Friday, June 29, 2007

Writing and Reading the First Person

Narrative is a funny thing. Especially first-person narrative. On the one hand, we can never really trust the first-person narrator to give us the whole story. He or she never reveals everything - there are, necessarily, blind spots. Things the narrator chooses not to mention, things the narrator doesn't see because of his/her subject-position. But the only way that first-person narration can really work is if we "trust" the narrator in spite of our best instincts. I mean, sure, the narrator might be crazy or clearly presenting facts in such a way that he/she is someone with whom we have sympathy. If we really don't "trust" the narrator, at least on some level, it's really difficult to get it up to continue reading. I mean, if we feel at the outset that the narrator is fucking with us for no apparent reason, what's the point in continuing? That's not to say that we can't acknowledge the unreliability of a narrator even as we keep reading. But even if we believe that the narrator is unreliable, we've got to be on board with that unreliability, to see it as something worth thinking about.

Now, in the conventional realist novel with first-person narration, we get one viewpoint, and any resisting reading that we perform means that we interrogate that one perspective that we have in front of us, a perspective that by its very design inspires identification on the part of the reader. But after realism, first-person narration goes a bit wacky. What we get instead, most often, is a collection of first-person perspectives out of which we as readers must then attempt to make some kind of sense. In performing that operation, we arrive at a version of something that we might call "the truth." But, of course, that "truth" is also subjective, right? We, in our reading, ultimately "write" a version of "truth" that depends not only on the subjective narratives that we evaluate but on our own subjective experiences. So if you give a group of people a collection of narratives to evaluate, each person will likely come up with a different "truth."

Of course, depending on the choices of the author, and the number of narratives with which the author provides readers, the author can to some extent attempt to control reader response, but such attempts at control can never be perfect. No author can anticipate every possible interpretation, try as any author might. Something is always going to slip through the cracks.

So on the one hand, this is something that I'm interested in exploring as a literary critic. It's something I force my students to pay attention to as they evaluate fictional texts, and it's something that preoccupies me in my own reading and scholarly work. I'm interested in separating out the narrative layers and in figuring out how they fit together in some kind of composite in the reader's head.

But I also think (because as much as I wish it weren't true a lot of the time, that I try to work out my own personal shit through my work) that my preoccupation with this stuff has to do with problems (though "problems" is probably not the right word) in my own writing and in my own self-presentation. One reason I've not been able to embark on writing a novel in any serious way is a problem with narration. I wrote stories throughout high school and college - took fiction-writing classes in college, had a number of false starts on novels - but by the end of my undergraduate career I felt like I had no clue how to deal with narration, and by the time I was in grad school I gave up on writing fiction. Now, part of this I think has to do with anxiety of influence shit - reading all the stuff I read, it's hard to imagine writing anything that measures up at a certain point. And it's not that I would expect myself to write the great American novel or something, but even if I were to write a crappy novel, I'd have to figure out some kind of narrative approach, and I just don't know how. I suppose the answer would be just to write and to see where things go, but I can't give myself permission to do that, somehow.

And then there's the self-presentation issue, and blogging is part of that. I'm the "author" of this blog. One might regard each post as its own distinct text. As you read each post, you come up with a composite "truth" about Dr. Crazy. But let's say that you have access to more "texts" - some more filtered (like my academic writing), some less filtered (like email), and some even less filtered than that (in-person interaction and/or phone-talking and/or IM). The "truth" that you come up with will be different. And then let's say there's another text even, like my journal, which would add yet another layer, or let's say there are also other texts, like emails to other people or conversations that I've had with other people. Is it possible to get to the "truth" of a person in discourse, to come up with a whole truth? Probably not, right? And then the other side of that coin becomes this: is it ever possible to be honest - to tell the truth? One can try, sure, but ultimately any such thing is contingent upon a variety of factors, right? But so then one can make an effort to be consistent across texts, but in spite of my best efforts, I'm not. I say one thing, and then I do another, or I say another in another context. And so then I wonder whether narrative consistency - in any context - is possible, or even if possible, if it's desirable. I mean, I think that I've always assumed that it is desirable - necessary even - but it's something that I can't seem to maintain. So if I can't maintain it, then is it desirable or necessary? To what extent is consistency in narrative false? I suppose the problem is in trying to pin things down with words. Perhaps such an effort is always going to be doomed to fail. But if it is, then why produce all of the writing/speech that I produce? Why not just shut the fuck up, if language is always going to be inadequate? Why try to define everything and to locate it in language, which is what I always try to do?

Ok, clearly I'm procrastinating. Back to work.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Conference Papers are for Sissies

So yes, I'm back to the whining of procrastination. I'm trying to force myself to get into the groove and to hammer out this conference paper, but I just don't have ANY motivation. It's so weird - I should be excited. This conference is my Big Conference of this academic season, and it means I'm going to have fabulous international travel....

And you know, I've not even really gotten excited about the trip portion of things, and I leave in less than a week! I don't know what's going on with me. Some might put it down to burn-out, which could well be the case, if we're honest. I've been running on empty for about a year now. And knowing all of what I have to face upon my return isn't making it any easier to get it up for this. There's a large part of me that just wishes that it were already December, as then all of my things would be DONE and my life would be in some sort of stable order. As I think I've mentioned in a previous post or posts, I feel like I'm in a bit of a transitional place life-wise. Lots going on, lots of projects coming to an end, and lots of new things on the horizon. The problem is, I'm in the dead space in which I've got to finish the things that are coming to an end and to get the new things off the ground. I hate being in the transitional place. I like things to be fixed - clear. And things just aren't right now. Things aren't... I'm not able to control things right now. And I like controlling things. It's annoying when one likes to control things when one doesn't have the wherewithal to control them.

So yes, back to work. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Deep Thoughts on a Wednesday Night

There is so much that I could write about, but to be honest, I can't write about the "so much" because it's ultimately too much. But I'm sitting here thinking. Thinking and having a restorative glass of wine. And I want to write about some of what I'm thinking about.

Here's the thing about me. I have a much harder time talking about things than writing about them. By translating things into writing, I get a hold on them, and I can be more honest than I can be when put on the spot in conversation. Especially if we're talking about in-person conversation. If we wanted to put levels of "truth" on the various kinds of communications in which Crazy participates, they would have to be as follows, from most (1) to least (5) truthful:

  1. In writing.
  2. On the phone.
  3. In the car, if Crazy is driving.
  4. In the car, if Crazy is a passenger.
  5. Face to face while not mobile.
It's not that I'm dishonest in level 5 situations, but I feel put on the spot, and I get defensive, and I don't feel like I have the time really to think before I speak. In levels 2-4, I'm still defensive, but sometimes I can feel more comfortable because I'm not actually looking at the other person. In writing, I'm the person in control of what goes out, and I've got the time to think about what I'm putting out for consumption by another person or people. I can be more sure of myself. Perhaps what I'm talking about is less about "truth" than about certainty. I'm least certain at level 5 and most certain at level 1.

And then that brings me to the defensiveness. Another thing about me is that I'm a girl who plays the "cool girl" card. You know the "cool girl" - she's ok with whatever and doesn't make demands and takes things for what they are and doesn't question or have expectations or hopes or, good god no, feelings. Now, as Medusa and I have discussed at length, the "cool girl" is really the oppressed girl. The whole "cool girl" pose is just that: a pose. And that pose is really fucked up. Why? Because nobody's that cool. The only way one is that cool is if one doesn't give a shit about the other person. (And yes, I've been the don't-give-a-shit "cool girl" so I know that this is true.) But so anyway, if one is really not "cool" or even lukewarm, what ultimately happens is freaking out after the other person thinks that one is "cool." And then one has two choices: to revert to the "cool girl" pose (my traditional M.O.), or to reveal what's really going on (a dangerous enterprise.)

So let's imagine that somebody says to Crazy, "But you don't like me." My response would, playing the "cool girl" card, would be "I like you... but I don't LIKE you." And then if the person follows up with "I think I'm unlovable," Cool Girl Crazy would say, "No you're not unlovable - clearly people have loved you in the past." Crazy would not say, because she is so fucking "cool," "well, you're a person I could love under the right conditions," which is actually what the truth is. Similarly, when a person says to her, "well, you don't really want something to happen from this," Cool Girl Crazy would say "well, obviously not," and this is the "truth" because it's not that she DOES want something to happen, but she in real life would be OPEN to the possibility, even if that possibility is logistically impossible, or if not impossible, impractical. The problem is one of admitting (in all senses of the word) the possibility. So it's not that I'm dishonest, exactly, it's that I'm too fucking scared to admit to things that would potentially fuck my whole world up. Or fuck up the world of others. And so this is where the "cool girl" thing means that I'm oppressed.

So I'm "cool." And the "cool" pose, while it does stop one from making an ass of oneself, potentially does close off certain options.

Your question may be, why am I ruminating on these things - the levels of certainty and the status of the "cool girl" - on this Wednesday night? Well, over the past three days, let's just say that I've been working in the medium of the Levels and I've been operating with the techniques of a "Cool Girl." I'm not saying I never deviated - I did - but at the end of the day, I think that these things are informing my life at this moment. These things are informing my life not only because of my own inherent fucked-up-ness or commitmentphobia or whatever, but also because they've been inspired by the casual and cavalier pose of another, and it's awfully hard to move beyond one's normal operating procedures when one feels radically insecure. But so, I'll leave the country. There will be ample time for reflection and consideration. And I could come back and this situation will be magically resolved and all things will be clear. Or, I could come back, and things could continue to be... complex. At the end of the day, though, nothing's complex, because I've decided that this is a person in my life, and this is a person who is my true friend. And so there's no need to ruminate. Except I'd rather if that weren't the ultimate outcome - at least without some more in the middle.

