Big plans forming for the premiere of Harry Potter 3 this Friday night! Woohoo!!
Big plans forming for the premiere of Harry Potter 3 this Friday night! Woohoo!!
And it is SO hot. My weather.com sticker said this morning 87 degrees/feels like 97 degrees. Yep, I say to myself. That's about right. We're clinging to our poor little window unit, wh. mitigates the situation only just barely.
Today is the first day both Chris and I have off of school. It's really nice. It'll last for about a week, since he's teaching summer school. We've been figuring out our summer budget. I got more funding for Italy approved by LSU today, so I'm excited about that. I need a job, but we're not destitute without it.
I'm still really tired, and my left arm feels numb and sore from tendonitis flaring after a massive typing project. I just can't wait until I feel like I can function when I wake up in the morning. Right now, I groan wishing morning away. I feel headachy and sleepy all day, loathe to move or to read or anything. Recovering from awful semesters is serious business.
Sidewalk Chalk Recipe
This recipe is for one (1) piece of chalk. You will need to multiply the amount and use different colors of tempra paint if you would like different colors.
3/4 cup Warm Water
1 Toilet Tissue Cardboard Tube
1-1/2 cups Plaster of Paris
2-3 Tablespoons Powdered Tempra Water Based Paints
A roll of wax paper
A plastic container for mixing the ingredients together.
1. Close up one end of the toilet tissue tube with duct tape. Place inside the tube a loosely rolled piece of wax paper to create a liner. The liner will keep the chalk plaster from sticking to the cardboard tube. 2. Pour water into the mixing container. Slowly sprinkle the plaster of paris a little at a time into the water until the plaster no longer dissolves. Stir the mixture. Now mix in 2 or 3 tablespoons of the tempra paint. When it is is throughly mixed you can now pour it into the cardboard tube. 3. Stand the tube up with the sealed end on a flat surface. Slowly pour the colored plaster. With your fingers tap the sides of the tube in different areas to release any air bubbles. Now let it dry for 1 or 2 days (depending on the humidity in your environment). When it is dry slowly tear and pull off the cardboard mold. Have fun drawing!
Okay. Instead of going through moments of panic. I'm just going to lay it all out in an organized fashion and proceed in an organized fashion.
I've been calling Banana Republic every day. I'm apparently very low on their priority list. What would be really nice if the class I'll be teaching in the fall was actually this summer. Then the finances would iron out a little more neatly...
Okay. one, two...let's go.
...you have a dream about generals.
I can't believe it! Last night I had very vivid dream about my doctoral exams, wh. I'll probably take in about a year. I haven't been thinking about them too much, obviously, because there's plenty occupying my mind, and they're not for a year or so. But I had this dream. I could picture the exact faces of people on my committee (and then some unidentifiable EveryScholars). They were all sitting around three sides of a wood table, and I was sitting in front of them at a smaller wood table. They asked me questions for a while, about what I can't remember. And then I had a certain amount of time in which to write an essay on everything I could think of about the tradition of Orpheus in music. So I began writing (this is all still in my dream!). I talked about his importance in Greek mythology, how the first operas were settings of Orfeo, Gluck's setting of Orfeo, and some other things which I can't remember now. What a nerd!! I can't believe I dreamed all this!!! Not to mention the fact, that I was writing on paragraph per piece of paper, so at one point in the dream I was wandering around looking for a computer to type it all out on!! I need a vacation.
A little jalapeno seed grew into a plant.
Jauntily perched upon a stem that was not scant
was the first little pepper! O raise the happy chant!
One day the girl came skipping by,
and what do you think did she spy,
but the 'jappy' jalapeno begging to be picked,
so she bent down and plucked it from its sturdy stick.
Joyfully she grasped the treasure that she bore,
and took it home, the first offering, from the garden galore.
Carefully she chopped it up for some homemade salsa.
It's really, really yummy. Do you think you'd want some?
And so ends the tale of the 'jappy' jalapeno,
Who found a paradise of glee lying next to a tomato.
Wooohoooo! I just bought my ticket!!!! WOW!!! This is so incredibly exciting!!!!!!
