Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My Job≠My Self

I had a telephone conversation with someone lately (I honestly can't remember who), and this person talked about those poor souls with their nursing jobs, or the like, whose lives and very selves are inextricably linked with their career. For these people, any and every failure reflects poorly on not just their performance, but on the deepest core of their existence.

I nodded many times, expressing my agreement and my chagrin for Those People, you know, because the person on the other end can see when I nod when I'm on the phone. Anyway, I was all, "that's right! It is so sad." And the conversation moved on to other things.

I had some fleeting sense of something directly after I got off the phone, but didn't revisit it fully until I was driving home from school today. That something that I was brushing off earlier was a niggling feeling that fully flowered today: I am, in some ways, one of Those People.

Perhaps I am in denial, but I do believe that academia is particularly conducive to the My Job/Self people. I think it's a hazard of that career track. Long ago, when I was going through my crappy high school phase, my parents sent me to a psychiatrist to make sure everything was okay. This psychiatrist talked to me about all of my parental issues and mentioned that, unfortunately, I was subjected to certain rules and regulations because my father is a lawyer. Sort of like the kid who is the progeny of a doctor--the doctor knows what could happen based on a simple headache and rather than giving the child aspirin and sending her out the door, Dr. takes her to the hospital to check for meningitis and won't let the kid out of the house for the next 3 weeks. The point is that I think academia is similar, and I never felt this way with my regular jobs.

Why is the "Job/Self" disease so possible with academia? Because we work so hard on our research, throwing our hearts and souls and every kernel of intelligence at the problem we have created for ourselves. This problem we love so much that we are willing to give years of our lives to pick at it, take it apart, and master every contour and nuance. In giving so much of oneself, it is difficult not to feel crushed when you are giving a paper and someone in the audience calls into question the basis of your career and, really, a huge part of your life.

But, I'm not sure that really gets at it. Isn't a "regular" job a huge part of everyone's life?

Well, another thing about academia is that it always comes home with me. When I worked a "regular" job, I rarely, if ever, brought my work home with me. Hell, I was just happy that I finally didn't have homework to worry about after I got was what made happy hour so goddamned happy. This job? I'm constantly thinking ahead: have to grade this weekend, conferences next week, need to start changing stuff for next quarter and getting the syllabus and reader together. Not to mention the stuff with my own research, the stuff that will never go away no matter how high I may reach in academia: have to finish the grant applications due tomorrow, write another conference proposal, finish a chapter, write the paper for a conference, fix a previous chapter's draft, plan a research trip to Paris that may never come to fruition, etc. etc. etc. It just never ends.

And I'm okay with that. Because I like it. Because there are those times when I'm proud of myself for what I've done. What I don't like is the fact that so much of myself is wrapped up in this crappy-ass blanket. This blanket that is so warm and soft and fuzzy and wonderful when people tell me I'm doing well. What a high! But, it's like trying to sleep on sandpaper when I'm blindsided by negativity about my work. It's not that I want people to lie either. I really want to know the truth,'s still heart-wrenching. Unfortunately, I've now resorted to automatically thinking that everything I submit is shit. It's easier that way. It is not, however, a good way to approach a job.

Further, this is truly about my work. My teaching? I'm a pretty good teacher--I've had my bad moments, but I'm all right in the grand scheme of things. I don't have that same confidence in my own work and I need to get over it. Because I can't keep going through this cycle of highs and lows with this job. I've got some prime opportunities to test my new resolution in the next few months, so wish me luck. It will be a tough road.

But, it will be a road filled with martinis, KTinis, Rebtinis, Mtinis, good wine, and good food. And really? What more could I ask for?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I'm not saying that no one else has ever done this. In fact, I'm pretty fucking sure they have. But, I made it for myself and I like it and we call it a KTini in our house.

Cheap-Ass KTini:
6 oz. Rear Admiral Joseph Gin (TJ's)*
.5 oz. dry vermouth
lime juice, splash (to taste)

Place ice cubes and water into 2 martini glasses. Let sit for 4-5 minutes. Place gin and vermouth in cocktail shaker over ice. Shake. Empty martini glasses, leaving slight film of ice water. Pour martini into glass and add splashes of lime juice to taste.

Serves 2. Or serves 1 lush. Which is me.

I don't put olives in this one. I have yet to determine my preferred garnish, but it's probably a lime wedge.

*You can substitute Sapphire or, even better, Hendrick's for the cheapo gin. Adjust vermouth accordingly.

I guess you had to be there

I'm back from the midwest. I was able to take a (hot) shower every day. And we fixed a furnace. The first rule of travel to the midwest during the depths of winter is that we don't talk about travel to the midwest during the depths of winter.

Anyway. As we move into our 5th year of marriage, I'm sometimes amazed at how much hilarity I still see in my husband. This is a good thing, especially considering that many of my dates had lost their hilarity shortly after the 3rd or 4th date (when they tell you they love you after 1 week, something's definitely wrong).

Since we got home, we've quickly reverted to our normal schedule of Idol-watching, but we've also had to catch up on our good tv shows we've missed, like Scrubs, Heroes, the last show ever of Studio 60, and the like. Anyway, M fell asleep on the floor. Anyone who has been to our house and stayed really late during a party has seen him asleep. [He's old, you know...those old farts need more sleep.] But, he wasn't just asleep. Oh no, he's honking away making more noise than the leaf blowers on Thursdays that drive me nuts.

