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Saturday, February 25, 2006

The end of a week

When I was a lecturer all I had to do was be cute for 50 minutes at a shot. As I said to my therapist (who understands the 50 minutes at a shot thing), it was easy. I can even be cute when talking about tough stuff. That could be a little more draining, but I can always draw on years of listening to sermons if I want to communicate a message. I can be cute and convincing for 50 minutes.

Lecturing to big classes (which is mostly what I did) requires intellect, a little bit of charisma, and preparation. No problem (for me). It also (especially on a commuter campus like my IHE) doesn't ask for much student/professor interaction. I only saw students who were in crisis or who wanted to really engage. The former can require some finesse, the latter are great and I could shoot the shit with them in office hours. And it all lasted 15 weeks. No more no less. The next semester there were a new 200 folks to tell the same jokes and stories to. I tried to mix it up and keep things fresh. But in lots of ways it was easy. I didn't really have to work with anybody. And because I was (and am, I have to remind myself) a lecturer, I didn't have to go to faculty meetings or serve on committees. If I wanted to interact with my colleagues, I just had to wander down the hall and chat. I didn't do that a lot, but it did allow for consistency from semester to semester.

My IHE has two set-ups, three times a week 50 minutes and twice a week for 75 minutes. Students and full-time faculty prefer the twice a week 75 minute thing, so I rarely got to teach in that schedule. That was fine with me. I discovered early that it's MUCH harder to be cute for 75 minutes. The students and I would lose steam at an hour or so. It's probably why TV shows and therapy sessions are 50 minutes. Maybe I've hit on some profound truth here. I doubt it.

If I taught a night class I simply divided it up into three fifty minute sessions with breaks. See how clever I am? And then when I taught summer school and had 1 hour 45 minute blocks, I really had two fifty minute blocks with a five minute break. I lived my life fifty minutes at a time.

Those of you who have been paying attention, despite the pervasiveness of Gliz and Neve in the blog, will note that the last two weeks haven't been great at work.

Last night AD and I talked for a long time after everyone had left. She's in a similar situation, having moved from being an advisor to be AD. Being an advisor, at least at our IHE, meant 30 minute blocks. I said to her that I thought we were both in the same boat. We had been trained and were good at what we did. And then we were both asked (me by the Dean, she by me) to stop doing what we were good at and do something TOTALLY different. Something for which neither one of us was trained. At all.

I can't ever stop being the boss to anyone in the office, but I am trying to get AD and I to a different point. She's finally starting to be honest with me. She caught me funny on Thursday and I got emotional. It was a mistake and my therapist has suggested a couple of "workbooks" to help me. (It didn't hurt, I suppose, that AD had caught me funny and then I left for therapy). I, being the former good student I am, ordered the books from Amazon when I got home (along with a mystery to get free super saver shipping).

My angst over all of this is real, but I've also blown it out of proportion. I do know that. AD said the same thing. "This shouldn't take so much time and energy," was her feeling. She's right. It's not like we're stockers at Wal-Mart. That's misery. (I saw Nickled and Dimed last night).

If I don't get to be permanent director of the thing I'm interim director of it will be a huge (maybe devastating) blow to my career. So I'm going to bring in lunch for everybody next week. They'll probably think I have ulterior motives. My motives are the same as they've always been. I want to be good at what I do, I want to be liked, I want to be respected. I've also been going for the permanent directorship since the day I walked through the door. And it may be that those things I want aren't all possible.

And maybe I should go back to fifty minutes at a time. But maybe I should try to get good at this. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well. Honesty with AD and weekly therapy may just get me there. Stay tuned.

Oh, and happy end to the Olympics...

Thursday, February 23, 2006


When I type, I do not do it well, though I do do it quickly. I have to look at the keys and I typo all over the place. My biggest failing in typing is the double capital letter at the beginning of words. While I loathe everything about Microsoft, I do like that this self corrects. I should say that it self-corrects except when the word is only two letters. So I send a lot of e-mails out with SO and DO and the like capitalized at the beginning of sentences. It give my writing an odd emphasis. Blogger picks it up in spellcheck. Today I'm ignoring Blogger.

In a continuation of my earlier problems this week, I am now sitting in my office with the door closed. I will say that I love having a door. It's an ugly institutional door, but it's a door and it shuts (and even locks).

