I have been thinking about all of you a lot since I read about the loss to Ball State. It must be really strange to have the next two weeks sprawling in front of you, weeks you thought would be spent preparing for each round of the tournament, traveling, eating at steak houses, staying in shape (it is so easy to get out of shape during tournaments), studying up on your opponents, and taking the occasional hard-earned day off. Now you are faced with a gaping hole of days off, but they don't really count as days off with nothing else around them to mark them as such.
You probably have a constant sick feeling deep in your guts, nervousness about what the summer will hold mixed with resolute vows to work harder than ever before, mixed with uncertainty about when Pat will speak to you, and when she does, what she will say. You are probably by now a bit tired of hearing people greet you with the words "what happened?" even though they really do want to hear what you think about what did in fact happen, but the truth is, it's impossible to say. You run through answers--"everybody guns for Tennessee"; "they played out of their minds"; "we were complacent"; "it wasn't our night"; "we didn't show up"--and all of these are just a little bit true, but still the game itself collapses, for each of you, into that turnover, that missed box out, that lost step, the weighty, unshakable dread of physical memory.
As awful and endless as this gut pain might seem, I can tell you that it will get better, but it will take time. As odd as it will be to be in town in late March, you'll figure out what to do: buckle down in your classes, attend those meetings with coaching staff, hang out quietly with friends and teammates, and probably, let's face it, cry a little. But spring in Tennessee--the dogwoods, the warmth, the greening hills--will remind you that you will get another chance, that there's more to the big picture than one game (though this game, I'll not lie, will be seared into your gut for decades to come). October seems a long way away, and I know you wish it would hurry up. But you have a summer to heal, to help your coaches get past this, to win their trust again, to gain re-entry into that locker room.
And in the end, what Nietzsche says will hold: "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." It's just that going through that which nearly kills you is probably going to suck pretty hard. I'm sorry you have to go through that.
JM and I had our home inspection today. For people who have sold houses, you know this can be very nervous-making. Even if you're fairly sure your house rocks, who knows what your own inspection failed to turn up? I am therefore offering you some tips to make your home inspection go well.
tell the inspector that if you weren't a professor you think you might like to have his job.
only tell him or her that if it is true (for me, it is totally true: i like the range of knowledge it requires, and i also like nosing through people's houses, and i fancy myself butchily handy. i had no idea how much our inspector would like hearing this, though i'm also fairly sure he has dealt with his share of asshole professors who don't think he knows what he's doing or are afraid and show it).
have an inspection prior to this one that goes somewhat awry so that the people make unreasonable requests that help you to find your limits on what you will and won't do. this also helps you to tell your newer, nicer buyer what you won't do well before the inspection takes place. for example, we won't replace all the windows in the house. it's ridiculous. this buyer thought it was a little crazy to replace the windows with new plastic crap. the inspector today confirmed this by saying that the idea that old houses always need the windows replaced is "categorically untrue."
know your house. before our inspection, we had electricians come take a look at the wiring. the electricians were able to determine that some of the outlets are grounded and some aren't. they told me i could buy a 5 dollar tester at menard's and investigate them myself, and that if we want to meet code, any outlets without grounding wire ought to be changed to two-pronged outlets. so i bought the five dollar tester and about 10 two-pronged outlets. this turned out to be way too many, because only about 5 needed to be switched. the rest simply didn't have the grounding wire attached properly. once i did that, they checked out perfectly. this also meant that when i heard the inspector speculating about the knob and tube wiring that he could tell was somewhere in the house, and thinking out loud that it was probably all throughout the upstairs, i was able to fly down to the basement and tell him exactly where the knob and tube is and that none of it is upstairs. he then said maybe the light fixtures upstairs were knob and tube, but since i changed ALL of those a few years ago, i was able to tell him that no they all have grounding wires, but that the lights in the dining room and study are in fact knob and tube. this satisfied him and inspired his monologue about how fine knob and tube in fact is.
encourage the buyer in advance to view the inspection as a good road map to the house, a way to learn about what needs to happen down the road. (this i think is a good way to view an inspection rather than as a way to nickle and dime the sellers, which is what happened at our house in pittsburgh.)
know that some stuff will go wrong, and be ready to nut-up. this isn't the home inspection proper, but the radon test came back positive. so we're having a mitigation system installed. it's the right thing to do, and it's just not worth stressing about (except for the fact that we are going to have lung cancer from living here).
if you know there's stuff that will show up on the inspection, either say so in advance or--better--have it taken care of. we had a new furnace installed just last week, for example (totally should have happened long ago, that thing was 70s era). and when we negotiated the price we mentioned the roof will need to be replaced in 3-5 years and that we would be willing to negotiate on that, so that was already built in to the price.
keep reminding the buyer about the tax credit he is going to get thanks to the new stimulus package!
don't hover or seem overly anxious; be confident in the house. you did good work on it! it's beautiful and solid and awesome.
if you are a southerner, don't be afraid to let that southern accent creep in, especially if your inspector is from downstate illinois. if you are not southern, don't fake it. people can see right through it.
luck in to a nice, smart buyer who appreciates houses like yours. this isn't really in your control, but i do wish it for you. everything in life is so much better when reasonable people conduct transactions reasonably.