My Name is Man-Kitty, and I Am a Saboteur

Hello, readers of my mother, who is better known in your circles as Dr. Crazy. I feel that is important that I send a message out to you all. One of apology and one of hope.

First, for the apology portion of my missive. First, let me preface this by saying that I really am a darling, darling kitty-cat. I love deeply and warmly, and I am, mostly, a faithful feline companion in these difficult times. However, even I have my bad days. And those bad days, while few and far between, are a real bitch for those around me.

Today, it was a bad day. It started at around 3:30 AM. My mother had a "guest," whom earlier in the evening had been my friend; I had played with the guest, and it was fabulous. But, under the cover of darkness, I decided that this "guest" was an enemy. And I began my campaign of terror, for I most like to attack when the enemy is vulnerable (i.e., sleeping). This then caused conflict between my mother and the "guest," which of course, was part of my campaign of psychological warfare, which I waged concomitantly with the campaign of terror. The whole thing ended with me wounding the enemy hours later with a deep gash to the arm. The enemy bleeds, oh yes, the enemy bleeds.

Now, from this account, you may not think that I am sorry, but truly, I feel deep remorse. For one, my mother, she was not at all pleased with my behavior, not one bit. For she has deep affection for this enemy within the House of Crazy, in spite of my angry and, admittedly jealous, protests. For two, my behavior meant that my mother had to feel conflict between her true and abiding affection for me, which is timeless and universal and unconditional, and this "affection" she feels for this other... "person" (whom, were I granted the authority to bestow pseudonyms, I would name, The Interloper). The mama, she was torn, and very upset. Luckily, The Interloper was able to soothe the mama and to accept her apologies on my behalf, as I really do only want what my mama wants and what makes her happy.

Also, it is lucky that The Interloper had been set to leave today anyway, so no further conflicts might arise. (Some might argue it would have been better for The Interloper to stay longer, so that we could work out our "issues" and come to some kind of tentative peace, but this was not written in the stars.) My mama set off with the Interloper to transport him to a nearby town where the Parents of the Interloper reside. And this is where the message of hope begins, my friends, for I do think of you as friends, even though I only know you through my mama's reports. For it seems that during the course of the car ride, and then my mama's tour around the Hometown of The Interloper, and then in the brief time that my mama spent at the residence of the Parents of The Interloper, that things did go very smoothly, and that although things are now in a liminal state between my mama and The Interloper, that my mama feels entirely positive about what has transpired over the past days, even if I was a royal asshole (which I'm not saying I was, but this seems to be my mama's view). So there is hope for assholic kitty-cats, and there is hope for Interlopers everywhere, for it seems like even the most strategically waged campaigns of terror and psychological warfare cannot dampen the spirits of the humans whom those campaigns affect.

So with that, dear blog readers, I bid you Good. Day. Or I suppose good night, but Good. Day. has a better ring to it.

Conundrum (Poofalicious)

Let's say that you've got this cat, whose routine has been upset by ridiculous choices his mother (Person A) has made over the past couple of days.


This post will probably go poof.

[And poof! it has gone.]

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Cat Certainly Has Me Trained

This is the only reason that I can come up with to account for the fact that I'm awake at this hour and blogging and eating Golden Grahams dry from the box, even though I don't think I got to sleep last night (this morning?) until like 4 AM. But there is no rest for the wicked Man-Kitty Owner, and so, like clockwork, when normally he wakes me up (which I should note he did not on this morning), here I am. I want to go back to sleep, but am kind of wide awake, stupidly. Huh. Perhaps will try to go back to sleep anyway. Logically I know it's too early to wake up. Clearly.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Giddy Crazy, Anxious Crazy

Well, I suppose that today begins the kick-off of the Month of Crazy - the one month I will have of this summer where work falls by the wayside (and don't even talk to me about the conference paper that remains unfinished, which yes, will have to be finished over the weekend thus cutting into the Month of Crazy), at least for the most part, and I allow myself to be the social animal that really I am when I let myself live in the way that is most natural for me. I've got a friend coming to visit for the next few days, and then after that I head to Hometown with the M-K, and then I'm off to the UK, and then I will go to a conference for 3 days and traveling around with G. for 10. Then I return to Hometown, at which time I will have some quality time with the Mom of Crazy as well as some Crazy Times with the Friends of Crazy (including A.! Who has recently had a second caucus with her Accidental Husband and things are going fabulously and they may in fact be One True Loves!), and then back home to begin on the Five Months of Insane Work.

But let's focus for a moment on the Month of Crazy. I'm really, really excited for all of the things that I will do over the next month, and I'm really excited to take a fucking break. I'm feeling pretty burnt out after all of the work-focused stuff that has preoccupied me this year, and I really don't feel like I've had time to just hang since I returned from Eastern Europe last June. That's not good for anybody. No, it's time for me to have some fucking fun - that's what I'm thinking.

So, the fun begins tonight.

That said, I'm also a little anxious about what all of this premeditated fun will "mean" in the grand scheme of things. One, it means I'm not going to be steadily productive, which will put me behind when I return to the grind at the end of July. Two, well, I've had a few times of premeditated fun in my life, and they often turn out to mark times of change. Not sure why that is, but often when I make the conscious choice to rock it out with the fun, this then ends up being the catalyst for big doings in my life in other areas. For example: Once upon a time, when I was in graduate school, my friends and I organized something called the Fiesta de Loca. That was pretty much my last true hurrah for about 3 1/2 years. True story. And that's just one example.

So I'm kind of wondering where I'll come out on the other side of the month of Crazy.

But no more time to ruminate about it now, as big thunderstorm is coming in and I'm stupidly typing this out on my balcony, so must close so as to save laptop from the rains. Maybe it will be less humid when the storm is done? One can only hope :)

I'm Not Sure How I Feel about This

As seen at New Kid's....

Your Score: Busy Body- ENFJ

73% Extraversion, 66% Intuition, 33% Thinking, 60% Judging

You manipulative busybody! You're what some might call the "backseat driver" of life. You know, the one who knows exactly what everyone else is doing wrong and how they should go about fixing it. You're always trying to change everyone else.

The strange thing is, you can generally get whoever you want, to do whatever you want. What's that? You want me to stop insulting you...well, alright...but only because you asked so nic...WAIT A MINUTE!

Stop sticking your cumbersome nose where it aint't wanted. You're like an oversized sniffer dog, trained to sniff out everyone else's problems, yet oblivious to your own.

For one you worry excessively. The fact that you're also incredibly sensitive to criticism probably has you on the verge of tears right now. Get a grip.

You have powers of manipulation unlike any other. You know all the gossip and you know how to ultimately use it as blackmailing material.

You could potentially be the ultimate evil villain... if not for the fact you choose to use all of your powers for good, rather than evil. How honourable. How admirable and praiseworthy. How pathetic.

While you're helping others out and pushing them into the limelight, you're left in the background to inhale the dirty smoke of their success. Nice one.


If you want to learn more about your personality type in a slightly less negative way, check out this.


The other personality types are as follows...

Loner - Introverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving

Pushover - Introverted Sensing Feeling Judging

Criminal - Introverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving

Borefest - Introverted Sensing Thinking Judging

Almost Perfect - Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving

Freak - Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging

Loser - Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving

Crackpot - Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging

Clown - Extraverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving

Sap - Extraverted Sensing Feeling Judging

Commander - Extraverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving

Do Gooder - Extraverted Sensing Thinking Judging

Scumbag - Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving

Prick - Extraverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving

Dictator - Extraverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging

Link: The Brutally Honest Personality Test written by UltimateMaster on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Crazy Times

Good morning, faithful readers! I am feeling quite chipper on this Monday morning in spite of the following:
  1. It is now day 4 of gray skies that threaten rain. And sure, we need rain. Except it's not raining. It's just threatening to do so. I resent the sky's empty threats.
  2. A certain Man-Kitty thought it would be awesome this morning to play the "Hey! Mama's feet are sticking out of the covers! I shall bat at them through the slats in the mission-style footboard, which is super annoying to her but which also means that she can't retaliate! Might I note that he is now in the bed sleeping? Asshole.
  3. I have many things that I must do on this day, most of which I don't really *want* to do. For example, I really don't *want* to deal with the Dining Room Table of Anxiety, which has piles of conference-paper-writing detritus littering it. But I must, as when one has visitors enter into one's home, it is wrong to make them absorb one's anxiety as it emanates from one's dining room table. Not very welcoming, or so I've heard.
  4. I suppose I should confess that I'm a wee bit nervous about the Visitor. Mostly I'm nervous in the way that one is before anybody comes to stay at one's house. You know, just the usual, "I'm a shitty hostess and I never really decorated my apartment" shit.
But so yes, in spite of all of the above I'm feeling quite chipper. One might put this down to the fact that I am a wee bit excited about the Visitor's arrival, in spite of any nervous anxiety that this also produces. Also, I got a great night's sleep, except of course for being awakened by the little furry paws of my M-K. And so now I'm drinking coffee, and when this is done I shall do my things on my list of things to do, and I shall be highly productive and then, well, I will have fun things to preoccupy me for the next few days! Hurrah! I may or may not blog during the Days of Super-Fun (as I've been thinking of them, in a whole, "if you send positive thoughts out into the universe than positive things will happen"effort), so don't be dismayed if there's a bit of silence through the beginning and middle of this week, though I'm not certain that there will be, as there may well be time for blogging even still. We shall see.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


I've been thinking a bit about "anticipation" over the past couple of days, and the feeling of nervous energy combined with incredible laziness that accompanies this state of mind when I experience it. I think, actually, that I'm not usually much of an anticipator of things. I'm a goal-setter, I'm a planner, I'm a controller. If one has those qualities, one doesn't often indulge in "anticipation," I'm thinking. That kind of forward looking - the kind that is decidedly unproductive and that involves spending uncountable hours thinking about things like wardrobe while not doing the things that one needs to get done, like a conference paper - well, I don't often allow myself the luxury of anticipation.