About a year and a half ago, our best friends here in NOLA had their third kid. She is the cutest chunker in the world. Holding that cute, tiny baby, I thought, "i could get used to this." Three years ago when we got married, I felt unsure about the direction of my life and thought it could be solved by having a kid (but at the same time, I thought that that wasn't a good reason to have one, besides we couldn't afford it.) We still can't afford it.
So I've spent a good amount of energy brandishing away the little sentimental yanks to have a kid. Well, for about the last 10 months, all those yanks dissolved and having a kid was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. Actually that's still true. I had a very vivid dream recently that I was pregnant (i think it was indigestion), and in my dream all I could do was sob because I was so upset. I went to a baby shower today for a woman my age who is having her first. Baby stuff is really cute...those soft little elephants sewn onto the diaper bag. I just can't even think about having a baby.
I actually enjoy just enjoying cute plush elephants, because most of the time I can only think about the hard realities of having wee ones. The diapers, the whining, the expense, the my-life-will-never-be-mine-again, the exhaustion, the mess, the constant attention, the inability to turn them off, the inability to sleep until 10 am, the hauling of strollers. I was the oldest of 5. I may not be a mom myself, but I know when there is a baby, life completely changes for it. I just can't bear to think of the juggling and the change I would have to do if I were to have a kid. Not to mention the fact that we just plain can't afford it.
But we do talk about when a good time would be in the future. I've talked to a few women faculty members at LSU who have little kids and/or are pregnant. The word on the street about having kids and being an academic is: 1) there's never a good time, 2) having them sure helps you use your time better, and 3) at least wait until your generals are past. So far I plan to wait until the end days of my dissertation. I wouldn't mind waiting past that until more of the student debt is paid off and the possibility of buying a house, well, becomes a possibility. At any rate, I would at least like to live in the same building as a washer and dryer before I have a kid.
Today Erica came down from Baton Rouge to spend the day with me. We had a lovely time.
One thing I've discovered: the Lebanese restaurant serves fantastic coffee at a low price, with free refills, and the wonderful sidewalk cafe atmosphere that makes this city feel European. Forget Starbuck's. I'm taking my book to the Lebanese restaurant for a cuppa from now on.
The people at Banana Republic seemed happy to see me, so I hope I'll start getting some hours with them soon.
When Erica and I were walking around the Quarter, I saw the distinct picture of masts looming over the trees. New Orleans is a port town. A three-masted frigate from Mexico was parked along the dock. It was beautiful, wood gleaming. The crew was sharp in their white sailors' uniforms and jolly music lent a festival atmosphere. Many curious onlookers were gathered around the ship. And they were letting people saunter on for a look around. So we walked around on the boat. It was fantastic. I would've liked to have lingered, but it started to rain. So we said good-bye to the flapping flags of the regal lady.
Well, it appears that I may be teaching a class at a local university (not my own) in the fall as an adjunct. The funny thing is that I will still be in my coursework...not even ABD. It's a pretty basic class, so I'm not worried on that account. Just kind of weird to be thinking of writing my own syllabus. That always seemed to be an activitiy of the distant, foggy future, but here we go. I'm really looking forward to getting some more experience. So that I don't go completely crazy next sem, though, I'll really have to plan out my summer work carefully....
sorry my blog has been boring lately. To be honest, I can't take much more than boring right now. Anyway, I really hope this Italy thing works out, because it is so difficult to make sure I can get the paperwork in order to go. Because LSU is a state institution, and they are ultimately funding this trip, it makes things difficult; because it's Louisiana makes it even more difficult. (See, Erica, I tried using a semicolon. Whadya think?) So this morning I freaked out a little. It's hard to figure out if I have everything in order. It takes time to process forms. Blah, blah. I decided that the best thing to do was to actually go to Baton Rouge and make sure everything was fine. So in the middle of this hot day, I popped into Chris's un-air-conditioned car for a trip up to BR. He has a sunroof. I got a tan.
I've done everything I can for the moment. I need to sort through my office and decide what to take home for the summer, too, including two large stringed instruments.
And it was a great opportunity to stop by and see Erica's new kitten, who is ADORABLE!
Apparently George W. is the commencement speaker on Friday. Ho-hum. I've also recently discovered where LSU's tiger is...yes, a real live tiger. His cage is by the stadium. It's kind of sad really. It doesn't look like a very nice home.
