Professing * Reflecting

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Should I buy a lemon tree?


Apparently they are happy as indoor plants. A lemon tree in the garret! How could one be depressed with a three-foot lemon tree in the house? I should mention I really really love lemons. I should also mention that I am in a wicked state of procrastination over a stack of papers I do not at all want to grade. I should also mention--should it not be obvious to all who are privy to the fact that I am entertaining the idea of buying a lemon tree--that the mad nesting of '08 continues, unabated and perhaps even invigorated by the finishing of the shelf project. I should also mention that the bottomless pit of desire to consume evidenced in posts of recent months has varied and complex reasons not the least of which is the pressure to produce and the ever closer and ever more pressing need to create and submit a record of such production. I could explain this by way of Karl Marx and Sofia Coppola, but I think I am going to save that for a class or a paper or both. In short, upcoming tenure bid + Medusa= insatiable lust for shoes and citrus-bearing potted plants.



Saturday, March 29, 2008

Promises to myself, without apology or guilt, for the rest of the '08

--I will spend at least one Spring day and one Spring night in Favorite City.

--I will be awake, as in all night awake, to watch the sun come up at least once this summer.

--I will swim in Favorite Pond at least twice by year's end, once in daylight and once by moonlight.

--I will take a long walk and have a long talk with my mother.

--I will finish at least three projects (creative, academic, or otherwise) by December.

--I will sit on my roof and watch the dragonflies.

--I will keep Rule #2 (Do you want to tell it, Dr. Crazy? Or guess it, anyone else?) in mind at all times.

--I will drink whiskey and drink it well.



Friday, March 28, 2008

Poetry Friday, "Cat" by Brautigan


We lay in that bed one sunny evening after making love
and decided to name our first girl Cat, we were going
to name her Cat, but now we have departed forever from our
love-making, and we will not have a little girl, nor any
children at all, and I am doomed to become the poet
in your dreams who falls continually like the evening rain.

It's been a long time since I lay in a bed with a lover talking about what we would name our children--children we were sure we would have, sure we would name. It makes me feel like an old bitter lady to say so.

I am not an old bitter lady. I am a young lady full of life and joy who is a little sad today, after a rough week with some mean people and an Idiot Wind who really . . .how can I put this delicately? Sucks balls. And this ball-sucking Idiot Wind has a good bit of control over my life and likes to suck the joy right out of it.

So, in short--I want to do my work. I want to have the time to appreciate my incredible students and my tantalizing ideas and my beautiful life.

I want to be besotted with it all. Why is that deemed so dangerous?



Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This week's wardrobe inspired by . . .

The Calvin Klein ruby shoes continue to hold their sartorial sway over my imagination, and I am obsessed with touches of any and all shades of red . . .

How bad-ass is this hat?

I need a loose knit cap. It needs to be red. (I resist calling it a Rasta hat, because of this kerfuffle. I am not sure how I myself feel about the young traveling heiresses--though I do love the snarky term, "trustfundafarian"--but I think it's hilarious that New York Magazine responded by putting a "real" Rasta man in the Look Book this week.)

How fabulous is this conspiratorial pair?

This next outfit reminds me of something I might have worn when I was 7 or 8 years old, probably because of the white tight/black shoe combo. Still, she somehow pulls it off for a stunning ensemble. (I think I might be quoting Duckie from Pretty in Pink with the phrase, "stunning ensemble.") I do not tend to wear cardigans, but a scarlet cardigan . . .

It's about the time of year when my inner Tyler Durden wants to come out to play. No, I don't want to burn a kiss mark into my hand with lye or have sex with Helena Bonham Carter** or fistfight boys in bar basements or start armies or anything. I do, however, start to feel a bit of a fevah that puts a certain strut in my step and makes me want to wear the best evah item of fantasy clothing in red . . .

. . .the Durden jacket. (It doesn't look red in this photo, but trust me, it's Tyler Durden red.) I actually have a red jacket with sort of the same cut but it is made out of some cheap chemical leather-like substance. Someday I will find the Durden jacket, perfect in fabric, style, and girl-friendly cut. It really is the holy grail of clothing for me.

**Note: This is not entirely true. I think that everyone sort of wants to have sex with Helena Bonham Carter or be her for a day or be Marla Singer for a day or to be Tim Burton, who actually does have sex with Helena Bonham Carter.



Saturday, March 22, 2008

Brautigan Saturday, "The Return of the Rivers" (+ some ruby shoes)

The Return of the Rivers

All the rivers run into the sea;
yet the sea is not full;
unto the place from whence the rivers come,
thither they return again.