But I've got some stuff going on that has inspired me to anticipate (and to procrastinate about writing the conference paper). What's going on? What is Crazy anticipating?
  • An out-of-town visitor, who will arrive tomorrow! Hurrah!
  • The journey to my parents' with the Man-Kitty.
  • The trip to the UK, which will include about 20% work and 80% visiting and traveling around with my dear friend G., and I think we can only characterize that 80% as vacation-like (although it won't entirely be a vacation, as I'll be working on some stuff for the book as well as for a class I'm thinking of teaching).
  • The return to my parents' which will involve the grand reunion with the Man-Kitty and also at least one night of grand going out with my girls! Hurrah!
And so yeah. I'm spending my time thinking about what I'll wear, mooning around about possible scenarios (both positive and negative) for all of the above, and just generally... anticipating. If I didn't know better, I'd have to characterize my attitude as almost hopeful. As if I think that I'm on the brink of a time of great possibility. What the hell is wrong with me? I thought I stopped believing in this whole "possibility" nonsense at least 5 years ago. Don't worry, I am certain that I will return to my jaded senses sooner or later. I always do.

A Later Start Than I Should Be Getting

Ok, so I had high hopes for getting my day underway in an efficient fashion this Sunday, but problematically, I'm an idiot who talks on the phone instead of doing what I need to do, and so now it's 1 PM and I've accomplished absolutely nothing. And I do have a great many things to accomplish, including household stuff as well as work on the conference paper that I apparently refuse to write. And I really can't continue to procrastinate in this fashion if I hope to have everything done that I need to have done. And yet - well, I am a procrastinator. This is the way of me. What is a girl to do? Perhaps I need to make a list. The problem, too, is it's a gloomy day and so I'm not terribly motivated, and after my morning of talking on the phone I feel like taking a wee nap. That would not be a wise decision, but I fear it's one I may make. Ah well. I shall check in later should I have any news or should I feel the need to record my progress. I know you're all on the edge of your seats :)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

When in Doubt, Do Not Do the Following on a Friday Night

  1. Talk to your mother on the phone about things that are going on in your life.
  2. Decide upon that conversation ending that you should drink a bunch of wine while having a good chat with your friend Naomi. (Nothing wrong with the having a good chat or the wine, necessarily, but in combination after the mother conversation? And after you didn't really eat dinner? Yeah, not wise.)
  3. Call up your FB and tell him gossip that you heard 4th hand about things he may or may not have done in grad school like 10 years ago. Oh, and why did you hear this gossip? Because you and Naomi decided to have her friend who went to FB's grad school institution for undergrad sleuth around for you. And do you even care about the gossip? No, you just liked the idea of the world being that small. Because you are an asshole. Needless to say, FB was not happy with you after you blabbed all of your news to him, and he also did not find you charming in your drunken state.
  4. Get off the phone with FB, keep drinking, and proceed to have a super-drunk conversation with I. in which you tell I. all about FB.
  5. Decide to call FB back (at 3 AM). He of course did not answer.
  6. Decide you should take a shower before you go to sleep. Even though it's 3 AM. Thank god I didn't drown myself or slip or something.

So yeah. I'm a ridiculous person. Do not do the things that I do, or you, too, will become ridiculous.

Friday, June 22, 2007

8 Random Things You Don't Know about Dr. Crazy

Tagged by the inimitable Lina.

  • I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
  • Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  • At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Let's see..... 8 Random facts about moi. Though I've got to say, I hope I don't tell you all things that you already know... It's hard to remember what I've revealed and what I haven't..... Hmmmm....

  1. When my parents were going through their divorce, I had a 3-month-or-so-long crime spree in which I was a shoplifter. What did I steal? Candy and make-up. Apparently these were my priorities when I was 12. I was never caught.
  2. I blush at the drop of a hat. I mean, I've even blushed when I'm by myself, which is just utterly ridiculous, and somehow even more embarrassing than blushing in the presence of others.
  3. I totally did not always want to be a college professor when I grew up. In fact, the main things that I wanted to be were a cartoon (age 3), an architect (age 8 or 9), a fashion designer (ages 9-13), a journalist (ages 14-19).
  4. I have never read Of Grammatology in its entirety - or really even more than a few pages, to be honest. I doubt I ever will.
  5. I have a circular birthmark on the back of my right calf that, when I was born, was totally white and had fuzzy hair that sprouted from it. The hair fell out, but the circular birthmark remains, and it is no longer totally white, but you can still see the perfect circle of difference if you look carefully.
  6. I was named after my father, though not with the usual feminine versions of his name. This means that my name (which is not terribly uncommon) is not spelled in the most common way. This means that people (and people's stupid voice-activated cell phone things) mispronounce my name in ways that I HATE.
  7. You know my First Love? I never said "I love you" to him during the five years we dated. Nor did he to me. We only ever said it after we broke up. (Which may indicate something about the dysfunction that was that relationship.)
  8. I was born on a Holy Day of Obligation. And it sucks to go to church on your birthday when you're a little kid. Totally.

Ok, now I'm supposed to tag 8 people. I hate the tagging part. I think I'm just not going to follow the rules and say that anybody interested should do the meme and maybe leave a comment alerting me to the fact that you've taken up the challenge?

Poetry Friday - Jorie Graham

"The Way Things Work"

is by admitting
or opening away.
This is the simplest form
of current: Blue
moving through blue;
blue through purple;
the objects of desire
opening upon themselves
without us;
the objects of faith.
The way things work
is by solution,
resistance lessened or
increased and taken
advantage of.
The way things work
is that we finally believe
they are there,
common and able
to illustrate themselves.
Wheel, kinetic flow,
rising and falling water,
ingots, levers and keys,
I believe in you,
cylinder lock, pulley,
lifting tackle and
Crane lift your small head -
I believe in you -
your head is the horizon to
my hand. I believe
forever in the hooks.
The way things work
is that eventually
something catches.

Thank You, Gods of Rain and Writing!

It has been sunny here for like 700 days in a row. One day it was a little overcast because it was nearly 100 degrees, and they thought it might thunderstorm, and it did thunder, though rain did not materialize. These are the conditions in which I've been trying to write this conference paper, and let me just say, my friends, it is not at all easy to write when the sun is shining and the birds are chirping and when it's a bajillion degrees (even though yes, I live in an air-conditioned space, but something about just knowing the oppressive heat is out there hinders my motivation). But today - just when I most needed it! - the skies are steel gray and the rain beats steadily upon the sidewalk. It is only 64 degrees - when of late it's been nearly 80 at this time of day! Hurrah!

So I woke up to this gorgeous perfect writing day, and I took myself to Starbucks to get myself motivated, er, I mean caffeinated - what motivation and caffeination are not the same thing? - but so yes, and now I shall consider where to begin with the day of super-duper-productivity.


Well, I did not do ANY work on the conference paper today. I'm kind of pissed off at myself for that, but I had maintenance dudes in and out of my apartment all afternoon, and I did laundry, and I cleaned my bedroom, and so yeah, I did accomplish things, but not the main thing that I MUST accomplish. This is ok, though, as I did think about the paper, and I do think that I know where it's going. I just need to do some solid work on it tomorrow, or otherwise I'm screwed. Actually, I may be screwed anyway, but I'm choosing to believe that working on the paper is something that must be done tomorrow and that it will have positive benefits.

I wrote in my journal for the first time in a couple of weeks tonight... That was interesting. You know, I've never been a daily journal-writer. I'll go a couple of weeks, and then write until my hand hurts, and then nothing, and then maybe 4 or 5 days in a row, and then a break of a month. I suppose the reason that I've been able to keep journals since adolescence is precisely because I don't make rules about having to write every day or whatever. But it's interesting writing in the journal as compared with the kind of writing that I do here. The journal, well, the reader for whom I write is me. I reread old journals, I refer to things in old journals in current entries, I assume that "the reader" knows every detail about every part of my life so there are lots of gaps and skips, few transitions, and much maudlin and meandering musing. Not that I was maudlin tonight - not at all - just thinking. You know, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately - and it occurs to me that most of the time I *don't* actually do all that much thinking. This may seem crazy, given my profession, given what I write here, but about my own life... yeah, not so much with the thinking. I kind of go from thing to thing and I might think about discrete things that I have to accomplish or to deal with, but I don't do a whole lot of connecting the dots between those things - I don't do a lot of productive reflecting, I suppose. Now, this isn't to say that I don't love to have a good pity-party for myself, but that's not actually *thinking* about one's life. That's emoting, and whining. But lately I've been spending a lot of time *thinking* - about my career, about what I want in my life other than the career, about choices I've made and choices that lie in front of me. And I'm not really coming to any sort of answer or something, but yeah.... I've been actually trying to think things through and to connect some dots. Historical dots, present tense dots, future dots.