I got an A in Latin!!!! After scoring 85.3% on all the tests, I had all my stakes placed on the term paper and final exam. The paper turned out fab, and I felt good about the final. And it pulled through for me. Woooohoooo!!!!!!!
However, I got a B in Schenker, my first B in grad school. Yuck. I'm pretty upset about that class, because it was like one big fog. I don't think I could've gotten an A in the class and it was too foggy to realize that in time. It wasn't structured for those of who like to connect things to a larger picture in order to understand things to really be able to succeed in that class.
Why am I so obsessed with grades? I didn't get good ones at Cov. Sure I managed to get by decently. But I didn't graduate with honors. And I don't think I ever got an A in a history class, until SIP seminar. Now that I've figured out how to write papers and take manageable loads, I've been working hard to have a good GPA. And yes, I will admit that a lot of it is vanity. But after being a B/C student in college, it sure is nice to not cringe when I check my report card. (Until stupid Schenker class...if I'd known what I know now about that class, I wouldn't have taken it...I feel duped...because the professor led me to believe it was going to be different and now my GPA is tainted because of it.)
I'm still crashing. It keeps going down and down and down. I'm stressed out about a bazillion different things and I'm exhausted.
I'm crashing. I am so tired.
Yesterday I enjoyed my first day of being done by going to the library to sleuth some sources on students' terms papers for the class I TAed for. And sat there and read newspapers when I was done.
Then I cleaned out the car. It was awful.
We drove to Baton Rouge in the monsoon for a party at my prof's house. This was the first time Chris got to meet some of my teachers, so I was really excited. We ended up hanging out until about 9 then came home via Erica's to drop her off.
We watched a little bit of Letterman before goign to bed. He was passing out Egg McMuffins to the audience. It made me want one. So now I just pulled biscuits out of the oven, and I'm getting ready to do the egg thing.
I'm goign to go to the public library (btw, if I ever use the word Library the default is to assume it's a uni library, if it's other than a uni library, I distinguish it as the public library)...so anyway, I'm going to go to the public library to order some novels from different branches, and read all the books Erica has lent me while I'm waiting for them. Then when I read about 5 or 6 novels, I'm going to back to my research.
I figured out a travel plan to Italy that fits in with the amount of money LSU has promised me so far. Now I just have to figure out how I can buy the tickets without going broke before they can reimburse me, because apparently I can't get a travel advance.
And my Latin prof loved my paper. WHOOOOOOHOOOOO!!!!!!
I left this morning a New Orleans that was slightly overcast, with a little sun. As I progressed to Baton Rouge the sky grew darker and darker, closer it began to rain harder and harder. So hard I could barely see. I made it to campus. My usual routes, though, to the student parking lot were thwarted. You see, the campus is on relatively high ground. When it rains as hard as it did, it effectively creates a moat. The student parking lots are in the moat. As I do not particularly want to risk flooding the car, I crawled around campus for about an hour, finally parking my car in a nearby neighborhood that didn't look too flood. I proceeded to roll up my pants and begin to hike it. Someone stopped and offered me a lift. I tried to talk him out of driving through the moat, but he insisted. So I hopped in seeing that he was going about his folly anyway. He got flooded, some guys were wading around and pushed him through. I'm sorry his car got flooded, but after seeing how deep it was, I don't think I could've walked through without water up to my belly. Sure am glad I didn't drive through it. Now the sun is out. Maybe later enough of hte water will have drained for me to hike it out to my car.
I'm home. *Sigh* at last.
Reflections from it all:
...don't take finding coffee for granted, esp. espresso.
...don't take decent restaurants for granted, either.
...expect to walk a lot.
...don't be surprised to find grown medievalists feeding their smuggled dinner rolls to ducks and goldfish in the pond.
...expect it to be 20 degrees colder in the morning than in the late afternoon.
...expect everyone to be extremely nice and friendly.
...don't be surprised when the entire Kalamazoo airport only has medievalists in it.
...likewise, expect that every single person on your plane from Kalamazoo is a medievalist.
I finally made it home. Chris picked me up from the airport and we buzzed on over just barely making it time for the first hymn at church. In fact, I walked in the door and fairly flew to the piano to play. I was really glad to make it home for the service. Next year, I think I'll leave Saturday night.