I'm also listening to my ipod. SO (see I just did it)I can't hear anything much. I do have one of the earphones pushed behind my left ear so that I can hear the phone if they buzz me or if somebody knocks. I've got to sign forms for students. It's the fourth week of the semester, which is a profound thing to say to anyone in our system. The fifth week is "census" and students have to be enrolled in their classes correctly or not at all by the fifth week. Their "fees" (which is another word for tuition) cover only 25% of the cost of their education. If we don't get credit for their butts in our seats, we don't get the money we need from the state. So for three weeks they can drop to their hearts contents. FOurth week I have to approve it. FIfth week, offering a kidney won't get you added to a class. Plus, there may be less of a market for kidneys than is often imagined in urban legends.

ANyway, I can hear them outside my office from the one ear. My inner self worries about what they're saying. I shouldn't worry about it. AD told me some stuff this morning I didn't want to hear. Later on in the day the former AD (we'll call her FAD from now on) asked how I was doing about what AD told me. "Not good" was my response. She told me not to feel bad. I told her that the cow was already out of the barn.

I can fake it. But those damn double capitals betray me every time.

On my ipod right now:

He was a mean individual
He had a heart like a bone
He was a naturally crazy man
And better off left alone
He stopped one night
At a traffic light
And when that light turned green
He was a mean individual
Stranded in a limousine

I'm not mean (my staff's opinions notwithstanding) and I've never been in a limousine. Just for the record.

But just to prove how ANti-SOcial I can be, here's another chance to walk with the eggs:

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Walking around chickens

I just ordered some "sticky flags" from OfficeMax. I was reminded when I said I wanted sticky flags (OM understood what I meant, to her credit) of a postal clerk who asked me if I wanted "sticky flags" or "sticky loves" when I asked for some stamps. I've always liked that.

Other random language things I like:

1. "Walking around eggs"--my description of cage-free eggs when I couldn't think of the term cage free

2. Internal plurals such as passersby, attorneys general, mothers-in-law.

3. But if there's no noun, you have to do the second word plural... also rans.

4. The word vituperate

5. When my honey and I were playing a game where we guess celebrities and I said, "The guy that should have been in the boodle doodle doo movies but wasn't" and she said "Steve McQueen" which was the right answer. The boodle doodle doo movies are the Sergio Leone trilogy. I still don't know how she got it.

6. Also one time I wanted to eat at Red Robin and I said I wanted to eat at and then bobbed up and down some and she knew that I was talking about Red Robin (from the red red robin goes bob bob bobbin along).

7. That I always could get a laugh in class if I mentioned a culture group that lived near Lake Titicaca. And that I thought it was funny too.

8. The chorus of Schoolhouse Rock's Interjection song:

Show excitement,
Or emotion.
They're generally set apart from a sentence
By an exclamation point,
Or by a comma when the feeling's not as strong.

Cool, don't you think?

9. I don't like that they never did a Schoolhouse Rock for prepositions (it was the one part of speech they left out) but then they did do one for the release of the CD in 1993. It's a terrible song called "Busy P's." Here's a wee sample:

Busy Prepositions.
Busy, busy, busy.
On the top is where you are.
On the top.

10. The word "wee" for small or as a happy go fast sound, but not as a stand-in for urine or urinating. I should have said "wee" when I rode my bike today. Some would contend that should be "whee" to which I say whatever.

A non language thing I don't like, but can't look away from...

Neve and Gliz lifesize. Avert your eyes! Walk around with the chickens!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Prez Day

So I have to work today. Some of you may be SHOCKED at this (as my students often were) because I work for one of these fine United States. (Or as my Honey's school play had it, the "fifty nifty United States." Not to steal her story or anything (she says while actually doing it), but when the time came for her to shout out "New Jersey" and hold up the map of same, she did neither because she left the map somewhere. So for that moment there were only forty nine nifty United States. New Jersey might not be at the top of everyone's "if we're getting rid of a state which one should it be?" list. But I'm guessing it's in an awful lot of people's top five. I'm voting to keep it because it went Dem in the last election. (53% to 46% for Kerry). Make your own list. I'm going with Texas (if we can keep Austin), Florida, Utah, Arizona, and Alabama as my top five to let go.

