June was the month in 2000 when I drove 5 and a half hours from State College to somewhere in Central Ohio to pick up what the whippet rescue people were calling the biggest whippet they'd ever seen. I was so nervous when I left town that I drove away with the Uni-Mart gas pump still in my tank, spilling about 13 gallons in the parking lot before the attendant shut off the pump. The dog's name was Lady, which simply would not do, especially because her former owner who gave her up because she (mistakenly) thought Lady was going to have yet another litter of puppies called her "Lady Di," even after the fatal royal accident. No wonder the dog kept running away. So I changed her name to Jada and repeated the new name probably a couple thousand times on our return drive home, with Lady-Jada staring at me with her big dark eyes from the backseat. If you're wondering where I got the name, here's a hint: she's also known as Jada Whippet Smith.
June is also the month when our second dog and her littermates were born in 2005. The breeders, a really charming gay couple from Detroit, one of whom wore a deep purple Tshirt with a shimmery handpainted outline of a whippet on the front, were a little surprised when Naomi and I picked the crooked-eared runt out of all her well-conformed, bold-tempered sisters. Her registered name is Cashmere, and the little puppy pictures they emailed us depict her as the least willing to stand for the 6 week photo. John named her Tillie, after Tillie Olsen, the left-wing, feminist writer.
So tonight we are having a June doggie celebration with our dog owning friends and their pooches, complete with a kiddie pool, frisbees, a new packet of rubber balls, fresh dog treats, and--of course--lots and lots of margaritas and chips and salsa for us non-dogs. I'm taking bets on whether I'll be posting photos. Las Vegas odds are heavily in favor of a Yes.
Checking quotes for my nearly-revised third chapter, and I came across this, a section of a letter KB sent to William Carlos Williams during the summer of 1931 (the letters between the two are collected in a volume edited by James East), the post-script to which has typically been the focus of my attention. But from the funny salutation--"Dear Bill the Bold"--on, the letter itself is compelling for the way it tosses about. The first paragraph extends an invitation for Williams to visit Burke's farm "the week-end that is a fortnight from the one just past." Burke then asks 'the good doctor' about his second vocation--"How goes litrachoor?",--as a thinly disguised transition to talking about his favorite subject, him: ____________________________________________________________________ As for the magazine, all is yet uncertain. Josephson and I seem to disagree on every matter of policy from the name to the placing of the office spittoon--we are, I think, just about on the edge of writing Open Letters of mutual revilement to the press of the metropolis. And besides, this is the great year of wrangles anyhow. Let's see, have I wrangled with you yet? I believe there are about seventeen friends of mine who, if the old theories of witchcraft are true, are slowly wasting away as I blast them with mute wishes. Ho hum Harry--here I am, sleepy at ten in the morning, from having lain damnably awake with home brew and the poet's own birthright, predawn suicide. Here I am all shot to hell on Monday morning, when Chapter XIV is to begin to be disposed of. I shall go up and kalsomine the walls, fit in this shattered state only for physical toil (when weary, one can build houses, crush rocks, climb mountains, haul lumber, but one can write only when his vitality is at its top-notch).
I have three official PhD advisees, all women, and I have had email or f2f contact with all three of them in the past day, during which time I have decided that they all, in their own very different ways, rock. These women are all smart and funny--is there some sort of secret humor requirement for grad admissions? I do believe women grad students probably need a sense of humor or lots of renewable prescriptions (or both) to negotiate the odd world of academia--they all work very hard, and they all have interesting and damned complicated lives.
One is going to give birth any day now and--get this--has maintained her usual writing schedule throughout her pregnancy, even stepped it up a bit. Recognizing that she'll probably not be able to complete a draft of her final dissertation chapter before her water breaks, she has decided to use the time 'remaining' to compose her job materials, months ahead of time. She sent them along to me today, and they're really among the strongest I've seen in draft form (and I've worked in grad placement at two universities).
Another just had a really horrific family tragedy--by which I mean unimaginably, even cinematically horrific--and so we met to talk about stuff and to readjust her timeframe, her focus, in a way that will be flexible enough to allow some sort of recovery, if recovery is even the right term. I would insert a few clichés here about her strength, but suffice it to say that her strength really seems to lie in the kind of clarity she has about how the whole strength thing is really ridiculous and any talk of it only comforts those uttering those clichés about how strong she is. Her insight is both instructive and admirable.
The third just left town--and the comfort of a place she actually owns--to share an apartment with a stranger in a big city while she hunkers down for a couple of months to learn Latin, a nonnegotiable necessity for the research she's planning. For those of you who haven't learned a dead language or an inflected one, and haven't since high school sat in class for 8 hours a day, suffice it to say that her very expensive tickets to Lollapalooza are also her tickets to maintaining her sanity, or they would be for me anyway.
I dunno, so many of us expend so much energy worrying about or even--gasp!--complaining about our 'advisees' (and we know they complain about us too), I feel like it's time for something different.
<Insert a bunch of clichés here about learning from students and all that. Or, I would if I hadn't had the conversation with student #2 about dumb, stupid clichés.>
But each of them is just a little bit astounding, dammit.
