Thursday, June 26, 2014

A healthy Wesley...

26 June 2014: Well, we have survived the stress-fest that is Wesley's yearly vet visit. After he had to be sedated last year, I knew it would be more of the same this year. In fact, he kicked it up a notch this time, so out of control that they couldn't just use gas but had to give him an injection to put him under. Lovely. But he's home now and healthy (and got an unexpected teeth cleaning while under). He's been in a strange mood since he's been home--very clingy and vocal. And Bing's been hissing at him. It's been very dramatic.

Still, two healthy cats make very happy and grateful.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Final summer grades: DONE!

25 June 2014: When you only have eight students, it's really easy to get through the final exams. Exams handed out at 10:20 a.m. Exams handed in by 11:30. Exams graded by 2:00 p.m. Sweet.

Chair-dancing song? Since the Dreamgirls soundtrack came up on my ipod this morning, this particular track has been in my head all day.

A perfect evening...

24 June 2014: I started the day off thinking I would be getting a root canal. And--get this--I was actually disappointed when that didn't happen. (Long, boring story, but the short version is that I am holding off on any further action until my regular dentist gets back--so long as the pain doesn't get worse. Right now, it's still quite manageable with ibuprofen and Tylenol PM.) Still, I am physically, mentally, and emotionally ready to be done with all of this and it was frustrating to realize that that's not happening anytime soon.

Anyway, I got home from the dentist by 9:00 a.m. and was exhausted--I think from not having slept well the night before and just being a bit overwhelmed. I crashed for most of the morning and had a kind of gloomy day. Then I got over it and realized that the lack of a major dental procedure meant that I could go to my buddy Tim's for dinner, something I was really looking forward to and probably would have had to skip if I had the root canal. Dinner at Tim's is always amazing. And I got to visit with some of my favorite people, including Tim's partner, Kevin, and Cory and Hannah, some former SU students who are great friends.

So yay for no root canals (yet) and for good friends.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Wrapping up the summer session...

23 June 2014: We've still got a couple of days left for this summer session (including a final exam on Wednesday), but it really has flown by. I just finished grading their creative/critical essays (one of my favorite assignments to give) and, for the most part, they were pretty strong and a pleasure to read. I am thankful for the opportunity to teach this material every summer--and for the ways the students help me see this literature that I love in new and fascinating ways.


22 June 2014: A good dose of ibuprofen helped me enjoy an evening with my friends Anna and Joshua. We had dinner, played Trivial Pursuit, and most importantly, played some intense badminton. It was so much fun. Definitely the highlight of my day.

Abigail's birthday party

21 June 2014: As I keep mentioning, this stupid tooth thing isn't going away (yet), but fortunately, it isn't incapacitating. I was able to go to my dear friend Amber's house on Saturday for her daughter's birthday party. I even got to drive the second half of the way with Jane. I got to see Amber's family, who was like my second family in college. I got to relax, laugh, and have fun. A good day.

Friday night dinner...

20 June 2014: I had dinner with some good friends on Friday night. It was, as I've mentioned earlier, another strange week. This tooth thing isn't getting any better and I was really feeling weary with worry by Friday. But being with these friends makes everything a bit better. I am very lucky.

More summer TV

19 June 2014: Not to be too repetitive, but darn it if Rectify coming back on Thursday didn't make me happy. It's an amazing show...quiet and moving.

A healthy Bing...

18 June 2014: Wednesday's big event was Bing's annual visit to the vet. He wasn't happy about it, but he did just fine and got a clean bill of health. (Wesley goes this week...ugh.) Anyway, a healthy Bing is indisputably the thing for which I was thankful that day.

A panel comes together...

17 June 2014: Tuesday found me finalizing the details for the Hawthorne Society panel at SAMLA this year. One of the panelists is a former student of mine who is about to begin his MA work at Lehigh. He's presenting on a paper he started in my Hawthorne class and then revised more, first for his capstone project, then for his grad school writing sample. Being on a panel with him will be a terrific experience. He makes me proud.