Anyway, my university observes the minor holidays during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. It allows the staff to have a week off and the University to shut down without affecting instruction. Students don't like it. Faculty don't like it. People like not having to go to school. It's a thing.

Just so you all know, Prez Day will be observed by all who work here at XXXX on December 27, 2006. I can hardly wait.

One other holiday observation note: our esteemed Governor pushed through a law that mandates that Veterans' Day be observed on, well, Veterans' Day. So this year we're going to have to open the University back up for Friday December 29th. We''l be closed from 12/23/06 until 1/1/07 except for 12/29/06. Smart. Very smart.

In a deeply passive-aggressive show of yuck, I arrived this morning to discover that no one from the front office team had shown up for work. OM had the day off because her daughter's daycare is closed (ok), Front Desk woman (FDW) isn't here because her visa expired (right to work, not credit card) and she had to resign (ok). But then the third member of the "team" called in sick. Now, she knew she would be the only one in today. OM has poisoned the waters with her and me and AD in the new "accountability regime." So she called in sick. Um Hmm. So did the student assistant. Third team member (TTM) better be really sick. I better see evidence of it when she next shows up. I'm talking snotty tissues, vomit in ziplocks, whatever. The advisors are covering the front and the office has been really slow. The office is slow, of course, because TTM and OM screwed up and we have no student appointments because they had no back-up of the schedule. OM swore up and down that we were "booked" this week and last. You could shoot a cannonball through the office and not hit anybody. We weren't "booked."

OM is doing what my mother calls "shining her fanny." Last week she threw away an application from someone who wanted to replace FDW because it didn't go to Human Resources. She then announced that she had done so. I told her to get it out of the trash and call or e-mail the person to help them get the application to the right place. Then a faculty member from our advisory board wanted information on from whom we had ordered lanyards and how much they cost. She sent half the info that was asked for. Lanyard ordering information is not a secret. There's no CIA "need to know" standard. I told her to send the faculty member all the information she had. High gloss fanny.

While I'm ranting, Ice Dancing is really annoying to me. The costumes, the smiles. Oh the humanity.

So what does all of this have to do with Washington and/or Lincoln? Not much, I guess. I have the right to rant (thanks GW and TJ and JM) and some of the states I listed for expulsion wouldn't have been part of the picture were it not for AL.

In honor of those guys, I guess I'll turn rant mode off. We are at a crossroads, it seems to me. We have to choose whether the notions that the country was founded upon are still worth believing in. In a world of sound-bites and spin, Lincoln's words are worth reading one more time:

"It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Freedom and proof of illness. Those are my themes for President's Day this year. Anyone else?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Jezebel and her friends

It's an odd thing really for someone who spends a lot of time working with people whose whole lives revolve around children to not spend much time around the actual children.

I like to have children like me. It doesn't always work out. Several of my coworkers have children. My last encounter with them was typical. I (somewhat foolishly) brought Biscuit with me to the staff Christmas party. It was a whole--well the party is starting and the kennel is closing and I might as well bring her--thing. There were three children in attendance that night. They were all somewhat afraid of Biscuit. The two little girls liked running past her. The little boy, who didn't like that he didn't like her, started jumping toward her. Biscuit didn't like it and I had to tell him not to do it. I felt bad about it. He's AD's son and a sweet boy. He can't help how scared he is and he doesn't know. But I found myself in that position of people who don't have children needing but not wanting to correct someone else's child. AD was, as she always is, sweet and supportive. Her daughter still will not say anything to me, despite multiple encounters. She just stares at me from under her heavy bangs.

I get along really well with my niece. She's a fantastically imaginative and somewhat restrained 5 year old. She likes to create elaborate fantasies for her dolls, mostly princesses and mostly involving marriage. My sister-in-law does a great job to try to undo all the gender problems of the princesses in five year old imaginations. V told her recently that all the princesses knew that it didn't matter what you looked like, but that they were still in love with the princes anyway. My nephew is almost two. He's a wonderfully ebullient soul. I don't know him as well as I know my niece, but I like his spirit a lot. Which is good because I'm responsible for his guidance in religious matters. I promised God and everybody. Once he can talk more, we'll start his education. I may not tell him what they want me to.