Any blogos readers know anything about the muzak business? I'm just curious because the campus gym--aka the place where I've been spending most of my time, second to home, this summer--plays what I assume to be muzak. One of the seemingly most frequently played tunes during spring semester was a song in which the chorus predicted "Tonight there's gonna be a Jailbreak." Which is a little ridiculous when you're surrounded by college students from the Chicago Suburbs whose parents could easily post bail.
In any event, it seems that the gym muzak has taken a turn for the better this summer, which is to say a turn for the eighties. And so I'm wondering whether there's some governing muzak formula in which the older the song the cheaper it is to add to the muzak track, or maybe there's a more complicated formula dealing with age and popularity. All I'm saying is I haven't not been enjoying tunes like Prince's "Kiss," Van Halen's "Jump," and Whitney Houston's "I Want to Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" and all the other songs that were played at my high school prom.
Anyone who has had a puppy can identify what happened to the book pictured at left. And apparently anyone who has worked at a library can too. This damage was incurred months ago, when Tillie was still eensie (though big enough to clamber to the top of my desk and discerning enough to find the call number tag quite tasty). I've just been blithely renewing the book, which happens to be from a library other than ours. But this week, its time was up: my online request for renewal was denied.
I decided to seek the advice of our librarians beginning of course with the circulation desk, and our favorite librarian (OFL). Because of OFL's tendency to go on about things (a tendency well documented here at blogos), when I saw from the front of the line that she was wrapping up with her current patron, I stuffed the book in the bag clutched underneath my arm and decided to explain the problem, thus avoiding the shameful moment of showing OFL the book itself.
OFL: "Can I help you?" ME: "Uh, yes. I have a library book from another library that has been accidentally damaged, and I was hoping I might get some advice about what to do." OFL (uncharacteristically businesslike): "Let me make a phone call." [makes phone call; returns] OFL: Okay, if you follow the yellow tape on the floor (?) you'll find Stuart, and he'll be able to advise you." Me: "Thank you!" [turn to leave, and then--] OFL: "One time we had a book chewed up by a puppy dog, and (shakes her head, looking down) there wasn't much we could do."
[Insert sound of 'Debbie Downer' skit from SNL.*]
So I slunk along the yellow tape to Stuart who took the book in his hands, turned it over once, and asked simply, "new puppy dog?"
Cara just found out that she is to receive the National Communication Association's Golden Anniversary Monograph Award for her brilliant piece on image vernaculars and Lincolnalia. Looks like the crew will be back at the awards ceremony in San Antonio. Rock on, Cara!
"since without arbitrary goals, fervently chosen, I don't know what I'd do with myself." --Benjamen Kunkel, Indecision
This one is Flavia inspired. Like F I am maximizing the summer brain space by (self-) imposing a daily (weekday) schedule, which means 4-6 hours of work--my work!--in the long a.m., and then the p.m. is devoted to biking, weeding & watering the garden, working on various house projects, reading for fall teaching, or clearing my queue. Queue=mostly reading stuff for other folks known and unknown to me, and at the moment is jam packed. No gardening or paint scraping for me! But weekday mornings are for working, and while I'll peek at email occasionally, I pretty much won't answer the phone.
I also have a broader-scale schedule posted next to my calendar which has me rewriting/revising each of my manuscript chapters in succession with the tidy little idea being that each chapter gets good, sustained attention (the dull/thin ones are allotted two weeks, the polished/ample only one). That schedule ensures that there'll be no day that I wake up and wonder what to do.
On IHE's around the web feature, entries are tagged with more than a link: they are offered with the preposition "in"--as in, "in blogos..."
I tend to use "at" or even "over at" to refer people to other sites, and the difference is a metaphorical/conceptual one: how we conceive of blogs. IHE, for example, seems to be invoking the usual language of referring to journals and books. One wouldn't say "I loved your article at QJS!" Rather, one would say "in." This prepositional choice seems to be a deliberate one perhaps having to do with blogging integrity, I dunno.
So why do I and others use "at"? Seems to me a more place-based metaphor, and the occasional "over" somehow acknowledges multiple activities going on simultaneously in different places--at stake here is a scenic/dramatic emphasis. ("meanwhile, over at MichaelBerube.com, yesterday's discussion continues.") You get the picture. Speaking of pictures, I'm wondering too if we wouldn't be better served by the language of the more kinetic, surface medium of television channels: "This week on Working Blue, Jenny goes to audiocamp."
During our short time in Pittsburgh, John and I would occasionally breakfast at the nearby Square Cafe, a funky diner where on football Sundays, one could order a meal called "Breakfast for the Bus" in honor of Steeler great Jerome Bettis. When I ordered this breakfast, I received looks of surprised approval from the waitresses along with my 2 eggs, 2 sausage patties, and 2 pancakes.
But now I've been outdone. My colleague, the AAUP's president-elect Cary Nelson, during a recent interview with a Chronicle writer, ordered a breakfast called "The Eighteen Wheeler," which let's just say takes up more table space than The Bus. Rollin!