Tuesday, February 28, 2006

On Finding Out You Went on a Date with an Insane Person

So, communication has been closed off between me and the Catholic. His reason? "The physical distance between us was too great." What? Huh? He lives 15 minutes away from me. I had planned to close him off as well, so I'm not particularly concerned at the outcome of the situation, but the reason is just... bizarre. Why not go with, "I'm just not ready to take the next step," or "My life is too busy right now"? Wouldn't those have made more sense? I mean, I understand that Dr. Warren doesn't leave an option of, "I'm freaked out and I am too much of a coward to ever see my date again," but really, why pick something so clearly bizarre and random? Or maybe by "physical distance" he means something weird and metaphysical? At any rate, so ends the tale of Dr. Crazy and the Crazy Catholic.

You may wonder what else is going on in eHarmony-land, for the suitors there do abound. Here's an update:

The Businessman - I don't know whether I like him or not because we've barely corresponded - he's pretty much jumped straight to "let's meet for a real conversation." I'm actually ok with this, after the debacle with the Insane Person above. Anyway, I responded positively, so we'll see if/when this happens.

The Consultant - I think I kind of hate him, and I probably should dump him, but I'm kind of fragile after the weird being dumped so I will not do that today. And maybe I should give him about 45 seconds more of a chance?

The Computer Engineer - I kind of like him, except I think he might not be a very good writer. He answered his essay questions very, very quickly (like not even with a complete sentence, let alone multiple sentences) and now I await an actual email from the dude. He's cute though. Edited to add: Yep, he's not a very good writer. You know that's the case when they begin their first "open message" back to you noting how obvious it is that I am an English professor. Nevertheless, he did answer my question about astrological sign, so I think he has a good sense of fun and whimsy. I will remain open-minded for the time being, I think, but to all of y'all who are thinking about dating English professors, PLEASE don't reveal that you're insecure because of our language skills. It's such a turn-off. If I hear one more time that somebody will have to watch their grammar around me, I might scream.

The Greek - Is clearly going on lots of dates with others because he's yet to answer my essay questions.

The Accountant - I think is also going on dates because we're stalled at "must haves/can't stands"

The Hot Teacher - I'm sure is going on lots of dates, because he's really hot.

The IT Consultant - Who I think might be a real asshole because he makes a point of saying that he doesn't want any women who "are into playing games." Those guys always seem to be real assholes, imho. But hey - it never hurt to answer some multiple choice questions.

I really can't believe that this is my life. It is so lame.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Jo(e)'s Pseudonymity Meme

Is your blogging persona more serious than your real life persona?

I don't think that it is, though I suppose it's possible that the tone is... I don't know, more strident on certain posts than I might be in real life.

Do you think the only safe way an academic can write publicly is to write anonymously?

Hmmm. This is an interesting question. I think it depends a lot on one's level in the academic hierarchy, one's discipline, and the topics about which a person chooses to write. Were my blog entirely about my field of specialty, for example, I think it would probably be quite safe to use my "real" name. However, were I using the blog in that way, I think that I would tend to edit myself a lot more than I currently do and I would see the blog as a professional document and treat it as such so as not to embarass myself in front of colleagues by presenting half-formulated ideas about things related to my field. However, if one is going to write about things in a provisional way - in a writing-as-thinking sort of way - I think that the pseudonym is useful as a screen between my professional self and my actual self - you know? I also do think that it's much less safe for the untenured, those still in graduate school, and those who choose to write about things that might be seen as controversial.

Do you think that your blog could ruin your career?

No. But maybe I'm stupid, and it really could. I guess I don't think that it will, but it's a risk I'm willing to take.

What would happen if an administrator at my college discovered my blog?

I can't imagine that any would take the time to read blogs, in truth, but even if they did come across my blog, the reality is that I write very, very little that is about my university specifically.

Do you use a pseudonym out of fear?

Fear, no. Caution, yes. Also, I think that when I took on the pseudonym I was playing with the idea of an overtly constructed academic identity. I wanted to fool around with making an identity that challenged some of the ways that women (and women professors) are described and that dealt with negotiating the personal and the professional. I don't think I'd feel comfortable doing that under my "work" name. Also, I think I liked the idea of the name as emblematic in some way - the first blogs I read were barely tenured and invisible adjunct, and they both used pseudonyms and it seemed both freeing and to make visible identities that are often invisible in academe - somebody trying to get pregnant with in vitro, somebody on the margins because of being a contingent worker, etc. If the writer uses a pseudonym, it's a lot less easy to dismiss the writer as not being relevant to one's own position on the academic food chain. I think that the pseudonym in fact lends authority to those who are marginalized in public academic discourse. If you saw my nametag at MLA, you would immediately move on to talk to somebody more important. If, however, my nametag said "Dr. Crazy," I suspect people would be a lot more interested.

What is the biggest drawback to writing pseudonymously?

Hmmm. I think the biggest drawback is probably that sometimes I feel like I wish I could write about what I do under my own name without it "meaning" something in terms of how I'm seen as a professional. Because I can't, I can't really capitalize on what I do with the blog in terms of my work. That said, the blog does work as a good "free space" for me to work out ideas, and it's been (I think) ultimately good for me professionally.

Has anyone stumbled on your blog and found it accidentally?

Not that I'm aware of.

Have you outed yourself to any other bloggers?

Yep. And now that I'm in my new space, I am very open about things related to my teaching and such, so it would be very easy for anybody who was interested to figure out who I am, even aside from just asking me.

Has your blog allowed you to experiment with writing?

It's definitely allowed me to experiment with tone and voice. I would also say that it's helped me to think through how I organize my thoughts in writing and in how I articulate arguments in writing. Finally, I think that it has helped me to think of "audience" in a way that is much more real and much less abstract. (In my academic writing, I often think of my audience as just a bunch of students who are forced to write papers, and I don't think that's a good thing.)

Why do you use a pseudonym?

Well, it allows me to feel much freer about not revising or not laboring over tiny details in my writing. Also, I like the image that my pseudonym conveys. "Dr. Crazy" is parts of me, but at the same time it's an identity that does to some extent stand on its own now. I suspect that if I met some of my readers, they'd have a hard time thinking of me as anything other than "Dr. Crazy," even if I told them to call me by my "real" name. That's interesting to me, and it's fun.

In An Unusual Turn of Events

One of my former students just came by, and I'm the one with tears in my eyes and not the other way around. Tears of being touched and happy, though, not the tears of anxiety that students usually have.

It was a student of mine from last semester, and she stopped by because she wanted me to know that she learned more in my class than in any other class at this university. She actually thanked me for the class. If I remember correctly, she's a senior.

Chemistry, Compatibility, Stupidity

I know that you all are dying to hear about the Date with the Catholic. Suffice it to say that the date itself was really fun (in my estimation) and that a good time was had (I think) by all. We met for a drink at a cheesy establishment (in case I hated him, I didn't want to meet someplace better) and then moved on to a less cheesy one. We basically hung out and talked for like 5 hours. No awkwardness - at all. I haven't heard from him since we parted ways, and so I'm not sure what more to say than that. Between the two of us I think we broke many of the rules of online dating and maybe even some of the Roman Catholic Church.

New goal for self: Learn to end a date properly.

Incidentally, I may have the opportunity to work on that goal very soon, as the Businessman has asked to meet.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Pseudonymity, Blogging as a Genre, Etc.

Tragically, my first attempt at this post was lost. Suffice it to say, that I want to move the discussion of the IHE article and pseudonymity and the genre of blogging up into a new thread. In this new thread, here are some things I'd like to see:

1) Would commenters please engage with each others' ideas? I'm not interested in reading well thought out comments that are punctuated with, "But see, that's why you're a petty jerk." Those don't do anything to up the ante on the discourse. Move on from being ticked off (i have), and let's have the conversation. Oh, and if anybody implies that a comment doesn't have value because the person who writes it has a pseudonym, or uses the fact that a person has a pseudonym as evidence for a claim, I'm going to assume that you want that comment deleted. In this space, whatever your feelings elsewhere, you've got to demonstrate respect for people with pseudonyms. Why? Well, because I use one, of course. And this is my playground and I'll run it as I see fit.

2) I think it's worthwhile to include the backlog of discussion (or paraphrased versions of it) that has occurred about the practice of using pseudonyms in this discussion, from way back in the day (think July 2004) to the present. That said, I'll direct you to a post from my old blog that I think articulates a lot of issues that continue to be at stake in the current debate.

3) Perhaps part of this discussion should also include a consideration of whether and how "popular" media like IHE influence how we're characterizing this genre (blogging) and the sub-genre (academic blogging). I'm coming to the conclusion that the main problem here is IHE and not actual bloggers.

4) I'm interested in thinking about the politics of referring to a blogger as anonymous vs. referring to a blogger as pseudonymous.

5) If you have posted on your blog about this topic and/or if you've seen a post that you think I'd be interested in, please do link to it. I lost the first version of this post in which I did link to some relevant posts at other blogs, but having lost it I just don't have it in me to go back and do it right now. (And I've got to go buy something to wear tonight that is neither inappropriately slutty nor something that I would teach in. It's a tough balance to strike, that one.)

All right, well, that's all folks! Let the games begin!

Poetry Friday - e.e. cummings - again

I know, I know. What's with me and the e.e. cummings? Somehow, this poem speaks to the feelings that I have about boys right before a date. I'm not sure what that says about me. And by the way, people? I would kill for a cigarette. (No, I'm not going to smoke one, but boy wouldn't I love to.)

