Monday, November 7, 2011

Why I Decided to Go to College

7 November 2011

This week I’m teaching a cluster of essays that asks students to ponder whether or not college is worth the effort. Today I asked them to spend a few minutes writing about why they decided to go to college. Many of them said that they decided to go to college so that they can obtain jobs that pay well once they graduate. Very few said that their decision was based on the desire to learn and experience new things.

Their answers made me ponder what was behind my decision to go to college. And the honest answer is that this was a decision I never made—it was made for me by my mother. I remember my mother dropping me off at my very first day of school. Before I got out of the car, she told me that I was at the beginning of a long journey that would eventually take me to college. “And you will go to college,” she said. This is something that she reiterated many times throughout my education. So when the time came for me to think about what I was going to do after high school, there was only one option on my mind—college.

Her desire for me to go to college was not monetarily based. She wanted me to go to college so that I could find something that I loved doing. Even when we struggled financially, and there was a lot of that in my teen years, her desire for me to get a college education was so that I could spend my life in a career that I loved. And this was good, because I seriously considered becoming an archaeologist when I was in high-school. (I love me some Pre-Columbian cultures!).

College was a good fit for me. I loved (most) of my classes. I read so many interesting works of literature, I learned to speak Spanish, I spent a summer studying in Mexico, I declared a second major in history—just because I enjoyed it so much. And when I realized that studying and teaching literature was something that I loved doing, no one was more excited for me than my mother. Both of my parents supported me, even though my decision wasn’t one that was going to pay off financially. They still support me in any way they can, and when I FINALLY finish my dissertation and get my PhD no one will be cheering more loudly than my parents. .

Though I’ve questioned my decision to pursue my doctorate in English, I’ve never regretted it. Studying literature and teaching brings me more joy and fulfillment than any other career could. This is more than a career for me, it’s a vocation. And it all started with a five year old girl sitting in a car with her mother on the first day of school. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I am a Crotchety Old Woman?

6 November 2011

I like to think of myself as young and young at heart. I have examples and everything! Last night, I walked over to my neighbor’s apartment and together we watched a couple of episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Jem and the Holograms. Sure, these are cartoons aimed at 5-7 year olds and we are both 34, but that’s youthful! And then, at midnight, we decided to go over to another friend’s house. And then I had 2 glasses of wine! (Note: my friend did not—she was driving. We are youthful, but responsible.) Drinking (which is totally fine because I am over 21)! 12am shenanigans! And by shenanigans I mean we talked very loudly and watched a bunch of episodes of Parks and Recreation--but it was very late at night, That’s very college student-esque!

I’m providing you with these examples of my youthfulness because I am convinced that a crochetedy old woman lives inside of my head.

Example 1: I see some of the clothes teenagers and young college students wear and I think they look inappropriate. For example, a few weeks, I was teaching class, and one of my students walked in, wearing a skin tight mini-skirt with a loose fitting top that fell over her shoulder to reveal her bra strap. Now, she did look cute, but it’s class, not Friday night. Every time she got up, every straight boy in my classroom was ogling her.  In another class, a male student came to class wearing pajama pants that left absolutely nothing to the imagination. Last year, I had a student who wore a skirt so short to class that she had to put a coat over her lap to cover everything up. 10 years ago, I did not have these issues. I don’t really remember noticing what my students wore to class. I thought tight, midriff baring tops were totally cute. I was all about low-rise jeans (well, I still am actually).

Example 2: I live near two sports stadiums. I am not a sports person, so I could really care less about all of this sports hoopla. Most of the time living near these two stadiums not bad, but when there’s a game, the helicopters drive me insane. They’re constantly flying overhead. This morning the non-dulcet tones of an incredibly drone-y helicopter woke me up at 8am. It’s 8am helicopter people! The game doesn’t start until 7pm! Of course, the helicopters will be equally annoying at 7pm.