But so I'm kind of exhausted from all of that, and so I took a shower, and now I'm off to read some Judith Krantz (Am rereading the Scruples books - on Scruples II now) which is the absolute best cure for too much thinking. Ah, love the Krantz. The books are terribly cheesy and formulaic, but I've been hooked since I saw the mini-series of I'll Take Manhattan starring Valerie Bertinelli as Maxi Amberville (and Julianne Moore as her best friend, and Francesca Annis as her mother) when I was 12 and then went on to read the book the following summer. Ah, the Krantz. Porn for nerdy girls on the brink of womanhood. (And apparently escapist bedtime reading for actual women who think too much.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Ok, so I've been doing things, taking care of things, since this morning at around 11 AM (and yes, I realize that is a late start but A. called at 7 AM with a relationship emergency, and so I had to go back to sleep for a few hours after that) and it's not like I'm not getting anything done - I'm actually getting a lot done - but do you ever have those days when you don't *feel* like you're making a dent, whether you are actually making a dent or not? Yeah, it's one of those days.

Hmmm... What else? I decided to change one of my syllabi to make my life easier at the end of next semester, and I'm considering ways to make my life easier in my other classes as well. Everything has to work in the service of the book this fall. I hate that, but that's just how it has to go - no pre-tenure sabbaticals at my institution, so I'm totally forced into this course of action. Basically I'm thinking a lot about how to minimize time spent grading and how to combine or change certain assignments so that students still hit all of the points that I want them to hit, but I don't necessarily need to evaluate them at each and every step. This is no small task. I really care a lot about teaching, and I really care that my students learn, but there are only so many hours in a day, and I need to spend those hours on things other than grading this fall. As it is I've got 1 1/2 new preps, so this teaching semester will not be the easiest I've ever had, even if I get rid of some grading.

Question for my readers: Do you have a recommendation for an essay (no more than 20-30 pages probably) that gives good and ACCESSIBLE overview and background about queer theory/literature? I'm looking for something really basic, not too dense, that introduces students to key terms and concepts, etc. If you can think of anything that seems to fit that bill, either drop me a note at reassignedtime [at] gmail or leave your suggestion in comments. Remember, though, I'm thinking EASY. Think a course that fills a general requirement, majors and non-majors enrolled, first assignment that is on the syllabus. Rome wasn't built in a day, and I need to ease them in.

What else? I don't know. Perhaps more later should the mood strike.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hands of Crazy

Well. I posted about going to get a manicure, and I also posted about my non-hand-model hands earlier, so I thought to myself, "Self, perhaps you should show people the hand of the little-kid fingers and the smudge-of-dirt freckle" (right below the deformed middle finger - and it really does look like dirt in this picture, so I forgive my mother.). Actually, I feel like the hand looks even more crazily deformed, in part because of the positioning of my thumb (not conscious), and in part because of the widely spread pinky finger, which really results because of a horrible childhood accident involving both a basketball accident as well as the finger being slammed in a car door (on the same day).

So here it is

PSA: How to Talk to Boys on the Phone

This post might also be entitled, "What do boys like to talk about on the phone?"

Well, dear readers, it seems that a number of youngsters have happened upon my blog with the above searches (which mostly brings them here, but also which often land them here, and if they're interested in what they found in that second post, they should probably head over here as well, though apparently I've done a number of posts with the tag of "talking on the phone with boys" so maybe they're also ending up at those), and, although my blog is rated R and I feel that it may not be appropriate for these youngsters are perusing its contents, I do feel obliged to offer what little expertise I have in this area, if only to smooth the passage into The World of Dating for those who find me by this means.

Now, I'm something of an expert in talking on the phone with boys. I've been doing it since I was a lass of 12 years old (that's 20 years, if you're counting). From that sweet Billy, whom I'd known since I was five and who I "went with" for approximately 3 weeks total over the span of two years (it was a volatile relationship), to First Love, to various crushes, and now, to boys I met through online dating as well as to a few select boys whom I know through this here blog (for yes, it's come to that, and take note, youngsters, that this is what will happen if you live in the middle of the country in a conservative town and you don't get married by the time you're 30 - you'll be talking to strange boys you've never met on the phone, so if you're daunted now, it's best if you get married in your 20s) - well, yes, I've got a lot of experience in this area.

So what do I, and have I historically, talked with boys on the phone about? And how do I do it?

Let's address the how first.

How is easy. They call you or you call them. And then you talk to them as you would talk to anybody. You are yourself. Except for when you're really nervous about it, and then I recommend making some notes with conversation starters and topics before such a conversation is to transpire so there isn't dead air. Dead air is the death knell on the phone, as we all know. And boys, not as verbal as girls, as studies have shown, can be prone to the dead air, so it's up to you to fill the space. [Caveat: unless you are a college professor and dead air doesn't make you uncomfortable because you play the silence game in your classes, in which case you can wait until they fill the dead air. But this is a practiced art, and the novice should not attempt it.]

Now for the what:

First, if one is only first embarking on The World of Dating, I would recommend:
  • Music. Talk about what's on the radio - what you hate and what you love.
  • Sports.
  • School. You know the same people. Talk about them. Or talk about the class(es) you're in together. Teachers. Extracurriculars. Whatever.
  • Hobbies. Though probably not yours, unless you share the same hobbies as the boy. If your hobby is collecting stickers (do kids even do that anymore?), then talking about that to a boy who likes video games probably won't win you points.
  • TV. Though stick to shows that the boy would probably also watch. Same advice goes for websites.
Now, if one is more advanced in this phone talking game, I'd like to say that the topics are different, but they're not. Looking over the list, I've got to say that I think I'm still going with the same main categories. I mean, sure, supplant "school" for "work," and supplant "what's on the radio" with "[insert kind of music that only the cool kids listen to here]" but other than that, well, there you have it. Ok, but maybe you talk about sex things, too, in ways that are entirely inappropriate for the people who I think were searching for this on the internet, so youngsters, don't get any ideas about that. In fact, if the boy says inappropriate things about sex you probably should hang up on him. If he calls back, you might say something about not being that kind of girl (or boy, I suppose, but I don't think most boys are worrying about this in adolescence as they're still trying to figure their shit out, though what do I know about these kids today).

The main thing of it, though, is getting them to talk. Ask open-ended questions (not yes or no questions). Pretend you're interested in what they're interested in (or really be interested in it, whatever). If you're going to talk about the stuff that you're interested in, make sure you make it interesting for them. But at the end of the day, this is not rocket science. They are human beings. You talk to them just like you'd talk to any other human being. Not that it feels the same, because you're all nervous, etc. But really: if you can get things going in the first five or ten minutes, the rest will take care of itself.

Thus concludes this PSA from Dr. Crazy :)

Well, I Didn't Expect It to Be Otherwise

What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

Can I just note however that the reason I received this rating is because I use the words "crap," "hell," "fuck," and "punch"? And doesn't that make this seem like a much more violent and scary blog than it really is? But yes, those under 17 will not be admitted without a parent or guardian.

As seen at Anastasia's.

Random Bullets of Crap

  • I think that I sprained my thumb in my sleep last night. It was fine at bedtime - totally - but upon waking, it now hurts to bend it. I feel like if I were a knuckle cracker that cracking the knuckle might make it feel better, but as I don't actually know how to crack my knuckles really (terrorized by mother about how trashy such a habit was throughout my childhood, as well as cautioned that it would give me big unladylike knuckles which would make my hands hideous), this is no solution.
  • Here's the thing though about the above admonitions of my mother: I don't think I have particularly "ladylike" hands anyway. My hands are like little kid hands. I don't have long slender fingers, and there's a freckle on my right hand that my mom consistently mistook for dirt throughout my childhood, thus trying to scrub it off and me yelping, "It's not dirt! It's a birthmark!" to which my mother would say, "You never had that when you were a baby!" only finally to realize that yes, indeed, the freckle would not be removed with a good washing. And my middle finger on my right hand is deformed from how I hold a pen. So yeah, it was never like I was going to be a hand model.
  • Am going to return to Target to return some things from my trip yesterday. I hate having to go back to Target in shame. Thus, I shall go to a different Target.
  • I'm really looking forward to my trip to the salon today. Perhaps upon my return I shall tell you of Shana, my stylist. On the menu for today is a mani/pedi (I'm not a high maintenance girl who has these as a regular part of her repertoire, but I do like to indulge every now and again), eyebrows, and a haircut. It shall be an afternoon of beauty! Hurrah!
  • I heard back from my publisher with suggestions for revision of the manuscript (but a positive review overall! hurrah! they will not rescind the contract! not that I thought that they would, but it was always a fear, given the way that advance contracts work!) and I have a LOT of work to do upon my return from the UK. Actually, I've got a lot of work to do while IN the UK, in terms of reading my ASS off and making many notes. But anyway, I'm feeling many mixed emotions because a) I am really happy to have heard back before my travels because I was beginning to get antsy to hear, b) I'm freaked out about how I'm possibly going to do what I need to do with this thing, and c) I'm excited because now it seems like the book really will happen! This is a lot to be feeling at one time. And I feel a little bit sick thinking about all of that. Just saying.
  • Re: the reader's report - and other reader's reports I've received - is it wrong that I'm both pleased and bothered at the same time by the way that the STYLE of my prose is praised? I feel like I'm kind of an asshole for feeling bothered at any praise, but it brings me back to the primal scene of my first year-end eval. in my PhD program where part of my critique was that my seminar papers lacked "sophistication and complexity" but that I was a "pleasure to have in class." And you know, I realize that I do tend to have a pretty single-minded approach to the way I write about literature, and that's why I really need readers to tell me, "dude, you need to address x, y, and z in addition to hammering home the stuff about a and b" because I honestly don't even SEE x, y, and z when I'm in the zone, but then I feel like they just "enjoy" reading me but that I'm actually a stupid person who needs to be told how not to be stupid. Ok, I'm shutting up about this now. I need to be happy that people like anything about what I'm doing, address the suggestions (really great ones, actually), and then the book will be both enjoyable and solid scholarship and nobody will know that really I'm all style and no substance.
  • I'm going to address comments to yesterday's post, but not until later when I'm working on my conference paper, as then I will be in the proper frame of mind to address them.
  • Ok, time to ready myself for my day and to get out of the house. If I'm not careful the whole day will get away from me!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More On Writing

Ok, so that post last night worked wonders and I'm feeling all chatty and like I've got ideas again. So, I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself because this means that the advice that I always give to my students about writing about why one can't write actually helping one to write is not just crap I spout but actually true.