Summer TV!

[A ton of catching-up posts to do...sorry--another strange week...]

16 June 2014: I am remembering back to Monday and stretching my memory a bit, but I do remember one thing that made Monday nice: the return of The Fosters, which is such a sweet show. It makes me happy.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Needed this today...

The "quote for the day" over at The Dish:

“God is the most obvious thing in the world. He is absolutely self-evident – the simplest, clearest and closest reality of life and consciousness. We are only unaware of him because we are too complicated, for our vision is darkened by the complexity of pride. We seek him beyond the horizon with our noses lifted high in the air, and fail to see that he lies at our vary feet. We flatter ourselves in premeditating the long, long journey we are going to take in order to find him, the giddy heights of spiritual progress we are going to scale, and all the time are unaware of the truth that ‘God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves.’ We are like birds flying in quest of the air, or men with lighted candles searching through the darkness for fire,” – Alan Watts, from Behold The Spirit: A Study in the Necessity of Mystical Religion.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Family time...

14 June 2014: Got to spend some time today with my parents, Erin, Eric, and Krista. After a morning spent feeling a bit down, it was nice to see them and get out of my own head for awhile. It's extra nice that I got to see my dad right before Father's Day, too. He's a pretty cool guy, after all.

My big brother...

13 June 2014: It's been a rough week, but a highlight from yesterday was talking to my brother, Christian, on his birthday. He's just a great guy and I love him a lot. Talking to him made me happy and I am lucky to have him in my life.

Another great podcast...

12 June 2014: All this walking I've been doing has a way of draining my supply of podcasts, so I am grateful to have found a new one to add to the rotation: Slate's "DoubleX Gabfest." Give it a try.

Back to the dentist...

11 June 2014: Wednesday found me back at the dentist to get the temporary crown adjusted again. Even though something is still going on and I'll almost certainly be back at the dentist again, I am still going to call out my dentist and his staff as source of Wednesday's gratitude. Once again, he was so kind and understanding. I mean, do I wish the darn thing would just feel NORMAL? (It's been like ten days..) Yeah, but it's not his fault and I have faith that he'll help me get it back to normal. This will be a bit challenging, since he's on vacation and I'll almost certainly have to see someone who is covering for him...and a root canal might be involved...but yeah, he still rocks.

They never fail...

[A lot of catching-up posts to get through. Sorry about that. It's been a strange week...this stupid tooth thing is really cramping my style.]

10 June 2014: The summer schedule means that I have to cover a lot of material each day in class. Tuesday brought us to Dickinson and Whitman. It's a bit overwhelming and exhausting to cover them both on one day (and no, it isn't even close to actual "covering"), but it's also always exhilarating. Easily the highlight of my day.

Monday, June 9, 2014

If you need a dentist...

9 June 2014: If you live in this area and need a dentist, take my advice: go to Dr. Seidman in Hagerstown. He's amazing. Everyone in his office is amazing, too. They are beyond competent, very kind, so accommodating, and (always a plus for me) pretty funny, too.

I had a temporary crown put on on Wednesday, but since then, it never felt right. It wasn't full-on pain, but more like pressure, throbbing, general "not-right-ness." I was really scared that it might turn into something really bad--big old pain. So I called today and they told me to come on in when I could. They'd fit me in. So, after class this morning, I drove over.

Dr. Seidman examined me, said the temporary crown was too high, fixed it, and answered all of my questions. He did so with patience, good humor, and reassurance. One of my big fears when it comes to all things medical/dental is being a hypochondriac or a bad patient. It's kind of ridiculous. But Dr. Seidman said all the right things: that I was right to call, right to come in, that it would have gotten worse if I hadn't.

Of course, there might be something else going on with the tooth. But if there is (and please, let's hope there isn't!), I feel better knowing I've got a doctor who wants me to bug him about it. Long story short: these folks rock and I am lucky that someone recommended them to me.