I spent today with Jezebel aka J-Boo, aka JMPR. That's not what I said I was going to do. I said I was going to spend the day with S and J. I did do that too, I guess. But mostly I spent the day with JMPR. According to her parents, she sets new standards for cuteness in every thing she does. It's hard to argue the point. She has this perfect face, these fantastic cheeks that change her whole face when she smiles and a fantastic widow's peak, which I enhanced at the end of the evening.

JMPR and I got off to a fine start when Honey and I brought her a dinosaur and some other toy. I had a JMPR stumble late this fall. I was invited to her baby blessing. I didn't know what to expect and went unprepared. I was supposed to bring a blessing and didn't. I then managed to get my feelings hurt which was so beside the point of the event that it's startling. S, being the sensitive soul she is, knew I was upset. We "talked" via e-mail and sorted things out. But I still felt I owed JM something. I brought her another gift for Christmas. I still felt like I was missing something.

Today she started to play peek-a-boo with me. Actually, I didn't have to do anything. She would smile at me, turn her head away and then flip it back around and smile. S had to sit there with her breast exposed because JM wanted to play the game while she pretended to nurse. Pretty impressive for six months old, I thought. She won me over, of course. If I didn't think she was fantastic before (which I did), I was positive of it now.

It doesn't change who I am, of course. I still act like a big freaky adult around kids. She'll see that soon enough. But today she wasn't worried about anything but her own delight in me. It made me feel wonderful.

So here it is:

May your days be full and interesting.
May your life be full of people who love you and say interesting things.
May they listen to the wonderful things you'll say.
May you have health and happiness.

May you follow you bliss.
May it not cost too much.

Trust yourself and trust those you love.
Have adventures.
Think big thoughts and act on them sometimes.
Own as many pets as you want.

Ask your mom to teach you about romance and why true love is worth looking for.
And about science fiction
Ask your dad to teach you about computers, The Simpsons, and how to be gentle.
May you love your mother and father and understand that they are as easy to be with as any people could be.
May you forgive them for that, because it will probably irritate you at some point.

Ride a bike early and far.
Always wear a helmet.

Enjoy folk music.

Find spiritual peace where you find it. It doesn't matter where.

Remember to love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe.

I'm sure there's more.
Here's the deal though, thanks for forgiving me.
Bless you.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Somewhat meta-blog

First, big props to scout for digging into the whole Olympic mascot dealio and discovering many many disturbing things. Here's one little tidbit:

Go read her blog at your own risk--the link's on the right. (I'm such an html wuss that I can't get the link to show up and blogger does it for you. Lame. Weak. Whatever.)

Ok, now that that's out of the way, slangred sent me a link to a blog I hate this morning because, well, she wanted to ruin my day. No, actually, she just wanted to confirm my hatred. Said bloggist is NOT worth linking to here, and I say that having including a picture of Gliz herein already. The blog is bad in a bad way not in a funny way. Like Neve.

Anyway, said bloggist was doing the meta-blog latest which is taking a survey about yourself. I like the survey. (To those who know which blog I'm talking about, his spacing on the survey was even annoying. That's sort of impressive, to be annoying in the abstract and in the details). Thusly:

Four Jobs I’ve had:
a) Taco maker at Del Taco
b) Library shelver
c) S.A.T. tutor
d) Interim Director, XX Program, XX University, X

Four movies I could watch over and over:
a) Clue
b) Top Gun
c) The Thin Man
d) Libeled Lady

Four places I’ve lived:
a) Decatur, Georgia
b) Roma (see how NBC I am?)
c) Chevy Chase, Maryland
d) Beverly Hills, Studio City and most importantly Van Nuys, California (SoCal being one big blob that only counts as one place, right? BeHi and Van Nuys are EXACTLY the same, trust me).