But so on the writing agenda today and in the coming days is a conference paper. And so this evening I've been glancing through the proposal I wrote an age ago, making many notes, refreshing myself on the theory that I'm piecing together in order to make my argument - you know, all of the basic pre-writing stuff. This is my process for academic writing: I start with the bare bones, the scaffold, and then from there I choose the specific passages that I plan to discuss. (That will happen tomorrow.) Then I flesh out my reading of passages, hammer out the theory, and then deal with critical fleshing out. Once I've done all of that, I then move into, "let's make this a complete draft" mode, and then there are usually one or two revisions from that point before I have what I'd call a "final draft" which isn't really final, but which would suffice if there were some sort of apocalypse and I had to give the paper as is without further tweaking.

You'll note that this process is very different from my process with blogging. With blogging, I start with an idea. And then I come up with a title, and usually the title is some dumb thing like the one above. And then I write. Until I feel like I'm done. And then I stop writing and I hit publish. Voila!

But what's been interesting to me as I've been doing the preliminary stuff for the conference paper tonight is that I'm really thinking about the same things in each medium. The thing that has been preoccupying me research-wise for the past few years is, to put it in the broadest terms, how we connect notions of the author or authority to write with individual texts and collections of texts that get assigned a particular author's name. I'm thinking about this specifically in terms of women's writing, and I'm thinking about it in relation to broader ideas about the canon and how some texts get positioned as within the dominant canon of literature and some texts get put into parallel, marginalized canons - and then how still some other texts seem to fall into multiple canons.

Now, what does this have to do with the stuff I've considered in terms of blog-writing and blog-persona stuff, you might be asking. Well. I'm thinking tonight that taking on a persona through which to compose texts and group them has allowed me to (in a very casual way) play around with some of the things that I'm arguing in my academic work. At the heart of each of these projects (the blog, the loosely grouped collection of conference papers and articles I've done over the past three years) is the central question: what is the relationship between author and text, and how does that relationship inform readers' responses and judgments?

I started thinking about this tonight as I was looking over Foucault's Archaeology of Knowledge. Consider this passage:

"Generally speaking, it would seem, at first sight at least, that the subject of the statement is precisely he who has produced the various elements, with the intention of conveying meaning. Yet things are not so simple. In a novel, we know that the author of the formulation is that real individual whose name appears on the title page of the book (we are still faced with the problem of dialogue, and sentences purporting to express the thoughts of a character; we are still faced with the problem of texts published under a pseudonym: and we know all the difficulties that these duplications raise for practitioners of interpretive analysis when they wish to relate these formulations, en bloc, to the author of the text, to what he wanted to say, to what he thought, in short, to that great silent, hidden, uniform discourse on which they build that whole pyramid of different levels); but, even apart from those authorities of formulation that are not identical with the individual/author, the statements of the novel do not have the same subject when they provide, as if from the outside, the historical and spatial setting of the story, when they describe things as they would be seen by an anonymous, invisible, neutral individual who moves magically among the characters of a novel, or when they provide, as if by an immediate, internal decipherment, the verbal version of what is silently experienced by a character. Although the author is the same in each case, although he attributes them to no one other than himself, although he does not invent a supplementary link between what he is himself and the text that one is reading, these statements do not presuppose the same characteristics for the enunciating subject; they do not imply the same relation between this subject and what is being stated" (93).

Now, this is an incredibly dense passage, and I'm not going to provide a careful reading of it here. But I think that this is what I'm really trying to work out - the relation between the subject and what is being stated, how duplications and "authorities of formulation" work on what the reader (or even writer) might perceive as "meaning." Is it possible to separate out the different levels of discourse within one collection of words? If it is, what do we find when we do so? And how might that compromise our desire to see writing as that which expresses and communicates, even as writing necessarily does express and communicate, but what if that's not all it does?

And if that's not all it does, is there any such thing as "personal" writing? Sure, there can be writing that feels personal or that we respond to as personal, but what if the act of writing, any writing, is a public act? And if it is, then doesn't the pose of "personality" work only as a pose - isn't there something impersonal about all writing? And if that's the case, then that really has the potential to throw a wrench into certain critical desires to link writing with the expression of the personal as a political act because, really, there's no such thing as expressing the personal in language. Writing the personal (or the body, or emotions, or whatever), is only another form of publicity. Which has the potential to bring us back to a pretty conservative notion of the what constitutes great writing (think T.S. Eliot in "Tradition and the Individual Talent"). And that seems like a step backward, so what if there's a way for us to reconfigure how we think about the "personal" and "writing the body" and all the rest that allows us to think of such writing in another register. What if it's no longer personal vs. impersonal or private vs. public but something that moves in and out of the two?

Yes, these are the thoughts that are meandering through my head. And I don't know if they make sense, and I don't know if the way that I'm thinking about this has the necessary level of complexity in order really to make an argument. But. This is the crap I'm working out both in my research and in my blog-writing. Now, it may not seem that way when you read my silly posts about my cat and stuff, but I think that it is at the heart of working in this medium for me - this is the experiment, ultimately, and I've always conceived of it as an experiment. Now, there have been times when I've veered away, lost the thread, but in working on other stuff today, and after posting last night, I'm feeling less of a split between the blog and the work than I've felt recently. I'm feeling like I'm coming to something in both forms, though I'm not sure what that "something" is.

Run, Don't Walk....

Over to Horace's to check out the AMAZING compendium of links related to grad school.

And let me take a moment to apologize for how much crap I've written on this topic! As I scrolled through the various posts he organized, I realized that I've written SO MUCH about this stuff, and so I'm not sending you over there to read my many diatribes but rather to read all of the wonderful stuff that others have contributed. Apparently writing about grad school is one of my go-to things - which is odd as I don't even teach graduate students! Perhaps my grad school experience was more fucked up than that of most people? Perhaps you should all take my musings with a big fat grain of salt? At this moment, I think I'd recommend that you did :)


Well. Today has been not wildly productive but I'm certainly making a dent in my to-do list. Tragically, this is also making a dent in my pocketbook, as apparently most of what I've decided that I must do costs money. You know, I'm not normally this sort of person - this sort of high maintenance shopping till I drop sort of person, but this week - yes, I need to get myself under control or I will end up in debtors' prison.

But so you might be wondering what I've accomplished?

  • Ridiculously costly trip to Target. (May actually return to Target tomorrow to return some of my purchases, as am feeling a wee bit guilty.)
  • Made appointment for beautification (hair, nails, eyebrows)
  • Signed and delivered next year's contract; tied up some loose ends with travel reimbursement
  • Dealt with some odds and ends with bills
  • Thought about my conference paper (which I will begin to write today)
  • Bought delicious food for kitty-cat
  • Cleaned kitchen counters
  • Tidied up bedroom
I'm feeling immensely proud of myself. I should eat something, but I hate all of the food in my house. That really sucks. I think maybe I should take a nap. Hmmm.... that idea does have promise....

Update: And the productivity continues! I had a pathetic meal (don't ask), called to get some maintenance things done in my apt., napped, and now am about to begin in earnest on conference paper. Hurrah!

Writing about the Thing about Which I'm Not Writing

I've been having a hard time blogging lately. Part of the issue is that in the summer I'm out of it - out of the habit of thinking about academic things, out of the habit of writing daily, out of my usual routine that keeps the blog chugging along when school's in session. Also, I find that blogging is generally directly linked for me to the level of busy-ness in my day-to-day life. It may be counterintuitive, but the busier I am, the more I blog and the more that I have to blog about. As I power down into summertime mode, I just don't have all that much to report. I mean, sure, I've got things going on, but one can only recount so many trips to the gym or the pool, so many phone conversations, so many books read or papers written. It's not that I'm not interested in the stuff I'm doing or having a good time - in fact, this summer I've really felt like I am relaxing, but again, how does one write about that in ways that are interesting? There's also the complication that I choose not to write directly about my research, and since I've been pretty research-oriented of late, that means that there are things I probably could blog about but that I choose not to in order to keep the veneer of the pseudonym intact. This doesn't feel uncomfortable - it just means that there's a limit on what I can discuss about certain things, which then leads to fewer posts and more mundane posts.

And then there's the elephant in the room that I don't know how to blog about.

