Saturday, December 21, 2013


Hung out with this cool kid today. She's a lot of fun.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Feeling like a bad kid...

"I feel like a bad kid!" That's what I told the check-out girl at Sheetz this morning as I purchased a half-carton of cigarettes. (I didn't even know there were half-cartons...) The cigarettes aren't for me--my parents sent me some money to pick them up for my brother. Apparently they are two times the price in New York. Side note: in the note my mother sent with the money, she wrote, "We know you don't like to do this..." Ha! But seriously, I must have really internalized those "don't smoke!" messages from childhood.

Complicating matters even more, my next stop was the local liquor store. I needed to pick up some rum for a party tonight.

So...I bought cigarettes and liquor, all before 10:00 a.m. Total badass. Too bad I didn't also need to pick up some bullets or something.

(Somewhat negating my bad kid cred: when I was in the liquor store, I thought, "Wow. It seems a lot bigger in here." So I asked the woman behind the counter if they had expanded. Her reply, "Yes. A year ago." So I am not what you would call a frequent customer...)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Writin' letters of rec...

I've spent part of the afternoon writing letters of recommendation for students (some former, some current). Truth be told, I usually hate this task, but it sure is a lot more pleasant (fun, even!) when you really like the students and feel they are so very awesome. Fingers crossed for these folks!

It's been a day of rather eclectic tasks: grocery shopping, house cleaning, Moby Dick re-reading, Hidden America reading (a possible nomination for next year's Common Read), letter-writing, and, right now, Parks & Rec* watching. These post-final-grades/pre-Christmas days are always weird for someone who loves a regular schedule as much as I do.

Okay--back to work I go. Getting these letters done is a high-priority item on my to-do list for the day.

*This is the episode that's on right now. Classic!

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Just submitted my last two sets of final grades!

Since I am at home and about to start cooking dinner, it won't be chair dancing this time, but actual dancing. Here we go...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Something e-books will never be able to do...

Just killed a huge and obnoxious fly in my office (trust me, he had it coming) using my Step by Step: Microsoft Access 2012 book. Trust me when I tell you that is the most satisfaction (and use) I've gotten out of that book yet.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Good people...

Someone up there must like me. On Sunday, my neighbor shoveled my driveway before I could stop him. (My neighbors are awesome.) And today, as I was about a third of the way done shoveling on my own, a man with a plow drove by, stopped, backed-up, and offered to "give it a scrape" for free. He wouldn't take any money from me. I don't mind shoveling my own driveway (it's flat and not very long and the work isn't bad exercise), but it is nice to have help. I need to pay it forward and do something nice for some other folks.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

My nephew...

Truly, this picture touches the heart of the little man's English-professing-godmother.

Little things that excite me (and probably only me)...

I made myself a rather ambitious "Thanksgiving Break To-Do List." Usually these lists embody a bit of Robert Browning's maxim "...a man's reach should exceed his grasp, / Or what's a heaven for?" That is, I put more on there than I can do (and consequently don't give myself a hard time for not getting it all done). However, at 7:00 p.m. today, when I finished re-reading the first 100 pages of Moby-Dick, I could mark off the last task. (I want to re-read the novel before teaching it next semester.)


Sunday, November 24, 2013


Back when I was in graduate school, dreaming about what life would be a like when I was a real professor, I didn't think that would mean spending a Sunday morning in my office on campus doing data entry and database clean-up. In fact, my summer job back then involved database clean-up and data entry and such work always stood out to me as "the work I was doing to pay for the education I needed to do the work I really wanted to do." Fast forward 10 years or so, and here it is, part of my work for SSAWW, and so I do it. The thing is, I don't mind it too much--it's a bit like working on a puzzle, which has always appealed to me.

Ten entries down (for this particular project). About 250 to go...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Getting ready...

I'm not one to get ready for Christmas too soon, but a bit of cheer arrived in the mail today and Bing tried his on. (Blame Petco's free shipping this past weekend... Two cat bow ties for less than $5 each? I'm all over that!)