It is raining today
in the mountains.

It is a warm green rain
with love
in its pockets
for spring is here,
and does not dream
of death.

Birds happen music
like clocks ticking heavens
in a land
where children love spiders,
and let them sleep
in their hair.

A slow rain sizzles
on the river
like a pan
full of frying flowers,
and with each drop
of rain
the ocean
begins again.

Happy Spring, everyone. This last stanza is one my favorites in all of Brautigan's poems. The beautifully quirky and rich image of a pan of frying flowers followed by this impossibly romantic thought. Quintessential Brautigan.

It has been a frantic week, back from break and trying to get ready for what is going to be an insanely busy April. With regular teaching, directing a student thesis project to its completion and presentation, hosting a major campus event I have spent hours and hours and will spend hours and hours more organizing, making sure my umpteen senior advisees will indeed graduate, grading the final work of umpteen students, and oh leaving for five days to attend a conference and chair a panel and give a paper there, April will indeed be the cruelest month. I am anticipating back-to-back 70-hour weeks if I am lucky. Oddly, I am feeling okay about it. Energetic, at least. Perhaps I am in complete denial. Of course, getting all of this done requires that I completely avoid Idiot Wind (formerly called TDC here) and ignore all of her last-minute, time-sucking requests--three alone in the last week.

What's just happened here?? Away with thee, bitchy franticness! It's Spring! Sorry I did not have time to post my wardrobe inspirations for the week. By way of apology, behold:

Ruby shoes. Calvin Klein ruby shoes. Want them. Cannot afford them right now. Thank the Zappos gods that my size is out of stock.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Six word memoir meme

Via Emily at The Seacoast of Bohemia.


1. Write your own six word memoir

2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like

3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere

4 Tag five more blogs with links

5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

So here we go. What you need to know about me in six words:

Nathaniel Hawthorne is my imaginary boyfriend.

I tag Dr. Crazy, Lina, Ms. Babe, squadratomagico, and Life of a Fool.



Monday, March 17, 2008

Hooray! Happy Dance!*

Spring Break in Professor House was a productive and successful one. I wore many hilarious and freaky outfits, wrote a conference paper, and got through more of the rest of my to dos than I thought I would. Wooo hooo hoooo!!

*I have to confess something. Lately, when I blast music and dance wildly around the garret, which happens quite regularly, I have been doing this thing . . . I dance badly on purpose, imitating famous bad dances such as the Elaine dance, the old man in the Six Flags commercial dance, the Finnish YMCA dance, and the spastic Charlie Brown kid dance. It is great fun, but I am concerned. There is a good possibility, I fear, that soon I will forget how to dance any other way and this will just be the way I dance. And that I will do it in public. (Click on the links when you have a minute. You will not be sorry.)

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Brautigan Saturday, "Comets"


There are comets
that flash through
our mouths wearing
the grace
of oceans and galaxies.

God knows,
we try to do the best
we can.

There are comets
connected to chemicals
that telescope
down our tongues
to burn out against
the air.

I know
we do.

There are comets
that laugh at us
from behind our teeth
wearing the clothes
of fish and birds.

We try.

A bit of Brautigan for all my peeps out there who are trying--to write that fantangled conference paper or that beastiferous article, to finish that putrivicious thesis or dagdambled diss, to think that beamlusheried great thought, to make that splooshastically great art, to get though this crabcrickily winter, or simply to get through this boomtickily day.



Wednesday, March 12, 2008

This week's wardrobe inspired by . . .

. . . a writing marathon. How to describe the get-ups one tends to wear during these intensive periods of writing? The process of of putting one of these outfits together springs from equal parts raw necessity, strange whim, and a tunnel vision focused entirely on pursuits of the mind. The results are strange but somehow empowering, inspiring great scholarly energy.

Early morning is my best time for generating ideas and writing quickly. It's best for me to get right to it. This is why my writing uniform for the day often begins with perhaps just a sweater thrown over a nightgown,

or a sweatshirt and p.j. bottom combo,

or sometimes just the full-on pajama.

Before I write, I often feel the need to put something on my head. My friend, Dr. Crazy, wrote almost her entire dissertation while wearing a tiara. I prefer a thinking cap of some kind. My two current favorites are these:

You don't have to tell me they are hideous. Most of my thinking caps I get for free. The hideousness, the freebieness--these are important aspects of a good thinking cap.