And I want to find a way to blog about it, because I think to do so could be a good thing - depending on how I framed it - but I don't know how. And I've been thinking a lot about it, and I can't seem to come up with a way. So, what's my damage? Why is this posing such a difficulty for me?
  • One difficulty is that I'm resistant to turning a real life person into a fully fleshed out character on the blog, which would be essential for me to blog about this in a non-evasive way. Now, I've turned people into characters on here before, and without any terrific angst, so it's odd that I'm feeling this urge to "keep it real," as it were. And that feeling is connected to a kind of protectiveness - like I don't want to translate what's going on in my real life into a story to be consumed because I feel like sometimes when I do that it can be a kind of violent act - like it turns a person into a "type" that I then control, and I don't feel like that's always in my best interest to do that, even though it is something that I have historically had a tendency to do.
  • Another issue is that I'm not entirely certain what I'm feeling or what I really want to say. And while this wouldn't normally stop me, in this particular circumstance it matters because the person-whom-I'm-choosing-not-to-transform-into-a-character actually reads the blog, and so there's another layer of audience at work, which complicates things. It's one thing when you have a fixed audience in your head, an idea of "your readers" that is kind of a composite of all of the people out there who might happen upon what one writes. It's another thing entirely when there is that audience and then also an Audience-Member-Who-Knows, and who might perceive one's musings as some sort of revelation, when really one's musings are generally not revelatory nor are they intended to be so. One might say that this is what it is to write with accountability, which so often those who choose to use pseudonyms are accused of trying to sidestep. But it's not that I don't feel accountable for what I write here or that I don't think I am accountable under normal circumstances. Rather, it's that because I've chosen to write a blog that has a diaristic tone (though it is decidedly not a diary), I don't want to fall into the trap of being read as if this IS a diary. I don't know, that probably only makes sense in my head. But the point is that I don't want to write something and have it be read as if it's what I "really" think about things. Because the likelihood is that it wouldn't be, or that it would only be a partial picture.
  • Finally, and I think this is the real problem and is related to the previous bullets, there's this feeling of vulnerability that's stopping me from being able to write in a funny way or an honest way or in any sort of way that would allow me to actually capture what's going on. One of the things that I think attracts readers to my blog is that I have found a way to be honest in this space, or at the very least to write in an honest way, even if there is embellishment, etc. And I can't write honestly about this because I can't objectify it - I can't put it in its place in writing. And that's seeping over into the rest of the blog, too, that feeling of vulnerability, and so instead of just writing about other stuff, I'm not writing about anything worth reading. I'm not producing writing worth reading.
And so I'm posting tonight in part because I think that this is a bad thing. I don't want to fall into some sort of blogger's block because there's this one thing going on in my life that I'm feeling uncomfortable with pinning down. But it's also making me think a lot about what I've used the blog to do, and I'm wondering what's changed, or if something's changed, with what I need the blog to do for me or with what I want the blog to be.

When I started blogging nearly 3 years ago, I wanted the blog to be something that articulated a fuller picture of my experiences on the tenure track, something that would flesh out the stick figure of the "single lady professor." I wrote about a lot of personal stuff, and I was angry a lot, and the tone was pretty brutal. When I moved to this space about a year and a half ago, the tone changed, and the blog became a bit less personal, but still, my agenda for the blog was the same, and I've continued to blend my more "academic" musings with more "personal" stuff. But what happens when you have something in your personal life that you don't want to reveal but that is taking up space in your life? And what happens when you don't really give a shit about the more academic stuff you might choose to write about, or at least you're not motivated by anything enough to choose to write about those things instead of the other stuff that's going on? I mean, there are things I might choose to write about. I might choose to write about my upcoming UK trip, or I might choose to write about teaching stuff I've been thinking about, or I might choose to write about funny things I see or do or movies I've seen or whatever. I've got material. But I'm not interested in turning that material into blogposts. I also might abstract the elephant in the room into some broader commentary on somethingorother, but I'm not interested in doing that either because it feels like a dodge.

What's ironic about all of this is that the very thing I'm resisting writing about would probably be most fitting to write about here in that it truly is "crazy" - not in a bad way, but in an "what the fuck?" sort of a way. The entertainment value of it would be HUGE - both for me writing and for all of you reading. But what if I don't want to use this crazy thing as material? And if I don't, what does that mean in the broader constellation of things? In the broader constellation of me writing on this particular blog, and in the broader constellation of the choices I'm making in my life? What (or who) am I trying to protect? What am I trying to hide?

There are no answers to any of these questions, or, there are answers, but they don't really satisfy. I suppose I wanted to write tonight because first I'm trying to write my way out of the block. And I guess I feel like that has value, because I know many of you out there have felt similar blocks and I feel like there's something positive about having somebody who tends to be pretty prolific and who tends to feel like writing comes easily to talk through this sort of thing.

But so I don't know what I'll ultimately decide to do, and I'm not sure how this will all play out in terms of what I choose to reveal or not to reveal here as the summer progresses. I do know that there will be a bit of a break from the blog when I'm in the UK, and that may be a good thing as perhaps a willed break from the blog will leave me refreshed and ready to write upon my return. I'm also looking forward to my trip because I think it will give me a good change of scenery and pace to think through some things without distraction and to figure out what exactly it is that I'm doing, as opposed to thinking, and then not thinking, and then throwing up my hands and saying "Oh, hell, I'll just go with the flow and see what happens!" (which is not my preferred operational mode).

So. You'll all just have to suffer through with me over the next couple of weeks (or not, you could just check back in around the end of July) and I promise I'll try to come up with something that doesn't suck and that's not stupidly vague to say. And who knows - perhaps this is just a little hiccup and two days from now I'll decide that all this writing-angst is manufactured and I'll turn the Person into a character and be done with it.

But now it's time for me to go to sleep. I've got a big day ahead of me tomorrow - lots to accomplish - calls to be made, tidying up to be done, hair appointment to arrange, writing to begin, errands to run, etc.

Monday, June 18, 2007

My Name is Dr. Crazy, and I'm a Procrastinator

Even when I know I can't afford to be one, apparently. Sure, I made many detailed lists, but then I felt kind of exhausted by that and so decided that what I really needed to do was to go to the mall. So I spent a couple of hours shopping, and then I came home, and then I got sucked into an "Engaged and Underage" marathon on MTV, and then I talked to A., and now, here we are, at 6 PM, and I've accomplished absolutely nothing that I need to accomplish.

And there are things that I want to write about but I don't exactly know how to write about them in this space. Part of the problem is that I don't know what I actually think about the things I want to write about, and part of the problem is that I'm not sure what is appropriate to reveal about what's going on with me, as it involves others. Hmmm. I need to find a way to abstract what's preoccupying me so that I can write about it here - otherwise this promises to be the most boring blog in the world for approximately the next month or so. But so anyway, suffice it to say that I do have material - I just don't know how to translate it into something that will be of interest to others or in any way entertaining. I'm hoping that I get some inspiration when I begin work in earnest on my conference paper tomorrow.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Oh, Hell

Ok, so in the span of 24 hours I've gone from being a lazy and procrastinating person, thinking, "Oh, I have all the time in the WORLD to get things done before my trip - two weeks! I can procrastinate for a week, and then I'll take care of business, and then I will be off! Hurrah!" to being a slightly hysterical person going, "Oh my stars! What the hell! How shall I get all of the things done?!?!?!"

You may wonder why there is this dramatic change. Well, in part, this is just the sort of person I am. I am the sort of person who veers wildly between lazy and hysterical. It is also because I learned today that it looks like I will be having a visitor in one week's time, which means that days have been shaved off my previous schedule. Now, don't get me wrong: I want to see this visitor. I have been, in fact, looking forward to solidifying some plans related to this person visiting, and think that this visit will be an excellent idea to pursue. That said, when the plans hadn't really materialized a week or two ago, I just figured that the visit would occur in July. When I was back from my travels. You know, because I follow the whole two-week rule with booking plane tickets. I just assumed that everybody followed that rule. Not so, apparently. But so I had an idea in my head of how such a visit would transpire, but apparently the Visitor had another idea, and so now, here we are.

What does this mean, in concrete terms?

In the next week, I must:
  • make an appointment for beautification and go to said appointment (this was going to happen the following week, but want to look beautiful if am having out-of-town guest and also must look beautiful for trip which follows close on the heels of said guest.)
  • laundry
  • household chores like washing the floor, cleaning the bathroom, etc., that one must do when visitors descend.
  • grocery shopping.
  • Get M-K's nails done.
  • procure supplies from the wine store.
  • write conference paper (thank GOD! I finished that novel)
  • call to have maintenance person come look at A/C as is making strange knocking sound. Also have maintenance person fix drip in kitchen sink.
  • Make packing list for big trip.
  • Clean out car and get car washed.
Ok, that doesn't sound like that much when written out - clearly can accomplish all of this in one week's time, right? RIGHT?

