May 27, 2008
In order to procrastinate, I’m taking up Sparky’s challenge and bore people with a list of books on my desk (well, really scattered across my floor, my actual desk has knitting needles, blank CDs, a bag of dried pear slices, my checkbook and my old Bedford handbook from Freshman composition, and various other bit of mundania). Anyway, for Sparky, the books:
Mountains and Rivers without End. Gary Snyder. For the class that I’m TAing–what they will have to say about modern poetry, I really don’t know.
The Translation Zone. Emily Apter. For a seminar I’m taking. She argues that we should all translate in Comparative Literature and forge some kind of new discipline. Second time it’s been assigned to me this year.
Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. More fun than it sounds, because I can distract myself by looking at random entries, like “erotesis (Gk ‘question’): A rhetorical device in which a question is asked in order to get a a definite answer–usually ‘no.’
The Adrian Mole Diaries: The Secret Diaries of Adrian Mole Aged 13 1/2. Sue Townsend. Very funny diary style epistolary novel about a 13 year old boy in the UK. Was popular in the 80s. Paddy gave it to me.
The Divine Comedy. Paradiso. Dante. I’m glossing it for the fourth (?) time–I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever pay attention to it. As I was telling my professor, ironically he keeps telling us how much easier it is getting for him, yet it only gets harder for us. I never have the energy after reading the first two, so really I should just read it alone some day.
I think that is all the procrastination I can handle for now. Back to the grindstone.
April 25, 2008
This quarter sucks–everything that I am taking has just a little bit more reading than normal, but all together it means a lot more. I’m drowning.
Let me preface this by saying that in general, both of the sections for the class that I TA this quarter are pretty great. However…. They have paper due next week, so I had them work on them in class today, just so that they would have a topic and central argument to think about before the weekend. While most of them seemed to get something out of it, a girl actually raised her hand about five minutes into it and said, “This seems more like a rough draft exercise and I don’t have my book.” I offered to lend her my book. She continued, “I don’t usually do drafts, that isn’t how I write, and I actually have a Chemistry midterm in an hour that’s really important…” I told her if she didn’t care about my class and had better things to do, then to please go ahead and do them. I’ll just mark that she left in the roll book. Of course, she started saying she did care and I gave her the evil eye. I also reminded her that she was supposed to be working in partners and that maybe her partner would be able to give her some ideas that she wouldn’t have thought of herself. The nerve of some students. As if I am supposed to make lesson plans according to how she likes to do her papers! I bet hers will be bad, too.
April 3, 2008
So, Paddy and I are back from the spring break road trip to Oregon. It was freezing there (literally–it snowed!), so we got to make a lot of jokes about escaping the gorgeous weather of College Town to do body shots in parkas. We tried to drive too much every day (who knew that the 101 in Oregon slowed to 25 mph every town? Certainly not us!), but we got to spend a lot of time together, which is what we really wanted to do anyway. Portland is an awesome city and we got to hang out with some friends that moved there recently. All in all, it was cold, wet, too much driving and I got food poisoning in Arcata (damned hippies), but had fun anyway. Maybe that is love.
I finally have figured out my classes after a struggle and am happy with it. I met with one of my discussion sections yesterday and they seemed pretty great. Unfortunately, I printed out the wrong roll sheet, so after I called 4-5 names with no response, I told one of them just to tell me their name so I could look for it. Nope, right class, wrong roll sheet. Mildly embarrassing, but not a big deal. Besides that, I told them they should really read the introductions to the books because it gets them used to reading about literature and help them put it into context. They all looked at each other funny and told me the professor told them not to. Why in the world would he tell them to do that? Because then they could figure things out for themselves and they could read them after if they wanted, which seems fair enough, but some of these old texts are really hard to follow. They are reading The Epic of Gilgamesh, so the fact that in the intro there are plot summaries for each tablet (all of which have long ellipses because parts of it are missing) would be helpful to them. So I told them to scan it for helpful reference material, even if they wait to read interpretative parts later (which I recommended). This is what happens when you can’t make it to the first lecture and haven’t actually met the professor you are working for. He is supposed to be nice…
Otherwise, it was pretty good.
March 7, 2008
I hate the quarter system–ten weeks is barely enough time to get into the rhythm of things. Right when you have things figured out, you realize that you should have already started your papers the week before and are terribly behind. This week has been rough. I haven’t been able to sleep from stress. I have been researching and worrying constantly about my papers because usually I am a bit more organized about it all. I’ve been writing this afternoon and now I realize that I actually should be fine. I’m a bit relieved. Really I should have just written an outline last week because I would have seen that I will easily have enough material for 15 pages.
Students have been kind of a pain for the past couple of days. Not many have emailed me about their paper topics and the ones who did have kinda needed more help than I would have thought. I’m worried that they will be really bad. Also, they have been complaining about their first papers. I had a guy argue with me for half an hour about whether his paper was unclear and had run on sentences. He actually said that I just don’t like long sentences, which is absurd. I don’t like grammatical errors; he just couldn’t tell the difference. He had to agree when I said I read a lot of papers and if it wasn’t clear to me, then it wasn’t clear, dammit! Writing is a skill that one needs practice to do well, so it never ceases to amaze me that students who only write papers for GE credit one class a year are surprised when they don’t get A’s. They even sometimes have the gall to tell me that they take all kinds of “hard” classes, thereby insinuating that I must live in some kind of topsy-turvy world if I think I can give them a B-. Apparently they think that the fact that they write like shit shouldn’t bring down their GPA. Bah.