I finals this week. I'm EXTREMELY glad, though, that I don't have any today. Despite my good intentions, I did not study at all over the weekend. So I'm really glad I have today to reorient myself.
In other news: I got accepted to the seminar in Dozza. Woohoo!!! Now I just need the rest of my funding... I'm really excited. I never even dreamed I'd get a chance to meet some of these scholars, much less study with them. So I'm really happy.
This is a really fun conference. I'm not having a blast, so to speak, as I do with my friends at AMS, but I am enjoying it and, for the most paper, the papers I've gone to have been really good.
I could go home now, though. I'm really tired. And it is so cold here. I forgot what cold wind was like, hugging the buildings and all. And then stepping into the buildings which are heated, feeling all dry (in the yucky, staticy sense) and warm instead of having nice consistency between inside and outside. I have a light cardigan with me, but not really the adequate clothing in order to feel comfortable in this climate.
This is a very laid-back conference. A place where I, as a grad student, could feel comfortable presenting, so something to keep in mind.
I think I'm going to take a nap.
I've a good first day of my first Kalamazoo medieval conference.
I still feel a bit overwhelmed, but everyone is so nice that it's hard to feel sorry for one's self. I've never been to an international conference before, and it's really kind of thrilling...to hear dozens of languages all around and pass people drinking wine on the staircase outside the dorms. Still feels as much like camp as ever, except for alcohol and pretzels instead of s'mores. It's all very laid back, which is nice. Next year I'll have to remember to bring hiking shoes. :)
I heard a couple of really interesting papers, too. One, esp., was a reevaluation of how to sing chant. There's a sort of traditional way: the one with which everyone is most familiar...quiet notes of equal value. This way was quite dynamic, employing a system of longs and shorts and techniques more akin to eastern European folk singing. The guy actually had a chant choir of 5, whom he had worked with for the past seven months in order to learn of few chants in this method. It was very compelling.
Well, we'll see what tomorrow holds...
reporting from Kalamazoo
Well, I've arrived in Kalamazoo sometime yesterday evening. I've always said conferences are way fun, sort of like camp for scholars, i.e. hanging out with friends, going to "activities" (papers more like it), and just having a great time. My little metaphor has taken a new spin. After the ordeal of the plane flight, the conference had a bus to pick us all up at the airport, taking us to registration, where we got our packets and assigned dorm rooms. It all feels quite campy. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment. Everbody who comes to this huge medieval conference loves it, but right now, I know no one and would just like a cup of coffee. The papers start in half hour. I think it'll be more fun once I sort out where I am, where the papers are, and begin meeting people. Actually, so far all the strangers I've bumped into are very nice and friendly. Almost nicer than at musicology conference. Hooray for medievalists!
Last night on Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed Bob Edwards, former (*stifled sob*) host of Morning Edition. He's just written a book: Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism. I hadn't heard of this guy (Murrow) before (note my few years of age), but apparently he was quite influential in the world of radio, then tv broadcasting. He stood on top of the roof while London was being bombed to catch the sounds of hte war during WWII. He gave a moving report of newly liberated Buchenwald. And a daring documentary on CBS against McCarthyism. Cool guy.
And, of course, Terry had to ask Bob about how he's doing now as a senior correspondent at NPR. What struck is how different his voice sounded. He didn't have "anchor voice" on anymore. He just talked like a normal person, and I'm not sure if I would've recognized him if I hadn't known he was going to be on. He became strangely human.
You have to understand the impact of radio for me, including the voices of the broadcasters. We haven't had TV in years. We've had a TV set in order to watch movies, but we haven't had, until very recently, an antenna with which to get channels. So throughout 9/11, Iraq, and various political and cultural happenings, I've relied solely on radio. It wasn't until recently that I knew what John Kerry looked like or seen any images of the "war" in Iraq. For me the pictures were created by the stories and sounds of the radio correspondents and Bob Edwards. They provided me the medium to the rest of the world.