[the boys i mean are not refined]

the boys i mean are not refined
they go with girls who buck and bite
they do not give a fuck for luck
they hump them thirteen times a night

one hangs a hat upon her tit
one carves a cross on her behind
they do not give a shit for wit
the boys i mean are not refined

they come with girls who bite and buck
who cannot read and cannot write
who laugh like they would fall apart
and masturbate with dynamite

the boys i mean are not refined
they cannot chat of that and this
they do not give a fart for art
they kill like you would take a piss

they speak whatever's on their mind
they do whatever's in their pants
the boys i mean are not refined
they shake the mountains when they dance

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Did You Ever Wonder How Women End Up Falling In Love With Death Row Inmates?

I know I have. And now I have the answer. Now, I'm not saying I've fallen in love with anybody, because I'm not totally stupid. What I am saying, though, is that it's really easy to fall in like with somebody when you only know what they write to you. Writing is fucking powerful stuff. (When handled properly, of course.) Ok, must go read some Roland Barthes now to remember that the reader is the one who controls the text and that, since that is the case, that I am an idiot.

Dating in the New Millenium

I've been thinking a lot, especially over the past 24 hours or so, about this concept of "dating." It's kind of old-fashioned, isn't it? I've talked with my closest friends about this notion of "dating," and the refrain of these conversations was, "we don't like dating," or "oh god, I don't know if you can call what I have done or do dating." At first, I was inclined to think that the reasons that I and my friends have such a hard time with this concept was because we're easy. Not easy easy, but easy in an easy-like-sunday-morning-happy-feminist-I'm-not-going-to-buy-into-some-sort-of-idea-that-I'm-chattle-and-thus-should-increase-my-market-value-by-saying-no-to-sex way. Easy in an I-don't-believe-in-books-like- The Rules - way.

But as I've thought about it more, it occurs to me that maybe the reason that we're all so uncomfortable with the idea of dating - and why I'm experiencing the radical insecurity that I'm experiencing right now - is because "dating" hadn't really been a part of my interactions with the opposite sex prior to this foray into the world of online dating. As I mentioned in passing before, my experience with "dating" was really more one of "hanging out" - you're in a couple with a person, you're "seeing each other," but this is pretty much limited to hanging out together at home (or in a dorm room) or meeting each other out at bars or maybe getting a meal together, but in a very casual sort of a way - or "hooking up" - which, of course, is a relationship based primarily, if not entirely, on sex in the middle of the night after both parties have gone out with their friends earlier in the evening. Now, within both of these categories there are smaller sub-divisions, like being "friends with benefits," or like living together. But really, all of these are on a continuum of casual social interaction that doesn't have the same rituals that "dating" in the formal sense has.

What does this mean? Well, for example, let's consider the forms of entertainment when you're "hanging out" with somebody. There's renting a movie. There's ordering some food. Maybe you meet some mutual friends out at a bar. Or, of course, there's also the ever-popular watching boys playing video games. (How many hours of my life I've wasted doing that, I do not know.) You might go on one, or maybe two, things that resemble "dates," but that is only after you have already made out or hooked up.

See, now with actual dating it's different. "Entertainment" means things like going out to dinner or to a movie or things. Also, you tend to dress up for the other person, and you don't tend to know the other person very well, if at all. You're trying to impress the other person in some way at the exact same time that you are trying to get to know the person. There is a frisson of anticipation surrounding the date, surrounding meeting the person, surrounding whether or when you might kiss or whatever.

With hanging out or hooking up there is no frisson - there is no if only when. If you kissed the first time you "hung out," you might decide that after the retroactive first date is when you'll have sex. Or sex was actually the ice-breaker that made the two of you decide you might go on a date. With this dating business, it's a whole new ballgame. For one, the date didn't begin with sex, and nor can it really end with sex. You don't know each other well enough for that. You're not automatically in a couple, and you shouldn't stop trying to date other people, because unlike with the very, very, instantly monogamous "hanging out" it's expected that you will not be immediately exclusive. (With hanging out, exclusivity is assumed - if you're hanging out with two guys, that makes you a cheater and a slut; with hooking up, there is no exclusivity assumed, but there is also no real relationship beyond sex; with friends with benefits, there is a kind of odd emotional exclusivity, and it doesn't end well when one of the friends tries to have a "real" relationship with somebody other than the other friend.) And you don't know if you'll kiss the person, or even if you'll like the person. You might have one drink with the person and never see the person again. And there is a formal rhythm to this actual dating thing, a dance that each person plays in moving forward and then pulling back, and it's unclear from the outset where it will go.

With the emergence of online dating, actual dating is a normal thing. It wasn't for the first 10 years or so of my dating existence. My training-ground was the land of hooking up and hanging out. I wonder how to do this other thing. It will be interesting to see. And yes, I'm going out with the Catholic tomorrow night. Crap.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

No, folks, I've not stopped blogging. I have, however, been quoted out of context (without being identified, I might add) in an inside higher education article about academic blogging, and the author asserts that I have, in fact, decided to stop blogging because the strain of my pseudonym was too much to bear.

Note to author: try reading the people whom you choose to quote, reading them carefully even. Yes, I have stopped blogging in my old space. Yes, I now blog here. Under the same name. The name that I created for blogging. My alter-ego, if you will. And don't use me to support your argument that blogging, particularly pseudonymous blogging, is too serious, or at least not "serious" in terms of "postmodern play and experimentation" in a way that you deem appropriate for the genre. Dude, I AM experimenting. I AM playing. You just weren't invited to the game.

(Postscript: I'm not sure which irritates me more: being quoted out of context, being quoted without being identified, or being quoted in the service of an argument that I find less than convincing. I suppose it's a toss-up, really. And I'm not linking to the author's blog because I don't want to give him any more traffic. I don't think he deserves it.)

What This Whole Boy-Crazy Thing Is REALLY About (an Actual Academic Post)

This blog has devolved into a mere chronicling of my adventures in online dating, and I'm stopping that right now. Well, that's not to say I won't update you all on them, but I don't want that to be all that this blog is about. And it strikes me that by writing about all of that it's allowed me not to write about some things that are really driving this foray into the online singles scene.

I am in my third year of a tenure-track job. I am about halfway to going up for tenure. It's time for me to figure out what I'm doing with my life, and that's what's really going on here. It's what's going on with the eating better; it's what's going on with the quitting smoking; it's what's going on with the working out; it's what's going on with the foray into online dating. All of these seemingly "personal" things are really about the realization that if my professional life is going to be here than I'd sure as hell better have a personal life here, too. And if I can't have a personal life here, then I'd better figure that out pretty quickly so that I can blow this popsicle stand.

The truth of the matter is that I'm deeply ambivalent about both the prospect of leaving here and the prospect of staying. On the one hand, I'm "lucky." I'm in a tenure-track job. I like my colleagues. I basically like my university. I like my students. And I like that I'm not in a rural backwater someplace but rather in a metropolitan (well, small metropolitan) area, and that I'm near to my family (well, within easy driving distance of them). On the other, though, I suppose I do have reservations about signing on here for the long haul. As much as I think I've thrived under the 4/4 load, teaching but three courses this semester has really shown me how taxing this load is. As much as I like the area of the country in which I live, I really don't have much of a life outside of work. I've got a couple of close friends here, but that's really about it. And that's not ok with me. I want really to live where I live, you know?

So what's a girl to do? Do I fish or cut bait? I've had colleagues ask me whether I'm trying "to write my way out of here," and the truth is that I'm not. Yes, I've been productive research-wise, but not climbing-the-academic-institution-ladder productive. I'm productive for a place like this one. So, I could make a lateral move. Ok, but why? If I'm going to have the same kind of job, then why not just stay? The only reason I can think of to move is location. If I can't make a life for myself in this location, then I should try to find another location, right? So, that means I've got to try, and so that means that I've got to go online and try to find a boyfriend. And that sucks, you know? That's no way to run a life. But the truth of it is that I do want that in my life, so why should I feel badly about looking for it? Why is it wrong to want that?

And then I wonder whether the reason I'm thinking about pulling out of here is that I'm so indoctrinated by moving from place to place throughout my education that I just can't imagine being here beyond 4 or 5 years. It's like I've got senioritis or something. I keep thinking that maybe if I were more settled personally I wouldn't have that feeling about the job, which I actually really love.

So yes. This is what's really going on with Crazy. What's really going on, is that I'm trying to figure out what to do with my life. The boy-craziness? That's just a way to make it all not seem so fucking serious.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Brazen and Boy-Crazy

The Catholic revealed that he loves Led Zeppelin and somehow that made me decide that I should suggest that he call me. I certainly hope that I don't regret this brazen, brazen (and impulsive) decision. But, dude, we've been emailing for a week.

Incidentally, I may freak out if he does call and not answer the phone. I'm really not very suave with the dating stuff, you know?