At some point I will have to take the dog outside, so I will add some lovely footwear to the ensemble.

I have not worn Uggs in public except to take the Chalupa into the backyard or to take the trash to the curb since 2003. I believe they are aesthetically atrocious. But, dudes, they are comfortable and warm.

Speaking of which, at some point I will, even in the winter, get too warm. You would think that I would just take off the wooly sheepskin footwear, but I do not. Instead, I will change into a tank top and one of the following:

a) gym shorts

or, b) this nonsensical item of clothing, the sweatskirt.

From that point in the day onward, it's all about quick fixes to a cold chest or shoulders or hands or legs. This is also when the dancer in me

takes over as a major sartorial influence.

Cold chest or shoulders? What could be better than the ballet sweater, or as a friend calls each of the no less than five or six I have in my wardrobe, the "tit cozy"?

Cold legs? Pants? Why?? Leg warmers are much more specific to this need!

Cold hands? May I suggest your standard fingerless glove,

or, for wrist and forearm warming needs, the opera-length fingerless glove. These may look suspiciously like sleeves to you and you might wonder, "Hey, why not just put on a shirt?". Because! You might at any moment need to remove those sleeves! Voila, removable sleeves!

Things might go anywhere from here depending on 1) the season; 2) the theoretical difficulty of the paper; 3) the page number-to-deadline ratio; and 4) caffeine, sugar, carb, and alcohol intake. Layers are sure to be removed and added, until by the end of any given writing-marathon day, one might see me walking La Chalupa looking something like this:

Laugh if you will, but that woman? That woman, if not a scholar, is most certainly a genius, and I can guarantee you she is thinking great thoughts.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Five years + two bassists + one string theory guy + a professor's designs =

the gloriousness that is this . . .

That's right, my friends, the built-in bookshelves are done! Aren't they spectacular??

Now, once upon a time and not so long ago, indeed at the very turn of this year, yours truly was working in this very same space. But this very same space? It looked like this:

The shelves, which were begun by Bassist #1 (Demetrius) in 2003, were not usable from 2003-2008. As regular readers know, Demetrius was hired by that punk-ass bitch, let's call him Dowie Hay, to go on tour soon after he started to build the shelves in August 2003 and my shelves were shelved on Demetrius's list of projects. I have been bitter about this for years. They were unfinished and unstable, ripping off the walls in many places. My books were scattered all over the garret. Those books in the picture above were thrown haphazardly onto the shelves, completely unorganized. Narcissistic String Theory Guy came along in the Fall of 2003 and built me a pretty cool desk. That was pretty nice of him. It looked like this (though I added the wine and coffee stains later):

Jump to 2008. The saving of some pennies, the frustration of many years with books in utter disarray, and this winter's blast of mad nesting energy led me to hire Bassist #2 (my ex-boyfriend, The Boy of 2005) to complete the project.

The project is completed! I spent the whole weekend doing some touch-ups then finally finally FINALLY placing the books here and in other shelves around the house according to the intricate organizing system I have spent OH I DON'T KNOW THE PAST FIVE FRICKIN YEARS conceiving. Sweet fancy moses but it feels good.

My advice to you is this. Unless you are talented and experienced in the art of carpentry, never ever build anything in your house. It will take you more time and more money than you have, especially if you have no money because say maybe at the time you are an assistant professor who just bought an attic in an expensive city. Do not do this even (or especially?) if you have many friends who are musicians and also carpenters. Also--and this is very important--no matter what the commercials say and the many home improvement t.v. shows imply: you cannot do it and Home Depot cannot help. Seriously.

Worth it, though? Completely, totally, utterly. Because this room, as simple as it may look, is the room I have been dreaming of inhabiting since I was a teeny book-loving little girl.

More pics of various steps of the project below.



Saturday, March 08, 2008

Floral Medusa

What These Carnations Say About You

You have a distinct style... one that many people find fascinating.

You are charming and alluring. People are drawn to you - and you are very popular.

You never forget a name or a face. And the people you love are always on your mind

As seen at the fabulous Lina's

I normally think of carnations as tacky, scrawny, and cheap, but maybe I have seen one too many dyed and dying prom boutonniere. I love them in this picture.

Just in case any of you ever feel the need to send me flowers, though, peonies are my very favorite:



Friday, March 07, 2008

Brautigan Saturday on Poetry Friday

The Sidney Greenstreet Blues

I think something beautiful
and amusing is gained
by remembering Sidney Greenstreet,
but it is a fragile thing.