March 4, 2008
I haven’t really been up to all that much. I have a presentation this afternoon that I foolishly stayed up all night preparing, only to find that now my entire afternoon is free and I’m really tired. I haven’t exactly been keeping up very well on my classes–they aren’t particularly interesting. Until the past week or so the weather has been crappy, so Paddy and I have stayed in, ordered pizza and played wii almost every weekend. Now that Spring is here, its all going to change. On Friday night, we went out with Paddy’s friend from work and his fiancee. One of the great things about the city is that if you live in the cool part of town, you can have people meet you there then go to the sushi place across the street and the bar that is kitty corner to it. When I lived in Montreal, I used to complain about people doing that very thing because I lived in uncool Westmount, but now that it works in my favor, I really don’t see the problem. Anyway, they were happy enough because they live in the suburbs. It’s kinda weird how nice it is going out with other couples when you are in one yourself–especially considering how annoying it can be when you are single.
We worked most of Saturday, because as I said, I’ve been dicking around all quarter and now I’m screwed and Paddy had to review an article for a journal. The evening we got Indian food then met up with Paddy’s single friend Helen. We spent most of the time talking about her love life, which is what you almost always end up doing with single people, usually because they bring it up. And dates usually make good stories-certainly better than us talking about how we got pizza and played wii all February. Sunday we hung out at the park with Kevin, one of our fancy city friends. Let’s hope the nice weather continues–socializing seems healthier than what we have been doing.
I’m really excited. Paddy and I are going to take a road trip to Oregon for Spring break in a few weeks. I’ve never been up there, but it is supposed to be beautiful.
February 11, 2008
Paddy came up this weekend. He let me drive his old ’68 volvo, his “project car” since 2000. It’s always been a pile of rust, even worse since he crashed it a few times, but it is fun to drive and has sentimental value (I know, it isn’t exactly a small trinket, but whatever).
We met for drinks with his old flame Anna, who has just broken up with her live-in boyfriend the night before. They have been friends for years and I respect that. No, really. However, I hesitate to actually call her his ex, since they only ever dated very briefly–like two weeks. I’ve never liked her, not because she dated him and I think I have anything to worry about, but really, because she is annoying. The very first time I met her was in 2003, when Paddy and I were dating before I left for Canada. We were all at the local crappy bar. I didn’t know about them, but she was acting so weird, jealous and needy that I knew something was up. She was so desperate for attention that she literally did a cartwheel on the sidewalk in front of the bar, hence her lasting nickname amongst my friends that she has never heard: “somersault girl.” I know it isn’t quite the same thing as a cartwheel, but we were drunk. That was irritating enough, but then she did the unforgivable. She said she was going to give me, Di and another friend of ours a ride back to Paddy’s for the after party, but after everyone else had already secured rides or gotten on their bikes and left, she drove up and said she didn’t want to because her car was messy. She stranded us. Granted, it was college town and we were able to get a cab eventually, but it was so transparent and rude. Once we got there, she made a big stink about something and stomped off, after it was already very very late. So Paddy went out to find her, which infuriated me. I hate women that run off just so that everyone can make a big deal about finding them. It is a very specific type.
Nowadays, I am always very nice and polite to this woman, especially since I’m secure in my relationship with Paddy (back then I wasn’t, so I was much madder about the whole thing). I’ve tried to get past the whole thing, but then she says things like she said to me last night. All last night she was rehashing her icky relationship with her boyfriend: he’d say he wanted to marry her, then he’d want to break up, marry, break up, marry, ad nauseum. I felt bad for her, since nobody needs to be jerked around. Then, when Paddy went to get more drinks, she says, more or less, that she told her boyfriend that if he wasn’t sure then he should have let her go a long time ago, like her and Paddy. Even though it would have been wonderful if she could have been in love with Paddy, since he is so great, but she just couldn’t. So she let him go. At first, I thought she surely must be talking about a different Paddy, because who would say such a thing to someone’s girlfriend? Letting me know that their old “relationship” was a topic in her new one…her nostalgia for my boyfriend is not something I would like to know about. Apparently, she thinks that he thinks that she is the one that got away. Or something. I beg to differ. I told Paddy about it when we were walking home and he said that if anything the fact that nothing ever really happened with her was a lucky escape because she is such a pain in the ass. He apologized for her horribleness and we had a laugh.
February 5, 2008
I voted this morning. It’s always exciting, although the solemnity of the occasion was somewhat undercut by the licorice scented black marker that I used to fill in the little bubbles. I’m interested to see how it turns out. The older I get, the more interesting politics becomes.
Speaking of getting older, when I was getting a bagel at the student union the other day, the cashier called me ma’am. It usually doesn’t bother me, but at the student union? Right after my 27th birthday? Geez.