There are other factors that are making me wig out a bit, but let's just say that those factors are probably totally outside of my control so I should just focus on the list and let those other things take care of themselves. Because there's nothing I can do about those things. And to think about them just makes me a fool. I know this. Lather, rinse, repeat, as necessary.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Stately, Plump, Buck Mulligan Was a No-Show

Though I did spend my Bloomsday lazing about the house, and dude, I was here at 4PM, and nothing, nada, zilch. May need to change my traditional Bloomsday celebration to include going to a beach with a fireworks display and trying to pick up pervy dudes that I see on the beach. Barring that, I may need to give a talk at a library in which I offer insane theories about Shakespeare. Or go to a funeral. Or a whorehouse. Clearly, however, the lazing about the house business does not produce the desired result. This is my report on this, Bloomsday 2007.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Poetry Friday - Marge Piercy

"Noon of the Sunbather"

The sun struts over the asphalt world
arching his gaudy plumes till the streets smoke
and the city sweats oil under his metal feet.
A woman nude on a rooftop lifts her arms:

"Men have swarmed like ants over my thighs,
held their Sunday picnics of gripe and crumb,
the twitch and nip of all their gristle traffic.
When will my brain pitch like a burning tower?
Lion, come down! explode the city of my bones."

The god stands on the steel blue arch and listens.
The he strides the hills of igniting air,
straight to the roof he hastens, wings outspread.
In his first breath she blackens and curls like paper.
The limp winds of noon disperse her ashes.

But the ashes dance. Each ashfleck leaps at the sun.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Reading Break

Well, the reading, it zooms. And I get the reason why the first third needed to kick my ass the way it did, and I'm feeling the pleasure that I've not felt in a really long time of slogging through a book that I *must* read and that challenges me in ways that little I tend to read now does.

That might sound odd, but since finishing with the PhD - really, with comps, if I'm honest - I don't do this kind of reading very often. And I am rusty. Why don't I do this kind of reading? Well, the fact of the matter is that when one teaches undergraduates, one does not tend to choose this sort of book to assign to them, because they will not slog through that horrifying first hundred pages or so. This book is long, and it is weird, and it is hard. And it's not long and weird and hard in the way of more canonical texts, so one can't really use the spinach justification for it. Or if one does assign this sort of book, one assigns those that one herself was taught (thus, the spinach justification). And, if one is me, one thinks of her courses as her own private book clubs where she chooses all of the readings, and so one tends to assign books that she enjoys, at least most of the time, and this book, while it is affording me immense pleasure now, is not really a book that I'm "enjoying" in the way that I tend to enjoy most of the books that I teach. And when I read for pleasure, I read garbage. And when I read for work, well, it's rare that I encounter something that kicks my ass like this book has.

It's funny: one of the things that I have long felt that I got out of grad school is the ability to read anything. No text seems utterly impossible to me now. I mean, there are those books that I own but have never read or finished reading because I'm not motivated, but it's not because I think that I cannot read them on my own. But it's easy to forget that some texts are more possible than others, that some texts still have the power to really fuck with me. And as much as I've struggled with having that experience with this particular novel, I think it's a good experience to struggle through at this particular time for me. I'm trying to think through some complicated shit, and sometimes in order for me to think through things that are complicated, I need to accept the challenge of something that itself is complicated but that, ultimately, will have the power to illuminate the complicated things I'm trying to think through. Does that make sense? I felt that way when I struggled through Kant's Critique of Judgment. I felt that way when I struggled through To the Lighthouse when I was 18 years old. I felt that way when I struggled through Foucault's Archeology of Knowledge. But it's been a long time since I've felt this particular sensation - the sensation of trying to connect dots and to make sense of things that are just beyond my natural grasp. And it's easy, when one is not a student, not to set those challenges for oneself. Not that one doesn't set goals for oneself, but generally I've managed my intellectual life since the dissertation through the setting of attainable goals - goals that stretch me but not too far. That's pragmatic, and that's a good way to think about goal-setting. But it doesn't allow for the same kind of pleasure in totally unexpected discovery that reading this novel has given me. Is giving me.

So I'm kind of intellectually exhausted, but it's a good exhaustion, not unlike the kind of exhaustion that one feels after a really intense physical workout. So. On to read about 60 more pages, so I reach my goal for the day, and then I think I may need to read some Judith Krantz or something to bring myself down. (Told you I read crap :) )

Note: I know it's irritating that I'm not saying which book I'm reading. It's just it would totally identify who I am, and so I'm being willfully vague. Also, I know it's annoying that I'm doing all of these pretty content-free posts today, but it's helping me to process the reading and to take necessary breaks to let my brain chill, and none of my Inner Circle of Phone-Talking People has read this book, and so I feel bad blabbing on and on to those people about it - also have avoided the phone today because am trying to meet the pre-arranged reading goal, and it is impossible to read and to talk on the phone at the same time (tragically). But so I apologize for being irritating and annoying. But you know what? When I'm done I may need to do a post about how I always feel irritating and annoying when I'm in the zone with research and how I feel the constant need to apologize for such, which I ultimately suspect is more irritating and annoying than me talking about my work. What's the deal with me thinking that using my brain makes me an irritating and annoying person? I don't think others are irritating and annoying when they are focused on their work, so why do I think that about myself? Yes, that's something to ponder.

STILL Impatient, But Now At Least Have Reason for Impatience

Well, I think that The Book was doing it to me. On purpose. You know, as in, this is a book about how fucked up people are/the world is in late capitalism, and so I (the book? the author?) have to make you fucked up and impatient and grasping and unable to do anything but scurry around without clear purpose only to BLOW YOUR MIND when it all starts coming together about a full third of the way through.

So one might wonder why I gravitate toward books that make me feel the deep sense of impatience and despair, as I always have done, but I do think that it has something to do with the intense pleasure that then comes when it all clicks into place. That said, there's clearly a sado-masochistic streak at work here. I mean, seriously: there are people who work on things that they just love. Why don't I - and why have I refused to - work on things that I love without this deep ambivalence? Why does that thought disturb me, whereas slogging through things that make me crazy make me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile? And why can't I realize that it's the books that do this to me, and so I let the impatience and despair seep over into other parts of my life, making mountains out of molehills, etc.? I've been doing this for over 10 years, so you'd think I'd be able to distinguish between the impatience and despair produced by narrative and actual impatience and despair. But no. Not me. It all gets blurry around the edges with me. I suppose, though, that the benefit is that when I get past the impatience and despair part that the woohoo! feeling also seeps over, so there is some compensation.

Ok, so back to reading. It's still dense, it's still tough going, but now, well, any impatience I'm feeling is registering more as excitement.

Still Impatient, But Also Somehow Productive, But Also Kind of Enraged That I Must Do Work

I have channeled my impatience into productivity, it seems. I met with my insurance agent to make sure my coverages were in line with what they should be, I got some reading done, I spent some quality time at the pool (and am considering going back to the pool, as it is HOT AS BALLS and I can't imagine doing anything but lying around and swimming when it's too hot to lie around), and I had a decent lunch. Yes, all in all, a pretty good day considering how cranky the whole enterprise started off. The problem is that all I want to do is to be on vacation. I don't want to have to do work - even if "work" in this case is reading what is really a very interesting novel. I want to read magazines and hang out and have fun. Is that so wrong? I keep trying to remind myself that I will have complete freedom to do just that as soon as it's July, but somehow this is not making me feel any better. I suppose I'm having a slight problem with delayed gratification right now. I mean, Jesus! It is SUMMERTIME! Wasn't this what I was waiting for all academic year long as I slogged along? Isn't now supposed to be the Time of Gratification? Not the Time of Postponed Gratification? The whole thing makes me feel like one never just gets to have the gratification but is always waiting around for when it will come only it never comes because instead one always has some novel to read or some article to revise or some book to write or some conference paper to deliver. This is not my idea of a good system. No, it is not. I want to be lazy, dammit! Lazy!

Ok, rant over. I'm going to go do work now, even though by "do work" what I probably mean is "take a nap."

On Lacking Patience

Do you ever have those days where you wake up with a bee in your bonnet and you decide that you're instantly impatient with everything and everyone, that you're suddenly stressed out by things that you've not even been thinking about the day before, and that it's high time for you to figure out EVERYTHING in your life, even though to do so is impossible because many parts of your life are not solely within your control? Yeah, that's how I woke up today. So, I decided to send an email in which I was both a nag and an insecure freak, to wander around the house whining and moping to myself, to email another friend, and now to write this post. And my cat is yowling for no apparent reason, and I am impatient with him as well. So there. I'm thinking I probably have to channel this impatience into something positive, like work, but the thought of that makes me want to punch somebody. I hate channeling non-work energies into work. Hate. It.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It's On

Ok, just got off the phone with my friend J. Big plans are in the works, my friends, big plans.

Now, in case you don't have my summer plans in the forefront of your minds, let me remind you that I will be in the UK for two weeks in July. The thing is, the Man-Kitty stays with my parents when I go on major trips, and so I'm flying out of Hometown, which means that this will be a combo sort of a deal, in which I fly out of Hometown, do my World Traveling, and then return to Hometown where I will remain for about a week in order to visit with family/friends. Now, A. is in Hometown, as is J. My mother has already claimed the Friday and Monday of my Hometown visit for herself, but the weekend is (somewhat) free for some shenanigans.

And shenanigans there will be, my friends, shenanigans there will be. J. and I discussed it all tonight, and a plan is in motion that will have us rocking it old school like we did during the summer when we first became friends. First, we will spend the day at the beach. (And J., the Tannest Woman Alive, already has a contingency plan in place in case the weather does not cooperate. Her answer? "Well of course we'll go tanning! and maybe to the mall or something!") Then, we will go beautify ourselves, and we will go out that night. Our other friend H. will be out of town, so we won't have anyone to keep us in check. (We refer to H. as "Grandma" generally.) And when J. and I get together? Yeah.... it promises to be one wild day/night. And A. will be there, and probably Vision Board Sister, I suspect. And maybe we'll make A.'s Accidental Husband be our chauffeur for the evening! Woohoo! Love the Hometown friends!