The hand picks up a glass.
The eye looks at the glass
and then hand, glass, and eye
fall away.


One more class and then it's a much-needed week off for me. I refuse to call it "Spring Break" as that conjures up images of tropical settings and drunken debauchery or at the very least implies something related to Spring (which doesn't really come for me until May) or at the very very least denotes an actual break.

I have a lot of writing to do. A lot. This is not unusual for Spring Breaks March Writing Marathons of years past. There will be much writing but there will also be sleeping in and movies and wine and maybe just maybe a night or two out.

Do they still have the MTV Spring Break beach house or party house or whatever? If MTV were to do a Spring Break professor house, there would be a lone dishevelled woman in strange outfits (which I, like many of my comrades, tend to wear when I write), books and papers everywhere, a bored chihuahua, maybe something like The Maltese Falcon on the television, and several bottles of red wine in various states of fullness--one on the desk, one by the bedside, one by the table. Every once in a while in the MTV Spring Break Garret, the dishevelled prof would rouse herself from the laptop, put some Led Zeppelin or Violent Femmes on the iPod and dance wildly. Then it would be back to the writing.

OK, now I am kind of looking forward to my lame non-Spring Break alone with my own bad self.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

This week's wardrobe inspired by . . .

It's really all about boots and skinny legs for miles this week.

I cannot obtain legs for miles but I can obtain boots. I am obsessed with booties this season. In addition to my favorite dark brown fake Chloe's, I somehow accidentally through absolutely no fault of my own came to buy two pairs of black ankle boots, one a little more casual and one more dressy, more slouchy, more fabulous pair, which I call my Apollonia boots. I do not know if Apollonia ever wore such a pair but let's just say if I were exiled to a place where people dressed exactly as if they were on the set of Purple Rain, I would pretty much be right at home with my Apollonia boots.

So the overall inspiration continues to be the '80s, but I think we can also see the influence of my pick for the way above and beyond winner of this season's Project Runway, . . .

. . Christian. Sure, the kid's a brat but he's also a genius.



Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Bloglines question

I read blogs through Bloglines. For most of my 108 (!!) feeds, the full content of new posts shows up in Bloglines. I will often go onto to the actual blog--to comment, to see pictures, etc. If I am quickly looking through new posts in the morning before class or during a break, I will click "keep new" on a post to indicate that I want to go over later to comment or read more or whatever.

So my question. A few of you show up in Bloglines as having a new post, but only the title or the title and a few lines of the post is visible through Bloglines. Do you do this on purpose? Is there some kind of option that allows only a certain truncated amount of text to show up in readers like these? If so, why? Is it a statistics counting thing? Do you want to know how many people are actually reading your blog, since a reader reading only through Bloglines doesn't show up? Or is a feed type or blog type issue?

For whatever reason, I will rarely rarely take the time to click over and check out a blog post that only has a title or a few lines of text showing. It seriously has to say something like, "The world is on fire, and Christian Louboutins are on sale for 90% off at . . ." to get me to go the actual blog. This is weird because I will and do go to actual blogs through Bloglines, but only when I can read or skim the whole post on Bloglines first.



Sunday, March 02, 2008

Poetry Friday-->Brautigan Saturday-->Communication Overload Sunday

To England

There are no postage stamps that send letters
back to England three centuries ago,
no postage stamps that make letters
travel back until the grave hasn't been dug yet,
and John Donne stands looking out the window,
it is just beginning to rain this April morning,
and the birds are falling into the trees
like chess pieces into an unplayed game,
and John Donne sees the postman coming up the street,
the postman walks very carefully because his cane
is made of glass.

--Richard Brautigan

I wonder how many words I have written or spoken in the past month: how many words in emails to students, colleagues, and countless others as I conduct professional and personal business; how many words in comments on student papers; how many words in to-do list upon to-do list; how many words in lectures; how many words in meetings with students; how many words in committee meetings; how many words in candidate interviews; how many words on the phone with appointment makers, reservation clerks, prescription fillers, organizers, agents, computer fixers, survey takers.

Too many words. Thousands, tens of thousands of words spent and lost. Too few words of psyche-sustaining kind. Too few spent on poems (180), on articles (0), on conference papers (0), on blog posts (1500), on real live actual personal hand-written letters (22), on wishes (15), on jokes (0), on sweet nothings (0).

I wonder if voluntary muteness is an option at this point in the semester. Vow of silence? Communication blackout? Word strike? Slipping off the grid? Faking catatonia?