Edited to add:
Well, he did not call me last evening, but today he has raised me my "you should call me" with a "we should get together for a drink." Interesting, indeed. Oh, and I'm entirely freaked out. A post will be forthcoming later in the week about all of the reasons why, which have to do mainly with the fact that most of my "dating" experience has really fallen under the headings of "hooking up" or "hanging out," which don't really include actually meeting somebody you don't know for a date but rather the practice of having sex with somebody you sort of know and then all of a sudden you're a couple. In other words, this whole thing is a whole new world for me. I mean, jeez, I haven't had a first date since 1999, and that first date happened with somebody with whom I was already pretty much involved. It was like a retroactive first date. At any rate, I am horrified by all of these things, but my horoscope today is giving me strength:

"Here is your horoscopefor Wednesday, February 22:
It's time to follow your heart. Be open and ready to go wherever it leads you. The stars say that you've been stuck in this current situation for far too long. Even if it's a little scary, it's time to move. "

High Time for a Post about Professing, I Know

I have a bunch of posts in mind that I want to write. Or maybe it's just one long post that deals with all of the issues that I'm thinking about? Somehow, though, of late, I've been consumed with things non-academic. Part of it is that I really don't want to think about the job constantly. Part of it is that it's that time of the semester, and between the absenteeism and the excuses and the freak-outs and all the other things with my students I just don't want to think about them any more than I have to. Part of it is that I am industriously procrastinating about research by doing things like cleaning my oven (and no, I'm not kidding about that). Part of it is that the Olympics have messed with my sleep schedule and so I've kind of been on automatic pilot since they began. But enough with the excuses. The bottom line is, I know I need to write a real post soon, but after taking about an hour this afternoon to try to write one, I just don't have it in me. I think I'm using all of my blogging mojo on my efforts with boys. At any rate, I promise there will be a real post soon. I've got things to say. The problem is, I'm just not in the mood to say them.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Damn You, Girl Scouts of America

Yes, my cookie order just arrived. No, I cannot eat these delicious cookies because I only worked out once last week and I cheated for like four days running. (Apparently posting about my diet/exercise success sent me into a major backslide.) I'm going to go heat up my stupid lentil soup now. And eat some string cheese. And force myself not to open the delicious cookies that I ordered and to take them home and to freeze them. Why did people invent things to eat that make us fat? Just why?

Is it Really Possible to Be Compatible with This Many People? (Boy-Crazy Post Follows)

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, people. I thought when I decided to do this eHarmony thing that one of the benefits would be that I wouldn't be deluged with people contacting me because of the whole difficulty of matching the 29 dimensions of compatibility with other people. Apparently, however, many, many people in the world are compatible with me. And after reading my profile - even though I don't have a picture available from the beginning - they want to start communicating. I suppose I shouldn't be complaining. This is the point of the whole experiment, isn't it? That I would enter into talks with a bunch of people, and ideally meet a few of them in person, and then maybe - if things went particularly well - date some people more than once? Right?

Well. I checked my account today, and I had like 12 dudes to deal with. All I have to say is, UGH. It's hard to be excited when one feels overwhelmed. Also, I would really like Suitor #1 to suggest a meeting. If he doesn't in his next note to me, I think I'm going to suggest it. I'm sick of writing notes, already. What if we don't even like each other in person? I mean, I'm not horrified by his picture or anything, but still. This writing nonsense is just that - nonsense. What if he has a squeaky voice or a twitch or something? I need to know that.

In other news, I got rid of both the chiropractor and the guy who wants me to send him flowers. You know how I kind of hated them? Yeah, my instincts were pretty dead on with both of them, I realized when I got their most recent missives. Apparently there is something to this guided communication thing.

Oh, and somebody said they were intrigued with the guided communication. I'm not sure if I've described it before, so I'll do so now. Here's the way it goes:
  1. One person contacts another and initiates communication with five multiple choice questions. A sample question (you have a bit long list to choose from) would be: "If you were taken by your date to a party where you knew no one, how would you respond? A) stay close to my date, letting him/her introduce me B) find a spot at the back bar and relax alone, letting him/her work the room C) strike out on my own, introducing myself and making friends D) I would ask my partner if I could skip this particular event E) [fill in the blank with your own answer].
  2. If one likes the person's profile who has initiated contact, you answer his/her multiple choice questions and send back five multiple choice questions of your own.
  3. If all goes well at this point, you trade must-haves/cant-stands with each other.
  4. If all is STILL going well, you ask each other three short-answer questions. You can either make up your own, or you can choose from a long list of potential prompts.
  5. If all is STILL going well, you enter into "open communication" which works like email.

So far, there are pros and cons to the guided communication. One pro is that it is possible to find out pretty quickly whether somebody really isn't for you. For example, with the sample question I provided above, a big red flag for me is if the person says they'll cling to me the whole night. (My preferred answer is that they'd like me to introduce them around but that they can then hold their own, if they write the answer in, or that they can just strike out on their own, if they choose one of the answers provided.) Another pro is that you can stop communication before you've really had extended interaction with the person, and so it seems much less painful. I've had a few dudes close off communication with me without us even communicating, and that hasn't upset me at all. Also, I've closed off communication early on with dudes and I don't feel bad about it. The cons, however, are that it does feel a bit like taking a test, and it's not particularly spontaneous. People tend to ask the same 5-8 questions for both the multiple choice and the essays, and so I feel like I'm just giving everybody my resume or something. (Incidentally, the feeling is not unlike the feeling I had when I was on the market and interviewing - a feeling like it was hard to sound genuine, even when being genuine, because you were repeating the same crap over and over again, and also a feeling like you aren't entirely sure to whom you've communicated what information, though that is helped somewhat by copying/pasting the same answers to the stupid questions that they ask.) Also, I think that the guided communication does make it somewhat weirder when you enter into open communication, though I've got a form email for that, too, now. At any rate, it's all very interesting, though at this point it is seeming like it takes a lot to make it to the stage where one might meet a person. It seems like there is a lot of room for rejection in the early phases of communication, and so perhaps one would meet fewer people ultimately than on other sites even though one is communicating (at least briefly) with a lot of people. I don't know; I'll have to see how that goes.

So, my current list of suitors (in order of level of communication, from open communication to multiple-choice questions) is as follows:

Suitor #1 - The Catholic. He is quite darling in email, but we've got to move on pretty soon, I'm thinking.

Suitor #2 - The Businessman. I don't feel strongly about him one way or the other. We have, though, entered into "open communication."

Suitor #3 - The Pilot. So lame. Still hasn't responded to the essay questions. I may dump him soon.

Suitor #4 - The Comuputer Guy. I'm trying to decide whether I'm so shallow as to reject him on the basis of picture alone. I think I might be that shallow. We'll see. I think for now I'll continue communication.

Suitor #5 - The Greek. I was really excited when he contacted me, because I had read his profile when it came in and he sounds awesome. Also, he's 6'2" which is my favorite of all possible heights for a man. I haven't seen his picture yet, though.

Suitor #6 - The Hot Guy. Well, or at least he's really photogenic. Though he does have horse teeth a little bit (ala John Elway). But yeah. He's good looking. Quite. I'm not, however, sure about his taste in books.

Suitor #7 - The Consultant. I wish I knew what he was consulting about. At any rate, I have no definite ideas about him yet.

Suitors #8 and #9 - Both are shorter than me. Is this going to be a deal-breaker? I haven't yet decided. I feel like that's a dumb thing to care about, but I just don't want to feel like I'm humungous next to a guy I'd be dating. And I feel like I would. Can I get past this?

So yes, that's the update. And unless something very exciting happens (like the arrangement of a meeting between me and one of these yahoos) I will not clog the blogosphere with anymore boy-crazy posts this week. I do think about other things, you know. (Or at least I should think about other things....)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Boy-Crazy Update

I thought you all would like to know about how things are going with the experiment in internet dating. I will organize this post in order of suitors:

Suitor #1 - the Catholic who has a career in cheese. We've been emailing back and forth. I think he wants to ask to meet. I don't think this will happen this weekend, though, because I'm busy. And because he needs to for real ask and not just do the "so, are you up to anything interesting this weekend?" thing because what's a girl supposed to do with that? At any rate, he gives good email and he called me "smarty-pants." This made me smile. I totally like a boy who teases. Oh, I suppose he's not a boy. He's 32. How old I'm getting. My parents got divorced when they were 32.

Suitor #2 - the Lame Chiropractor. I kind of hate him. But whatever. He redeemed himself a little bit earlier in the week, but now I think I may put him on hold or close him off or whatever if I don't hear from him soon. Totally on the fence with him.

Suitor #3 - the Businessman. He seems ok, but I still think that he might not be for me. Something about the vast array of fitness-related questions he's asked me. Though I did show him my picture, and he didn't reject me at seeing it. So who knows.

Suitor #4 - the Guy Who Wants Me to Send Him Flowers. Yeah, I kind of hate him, too, but I need to see his answers to his must-haves and can't-stands before I give him the ax. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt because he's got his PhD.

Suitor #5 - the Pilot. Still no response to my essay questions. Whatever.

So yes, it's all going along. And I do like the Catholic. We'll see how things progress over the coming days and weeks. But now, I need to run errands. I'm going to a party tonight and I've got to get my costume together. (Yes, it's a costume party. Yes, I'm going as Bertha Mason from Jane Eyre. It will be awesome.)