Beneath the thick, almost suffocating layer of major life stuff going on right now, my brain still finds plenty of time to be preoccupied by the lighter, airier, smaller stuff. Stuff like this:
Why is 30 Rock, and particularly Liz Lemon, so appealing to me? Identification is the obvious answer, and yes, the character is roughly my age, but that's about it. E! suggested that it's the closest thing we have to Arrested Development, which is an excellent point. Both casts are vast and talented, and the writing for both combines the zany with the observant with the utterly unexpected. I like 30 R a little bit more, which is only a comment on just how much I love it, like Tracy Jordan and cornbread.
It is beyond me why people who are trying to sell their house would include intricate descriptions of precisely how the berried vines intertwine with the leaves on the bedroom wallpaper (not just that they intertwine, though that would also be offputting). Seriously. I refuse to look at the house on principle.
Am I a bad person for thinking that the Obama gaffe on Leno isn't all that big of a deal and in fact reveals him as refreshingly imperfect? Maybe he'll be a little more forgiving when Biden next opens his mouth. God, I love Joe Biden.
I am fairly certain that JM and his mad math skills are at least partially responsible for the dissolution of at least two NCAA pools (and if they have not been dissolved, then we have merely been left off the invitation list). It is true that his statistical approach takes all the fun out of it, especially that year he won the entire pool by the second or third round.
My communication rhetoric colleagues here at Illinois are awesome. Each and every one of them, for all their brilliant and beautiful ways.
Yesterday I got my first taste of what it's like to lead a meeting. I have never chaired any committee before (apart from dissertation committees), but I am chairing my first one for the American Society for the History of Rhetoric. And I think I might like it. It asks me to cultivate a certain remove and to focus on gathering input and developing actions. It's also a committee dealing with issues I care about--publication opportunities for people in my field--and so that makes a big difference in my orientation to the work we are doing and the solutions we are seeking.
One of my facebook friends mentioned something along these lines in her status update: facebook is getting a little tiring. And I don't mean the new layout--don't really care about that. I'm not saying I'll be giving it up, but it does make me a little more fond of this blog space.
All this mapping of properties in State College has reminded me of how that place utterly wrecked my sense of N/S/E/W direction.
Selling our house in Urbana has heightened the appeal of renting, at least for a little while.
When or if we do buy, we are going to be super picky. I already feel a little sorry for our real estate agent.
Last night the rhetorical studies reading group had the pleasure of
spending time with Joshua Gunn from the University of Texas. We read
three very recent essays of his--one on freemasonry (R&PA), one on
the "big rhetoric debate" (RSQ) and one on sonorous rhetoric (QJS). Gunn is
perhaps best known for his book Modern Occult Rhetoric (go here
for my review of that book), and all his work, as we discussed last night, engages the category of the ineffable. More than the other meetings this year,
this meeting felt like an episode of "Inside the Actor's Studio."
When CF, JMM, and I arrived at the IPRH building, we were delighted to see this
blown-up image of the Sizing up Rhetoric volume hanging out in the dark hallway at the top of the stairs. I've included a blurry i-phone image at right, with my hand to give you an idea of the scale. Given that Josh's piece, "Size Matters," is a direct response to the 2006 RSA conference which bore the same theme, we couldn't have asked for a better visual aid. So we lugged it downstairs to set up for our meeting.
The conversation ranged from taking risks in scholarship, to exercising tenacity in the face of grim reviewers, to the difference gender makes in calling something privacy or calling it secrecy, to the distinction between play for play's sake and play mixed with a heavy shot of rigor (Josh's work, in my view is most definitely the latter). Josh played Led Zeppelin backwards on his portable phonograph to help explain how he started working on the occult, about his interest in secrecy, and forecasting his current interest in the affective quality of sound and projected meaning. (His current book project is on haunting voices and sonorous rhetoric, which I am very keen to read.)
The reading group had the best turnout we have had since we served free pizza and quite the cross-disciplinary section of grad students and faculty too. Thanks, Josh, for visiting our campus, for giving a talk to our undergraduates on love and rhetoric (I understand there was standing room only and that the talk made everyone want to transfer to Texas). Those who attended are invited, as always, to use the comments to reflect on various parts of the conversation.