Of course, I'll need to rest up sufficiently after my trip in order to rock it out that night, as remember: I'll be spending the final 10 days of the UK trip touring around with G., and that will involve (if past travels with G. are any indication) a good deal of drinking and craziness, too, in addition to the sight-seeing and walking, etc. And what am I going to take to wear on my trip? Must start thinking about my packing list!

And then, when that is done (you'll notice I'm not mentioning that I also need to write a conference paper before I do any of this traveling, but that's because I'm not facing that right now) I come back to MOUNTAINS of work, but also potentially a visit from Mountain Man (if he gets his shit together to just buy the ticket, which is annoying, as I'm clearly all about the planning of social engagements months in advance right now, even though I should be nicer because remember how long it took me to buy my ticket to London? Yeah that took like a month before I finally bit the bullet and did that, so even while I actually get it, I'm all "do as I say and not as I do" right now).

But so yeah, the conversation with J. tonight really lit a fire under my ass and has gotten me quite excited about the month of July, which I've not really allowed myself to be until now as I've been trying to focus on the work that I need to do in order to make July happen. But screw that! Maybe what I need is the motivation of all of this fun in order to accomplish things! Maybe this whole, "I'm going to be all responsible and thoughtful about work" business is totally not the way of Crazy! Indeed, perhaps the only way for me to actually do the work is to think about the pot of Crazy at the end of the rainbow!

Happy Wednesday! Hurrah!

Well. So first of all, last night I went to bed at a reasonable time. And then I slept for an age, and had some wicked cool dreams, and then I looked at my comments to last night's maddened post and the song that I'm obsessed with was revealed to me! Hurrah!

And so now I need to take this feeling of overall well-being and energy and translate it into a productive day! Which I will do! As I am feeling quite... chipper!

So, on today's agenda:

1) I need to go into the office briefly.
2) I need to read (which I'm feeling too chipper to do, honestly, but I know I need to do it).
3) I've got dinner plans with BFF. But maybe I'll try to turn those into lunch plans? We'll see.
4) It's sunny and glorious outside - perhaps I should go for a walk? If not that, perhaps I should force myself into the gym? But it's so gorgeous outside....
5) The pool? I do love the pool....
6) It's the Macy's one-day sale today... am thinking I want to shop, even though I don't know what I want to shop for.... Perhaps I need more jeans? (This is a ridiculous thing to think I need, I should note, as I really have a lot of jeans).

But so yes, that's what's on the agenda for the day.

Little-Known fact about Crazy: I can't really whistle. I COULD whistle quite fabulously before I lost my two front teeth - my grandfather taught me - but then he died, and I lost my two front teeth, and then now I'm the sort of person who can only produce one sad little tone when I try to whistle.

And now, because it's been a while, I'm thinking that you all need to see my Glorious Man-Kitty. Isn't he the most darling kitty-cat ever? With his little paws and his glorious tail? And the sweet little expression on his face?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

In Which I Realize I'm Approximately 12 Years Old

Except for that the 12-year-old me didn't have the technology that I currently have, and so the 12-year-old me would have made different choices than the ones that I have made in this matter, and those choices, while time-consuming, would have been more sensible, more enjoyable, and perhaps even less time-consuming than the choices that I have made in this matter.

So. The deal is this. I heard this song that I thought was totally awesome on the radio like a week and a half ago. And then I heard it again yesterday. And it's, as I mentioned, totally awesome. But the radio, it did not tell me on either occasion the name of the song or the musicians that have created this masterpiece.

And, since I only heard it one-and-a-half times, I don't really know how it goes. I know that it includes vocals by a man and a woman. I know that there is some sort of totally catchy line about "something something me and you...." that is repeated over and over again. But this, apparently, as well as some meticulous research into the "modern rock" charts, has not gotten me any closer to my goal, which is to discover what the fuck this song is.

So, my dear readers, perhaps the above rings some kind of a bell for you? Perhaps you know what I'm talking even though it is totally vague and stupid?

In the meantime, I have decided to kick it old school and to listen to this radio station where I heard the melodious song played until I hear the melodious song again. I don't believe I've listened to my radio in my home - other than to NPR in the morning when I get ready sometimes - since approximately 1998. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

If this doesn't work, I may need to call up the radio station. But I feel like that is the nuclear option, as I am 32 years old and not 12 years old, and it just seems wrong to call up the radio station with this query. Also, I'm not certain that this radio station actually has DJs. I mean, there's a reason why I never know what stupid song they're playing - it's because they never talk in between songs. Maddening! This is a maddening difficulty in which I find myself!

A Typical Tuesday in Summer

So. I did go back to sleep this morning after I posted, and I woke up rejuvenated. So then I decided that I would go to the pool, but that I would take the book I *must* finish this week so that I'd be working even though I was at the pool. But then I also took this week's Star Magazine with me, and so you can guess how much "work" I got done. And so then I came inside, and I talked to BFF on the phone and we made dinner plans as well as plans for later in the week, and then I called Mountain Man back, because he'd called me while I was out frolicking in the sunshine, and now I'm writing this blogpost and contemplating whether I should just suck it up and take a nap before embarking on reading or whether I should try reading and fall asleep "by accident."

So yep, that's what's going on with me.

Before I sign off, though, I would like to respond to a couple of queries that readers have left in comments.

First off, Kyri asks:

"Dr. Crazy, I am considering a PHd in Clinical Psych. I have a BA, an MPA and will be completing a JD in December 07. I honestly thought law school was it. I thought it would provide me the requisites tools to contribute to the "fixing" of society. However LS has left me with more questions than answers. I have never been intimidated by an academic pursuit, but the psych PhD makes me nervous. Some of the anxiety stems from the dismal acceptance rates. The other 85% is the by product of my own ignorance. I'd appreciate any advice. I have a few questions:
1. How do I deal with relatives who believe the BA was plenty;
2. How difficult is the Phd? In your opinion, is the JD comparable or a walk in the park?

Here are my initial thoughts, but remember, I'm not a Psych person, so readers who know more about the specifics of that discipline would be welcome to chime in to answer this question. But so anyway, what does Dr. Crazy think? First of all, I think that grad school doesn't necessarily leave a person with more answers than anything else - it only provides ways of thinking about things that you wouldn't otherwise have. I know that I thought it would give me answers, and I was disappointed in that. But so 1) how do you deal with the relatives? Well, I think part of it is that you just have to accept that some don't - and won't - get it. Be prepared to explain why you've chosen what you have over and over again (it helps to have a short 2-sentence sort of answer prepared, esp. as you will need to repeat it over and over again), and be prepared to change the subject to topics about which you're less sensitive. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter whether everybody "gets" it - just that they respect that it's your decision. As for "how difficult is the PhD" well, again, it would be good if people who are in the field you're considering chime in to answer that. But here's what I think: The PhD is very difficult, but not... well, I didn't find it intellectually difficult or like it was too hard in terms of the work. Yes, it was challenging, but the intellectual challenges were good challenges. What made it difficult was the length of time and personal energy that one must commit to pursuing the PhD, the sense that one doesn't really know what one's doing or that one is thrown into the deep end without knowing how to swim, and, to extend the metaphor, that one is completely immersed in this world that is separate from the "real world." My sense, in comparing that experience with the experience of friends who got law degrees, is that getting the PhD was more consuming over a longer span of time, but maybe if there are people who've done both who can comment about that it would be a good thing? I may just be exaggerating the importance of my experience :)

Next, Sisyphus asked:

"Do you still have that course-release -advising thingy that you talked about at one point? Or are you teaching your full load?

Which is just a way of leading up to: dang! How do you keep track of all the different impending deadlines? Do you ever completely miss one?"

Well, as for the first question, I am no longer doing the thing I did last year for course releases, but I did get a course release for research for the fall. This means that I'll be teaching 3 courses, 3 different preps and one of those courses is a comp course. As for spring, I suspect I may need to do 4 courses, but I'm going to try to wangle some things with what I'm teaching and # of preps to make it more manageable. We'll see how that goes.

As for deadlines... well, I'm pretty good with juggling them and with meeting them (ish). I think I have my background in writing for my high school and college newspapers to thank for that. But remember: deadlines are negotiable. So I have been known to finesse deadlines that are less important when necessary. The thing to remember is that you can't focus on all of the deadlines simultaneously. I had a teacher once who said it was good to think about having a Wheel of Neglect, i.e., you have a big wheel that is not unlike the wheel at the end of the Price Is Right. All of the things you need to do get a slice on the wheel. And so you decide which is the most important, and you deal with it, neglecting other things on the wheel. When you've done that, you spin the wheel and move on to the next thing. So, for example, I made that big list of all of what will need to be accomplished in the next six months, but I'm not constantly thinking about all of those things. Instead, I spin the wheel and so all I'm thinking about right now is reading the novel that I need to read in order to write my conference paper. When that's done, I'll write the conference paper, and then I'll go on my trip. When I return, I'll see what has developed with the other deadlines, and I'll spin the wheel again. What most often gets neglected is stuff related to teaching, but that's in part because ultimately the teaching stuff has to get done, and so if I focus on it, then it can expand to fill up all of my time. By focusing on the research stuff, that means that I end up being more efficient about the teaching stuff. (This may just be an excuse for my tendency to procrastinate.) But so do I ever just blow a deadline completely? No. But have I asked for extensions or negotiated deadlines so that I can have a deadline that I will actually be able to meet. Yes.