On Hiatus from Poetry Friday, Dr. Crazy Instead Posts a Not-So-Random... Seventeen

I'm not feeling very in the mood for poetry this week, so instead I've decided to post what is lately my favorite workout playlist. It's 1 hour long:

  1. Hot Boyz - Missy Elliot
  2. I'm Goin' Down - Mary J. Blige
  3. Johnny Sunshine - Liz Phair
  4. The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) - Missy Elliot
  5. Dirt off Your Shoulder - Jay-Z
  6. Gold Digger - Kanye West f/ Jamie Foxx
  7. Get Ur Freak On - Missy Elliot
  8. Fuck and Run - Liz Phair
  9. Finding Out True Love Is Blind - Louis XIV
  10. 99 Problems - Jay-Z
  11. 6'1" - Liz Phair
  12. Sock It To Me - Missy Elliot f/ Da Brat
  13. I Just Wanna Live - Good Charlotte
  14. Are You Gonna Be My Girl - JET
  15. I'm With You - Avril Lavigne
  16. Helena - My Chemical Romance
  17. Goodbye to You - Michelle Branch

Maybe this shows how lame my taste in music can be in some cases, but whatever. I'm totally into working out to this playlist. So what if it includes Good Charlotte. That's a catchy song, dammit!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Head - Pounding - Grrrr.... (and a just a dash of boy-craziness)

So. I need to work out today. But I've got a headache. Will it go away? Can I make myself go back out to work out, even though I know I'm probably lying to myself if I say that I'll do that? It's rainy. I don't feel good. I don't like any of the food in my house (except for the fudge I bought on the way home yesterday - can you say "backslide"?).

I'm also annoyed with my suitors for their lack of attentiveness. Out of this annoyance, I just rejected a guy because he said he takes part in church activities. I was thinking about this yesterday, and I realized that if I had a choice between a religious guy (who was accepting of my lax ways) and a vegetarian I would rather go out with the religious guy because I would find a vegetarian more irritating on a daily basis. I really need somebody who understands the gloriousness of things like saussage. No, I'm not kidding. So probably I shouldn't have rejected this guy outright on the church-going alone, but whatever. Dr. Crazy is cranky.

Winter Doldrums

It's that time of the semester. Excuses from students? Coming in droves. Absenteeism? Rampant. Class discussion? Slim to none, for the most part. My research agenda? Non-existent. I'm not depressed, and I'm not unhappy. What I am is lazy. The problem is, I don't really have time to be lazy. I don't have time to watch the Olympics every night and spend oodles of time communicating with strangers on my stupid online dating service. I have an article due in just one month. I have a manuscript to whip into shape and to start shopping around. I have things I really need to do. And I don't want to waste this time and then have a spring break that is ultimately no break at all. I did that last year, thankyouverymuch, and it was absolutely no fun.

I know you're all here with me.

I blame February.

Postscript: I'll continue with the online dating related posts - per the requests of some of my readers, but I'll be sure to mark them clearly with "boy-crazy" in the subject line so that y'all who find them tiresome -as I know some of you must - can just skip right on past, should you so choose.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"I'm Not Even Sure There ARE Rockstars Anymore"

A student in one of my writing classes said this today, as we discussed Bono as a rock-and-roll celebrity. Is he a sell-out? Something else? In what way is it antithetical to talk about celebrities as role models in the context of rock-and-roll celebrity? How do our expectations for rock stars differ from those that we have for celebrity actors, athletes, or pop stars? These were the questions I wanted them to ask, that I thought they'd be invested in asking, and to have a "kid" (and I put that in quotation marks because he's probably only 10 years younger than I am) say with such seriousness that there might not even BE rockstars.... Well, it was about the most interesting thing a student has said to me this semester. And I think he might be right.

I designed my writing courses around this theme of celebrity in part to attempt to appeal to a range of students, all of whom would not have any interest at all in taking this advanced writing course but who are required to take it in order to graduate. The course is broken down into units - Defining Celebrity (for which we focused on Harry Potter both in terms of Harry's celebrity and in terms of the celebrity status of the series and of J.K. Rowling), Celebrity as Role Model or Product (the unit that we're currently finishing up, and in which we focused on Chinese basketball star Yao Ming and Bono), Celebrity and Politics (in which we'll be talking about Clinton and the Lewinsky scandal), Celebrity and Gossip (a unit focusing on the rhetorical arc of tabloids), and then the course ends with their own research on some aspect of celebrity. Ultimately, my thinking was that we'd be talking about something that could interest all of us and that has broader significance to our everyday lives. But what were/are my assumptions and what are the realities of my students. If there aren't rockstars anymore, what's really the point?

You know, we ask ourselves why students aren't engaged in politics or why students don't seem to be committed to challenging injustices or even just the status quo with which they were raised. We blame students' apathy or acceptance of social norms on helicopter parents and a culture of ultra-planned after-school activities. We blame the internets or video games or the fact that children are being tested within an inch of their lives so that none of them will be left behind.

Today, in my writing class that was pretty much designed as fluff, with a topic that would keep me going when the student writing made me want to cry, it occurred to me: Maybe the problem is that there aren't rockstars anymore. Or that students don't believe there are rockstars. That students don't care one way or another if a rockstar "sells out," nor do they necessarily see what's wrong with selling out. If these things are true, then why would students feel empowered to change anything? Why would they feel like they'd need to?

Boy-Crazy (I PROMISE I'll Do a Better Post Later Today)

Thoughts/Questions about the online dating:

1. One of my suitors writes in his profile that he wants a woman who "isn't afraid to send a card or flowers." I'm not "afraid" of that, but I AM thoughtless, which to my mind isn't the same thing. Still, I'm betting we're not a match if he's looking for a girl to send him flowers and demanding such in his profile. You know, I REALLY hate this kind of "sensitive" man for whom "sensitivity" means that they want the woman to do all of the traditionally masculine wooing things while they sit back and are pampered like a girl. Fuck that.

2. Some of these dudes move pretty quickly from in the multiple choice phase, asking things like, "how would you most like to spend saturday night?" to, in the open-ended question phase, asking things like, "will you be ready to become married and pregnant within the next six months because I'm dying to be married - DYING!" I suppose this is what I get for going on the heteronormative-land-of-traditional-values-and-belief-in-soulmates site, but jeez. Take a girl out for a meal before you interrogate her about her plans for her uterus/legal status.

3. What do I do about the chiropractor who can't stand people who use vulgar language? I mean, in my profile I say that my biggest influence was my grandmother who swore like a sailor - WHY is this guy bothering with me? Does he think that I'll give up vulgar language for him? Me? The girl whose intellectual work depends on the word fuck? (And when I say that my intellectual work depends on that word, I mean that quite literally, not just in the I-must-use-expletives-when-doing-intellectual-work sense.)

4. At what point do you start rejecting suitors? Right now, I'm in communication with (drumroll please) 7 guys. Well, six now, because I put one of them on hold because a) he asked about my uterus and b) his picture was taken either with his grandmother or his mom, and that skeezed me out. I feel like the key thing in all of this is being as open as possible and talking to/meeting as many dudes as possible. So when do I let my innate judgmentalness kick in? Most of them don't put the mom/grandma pictures up, so I don't have that as a reliable index of when to just say no.

5. I've not heard back from the pilot, and I really did like him best. What a loser. (Him, not me.)

Again, I apologize for being such a boy-crazy freak. This, if you haven't guessed, is a not-so-opaque smokescreen to disguise the fact that I've not been doing any of the research stuff I need to be doing, that I've got two letters of recommendation to write, and that it's that point in the semester where I just don't feel like doing any work. Oh, and I don't know what I'm doing with my classes this morning. I do know, however, that I'm getting a haircut today. I wonder what I'll do with it....

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Johari Window

Come on, tell me about me! You know you want to!

The Time-Consuming Nature of Internet Dating

I just spent the past 1 1/2 hours dealing with all of my prospective suitors. DAMN. This is kind of hard work. The multiple choice questions. The essay questions. Figuring out what I "must have" in a relationship and what I "can't stand." Oh, and I had to find pictures of myself that were somewhat non-hideous with which to attempt to woo suitors. (In one of the ones I picked my right eye is kind of closed, if that tells you how many pictures I have of myself. Now, if I could just put a picture of my cat, I'd have OODLES to choose from.) All of this is very time-consuming.

(Incidentally, I saw the picture of the pilot, and I'm intrigued.... And I've got another bachelor who's begun communication. Not a single one of these dudes is over 5'10." I'm beginning to think that online dating is the land of the not-very-tall man. Ah well. As long as they don't expect me to wear flats, I'm not going to be uber-judgmental right off the bat.)

Edited to add:

I found a way to answer that "romantic date when you've been together for a thousand years" question that's basically a non-answer. I harp a lot on specificity, and I basically put any successful romantic evening down to 1) looking nice for each other and 2) making sure there aren't interruptions (no cell phones, etc.) and the rest should be specific to the particular couple. I know, I'm kind of an ass. Why couldn't I just come up with something? Why couldn't I commit? I think I fell into essay exam mode where you turn the prompt around in order to say what you want to say, answering the question sort of but actually taking issue with the question. I always was good at an essay exam....

Monday, February 13, 2006

Dr. Crazy's Weight-Loss Plan (But I'm No Expert, Nor Am I An M.D.)

Ejnw06 asked in a comment what I've been doing to lose weight. Let me preface all that will follow with the fact that, as I stated in the title to the post, I'm no authority on things fitness or weight loss. I should also preface this with the fact that I really love food, and I generally have tended to hate exercise.