Example 3: Apparently, it is my destiny to have neighbors who enjoy playing their music loudly at all hours of the night. I teach at 8am, so I have to go to bed pretty early. But I feel bad about asking someone to turn their music down at 9:30. It’s not like it’s midnight, it’s 9:30—that’s not particularly late. And also, I’m going to bed at 9:30pm. 9:30!?! The 10 years ago me would have scoffed at going to bed so early.

Now I don’t particularly want to be 10 years ago me ever again. It was a wretched time in my life. But I was in my early 20s then—I was really young then. I’m still young now, but slightly less so. And I feel more alive and confident and vibrant and youthful and happy at 34 than I did at 24. So, if this is the case, why has a crotchedy old lady come to live in my head? I am not old!

(And I didn't blog yesterday. Boo to me. But I was out being youthful and stuff! And doing laundry.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Zoozey, Molly Bloom, and the Vet: Definitely Not a Fun Combination

4 November 2011

The highlight of my Friday was wearing my brand new hot pink sequined converse tennis shoes. I bought them yesterday because I knew I’d need something morale boosting to get me through my Friday. Because today, I had to take two of my cats to the vet.

As any cat owner knows, taking a cat to the vet is never fun. We all seriously deserve medals for getting our cats proper veterinary care. Because it is not easy. They hate going with a passion they reserve for only a few things, and they make you hate taking them even more. I speak from extensive personal experience.

I am the former owner of a “caution kitty.” Caution kitties REALLY REALLY REALLY HATE the vet. More than other cats. Caution kitties sometimes have to be muzzled or sedated just to get exams. Caution kitties, who are otherwise nice well-behaved cats, will rip you, your clothes, the vet, and the vet techs to ribbons. The owners of caution kitties get phone calls from their vets when they board them, begging you to come pick your caution kitty early.  It gets even more fun when your caution kitty goes into renal failure and has to go to the vet every two weeks for bloodwork. And I now know, that caution kitties don’t mellow with age.

Rocky is in kitty heaven now, and, because I’m insane, I now have three cats, none of whom (thank God) are caution kitties. But they still don’t make it easy. This morning I had Molly Bloom all ready to go in her harness and leash. About 2 minutes after I got her in the leash and harness, she had managed to pull herself out of the harness. I saw her running around with her collar around her head. As soon as I had caught her, Zoozey, the other cat I was taking to the vet, escaped from his cage. Clearly, they did not want to go to the vet. And Zoozey is really really hard to catch. Running away from stuff is his very favorite thing to do, so he’s gotten pretty fast. My third cat, who was not going to the vet today, wisely decided to hide under a desk. I could swear he was smirking at me as I was running around and chasing Molly Bloom and Zoozey.

Fortunately, that was the worst part of today’s veterinary experience. Zoozey glared at me from the back corner of his cage and meowed like he was being tortured.  And Molly Bloom, who is ever the energetic cat, tried to get into everything she possibly could within seconds of being released from her cat carrier. But Zoozey is all show and he was semi-cooperative with his exam and vaccinations. Molly Bloom, who had to spend the day at the vet for a test, won herself a legion of fans with her enthusiasm for absolutely everything—apparently, for Molly, even the cage at the vet is a toy for her to play with.

Molly and Zoozey are home now, worn out from their day. I’m worn out too. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Morbidly Awesome

3 November 2011

It’s day 3 of NaBloPoMo! And it’s Thursday, which I’m wildly excited about it, but only because I’m one day closer to sleeping in on Saturday.

I feel like it’s pretty obvious to most people that I’m a weird geeky nerd. I wear my weird geeky nerd flag proudly. What’s perhaps not so obvious is that I have a fascination with the morbid. You’re reading the blog of the person who, as a teenager, insisted that her father take her to the Museum of Funeral History. It was super cool and interesting, btw. I totally want to go back. (Right now I have a mental image of my mother shaking her head and saying “I just don’t know where she gets it from.”)

