Nearly a week has gone by. He has not called, and I can not blame him.

I know that I sleep with my friends because it is safe. I know that I have been doing this for a little over a year, since a particularly painful break-up with someone who in many ways was the great love of my life. I also know that I have stronger feelings for Demetrius (whose non-psuedonymous name is the same as Romeo's) than I care to recognize or admit. I know that I pushed away Romeo on purpose. I just don't know exactly why.

Must go teach and attend a talk by a colleague. Will hang with Demetrius, Feste, and friends tonight. (Must rememeber to hide the sacred Tussionex from these fiends.) In the manner befitting a 16-year-old girl, I just wish Romeo would call.