 Wesley has one, too, but he doesn't like his as much. When I get a picture, I'll post it.

(For the record, I am equal parts in love with and embarrassed by all of this.)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


While commenting in writing on an English 101 student’s paper, I reminded him/her that students need a C or better in the course in order to graduate. Then I wrote, “It would be a shame if someone as talented as you had to repeat this course.” In my mind, I meant for that to sound encouraging (more carrot than stick), but as soon as I wrote it, I realized it also sounds like the threat a mobster makes in a movie. “Nice place you got here. Would be a shame if something happened to it…” Do what you will with that.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


“The English may not always be the best writers in the world, but they are incomparably the best dull writers” (11).

Chandler, Raymond. The Simple Art of Murder. New York: Vintage Books, 1988.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

When inspiration strikes... just go with it.

I've had these two small(ish) but important writing tasks that have been on my daily to-do list all day long. And I kept putting them off, doing every other thing on the list. At around 9:00, I thought to myself, "Well, I guess they just won't get done today."

So why in the world do I, all of the sudden, start working on both of them, at the same time, at nearly 10:00 p.m.? That just isn't the way I work anymore. Those late-night, writing-all-night efforts? I left those behind in my early grad-school days. Granted, 10:00 isn't "late" by lots of people's definitions, including my own, but it is certainly past my writing timeline. I can read, grade, even do some research after 10:00, but in general, there ain't a lot of writing getting done. So this is weird. 

But again, when you've been waiting all day for the urge to get these things done and the urge suddenly hits, you go with it, I suppose.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Structuralism, houses, lists...

I am taking a temporary break from finishing up a powerpoint presentation for my students on Structuralist Criticism. I know, I know, you are jealous.. Seriously, though, this is not late-night work for a tired brain!

It's been a long day, starting early this morning when I had to get ready for my biggest home-ownership purchase since buying the house itself: replacement of the HVAC unit. After years of worrying about the old unit giving up the battle in the dead of winter, I decided on a preemptive replacement. The crew arrived today at just after 8:00, although I had to be ready for them much earlier, since I was told "they'll be there between 7:00 and 8:00." The guys worked hard and were done by 2:20 and I am now the proud owner of a new unit *and* a shiny new touchscreen thermostat.

Having people here in the house most of the day made it hard to get anything done that required extended, uninterrupted attention (including anything to do with structuralism). But I did get lots of other tasks done, the kind that I could work on in 10 or 15 minute intervals: all my advising prep, a observation report for an adjunct, tons of emails, some department documents, and a couple of letters of recommendation. It always feels good to cross a bunch of items off of my to-do list.

This HVAC replacement has been weighing on my mind as a kind of "big and stressful day" to get through. Now that it's done, I am breathing some sighs of relief.

(Rather boring post, I know. It's mostly a powerpointing-break!)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Midterm grades: DONE!

Another set of midterm grades done. I've still got a ton to do by tomorrow, but it feels pretty good to have this hurdle cleared.

Chair-dancing music...rocking it old school today!

Friday, October 11, 2013

ENGL 102 theme...

Okay: so, after ignoring earlier requests from my department chair, I had to come up with a 40 character or less title for my upcoming ENGL 102 class theme. All I really had was “Zombies!” Headed over to my friend Carrie (a creative writer) for help. Five minutes later, I emerge with “The Writing Dead: Zombies & Composition.” Yay for collaboration and helpful, smart, creative friends. And you have NO idea how much it broke my heart to resist using “(de)composition.” But, in terms of character limit and making sense, it didn’t fit. Carrie said to save it for the syllabus.

Also tossed around “Revising and Reanimating” and “A to Zombie” (that one was my friend Tim’s).

Don’t contact your local congressman//woman to complain about “education these days.” The zombie stuff is just a way to get them in the door and writing about a topic that interests them. Trust me: we’ll be doing lots of cool, research-based, multi-modal writing.

Also, I think your local congressman/woman is a bit preoccupied right now.