I don't want to sound like a jerk, but I really really hate to be called "Deb" by anyone except my dad. People in the field have taken to calling me this, though, and in the past several months, it has taken on a viral quality. There could be a number of reasons for why people have started this. I'm thinking here of Judith Butler's famous meditation on the faux-familiarity of "Judy," and I know there are other women in the field who go by Deb and probably likewise dislike being called Debbie, so this can lead to some confusion I suppose. Another likely reason is that I have two other names--Debra and Debbie--the former is my formal/legal name that I use professionally; the latter is what I've gone by all my life. Deb might be some sort of common denominator that people choose when they don't know what to call me. But it's not my name. In fact, I really don't like being called Deb for reasons that date back to awkward teenage years. When folks address me directly as "Deb," I tend to find a way to let them know, but it's harder when it's happening in conversations of which I'm not a part.
A friend who just returned from CCCC tells me that he heard lots of people referring to me as "Deb Hawhee" there, and I see it on the internets too. I'm not sure if I can stop it, but I'm hoping that by posting here, I can at least spread the word beyond the people who know me pretty well: I loathe being called Deb.
I know I'm not the only one who experiences this--a good rule of thumb is to call people by their full/formal name until told otherwise. Thanks for understanding.
Last night I met Josh Gunn at the airport and took him to my favorite bar, where I plied him with martinis and where the blond-braided waitress developed an instant crush on him. He's here to do some research in our fab library, to give a talk to our undergrads, and to meet with our reading group (I'll be blogging the last event later in the week), and to play a little. He'll be pretty busy, in other words, so I was glad to have some one-on-one time with him last night.
Sometimes there are people with whom it's possible for me to have an instant connection. Maybe it's that we are fellow southerners, or that we both have long curly hair. Or maybe it's that only Josh has matched E!'s faculty picture in that it made me spray whatever I was drinking on my computer screen the first time I saw them.
Josh is also the first person to notice--and express interested in visiting--our magic shop. We'll be headed there Tuesday, I think. Yay, visitor!
Not much is more freeze-inducing than an email from a dear friend entitled "medical news." Emails are flying furiously--it's a Monday after all--collegial disagreements about documents of various kinds, a note from a colleague in the field who has just heard about my move, a reminder that manuscript central does not accept word 2007, and blah and blah, all as I work through an a.m. writing session, seek british library advice from facebook sages, research digital cameras, apply for mortgage pre-approval, generally tick through my to-do list. I was struggling through a brain-breaking session with Latin participles when this one slid in, and I just stared at the title without opening it.
The news of course was not good. And yet it was delivered in such a reasoned and cheerful manner (as is always this person's way), that it somehow seems okay. Still, it is not okay. And the other emails, some tinged with urgency, some with springing with lighthearted friendliness, shrink in its presence, recede into nothingness.
1. I have blogged about unofficial herebefore. It happened yesterday.
2. After advising guests to avoid campus at all cost, I did not heed my own advice and got a speeding ticket on my way to get zero balanced, thereby balancing out the number of citations given to Illinois students and those handed out to students from other universities here to crash on floors and drink green beer and other unfortunate souls who (like me) forgot to avoid campus.
3. In the morning I biked to the gym and on my return home I got behind a green-clad student stumbling on the bike path with an outline of a playboy bunny shaved into the back of his head. He was headed toward the student health clinic.
4. The gym was quite empty for a Friday afternoon in the middle of the semester. Felt more like a Sunday morning in the summer.
5. The day before I overheard (by no choice of my own) this cell phone conversation in the sauna at the ARC: "I figure I'll just start at 9 and see where the night takes me. What? a.m.? Dude. Hasn't two years of college taught you anything? You have to learn to pace yourself." Note that this kid was talking about 9 p.m. THURSDAY night (the night before unofficial). I am not sure he has learned anything either.
6. Luckily where I'm going nothing like this ever happens! Ever.
hey! you! I'm up here! stop looking at that post down there! I got some things to say. Like how I haven't really been thinking about that issue nearly as much as people seem to think. As one of the commentators has pointed out, most of us are moving on. And besides, I gots a lot of other stuff going on.
Speaking of which, I have discovered a new way to get my mind off things that I want to tell you about. Almost every day I run or swim or lift weights or otherwise do something sporty. This is a tried-and-true method of channeling energy. Exercise, though, still allows the mind to rove freely. So it is sometimes of course a good way to work through some stuff. But sometimes it's better to find ways not to think about stuff.
Recently, I have found the way: studying and translating Latin. I have done it long enough now so that it's a habit, and done properly, it will fill up the brain and crowd out anything else. Plus, translating sentences is like working hard little puzzles, puzzles that require a combination of memory and focus, and when cases and tenses begin to fall together it's like the god damn da vinci code or something. I think I have found a permanent hobby.