We have a few TV channels now. And I'll admit occasionally to watching the 10 o'clock news to catch what's going on in the city. But, to be honest, the level of reporting and interviewing of our local TV news pales considerably to the depth of the radio broadcasting from NPR. And even though it flies in the face of the digital, visual era, I still consider myself reliant on the radio waves. But now I have to adjust the frame through which I was listening.
I'm very particular about the state of my environment when studying. Not so much the desk or chair. More the state of my notebooks and pens and paper. I have to have at least 5 different colors of pens (for timelines) and appropriate pieces of paper taped together (idem). I also have to have appropriate paper for making lists. And 3 x 5 cards for summarizing required reading. All my notebooks have to be in order, and I have to have little stickies to tab them so I don't spend needless time flipping through them.
However, today I came up against a wall. My notebook defied order. It was too full. Carrying it without something falling out was not an option. I have three sections: one for notes, one for handouts, and one for articles assigned. It was the latter category that was messing things up.
So today, I was struck with a moment of brilliance. I went to Kinko's and got all those articles bound in a spiral with plastic coverings. I now have 2 volumes of important articles of medieval music. I'm feeling quite clever and my notebook is very manageable now.
(...but only after a respectable amount of time recovering from the reality that Bob Edwards is no longer going to welcome my mornings.)
My Latin paper is done and turned in!!! That is a significant source for my glee. I'm so relieved. I learned a lot of library skills dealing with a whole area of stuff out there that I wouldn't have normally encountered. And now the idea of writing a paper on text that is untranslated is a little less daunting.
Another thing I really appreciated about my research into Hildegard is that once you get past all the weird visions and mysticism, there is evidence of a true spirituality that was surprisingly articulate. And a sense of being sensitive to Scriptures. I really enjoyed her. Her Latinity is very clear, not full of the highly structured syntax like Abelard. Her being anti-scholastic would probably reinforce this, but it also makes her more pleasurable for me, the Latin student, to read.
In other news, the Packed Lunch Club, an institution that was quite successfully established this semester, had an equally successful outing this afternoon. We all went out for lunch. It was very fun. Erica and I are pleased at how the Club has taken off. It's also exciting to be the perpetuators of such a unifying, community effort among the theory and musicology grad students and faculty.
In a conversation with a friend of mine who is a musicology grad student at Princeton, I related that I still had this week of class and then finals. "Finals?" she asks, "what's that?" I respond, "Final exams. you know." She astutely ponders, "How can you have a final exam in a graduate class?" My sentiments exactly. There's something wrong with the kind of graduate class that demands a final. *sigh* Well, study I must before going to Kalamazoo...
I can't believe it!!!! This morning I turned on my radio like always and instead of the cheery, welcoming, thoughtful voice of Bob Edwards, I get Renee Montagne (sp?) and Steven Inskeep. "Oh," I think to myself, "Bob must be on vacation." But NO!!! He's GONE!!!! BOB EDWARDS ISN'T DOING MORNING EDITION ANYMORE!!!!!
I can't belive it!!!!! I almost cried right then and there. I can't I MISSED his sign-off on Friday. I was listening at the wrong times. No voice is like Bob Edwards's. His perspective on things was always insightful and calm. No hopping up and down polemic on life. It was a great way to start a day. Bob Edwards inviting you to consider the world with him. I CAN'T BELIEVE HE'S GONE!!!
Oh sure, he'll still be reporting occasionally, like this morning on the new WWII memorial in DC. But his voice is too firm and authoritative. It will be just too weird. He's the hub, no the reporter. WHY OH WHY DID NPR DO THIS TO HIM!?
*sigh* I'm not the only one that feels this way.
|We have the aerial view looking down from the porch. The big ones on the left are the tomato plants. In the back are the two cucumber plants. And there's 4 bell pepper and one jalapeno pepper on the right. With dots of yellow marigold plants.|
|And the view from the sidewalk by the street.|
|And fruits of labor soon to be harvested. I counted 9 green tomatoes today on three plants. Woohoo!|
I waited until this morning to read the article Nat suggested. And, lo and behold, it's about the grad assistant strike at Columbia. What I appreciate about the article is that it doesn't zero in on the isolated instance of what's going on Columbia, but uses this as an opportunity to examine the problem as a whole:
Grad students have always resigned themselves to relative poverty in anticipation of a cushy, tenured payoff. But in the past decade, the rules of the game have changed. Budget pressures have spurred universities' increasing dependence on so-called "casual labor," which damages both the working conditions of graduate students and their job prospects.