As many of you know, I quit smoking in November, the day before thanksgiving. I had been a smoker for 10 years. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I gained 10 lbs. My clothes weren't fitting right. This was no good. One of the reasons that this was no good is that I'm not a tiny girl. I have the body of my Hungarian/Polish ancestors, which means that I've always been, as my mother horrifyingly put it throughout my adolescence, a "big girl." Now, I've never been what I'd call fat, but if I gain weight, I'm ever in danger of having to shop at plus-sized stores, which for me is the thing that drives me to any attempt at weight loss. Now, it's also important to note here that I've been carrying around about 20 lbs. extra weight since I began dissertating/began dating my ex-boyfriend. Thus, with the added weight of quitting smoking, I was NOT happy. I should also note that I tend to need to gain/lose a significant amount of weight in order for it to change my size significantly. I've ranged from a size 10 to a size 16 since I was 12 years old, and for the great majority of the time I've been a size 12-14. When I started this whole "new year, new me" program, I was threatening to bust out of size 16. The last time that I was in this predicament, I took up smoking and stopped eating. I also walked a ton because I didn't have a car. This was a) not wise and b) not something I wanted to try to do again.

The Plan:
Ok, so what I've done is nothing mysterious. I've been exercising 3-4 times a week (without fail) and I've been watching what I eat. I haven't in any way been fanatical, but more exercise (and before I was doing pretty much nothing) plus fewer calories is going to equal weight loss. Even if you cheat sometimes on the diet stuff, which I do. But let me be more specific.

Dr. Crazy's Exercise Plan:
First and foremost, I joined a gym. For me, this was entirely necessary, as I really can talk myself out of exercising and into a snack without much effort at all. By joining a gym, I increased my motivation to work out in three ways: 1) I'm wasting money if I don't go; 2) the people at my gym are really friendly and congratulatory about the fact that you are showing up regularly, and that makes me feel good; 3) As long as I go on my way home from work, I'm totally motivated to go, whereas if I am at home, the likelihood of my forcing myself to exercise is small indeed. On top of those three main things, the gym is a good thing for me because the machines time exactly how long one is working out, and I'm the kind of person who can cheat myself if I don't have a clock right in front of me (for example, if I go walking around my neighborhood I will lie to myself that I've gone farther or longer than I really have gone or I won't walk as fast as I might).

So, when I go to the gym, I work out solidly for 40 to 50 minutes. I always start out with the exercise bike, because the bike doesn't feel as much like working out to start because I'm sitting down. Also, I like to warm up with the bike. I usually ride the bike for about 10-15 minutes. From there, it depends on what I feel like doing. Now that I'm finally in shape to do it, I'm a huge fan of the elliptical, and I've been doing it for 30 mins after the bike. Then I'll walk on the treadmill to cool down for maybe 10 minutes. On days when I'm tired, I might do the elliptical for only 10-15 minutes and follow it up with walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes. On days when all of the elliptical machines are being used by others, I'll just do the treadmill for 30/45 minutes, with a combination of walking/running. NEVER have I worked out for more than an hour. NEVER have I worked out more than 4 days in a week. I'm going to start incorporating weight training in the coming weeks, but just for the toning up stuff - not because I have learned how to enjoy exercise. Exercising sucks, even if it does relieve stress (which I like).

The Diet
Ok, so I began the new year with a modified version of the south beach diet. Modified because I didn't restrict myself quite as much as they tell you to (I didn't cut out carrots for example), but basically a diet of veggies and lean meats and some lowfat dairy. No bread. No potatoes. No fruit. It was rough, but it did get me off of the carb/sugar habit that had dominated my diet since quitting smoking. That lasted for two weeks. Because I didn't follow it precisely, I lost only 5 lbs. in that first two weeks (they say that during phase one you can expect to lose 9-14 lbs.). After that first two weeks, I could then start adding back in some "good" carbs, like whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, fruit, etc. As soon as I entered phase two, I was fine in terms of feeling like I'm not even on a diet. Yes, I've had to pay more attention to what I'm shoving in my mouth, but I like what I'm eating, and I don't feel deprived. Also, I really enjoy cooking, and this means I have to cook, so it actually forces me to do something that I like to do, which I need sometimes.

I cheat one day a week and I eat whatever I want. What I've found is that I don't tend to eat as much of the bad stuff because I'm so used to eating well, even on the day when I'm "allowed" to cheat.

Crucial to my success with all of the diet stuff has been the following:
1) I pack myself a healthy lunch every single day.
2) I try to eat breakfast every morning, but if I don't I bring an apple or something to eat so that I don't gorge myself later in the day.
3) I don't keep crap food in the house. If it's in the house, I will eat it.
4) 100-calorie packages of microwave popcorn.
5) nuts.
6) tea.
7) splenda.
8) diet cherry coke.
9) not really drinking alcohol.
10) I don't want to eat garbage after I work out.

The Benefits:
I suppose having done all of this for a month and a half I'd say the benefits are these: My skin looks great, I get amazing sleep at night, I have a ton more energy, and I'm much less stressed out (not only because of exercising but also because cooking relaxes me). Again, I'm no doctor (well, unless you count being a doctor of philosophy) and I've got no real secrets to impart. But this is what I've been doing, and it's working, so there you have it.

On Choosing the Most Heteronormative and Freakily Old-Fashioned Online Dating Service

Yes, I went with eHarmony. Was it the constant commercials that drew me to Dr. Warren's Wonderful World of Soulmates? Some sort of peer pressure that comes from being in the midwest? Temporary insanity?

Well, I'm not ruling any of the above out. My conscious reasons for choosing this particular service, however, were the following:

  1. My picture and profile are only available to people who are part of the service, thus minimizing the possibility that sexist and disrespectful students will find them and use them against me in some way. Is this paranoia on my part? I don't know. But it's one of the things that made me apprehensive about Match.
  2. I love a personality test. Have ever since I was 12.
  3. I have a bunch of friends who've done Match and from their reports it sounded quite meat-market-y. Now, Dr. Crazy can enjoy going to market just like the rest of 'em, but the truth of it is that I've been down that road, and it's a road that doesn't seem worthy of the time, effort, and cash that online dating demands.
  4. Any dude who's going to take the time to fill out Dr. Warren's lengthy questionnaire has to have at least some commitment to the idea of finding a person to date.
  5. I'm intrigued by the whole guided communication thing. I like the idea that I can cut off communication with a person before it ever gets personal, you know? And I don't like the idea of becoming involved with a person (via email) before I've ever met him. I'm thinking that the guided communication will help with this.
  6. Did I mention that eHarmony is HUGE in my location? Whereas Ok Cupid! (for example, which someone suggested) doesn't even exist? Here it's pretty much Match or eHarmony, as far as I can tell, and Match seems to skew slightly less professional.
  7. I like the fact that the computer is weeding people out for me. The less directed sites are kind of overwhelming to me.

Nevertheless, I'm kind of freaked out by the fact that eHarmony seems so marriage-driven. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and I'm not entirely sure why it bothers me. What's wrong with wanting to find a person to marry? At what point did that become a bad thing to do? Similarly, why am I so intimidated by the idea of "dating" in the traditional sense? When did "dating" become something that people didn't do regularly, having replaced it with "hooking up" or "hanging out"? And why do the latter two seem "normal" to me whereas "dating" seems like something from the stone ages?

I've got to say, though, this process is intriguing. It forces a person to think about what she wants in her life, what kind of person she thinks she'd like to share that with, and who she is and how she wants to sell herself to prospective suitors. This is something that I don't think I've done much in my "real life" dating life. I've fallen into relationships, I've given chances where I should have said, "sorry, I don't think we're a match!" and been on my way, I've stayed in relationships because it was easier than leaving and looking for better or different or whatever. In this new and improved virtual dating world, all of that is flipped around and there's a lot more thought that goes into it at the front end. Is this good? Does it ruin the "romance"? I don't really know. But I'm interested to see where it goes. I'm "communicating" with three people already.

Bachelor #1 (with whom I've gotten the farthest in the eHarmony guided communication) is a pilot, rides motorcycles, plays the guitar, and is 30 years old. I would NEVER meet a guy like this in real life. So far, things are progressing at a smooth and steady pace, and we've moved to the essay-question portion of things. By the way, does anybody have a good answer to the following question, "How would you spend a romantic evening with someone you have been dating for more than one year"? The strikes against him are that he has the same name as my ex and that he's only 5'10".

Bachelor #2 is a teacher, and he claims that it's his "calling." Whatever. It never hurt anybody to answer some multiple choice questions.

Bachelor #3 is a "corporate account representative." I have a feeling that he would think I'm fat. I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt, though, or at least a phase or two more of the guided communication, because I'm not sure what gives me that impression.

In the end, I'll think this whole enterprise is a success if I go on some dates and the guys pay often enough that I ultimately make back the money I spent signing up for this thing. I've got to say, though, I already have learned a lot, and I've only been signed up for like 3 days. It will be so interesting to see where this all goes.

Monday Morning - Sigh

  1. I do not feel like teaching or grading today. This is a problem, as it is my job to teach and to grade.
  2. Since January 1, I have lost a grand total of 13.5 lbs. Sadly, I've got like 20 more lbs. to go before I'll be where i want to be, because, well, I've been lugging around some extra weight since dissertating, which I finished a few years ago now, but with the success of the past month and a half, I am optimistic. Apparently, all one needs to do to lose weight is to eat well and to work out a few times a week. Who knew?
  3. The experiment in Internet Dating is getting off to a very exciting start. I will write an actual post about it soon.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Where Did That Five Hours Go?

Yes, I have successfully wasted my entire Friday afternoon.