Clearly, he was interrupting my Idol-critiquing [did you know that the people in the tv can hear you when you tell them they sucked ass?] so I woke him up. He said, "good night" and promptly went back to sleep on the floor. In my giddy mood, I found this somewhat amusing. I proceeded to tap his lower back with my foot to wake him up again. He eventually stands up and then does this teetering walk to the stairs that is honestly the funniest thing I've seen in a week. He walked like I did that one New Year's Eve that I puked at someone else's house for the first time [I've always been lucky enough to make it home]. I could barely stop giggling. I can't quite explain why it was so funny to me and it's not one of those things you can really catch on video. But, it was my first belly laugh since at least a week ago and it was nice. Sometimes, those husbands can be pretty cute. If only that cuteness involved a desire to do the dishes all the time...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Fucking Valentine's Day

So, we did our typical thing and celebrated Valentine's Day on the 13th. I made a nice dinner, we opened up a very nice bottle of wine and enjoyed ourselves.

Tomorrow at 5 a.m., I leave for Missouri. Yes. Missouri. Where at this very moment, it is 1 degree below zero with wind chill (yes, Shaz, I know it's far colder in Chicago). The kicker is that I just found out that the house I will be staying at does not have a shower. That's right, no shower, only a bath.

Now, to some people this is not so big a deal. They would say, "hey! At least you have some option for cleaning yourself." Me? Not so much. I know that I'm going to visit a person who has a higher temperature tolerance in her house than I. So, I'm always cold. For the last couple of weeks, I was thinking that even if I'm freezing, at least I can take a shower to warm myself up. Oh ho ho! Not now! Nope, I get to stew in the bathtub juices of 2 other people for 5 damned days. And getting a hotel room would be tantamount to murder to our host. I suppose my only option is to get a hotel room which I only use to shower. This trip, this very inexpensive trip has just doubled in price. And I want to kill someone.

Yeah, I know. Overreacting. But, this is one of my issues, my things, my standards that I sort of have when I visit somewhere. Preferably a separate room to sleep, but more than anything else...a shower.


Thursday, February 8, 2007

Cheap-ass Bastard

This is what I call my husband when he is being "thrifty". That's a nice way of putting it.

Anyway, when I saw this, my first thought was not about how great it is there are still honest people in the world.

It was: 30 fucking cents for a tip? Bitch, you're lucky to get anything from that guy.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

I think I made someone cry today

Ah, the joys of being a teacher.

I make my students come and see me for 2 10-minute conferences each quarter. It's pretty painless; I try to schedule them in conjunction with returning a paper so that I can explain their grade and you know...they won't act up in class and shit.

Yeah, that's happened to me before. My first year as a TA I had this guy who wrote a terrible paper: it was filled with all of this stuff about his girlfriend and how this piece of classical music I assigned reminds him of her. It was just bizarre. So I gave him a C. You know, not because his paper was off-topic and didn't follow the prompt. No, not because of that. Nope, I gave him a C because I'm a BITCH.

I made a big mistake that quarter, a mistake I had committed in previous quarters but I'd had no problems and was therefore not realizing the error of my ways: I handed back their papers at the beginning of class. See, when I was a spritely college student I loved getting my papers back and reading all the comments. Not because I was a nerd, but because I had worked hard and wanted to see what the prof thought of my work. Anyway, I hated waiting until the end of class for my papers, so I thought I'd spare any of my nerdy students this same angst.

I hand the papers back and commence class and I realize this guy is reading a newspaper in the middle of class. And it wasn't that paper-on-the-desk not really obvious paper-reading. Oh no, he was fully reading it like he was at his fucking breakfast table with a cup of coffee. Okay, whatever. I can handle that shit--if you don't want to listen, your loss not mine. About 10 minutes later, he stands up and walks to the front of the room, looks at me and says, "I have to go the bathroom." And walks out the door. just disrupted class to let everyone know that you have to piss? At the end of class, he came up to me and proceeded to enter my personal space...that 2.5 feet of space which only my husband and friends may enter (and, unfortunately, strangers on public transportation). Yeah, he entered my space. And he proceeded to yell at me. He was so INDIGNANT! HOW EVER COULD I HAVE GIVEN HIM A C?!? This fool did not realize that I am not a woman easily cowed. He didn't realize that when students yell at me, I get more stubborn, not less. I eventually had to tell him that we would talk about it later. He stopped coming to class after that. The best part of the story is that he sent an email to the prof (my friend) at the end of the quarter about how he was so busy and just really wanted an incomplete. Full of flowery bullshit. But, since I had apprised my friend of the situation 5 weeks earlier, he failed. **evil laugh**

Anyway, the point is that I think I made someone cry today. I had conferences and this one girl had written a paper seriously lacking in analysis. She was also missing a variety of documents necessary to her portfolio (and helpful to her grade) because she chose not to come to class the days we worked on said documents. Thus, she got a C on her paper. She had been very talkative and whatnot at the beginning, but as soon as I told her the grade, she shut down. Big time. And looked really pissed. I feel bad and that totally irritates me because I'm not the one who didn't spend enough time on my paper.

My whole philosophy, which I've revealed to my students, is that I don't care if they don't come to class or do what I've asked them to do. As long as they understand the repercussions and consequences of their actions, that's fine. Part of this understanding includes that they cannot complain about the grades they receive. I still feel bad. Oh well.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

I don't have anything to say

I'm in the midst of grading hell right now.

Reading 4,000 papers. 3,998 of which are about Christina Aguilera and how she's not a skanky ho. No really.

Drinking and watching 'Arry Potter aren't even helping anymore.