The first sentence of this paragraph is the one that bothers me, and which I mentioned in my last post. Unlike med students and law students who put themselves through crap and poverty which will be made up for in their salaries, there's not even a promise of a job for humanities students.
"Average teaching loads for grad students have increased, while benefits are often cut off after five years. Humanities TAs are paid stipends ranging from less than $10,000 at a public school like SUNY-Buffalo to $18,000 at unionized NYU."
Thankfully, now I have spouse who works outside of academia which provides us with decent health care benefits. When he was still in grad school, though, we got grad student health insurance from Tulane, and it was awful. It was so expensive, straining his already meager stipend. And the potential pool of doctors we could see using this insurance was scary...it was worse than just going to charity. I went to one doctor for a check-up, and I almost ran out of the place afterwards. I couldn't believe this could actually be a health-care professional. I didn't even let him touch me. His white coat was dingy and carried the ink stains of years of exploding pens. The office was cramped and tacky. The secretary seemed to be in the throes of some kind of substance. The only sane person around was the nurse, who looked to be my age. Since I just needed a prescription refilled, and didn't need serious medical attention, it turned out okay. I just never went back. But what if something had happened to either of us, and that was our only option. It's inhumane.
And then the whole stipend thing. I fit in the category of less than $10,000 at a state uni, at least that's what it is because I get the tuition I have to pay deducted, wh. continues to blow my mind. I absolutely could not be doing this if I didn't have a working spouse. I have considered getting a part time job, but there is no way I could seriously do what I need to do and work. My stipend runs out next year. That's right a 3-yr stipend of less than $10,000, and that's the "enhanced" package. Those of you who don't understand how universities work may be wondering why I'm complaining at all, but you have to understand is that grad school is basically a job, and you should basically expect a salary. That's just how it works. If you don't get into a PhD program without a stipend package, the program doesn't really want you. An average grad student package is $15,000 for five years. Maybe not that much, but at least for 5 years. So my package is definitely on the very low side.
I guess I'm not complaining so much as stating the situation and responding to the article I read. My situation is working for me at the moment, but only due to a large variety of factors, mostly including that I have a spouse with a job and benefits. (And our combined meager salaries we've been able to live on so far.) It's also kind of scary.
But I naively troop along hoping that I'll be the 1 in 10 that'll get a job, because I love what I'm studying so much that I can't imagine my life without it or doing something different. I really can't think of anything I'd rather be doing. Perhaps my youth helps, but I feel pretty good generally about where I am and how I'm doing. Why worry about a whether I'll get a job now? There's plenty of other things to worry about. So in my second year, I got a conference paper in and enough travel grants from the school to make up for the fact that they pay me crap.
I'm no economist, but I really think a lot of the problem lies in capitalism...
Something I've mused before. The economics of capitalism basically work in a market situation with everyone playing in this market somehow. Being a scholar is not a market job. There is not a place in our society that has a valued position for the kind of work that historians, artists, and other non-profit people want to do. Academia has managed to carve out a niche with the "education is a social panacea" rhetoric. Thus meager funding can be claimed. Just enough to perpetuate itself with other meagerly funded jobs. But I think part of the problem is the lack of value society as a whole places on higher education.
One morning on NPR they were reporting some education legislation that was being discussed in DC. And a Congress member (from Delaware, I think) actually said that it was a waste of time and resources to have small classes and deplored the situation where there could be graduate seminars with only 4 or 5 people enrolled. I just guffawed right there in the car. To me that seemed to be a blatantly devaluing of the work of scholars and blatant ignorance for how grad programs in the humanities are most successful. I find the smaller the group, the more I learn, esp when you get as small as the one-to-one student-teacher situation.
This Congressman's comments seemed as ridiculous as that silly email that gets circulated about how if Schubert had used his resources better, he could've finished the "Unfinished" Symphony. I.e. "if the violins didn't have to repeat those notes for so many measures, just played them once and moved on" or "the oboe just sat there for the first 2 minutes!"
Anyway, enough of my inarticulate polemic. Back to studying my esoteric subject...