I also signed up for Internet Dating.

I'm not sure whether this makes me desperate or something else that is less negative than desperate.

What the hell. It's worth a shot, right?

And really, isn't this something that I really should at least try in this particular historical moment as a woman in my particular age bracket?

I'm still quite horrified by the whole thing, really. I remembered - after the fact of course - that I've always hated dating. It is very anxiety-producing. Though, of course, one of the benefits could potentially be that I will stop being such a workaholic because I will be distracted by boy-craziness.

Ah well, happy Valentine's Day to me, I suppose. Now I'd better go find me a copy of this book so that I don't make any critical missteps that ruin my internet dating chances. (I'm totally kidding.)

Poetry Friday - e.e. cummings

I don't want to affect the pose of bitter spinster as we head into this Valentine's Day weekend [aside: does anybody else hate how V-Day has spread to cover the entire weekend before or after, depending, when V-Day falls on a weekday? Why can't it just be one special day in the year as opposed to a 4-day extravaganza of chocolate, lingerie, and flavored massage oils?], so I thought I'd choose a love poem for today's poetry Friday. Ok, so what I've chosen isn't quite a love poem. Or at least not an uncomplicated love poem. But e.e. cummings is connected to the idea of the love poem for me (probably because I was very, very into e.e. cummings in high school when I first fell in love), and so here's one of my favorites. Maybe the reason that e.e. cummings = love poetry to me is because he makes me giggle? Loving should so include a giggle now and then....

[may i feel said he]

may i feel said he
(i'll squeal said she
just once said he)
it's fun said she

(may i touch said he
how much said she
a lot said he)
why not said she

(let's go said he
not too far said she
what's too far said he
where you are said she)

may i stay said he
(which way said she
like this said he
if you kiss said she

may i move said he
is it love said she)
if you're willing said he
(but you're killing said she

but it's life said he
but your wife said she
now said he)
ow said she

(tiptop said he
don't stop said she
oh no said he)
go slow said she

(cccome?said he
ummm said she)
you're divine!said he
(you are Mine said she)

Shopping/Workout Update and Other Ephemera

Well, I went shopping yesterday afternoon, and I am now the proud owner of these fabulous hot pink and white running shoes. After buying them, I realized that I really should go to the gym and justify them, and it was awesome. Clearly, one of my problems really had been my pathetic shoes.

In unrelated news, I got an email from my half-brother Connor today. One of these days I'll need to do a post about the complexities of the situation with my father and his "new family," but not today. Let's just say that I'm happy that I heard from him. Oh, and Connor? He's like 10 years old and awesome. Unlike everybody else he shares a living space with, and so he's kind of a miracle. Of course, he claims that he wants to go to college at one of the elite military academies in his email (I'm sure the influence of my father who thinks that would mean he wouldn't have to pay for his son's education, just as he paid for exactly none of mine, has something to do with this), so there is some contamination. Not that there's anything wrong with wanting to attend such a school or having gone to one - just that I don't think that it's particularly.... cool... to encourage a 10-year-old in what I'm sure is a backlash-conservative-anti-foreigners-and-gay-people goal, which I'm sure is where this is coming from.

Ok, I said I wasn't going to write about the fucked-up-ness of all of that now, so I'm really not going to. Instead, I will let you enjoy my "romantic horoscope" for today:

"Romantic obsessions with celebrities could give you the distraction you need right now. They're not as ideal as real-life connections, but they can be a fun way to help you daydream and plan for future romances."

No, I'm not kidding. My life is pain, even in the astrological world.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Ok, So This Isn't a "Real" Post Either

I've decided that rather than compose one of the posts rattling around in my brain (which might include a post about what I've been up to in my sections of comp., a post about my stalled research agenda, a post in the ever-popular whining-about-being-behind-on-grading genre, a post about the 4-4 load and how I'm making it work/not work, a post about maybe making a foray into the land of on-line dating....) I'm going to go shopping.

1. I've got this Staples gift-card that's buring a hole in my wallet that I got as a gift for this service thing I did. I resent that they gave me a "gift" of something that is best used to buy shit for work, but I'm itching to use it nonetheless.

2. I feel like I want new running shoes. I feel like my old ones aren't as cushy as I want them to be. I feel like if I buy new running shoes I'll stop feeling like I don't feel like going to the gym. (If I go today it will be only my second day this week going. I'm totally fucked if I can't kick-start myself. I think my problem may be a combination of a cold-snap and PMS, though, in which case I might be more motivated next week.)

3. I feel like I want new work-out clothes. See above.

4. I feel like I want many other items that I can't quite articulate right now. I think they involve shoes and/or pants. You know, I don't have any pants. Other than jeans. It's a real problem. I think it has something to do with the fact that pants are a hideous pain for me to buy and so I just don't buy them and then I hit this point in the winter and I'm wearing only long black skirts (of which I own FOUR, which seems like a crazy number of long black skirst to own) or jeans.

You know, I'm wondering: is shopping exercise? Because if it is, maybe I don't need to go to the gym today...

Glorious, Glorious Man-Kitty

I've got a few real posts brewing, but until then I thought I'd entertain you all with some pictures of my very spoiled cat. Here's a picture from last night that I took while the Man-Kitty was playing on his kitty gym. His favorite game is to spin around and around that pole in the picture (which is approximately 5 feet off the ground, so this is a pretty dangerous game) and to pounce on his various toys. Yes, his mama is responsible for retrieving the toys when he knocks them down.

This one is from Christmas time at my mom's. Tragically, I was unable to snap him doing the most hilarious thing he did during the holiday season, which was to stealthily take the miniature candy canes off of the miniature Christmas tree with his little kitten mouth and wander around the house with them. My mom's still finding them in the oddest places.

A Question for Aging Rockstars Everywhere

Are we really supposed to believe that aging male rockstars are genetically predisposed against balding and going gray?

Paul McCartney, Bono, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Steven Tyler, et al.: Take a page out of the book of your comrades Charlie Watts and Adam Clayton, age gracefully, drop the Just For Men and the plugs or the toupees or whatever it is you're using, and go natural.

I, for one, would find it a hell of a lot sexier.

Oh, and don't think you're off the hook Tim McGraw and the Edge wearing those hats 24/7: embrace the balding; you're not fooling anyone.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Takin' Care of Business (Every Day!)

I know you all probably want to kill me for that title for this post, as now you, like I, will have the "takin care of business" song stuck in your head. For this, I apologize, though not really because I needed to spread that particular malady around. If you want to get that song out of your head, you might instead replace it with the following (but skip over this if you don't want to have something perhaps even more horrifying lodged in your brain)......

"Ooh boy you looking like you like what you see/ Won't you come over check up on it/ I'm gon' let you work up on it/ Ladies let em check up on it/ watch it while he check up on it/ Dip it, pop it, work it, stop it, check on me tonight!"

I know, I'm really an evil person. But that Beyonce is one genius when it comes to singing songs that get stuck in one's brain - that are so powerful that they can dislodge other songs from one's brain. I won't even go into the 8 or 9 months in which I had her song "Crazy in Love" stuck in my head. But I digress. The point of this post is not, in fact, all of the pop music that sticks in my brain. It is that I a) finished my annual performance review a week early today b) I wrote my midterm for Intro to Lit like 5 days early today c) I scheduled myself to attend these faculty development seminars I've got to do d) I am about to go and meet with one of my colleagues about this advising thing we're working on setting up and e) after that I will be meeting with one of our candidates for new dean.

I am really quite something.

Put this under the heading of "self-congratulatory post" for which I am refusing to apologize.

Oh, but I should note that I had a revelation last night that the three hours extra a week I've got that normally are spent teaching my fourth class? Yeah, I've been spending those on laundry. No, I'm not kidding. For the first time since I've had this job I've been caught up on laundry during the academic year. Might I just say how fucked up it is that one needs reassigned time in order to take care of basic household everyday chores? (And whether it's me who's fucked up or the system on this one I'm not entirely sure.)

Update on the Noisy Neighbors

Well, I followed the advice of leaving a note. It said something very close to the following:

"Hi Neighbors (there are two dudes who share the apartment - at least to my knowledge),
Could you please make sure to keep it down between 10PM and 6AM. Last night was not the first time that I was awakened by noises coming from the bedroom below mine. Thanks!"

I thought that was nice and got the point across. I didn't think it required any response on the part of the neighbor. I certainly didn't think that it would elicit a visit from the neighbor's big-mouthed girlfriend. Oh yes, she came on upstairs to tell me that it wasn't them making noise because her boyfriend works 1st shift now and they were in bed at 10:30. She then tried to blame the noise on other neighbors. I said to her, I hope politely, that I was fairly certain that the noises were not the noises of loud TVs and/or children (the only other noises in my apartment building, and which do not disturb me because of the layout of the building) and that the noises that awakened me happened at 12:15 AM and that they sounded like they came from people who had gone to bed. I then thanked her for coming up and said goodbye.

1) If you weren't the one making the noise, why not just ignore my note?
2) Why would you, the girlfriend, address the note when to my knowledge you are not a permanent resident of the apartment below?

My suspicion is that she addressed it thinking that it would stop me from ever complaining to the landlord. What she in her utter stupidity does not realize is that it actually encourages me to do so, because I suspect that she's living there and isn't on the lease. Yes, I realize I'm being kind of an asshole (or at least thinking about it), but I was really appalled that she had the audacity to confront me and to lie about the noise. I recognized her voice from the sounds that come through the floor.

