Sunday, October 21, 2007

Public Service Announcement


A slightly belated birthday wish to the world's best sister, mother of the inexpressibly divine niece and nephew.

"If you want to keep something safe dry, don't put it in the bathtub."

Your sister


Friday, October 19, 2007


"Life became nothing more than time management."

A kernel of wisdom from Dean Dad's musings on yet another American absurdity: the "controversial" nature of childcare.

What I don't understand (see the comments to his post) is why discussions about these kinds of issues (childcare, health care) so quickly deteriorate into a zero-sum game--I mean the idea that somehow, providing all children with decent, affordable health care, safe and stimulating day care, etc., is a radical infringement on the childless. I'm all for academia realizing, as an institution, that the youth and demographics of the entering professoriate mean that this is already a crisis in faculty retention. This does not mean there aren't other worthy crises--like my gay colleague, who cannot marry his non-citizen partner OR get him a work visa, and thus must commute hundreds of miles every weekend (or take a vow of celibacy, one assumes, in keeping with the vow of poverty we academics are supposed to take because of our deep, self-abnegating desire to tutor the unwashed, plugged-in masses). Or my single colleagues, who (like the parents among us) have no leave options short of unpaid absence when there is a family emergency. But why is addressing any one of these issues somehow an affront to the others?

Why are so many of our campuses seen as "hotbeds of liberalism" when, in fact, they are incredibly regressive in the policies toward the "labor." I understand the realities of shrinking budgets and declining public (tax) support. I mean, I understand that it exists, if not why. But I long for the days when at least some of the social justice impulse was directed at campus labor practices.

I, as a well-employed, relatively solvent (although that description may cause my sister to snort coffee out her nose) single parent, am certainly NOT one of the primary victims of the American public's lemming-like rush to "privatization" and "consumer 'choice'"(which, as far as I can tell, means "Now *you* have to pay, sucka"). But finding a broader, more responsible approach to the realities of working life--skyrocketing home prices, obscene health-care costs, ever-growing work-weeks, etc.--doesn't have to consist of us fighting over scraps.

And frankly, our universities (the place in which I have "career" experience) are getting far more work out of this new generation of faculty than they ever got from my own (most male) professors. "Student-centered teaching," with its incessant conferences, responses to drafts, informal "counseling" duties, and "process models" for every conceivable discipline, is clearly far more labor intensive--in "fact time," not necessarily in intellect--than the old "figure it out or flunk model." So it's relatively simple math to figure out that if you need two incomes to provide even a modest living, and one of them is a professorial income, childcare is going to be a big problem.

And one that demands an exclusively "private" solution, presumably, unless you take the time-honored American option: allow your child to get so far beyond the pale that s/he winds up with an all-expense-paid prison.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's good to be loved

from the Inbox

To: "Drocassin"*
From: "Philips Sonicare Preferred Customer Club"
Subject: Did you replace your brush head?
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2007 23:01:55 CDT

The sad part? This was easily the most personal message I received all day. And no, I haven't...d'y'KNOW how much those brush-head suckers cost?

*Approximation of the misspellings in my real name

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Deja F-ing Vu

Another person lost to this damn disease, this time the mother of a dear friend. It's no easier, there's no "meaning," and it doesn't make sense. The tired old clichés are just as tired, just as useless, the words of sympathy just as hollow and futile.

It's not okay.
It won't be all right.
It's not "for a reason."
It's never "for the best."
It's not "meant to be."

It sucks that there are more of us enduring the unendurable, numb and hollow and broken.

We're thinking of you, MM. And of everything we have all lost.


Saturday, October 6, 2007


Contra T.S. Eliot, April is not the cruelest month; Noctvember, this long month leading up to my own personal d(eath)-day anniversary, is. Since the weather began to turn, I find myself constantly melancholy. I cry in the car (again; or is it still?) I long to wear my husband's old sweater and watch. I took out my engagement ring and put it back on (I wear his and my wedding bands, together, on my left hand. The engagement ring, much as I love it, felt frivolous and sad. But I missed it. Like I miss him. I wonder if there will be a time where he's not the first person I want to talk to; the one whose advice I seek; the one whose help I need so badly. If such a time does come, it will be all the worse, because it will mean I'm leaving him behind.

A friend has offered to set me up with a divorced man she knows. It's the first such offer I've had. I said "yes," because I am so lonely, and feel so incomplete. But I worry that I'm only looking for the man I had. No one else will be that gentle, that funny, that droll. How could they be? And how can I see past the person they are not, to catch even a glimpse of something else?

We decorated our house for Halloween. We have 6 strings of metallic spiders on strings draped around. Next weekend: the pumpkin farm.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

This just in....

My sister and favorite correspondent has just sent me the link to Point Break Live!, description as follows:
Point Break LIVE!, the absurdist stage adaptation of the 1992 Keanu Reeves/Patrick Swayze extreme-sports blockbuster, tells the story of former college football star Johnny Utah (Reeves in the film), as he pursues the surfing, bankrobbing, skydiving, bare-hand-fighting, adrenaline junkie cum Zen Master, Bodhi Sattva. The Brechtian blockbuster, which garnered a "Seattle P-I Best of Seattle 2004" award during its run in the Northwest, features armed robbery, big-wave surfing, car chases, explosions, and no less than two extended skydiving sequences. Best of all, you could be the next Johnny Utah... the starring role of Keanu will be selected at random from the audience each night, and will read their entire script off of cue-cards. This method manages to capture the rawness of a Keanu Reeves performance, even from those who generally think themselves incapable of acting.

This coincides nicely with my favorite description of Keanu's acting ability: "If he had two more legs, he'd be a coffee table."

In other news, my three-year-old nephew, upon hearing that he was to have a sitter, said somewhat resignedly, "Babysitters all wear bras, don't they?"

If you only knew, Little Man. If you only knew.

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Wrestling with my demons

What I should do: finish grading this set of first-year essays that I have already had (and avoided) for far too long.

What I want to do: get some greasy bean burritos from Taco Bell and lie on the sofa, clicking aimlessly between "Ten Years Younger" (which I hate, but "What not to wear" is not yet on daytime TV) and "Law & Order" reruns (all of which I have seen, but that just means I can see more of the transformations on TYY). If only "Sell this house" were on!

What I will do? .....

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Bring on "Planet Kirk"

So call me a geek, but this news made the day a bit less dreary.

A friend and I recently spent an entire lunch (need I mention it was over several glasses of a crisp and delightful rosé?) wracking our brains for the term used in the original Star Trek series to designate the thingy that produced food items on demand?

The replicator. I wish the KitchenAid folks would step up production on that one. We working moms would be all over that bad boy.

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