And so I ran across a video today that totally appeals to my interest in the morbid. It’s called Ask a Mortician and Caitlin the mortician will answer any questions about that viewers have about death, dying, funeral rites, and death-y stuff like that. Here's a link to the video.Caitlin makes being a mortician seem super cool, which, if you think about it, is probably no easy feat. She answers questions about rigor mortis and cremation in a fun and interesting way that makes me want to think of a question to ask her. Her website, Order of the Good Death, is pretty interesting.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

This is a straight up random blog entry. Really random.

2 November 2011

Buenos dias readers! It’s the second day of NaBloPoMo (which is really fun to say out loud)

Today, I did not work on my dissertation. I’ve done no grading. And right now I’m watching tv. But I did spend pretty much all day teaching. It’s the productiveness that I get paid for, so that’s certainly an important part of my day.  And darn it, six hours of teaching freshman composition is pretty tiring. I also think I might be crashing from the large amount of Halloween candy I’ve eaten today. What I’m saying here is that I think I’ve earned some tv time.

So I’m watching The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, which so far seems like a live action version of Scooby Doo. I’m not hating it. I watched a whole lot of Scooby Doo when I was a kid. Frank and Joe Hardy, along with their band of intrepid crime solving friends are the meddling kids of this world. And they are certainly as equally wholesome as the Scooby gang. Their 1970s clothing isn’t as fabulous as that of  Hawaii Five-O, but it’s my personal opinion that it’s hard to reach the level of fabulousity that is Hawaii-Five-O. Plus THB/ND doesn’t have the mesmerizing power of Jack Lord’s hair. Although Shaun Cassidy’s hair could perhaps be a distant second to Jack Lord’s.

And before you go thinking I have an odd obsession with tv hair….Well, hell. Maybe I do. I was going to say it’s because I tend to latch on to strange things when I’m tired and headachy, but I do find Jack Lord’s hair mesmerizing even when I’m not tired and headachy. However, I don’t think Shaun Cassidy’s hair will seem as fabulous after a good night’s rest. Or really anyone else’s.

I’m going to go watch Psych now. Because I love that show! I must say that I don’t find Shawn and Gus’s hair mesmerizing at all. Maybe my mesmirization only applies to only1970s tv hair and not 2000s tv hair. Which really isn’t any less weird. In fact, it might be more weird.

Well, now I’ve always wondered what kind of blog I’d come up with if I wrote about what I was doing at any given moment. Now I know. A weird one. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


1 November 2011

My office mate says that grad school is enough to make anyone crazy. I think she’s right. Who in their right mind would do willingly undertake all of the stress and the mountain of work that is graduate school? Me.

I’ve been pondering this because I’m currently writing my dissertation. I chose some really dense theory to work with. I love Homi Bhabha and postcolonial theory, but it frustrates me so much. Why am I doing this to myself? Because I’m crazy. I mean, I did willingly undertake this whole PhD thing in the first place.

With my dissertation my normal state is one of avoidance. I am really really good at not working on my dissertation. I will do just about anything to not work on it—even things I don’t particularly enjoy doing. I’ll clean, take my cats to the vet, grade, do laundry—anything but work on my dissertation.

However, for some reason, a metaphorical fire has been lit under my ass, because I have suddenly and inexplicably become quite determined to submit my first chapter and submit it soon. I spent all weekend working on it. All I did was dissertate, sleep and eat cookies. By the end of the weekend, my apartment was a mess, I had been wearing the same clothes for two days, and I was in sore need of a shower. And after all of that work, I went from having six pages to having nine—and a paragraph. All that work—and three pages.

Where is the girl who wrote a really good 10 page paper on D.H. Lawrence’s The Plumed Serpent in 8 hours? She needs to come back and stay forever and ever. Because if she were here, this chapter would have been submitted already.

It would appear that even when I’m actually working on my dissertation, I don’t want to do it. But the thing is, I do. I could talk to you about postcolonial theory, Homi Bhabha, and 19th century England all day long. (Not that you’d want to listen) Seriously. I love this stuff. I think my idea for this chapter is really interesting. So why am I not making more progress?

Blargh. I’m just frustrated. Not a good way to start National Blog Post Month, but right now, my dissertation is all I can think about.