I should note, however, that I had a blissfully uninterrupted night's sleep last night. Oh yes I did.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I Love My Intro to Lit Class

  1. They totally laughed and were not ticked off at me for not having finished the last few essays I had intended to grade before class because of the whole noisy neighbors problem.
  2. I felt comfortable telling them about my noisy neighbors problem. (Perhaps that should have been #1, but it only just occurred to me now how awesome that is since we're only 1/3 way through the semester.)
  3. We had a ROCKIN' discussion about acts 1-3 of Hamlet. A.) They made really good points. B.) They asked really insightful questions. C.) A full 1/2 of them (and there are 25 in the class) actually spoke. THIS IS A MIRACLE AT THIS POINT IN THE SEMESTER IN ANY CLASS THAT I TEACH AT THIS UNIVERSITY.
  4. Their papers weren't bad. Yes, I assigned some required revisions, but those were more about not following directions than not having good ideas, which to my mind is a good sign.

Oh, and did I mention that I love my writing students this semester, too? That the writing class that caused me pain for two years running because it's so horrible a course is now completely interesting and fun, for me and for them?

Ok, what are the odds that all of this good will and cheer is directly related to the fact that I'm only teaching three courses this semester? And what are the odds that I'll ever get reassigned time again?

Ok, I need to go work out (lost nothing last week and I haven't worked out since Saturday - somehow not losing weight serves to make me LESS rather than MORE motivated) and to go to the grocery store for a random list of items that includes cat litter and milk, among other things.

Grrrr is for Grading on No Sleep

Ok, so I've got this problem with my downstairs neighbor. Apparently, he got himself a lady friend at some point during the holiday season. Since the new year, I have had the pleasure of being woken up (from a dead sleep, and I'm not a light sleeper) at least 4 times by loud (and literal) banging. Oh, and with a moan and yelp thrown in for good measure, which I notice once the banging has jarred me from my restful night's beauty sleep. The first time it happened, I thought, well, everybody has a loud night once in a while, and this is what I get for not buying a house. The second time, I was slightly more peeved, but wasn't sure how to handle things because, well, it would be embarassing and effort-filled for me to go downstairs at 2:30 AM and ring the doorbell until the guy realized he should stop fucking and deal with my complaint. The third time, I thought, well, if it happens again....

[Aside: I know, I should probably suck it up and get earplugs, but I have a hard time falling asleep with them in, and I really don't think that I should have to accommodate this fool below me when it makes my life more difficult. I think I'd rather complain to my landlord each and every time it happens from now until the end of time.]

The fourth time (that I've kept count) was last night. I couldn't get back to sleep for two hours, probably in part because my ire kept me awake. I thought about writing a note, but now I'm thinking I'm just going to complain to the landlord and let them deal with the embarassment of telling this dude to quiet down. (Normally I think a direct approach with one's neighbors about noise crap is best, but I feel like this is a somewhat more sensitive situation than, "hey, could you turn your stereo down?")

Pathetically, one of the reasons I've held off on complaining was because I wondered if I was just being a crank because I'm in a bit of a dry spell myself. Yeah, I realized last night that were I in a relationship I would have complained about this two weeks ago. This isn't about my sex life but about the neighbor's. And it's about the volume of it - directly below me - between the hours of midnight and 5 AM. Dude, have sex on the floor or in the shower or in the living room. Buy some sort of contraption to make the bed stay in place. I don't care what you do, but the amount of banging involved in sex does not make it good sex - particularly for one's neighbors. In fact, it's kind of gross to listen to.

And so now I've got a stack of papers I need to have graded, but of course I didn't wake up in time to grade them because I needed to sleep two extra hours, and I have but 40 minutes before this needs to be done and I need to teach. I am not a happy person. Not at all.

Monday, February 06, 2006

What's the Deal with All the Academic Steelers' Fans?

Because this girl from Cleveland just can't celebrate their Super Bowl win. Oh no, she cannot.

On Being Knocked Down a Peg or Two

Ok, so I recently received notice that a proposal that I sent off for a conference this summer was rejected. I want to write about this, but I also feel like to do so is potentially a bad idea. Or at least to write about it in the way that I've been thinking about it would be. I suppose I'll limit my comments to the following:

If this rejection is any indication of the prevailing way that people consider this topic (which, of course, it may not be) then I should give up on the idea of revising my dissertation.

Of course, I'm not going to do so, but I do think that I'm going to make a vow to myself never to attempt to woo the people who organize this conference with my ideas again. The way that I think about this topic doesn't work for them - which, hey, probably explains why I've ignored this conference for like the past 7 years, but doesn't explain why I've felt guilty about ignoring it - and it's ok that it doesn't and there's no reason why it should. It just really bites (which is the only way I can think to describe it) that the ideas that I've spent the most intellectual time and energy on (i.e., those related to my dissertation/book manuscript) are deemed completely uninteresting while ideas that are entirely thrown together receive praise. It really makes me question the value of investing immense amounts of intellectual time and energy on anything.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Poetry Friday - Eavan Boland

I first encountered the poetry of Eavan Boland when she did a reading at my university when I was an undergraduate. It was the mid-90s, and I was minoring in writing and we were required to attend a certain number of poetry readings. I pretty much hated being required to attend poetry readings, though I realize now that I've been to a good number of them. I'm bad at them. Kind of in exactly the same way that I'm bad at sitting through conference papers. At poetry readings, my mind wanders, and I become irritated by the way poets so often

read in that wAY
that lilts uP
at the end of every liNE

in that breathy voice that takes the sense from the lines. At conferences, my mind wanders, and I become irritated by jargon that takes the sense from any argument. The same thing really. In that way, I suppose, poetry is not so different from criticism, at least as I experience it in person. At any rate, one of the poets whom I saw read while I was in college was Eavan Boland. And she was amazing, and I fell in love with her poetry. I think I was supposed to see her read again a couple of years ago in Ireland, during the centennial celebration of Bloomsday. (Happy belated birthday to good old JJ, incidentally, whom I forgot to mention yesterday). Part of me wishes I'd have seen her read again, but a bigger part knows I made the right choice in doing whatever it was that I was doing (which I suspect included some sort of non-attendance of the reading in order to drink Guinness or whiskey or something).

"The Pomegranate"

The only legend I have ever loved is
the story of a daughter lost in hell.
And found and rescued there.
Love and blackmail are the gist of it.
Ceres and Persephone the names.
And the best thing about the legend is
I can enter it anywhere. And have.
As a child in exile in
a city of fogs and strange consonants,
I read it first and at first I was
an exiled child in the crackling dusk of
the underworld, the stars blighted. Later
I walked out in a summer twilight
searching for my daughter at bed-time.
When she came running I was ready
to make any bargain to keep her.
I carried her back past whitebeams
and wasps and honey-scented buddleias.
But I was Ceres then and I knew
winter was in store for every leaf
on every tree on that road.
Was inescapable for each one we passed.
And for me.
It is winter
and the stars are hidden.
I climb the stairs and stand where I can see
my child asleep beside her teen magazines,
her can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit.
The pomegranate! How did I forget it?
She could have come home and been safe
and ended the story and all
our heart-broken searching but she reached
out a hand and plucked a pomegranate.
She put out her hand and pulled down
the French sound for apple and
the noise of stone and the proof
that even in the place of death,
at the heart of legend, in the midst
of rocks full of unshed tears
ready to be diamonds by the time
the story was told, a child can be
hungry. I could warn her. There is still a chance.
The rain is cold. The road is flint-coloured.
The suburb has cars and cable television.
The veiled stars are above ground.
It is another world. But what else
can a mother give her daughter but such
beautiful rifts in time?
If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift.
The legend will be hers as well as mine.
She will enter it. As I have.
She will wake up. She will hold
the papery flushed skin in her hand.
And to her lips. I will say nothing.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Personal and the Public

I don't know whether y'all have been following the brouhaha in the comments over at Bitch PhD's generated by a few recent posts that she's made about her marriage, but I have, and in response I've been doing a lot of thinking (and rethinking) about how blogs work, how we invite people into our lives through them and how our attempts to project an "authentic" voice can be complicated by the very audience that celebrates and villifies us on the basis of that authenticity or perceived lack thereof.

The point of this post is not to enter into the debate raging in Dr. B's comments about her relationships or her choice to communicate certain things on her blog. Basically, I just hope everything's ok for her and the people she cares about however everything plays out, and I don't see the point in throwing any further commentary her way than that. My point, rather, is to take what I've been thinking while silently lurking and watching others' responses and to translate that into something that is perhaps more easily discussable, more neutral.

I'd like to begin by breaking my thoughts down into general premises that I think are in play for those who choose to blog in ways that are both personal and "public"- including political, professional, etc.. (i.e., I'm not talking about purely personal diaristic blogs, nor am I talking about purely professional or issue-oriented or political blogs. I'm talking about blogs that blend the two.)

Premises Related to Writing:
  • It is impossible for writing to articulate reality in any exact way. Who a person is in writing will necessarily differ from a person's "real" identity.
  • Writing consists of a variety of rhetorical choices (such as my decision to use bullets here, for example, which one might argue indicate that I'm being very logical and point-driven, whether or not that is in fact true of what is included in the bullets) that convey a certain persona to readers, even if readers do not consciously perceive how those choices affect (effect?) their perceptions of the "author" of the writing that they consume.
  • We do, in spite of Barthes and Foucault and all of those other dead French guys, respond on a visceral level to the idea of an "author" who speaks to us through the text. I might know in theory that the author is dead or that the author is just a function through with we collect a certain group of texts, but in practice I like to feel as if I'm being told a story by a real person.