8 June 2014: I ain't gonna lie: we had a tornado warning yesterday that scared me. It came out of nowhere (even the weather guys said no one was anticipating severe weather). And it was freakily specific. When the Emergency Alert System took over the TV, the only impacted area listed was little old Shepherdstown. Shepherdstown is tiny, so when you hear it's in the bulls-eye, you feel, well, targeted.

Bing, Wes, and I took cover in the downstairs bathroom for about 20 minutes. As I sat there (with two not-happy cats), I felt very vulnerable. What can you do in that situation besides pray and hope for the best? In the end, it turned out to be no big deal. The storm did most of its damage in Martinsburg and even that wasn't too bad, but still, it's not an experience I am eager to repeat. I am, of course, quite thankful for that boring, uneventful outcome.

When a song brings you back...

7 June 2014: I suppose I was still feeling angsty and a bit uneasy for most of Saturday (and most the weekend, in fact), but while I was out for a walk, this song came up on my iPod. I know it's not the coolest song, but it always calms me down and makes me happier. And it always reminds me of a particularly happy stretch of days not too long ago. (Not to be cryptic...nothing scandalous, I promise...) Like I said, hearing it didn't instantly make everything better, but it helped, and I appreciated that quite a bit.

(And yes, I know there is one line in this song that doesn't make sense: when he says "God-forsaken right to be loved," he means "God-given," but I like the song so much that I overlook it. That's saying something!)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Getting out of your own head...

6 June 2014: Days like yesterday, where I don't have anywhere to be, can be a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I get tons done, make progress on a project or two, or simply enjoy doing nothing. Other days, I can get too much into my own head, which isn't always a good place to be. So I was grateful yesterday to have something to do that took me out of that head-space: dinner with some friends at Awok. It was just what I needed.

Perfect walking spot...

5 June 2014: It might sound strange, but I think I've found a really good spot to get some good walking in: an old practice field on campus (I think it's the intramural field--maybe?). On my daily walks, I sometimes will do three or four laps around the circumference before getting back on the regular roads/paths. It's green, quiet, and really pretty, surrounded by woods on three sides. I especially like all the animals I see: groundhogs (who run away really quickly), deer in the woods (every once in a while), bunnies, all kinds of bird (lots of bluebirds!), and great big dragonflies.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dinner at Kazu

4 June 2014: Another long, strange, not-entirely-great day, this one highlighted (sarcasm intended) by a visit to the dentist to get started on a new crown. (This was a long time coming--a tooth that has two big, old fillings in it and needed to be taken care of sooner or later...) So yeah, not great. But I had something fun to look forward to: dinner in the evening with my friend, Tim. It's always great to get a chance to see him over the summer (he lives about an hour away and doesn't come to campus that often between semesters). We hadn't hung out since we got back from Massachusetts, so it was nice to catch up. Suddenly a not-entirely-great day got a lot better.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A bit of humor

3 June 2014: I feel like this work week, not even half over yet, has been a rough one. I know part of it is because of what I posted about yesterday. But it seems to be even more than that...maybe it's the world/national news (so frustrating and depressing, as usual), the weather (hot, humid, and threatening), or just a bit of a summer funk I'm going through. Regardless, when this kind of stuff hits me, it's always nice to come across some good-humored wit like in this piece. It lifts the soul a bit.

Comfort in sadness

2 June 2014: Yesterday I learned that a friend from graduate school experienced an unthinkable tragedy: her only daughter, just six years old, died suddenly. I hadn't met the little girl--just seen pictures and posts on Facebook--but the news cast a pall over the day. A true English nerd, though, I found a bit of comfort in poetry, specifically this famous sonnet from Donne.

Holy Sonnet 72
John Donne

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Summer reading

1 June 2013: Finally got into a book I bought a few months ago--a book that isn't connected in any way with teaching or research. You know, reading just and only for fun. I don't get as many chances to do that as you might think. This is not a big complaint--I really love the reading I do for teaching and scholarship, too. But it sure is nice to read to enjoy some low stakes, just for fun reading.