For eight days — 8 days! — I’ve been afflicted with the latest goopy-nose, goopy chest, please just let me sleep virus that’s making the rounds on campus. This time of year, dormatory is just another word for ‘plague ship.’ So unless you’re interested in the color and consistency of my phlegm, I don’t have much to report.*
Lovers of fantasy novles and bad films, however, might get a chuckle out of these sites:
The Fantasy novelist’s exam
*If you are interested in the phlegm issue, I’ll get back to you after I’ve taken a nap.
Back in early August, I brought home Amelia the super kitten. Since then, she has enriched our lives by tormenting Astrid, dragging my knitting and my underwear all around the house and often abandoning them in her water dish, and staring at Zeke in a highly speculative manner. Here are some pics of our half-way grown up young lady (click on pic to enlarge):
So I’m teaching three classes of 1st semester freshman composition and this was the week we learned about the MLA citation system for sources. One of the few things I can imagine that would be more dull and pointless than delivering a lecture on the vagaries of MLA works cited pages and in-text citations is having to listen to such a lecture, so for 5 or 6 years I’ve given my students a themed citations exercise instead.
The lesson consists of a worksheet that contains text about Halloween customs (jack o’lantern, trick or treat) and calendar issues (All Souls/Saints Days, Reformation Day, Samhain) from different sources and directs the students to quote, summarize, and cite the info in various ways. Since the whole thing is Halloween-themed and we invariably do it in October, I also bring a big bowl of Halloween candy and hand it around freely while I scuttle from workgroup to workgroup to answer questions and to point out every last missing comma and period in their works cited pages.* The whole thing is noisy and sticky and not boring and, most importantly effective.
This week, then, I gave the exercise and huge amounts of sugar to three different classes, one on Monday afternoon and two on Tuesday. By the end of the workday on Tuesday, I felt like a discarded candy wrapper without even a lick of chocolate left in it and looked like an extra from a George Romero flick.**
Now, I’ve done this exercise, candy and all, for years, and in all those years of using sugar to push MLA citation information past my students’ blood/brain barrier, I’ve never, ever, been so freaking exhausted afterward.
So here’s my burning question:
Was this year’s MLA/Candy extravaganza so exhausting because of circumstances unknown to me,*** or am I getting old and tired?
*See? however necessary this stuff is, it’s dull, dull, dull.
**Post-Prandial Period of the Putrid Professorate, perhaps
***Global warming, solar flares, angels, aliens, Al Quiada, radiation from genetically modified corn and soybeans, the increased efficiency of teenage metabolisms, the decreased efficiency of teenage metabolisms, delayed millennial social breakdown, man’s inhumanity to man, the Bush presidency….
Well. My post-conference week has been a whirlwind of marking up students’ rough drafts, drafts I toted all the way to the upper peninsula and yet did not read (nor did I barf on them, however, which is a triumph of sorts, considering how parts of the trip went). This weekend, therefore, has been spent relaxing despite the many things I really need to do around the house.* But next weekend is followed by our fall break, so I’ll get Monday and Tuesday off as well, and I know that if I set myself three major tasks — clean the birdcage, clean the bathroom, and wash and wax the car — then two will get done and the car will remained unwashed and unwaxed. But I have to believe by next Friday morning that I really do mean to wash and wax the car, or the entire system fails and I might just as well lay sod in the bathroom and see if I can buy Zeke a teeny re-breather. Yes, my life is based on purposeful self-delusion.
And now onto a completely different subject. Check out this sweater (click to enlarge). Now there are a couple of very funny sites that make hay out of such unfortunate knitting and I’m sure I can’t compare with them. But I felt you needed to see this, this travesty. I mean, I bear no particular love for fashion models, what with their cocaine-snorting good looks,** happily vacuous smiles, and channeling of the prince of darkness,*** but forcing anyone to wear that sweater is a violation not only of the laws of human decency, but of the Geneva Convention and the Prime Directive as well.
What is that you say? You like the sweater? Well, you can make this lovely item for as little as $145.00, the "little" referring to the amount of yarn needed to make it in a cocaine-snorting-fashion-model size; normal women will pay $200 or more and, of course, look even more ghastly than this poor lady, even if we don’t use black magic marker for eyeshadow and sell our souls to Satan.****
*the bathroom, for instance, is getting altogether too organic.
**We KNEW Kate Moss couldn’t be THAT skinny at her age and after a couple of kids….
***Look at her eyes and tell me she isn’t at the 660 mile marker of the highway to hell.
****"I sold my soul to Satan and all I got was this hideous sweater!"
I’m back in Storm Lake after a brief trip to a slightly bigger lake, the one they call Superior.* I attended the 5th Bienniel Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference, this being my 2nd bienniel attendance. The conference itself was was great. While there, I got to do the following:
–visit with friends (professors and grad students) from Bowling Green State University
–co-deliver a paper without having to dodge rotten tomatoes (they were nice and fresh)
–graciously give my new business card, all shiny and Ph.D-y, to a still-in-grad-school woman from UNR whom I really, really dislike**
–tour the upper peninsula of Michigan, looking for likely places to barf
Barfing, or the possibility thereof, was the overarching theme of my trip. The flight from Omaha to Minneapolis was in a small plane and they sat me near the back and we had a rough landing and I got off just. in. time. I was so relived when my bile subsided after the flight that it didn’t even occur to me to buy Dramamine, and the plane from Minneapolis to the wilds of Michigan was even smaller and they sat me in the very back. The entire flight, the plane did a credible imitation of the rear of a conga line. Again, I got off just in time. And those of you who know me will understand just how icky I felt when I tell you that I didn’t eat any dinner that night.***
Saturday night, after the conference ended, my buddies and I decided to take a drive around the upper peninsula. I asked if the road was winding and was told yes, but I didn’t take it seriously….I’m from the edge of the eastern Sierras and I equate seriously winding roads with dramatic gains in altitude. The mountains of the upper peninsula might be foothills in Nevada if they ate their Wheaties. So off we went.
I started to think about barfing after 30 miles or so, and thought about it continuously for the next 4 hours. Skipped another meal when we stopped for dinner at a quaint restaurant (okay, I had a slice of pumpkin pie — I’m not made of stone, people) and shortly thereafter secured some children’s chewable Dramamine. I was too sick by that time for the Dramamine to do much more than coat my mouth with chalky, faux-orange flavor, though, which tastes even nastier with a hint of bile and pumpkin pie.
So that was my trip. Conference, good. Friends, good. Snotty graciousness, good. Upper Peninsula, pretty but sickening. Children’s Dramamine, chalky. Flights home, better. Home now, going to bed.
*Next to Lake Adequate, Lake If You Must, and Lake Aren’t You Ashamed of Yourself.
**Yeah, I’m petty like that. And it felt wonderful.
***I can always eat. And sleep. And talk. If I’m not doing at least one of those things at a given time, check my pulse.
Lots going on here Left of the Mississippi. Look for new posts after 10/12.