Premises Related to Academic Identity:

  • Because we "know" that a blogger is an academic, we expect him/her to be thoughtful in his/her posts and for the blog to encourage a certain level of discourse in comments.
  • Because we "know" that a blogger is an academic, we expect a certain level of theoretical sophistication from the blogger, thus meaning that we may tend to invest the writing of that blogger with more inherent significance than it, in fact, is worth.
  • Because we "know" that a blogger is an academic, we infer that we can "trust" his/her representation of his/her own identity and/or his/her take on the issues he/she discusses.

Premises Related to Gender:

  • Because we "know" that a blogger is a woman, we expect a certain level of personal content on her blog, if it is pseudonymous. There seems to be a corelation between pseudonymity for female bloggers and a desire to talk about "personal" issues like difficulty in conceiving a child, being single, going through a divorce, mothering, depression or other psychological problems, etc.
  • Because we "know" that a blogger is a woman, and because we think that they are more inclined to this sort of personal writing, we believe that female bloggers will not necessarily make political posts. If they do make political posts, these will be firmly separate from their more personal posts. (I'm not saying this is true, but I do think it's an assumption.)
  • Because we "know" that a blogger is a woman, we evaluate that blogger's posts through the gender expectations and norms that we carry around with us in everyday life.

Premises Related to Blogging/Bloggers:

  • Bloggers are narcissists, who seek validation and approval from audiences of "fans."
  • Blogging is the equivalent of journaling if it includes personal content.
  • Bloggers ask for what they get in terms of comments because they post what they do in a public forum.

I suppose my point in outlining these premises here is to try to think about the ways in which these premises dictate the kinds of things that we can/can't write in one blogspace or another (a) or the responses that we will get to what we write (b).

In watching all of the wildly busy commenting over at Bitch Ph.D.'s (200+ comments in some of the threads! and on a good day for me I get like 20!), I've been somewhat ambivalent. On the one hand, I was jealous of her "popularity." That's part of this whole blogging thing, you know? Wanting to be a "popular" blogger, wanting to have a thriving community or audience or whatever of readers. On the other, I felt like she was being villified in ways that were unfair, as if posting on a blog is something more than just writing but rather is a kind of action that she's taking. At the end of the day, isn't writing a blog just writing? But then one has to ask oneself whether public writing doesn't somehow acquire greater meaning, and I think I do believe that it does. If I didn't, I'm not sure I would be as inclined to continue with blogging. It is satisfying to write for an actual audience, and it is satisfying to be able to do so in a forum that has such immediacy.

And I suppose this is the thing, and this is where the title of this post comes in. If blogging is an action that one takes, rather than the mere passive reflection of the world around us, isn't it exactly the space in which to explore the conjunction between the personal and the public? Doesn't the format lend itself to exactly that because it, too, is both personal and public? And isn't to try to explore those connections between personal life and public life exactly in line with many different versions of feminist politics? And, as such, isn't it entirely appropriate for a woman who is a mother and a scholar and a wife and an intellectual to write both about difficulties in her marriage and about the confirmation of a supreme court justice, both about her fantastic kid and about her sometimes less fantastic job? And why should others feel obligated to tell her that to post about "personal" things on the blog that don't fall in line with our world's version of "good wife" (whether in an open marriage or not), "good mother," or "good academic" is inappropriate? Isn't the point that those models for identity are kind of fucked up? Or am I missing something here?

But let's telescope back in and look at my own choices related to my blogging. One of the things that is most interesting about blogging to me is the way in which we can construct an online identity that is at first entirely conscious and then that later becomes less so. One of the reasons that I changed blogspace was because I couldn't comfortably inhabit the identity that I had constructed on my first blog any longer but at the same time I wasn't happy about the ways in which I couldn't consciously control the "Dr. Crazy" identity on that blog. My solution was to move house, thus allowing me to reinvent my blogging voice without abandoning the whole kit and caboodle. I've been experimenting with my voice in this new space, and it is both more and less personal. Strangely, on my old blog things that totally were not personal material, like the books that I was teaching, became the very things that I had to protect as my most personal information. I could write about very, very personal things, but I couldn't write about my everyday life or everyday interests or academic specialties. Now, in this space, I've inverted that paradigm. I tend to write more about the everyday things in much more open ways. In that way, I've made what is personal (in the sense of identifying) very public. On the other hand, things that are traditionally personal (i.e., intimate details of one's private life) don't show up on this blog. The funny thing is, though, that those things are actually totally anonymous, and I risk much more (in a practical sense) by going public with this material that is more suitable for public consumption. At the same time though, I also feel like I've stopped fighting the good fight to make visible the fact that I am both a public and a private person, even though I'm a "career girl" (as my grandmother would have said). It's easy to be seen as having a personal life when one gets to call oneself "wife," "mother," "sister," in our culture. When the signifiers that one has are "cat-owner," "friend," and "only-child-who-lives-hours-from-family," it's a lot harder to be seen as having a personal life that "counts." Why does it matter that it counts? I don't know. I still feel like it does, though. Nevertheless, I've given up trying to make myself visible in that way through the blog. That was the experiment of the old space, and either it succeeded as far as it was going to or it failed - I'm still not sure which.

The thing that I keep coming back to, as I think about all of the different opinions raging over at Bitch PhD's, is something that's unrelated. With all of the readers chastising her for posting about her marriage, I keep coming back to the many boyfriends of my past who've said to me when I was uppity in some way that "there's a time and a place for everything" or, perhaps better, "this is neither the time nor the place" - in other words, you're embarassing, you're not being a good girl, shut your mouth, I'm putting you in your place. I feel like that's what some of the comments over at Dr. B's are doing to her. Maybe that's what happens when you have as big a readership as she does. Maybe that's what happens when you're a woman and you step out of line. Maybe even in the personal-public genre of blogging it's still not ok to go public with the personal.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Woohoo! Conference Week #1 Done (minus 1)

The minus one is because I'm a big ol' softie and I agreed to meet with one student on Friday afternoon. But at any rate, I'm DONE with the others! Yay!

But as I was conferencing I had an idea, and I'd like to run it by you guys and see what you think and if you can help me refine this idea into something workable.

One of the weirdest things to me about student writing is the way that so many students have misconceptions about what their own academic writing should look like. There is a total disconnect between the academic writing that they read all of the time for papers and such (journal articles, scholarly books, textbooks, etc.) and what they turn in.

Now, when I designed the syllabus for my course, I kind of had this in mind when I assigned students a journal article, which they are to have read for Monday but which we will have the whole week to cover. I was thinking that one of the things that I wanted was for them to have experience looking at "real" academic writing as a model for their own writing, which I don't think they necessarily consider real or academic.

So my idea is this. I want to organize some sort of activity that uses the article that demonstrates to them in a concrete way that the following are not appropriate:

1. Keeping your argument a secret because it creates "suspense."
2. Using the words "I feel" to indicate things like thinking, believing, recognizing, etc.
3. Repeating your introduction - word-for-word - as your conclusion.
4. Organizing the essay not in relation to the power of the ideas but in a chronological sort of a way.
5. Using just one technique for transitions - all of them.
6. Opening the paper with rhetorical questions, again, because it creates "suspense."
7. Opening the paper with "Imagine you..." and anything that follows that.

I'm sure that there are more, but those are the ones that strike me that one would just NEVER find in actual academic writing that is published. My point isn't to make rules against these things, but instead to demonstrate that if one is going to thwart the conventions that one should be conscious of doing so and be doing it for a reason. Also, I think it allows us to think about purpose and audience in a more specific way than they're used to doing. When was the last time one of you wanted a journal article you were perusing to create suspense?

So anyway, I'm not sure how I'm going to go about doing this. I had already planned a reverse-outlining activity with the article, and i think that this to some extent goes along with what I'm talking about here, but I also think that it could be fun for them to close off an activity related to the above with asking them to write something in parody in which they break all of the conventions that I'm talking about. Huh.

My apologies for the inarticulate and pathetic nature of the above thoughts. I am totally fried from the conferencing.

A Scattered, Perhaps Unintelligible Post

After doing 30+ conferences in three days, I can barely string two words together. Nevertheless, I am going to use this moment of a break that I've got to do so, even though I know a student is sitting outside my closed office door. [Tip to student: if you've signed up for an appointment at 1:15, do not assume that I will be available to you at 12:30. My door was closed, and though I did answer when you knocked - which I now recognize was a mistake - that did not mean that I was going to let you barge in and have your conference while I was trying to eat my lunch. Appointments have specified time for a reason. Not exactly rocket science, no?]

At any rate, the conferences have been grueling but also illuminating (as has the grading of their first formal papers been).

1) Many of them are very excited by the class.
2) The second section seems to be stronger than the first, and I'd originally thought it would be the other way around.
3) I have chosen a theme that all people seem to enjoy. All I can say, after struggling to find one of these, his Hallelujah, Praise Allah, etc.
4) People really shouldn't meet individually with 40+ people over a three-day period, as it is far too much face-time.
5) I think I'm coming down with a cold.

How am I going to make it through the next hour? Just how?