Four television shows I love:
a) Battlestar Galactica (but y'all knew that, didn't ya?)
b) Buffy, The Vampire Slayer (I know it's off the air, don't talk to me)
c) Dragnet (see above)
d) West Wing (going off the air--more dvds, less tifaux)

Four places I’ve vacationed:
a) Sequoia National Park
b) The Grand Strand, South Carolina
c) Lake Rabun, Georgia
d) Cody, Wyoming

Four favorite dishes:
a) Brunswick stew
b) Bagels with spicy cream cheese
c) Pulled pork
d) Steak, corn, and bean burrito--Chiptole

Four sites I visit daily:
a) Salon
b) Woot
c) Slate
d) Craigslist

Four places I’d rather be:
a) With my honey
b) On my bike
c) Somewhere calm
d) North Georgia

Four books I love:
a) Housekeeping
b) The Corrections
c) Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
d) Fever Pitch

Four video games I play:
a) Luxor
b) The Sims (when I have A LOT of time)
c) Bubble Trouble
d) The games on my Sega Saturn

Four bloggers I'm tagging:

See the links to scout and bryduck on the right. I also like dooce and rabbitblog. Urls=the obvious ones.

So there. One last meta-blog thing. Somebody comment, please. I feel so lonely with no comments.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Today's hissy fit

What, gentle readers, is the role of the blog? It sits here and people read it, mostly my friends, I think.

I sometimes think of it as my daily hissy fit. Sometimes it's a good hissy, other times a whiny one. There may be some among you who think there is no such thing as a good hissy fit, but as the curling commentators said this morning (sorry, this will be the only Olympics reference) sometimes you throw a bad stone and good things happen.

I've got hissy on the brain because Simon Cowell used it on last night's American Idol. I like early Idol, lots of drama, less crying and painful belting. I missed the first season and Kelly Clarkson doesn't do much for me, but have been a sporadic viewer ever since. I liked Fantasia ok, thought Clay Aiken was deeply frightening in EXACTLY the same way the Olympic mascots are (sorry, last time, I promise). LaToya London's performance of "Don't Rain on My Parade" was a thing of magic. I don't like Idol for one reason: The American Public has no taste. The farther the competition goes, the more obvious that becomes. Plus which, Barry Manilow has the current number 1 album. My point is made.

This year's contestants include a set of twins named Terrell and Darell Brittenum. It is to them that the "hissy" comment was directed. And Simon (of whom I am no fan) was exactly right. They are hissy fits on legs. Last night one of them freaked and "quit" when he thought his brother had been cut. They're constantly asking if they can say something and then going on and on and on about how the competition is crushing their souls.

Now here's a thing, the current Idol stuff was taped in the fall. One of them is currently in jail and the other is facing extradition for stealing someone else's identity and buying a Dodge Magnum. Now I like the new Chrysler muscle badboy cars as much as the next girl, but why not go for the 300M?

It all makes Frenchie Davis (she of the huge boobs) pecadillo seem minor.

It's probably time, truth be told, to stop paying attention to reality tv "stars" but Project Runway is on tonight and I have high (silly) hopes that Santino may get kicked off. Why do I care? Well, he's pitched too many hissy fits.

Oh, and one note to TV fans, the "Scar" episode of Battlestar Galactica was unbelievably good. Get it from itunes. Katee Sackhoff--sexy, amazing, a brilliant actress. I say that and Mary McDonnell wasn't even in the episode much. Her bit at the end of last week's episode ("Sacrifice")over Billy's death and Sackhoff's speech at the end of "Scar"--why tv is good and human and heartbreaking and worth watching. No hissy fits. So say us all.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More 'lyms

Ok, I promise not to keep doing this, but I had a couple more thoughts on the 'lyms.

First, I'm sorry I was snotty about luge. When I saw that luger sliding down the track unconscious under her sled, I thought better of my "sausage" comments.

Second, I think it's hilarious that the gold medal winner in women's halfpipe listened to her ipod during her gold medal run.

Third, Joey Cheek rocks for talking about Sudanese genocide, for donating his money to refugees, for retiring after the lyms, for being rejected by Harvard and telling everybody about it, and for being so pudding cute you could eat him with a spork, even if "hims" aren't your thing. Plus which his bio at is hilarious, describing him as being listed in "The Cheek Family Chronicles" as one of the "nine most notable 'Cheeks' of all time." And emphasizing his tendency to puke during practice.

Fourth, the Canada/Sweden curling match this morning was really exciting (for curling). The skip of the Canadian team, a fellow named Brad Gushue (pronounced GOOSHOO) screwed up three times, first the the tenth end (don't I sound knowledgeable?) allowing Sweden to tie and then again in the eleventh (extra) end. Now, I'm delighted with his name. I gather (from LA Times of all sources) that he's seen as a bit of a maverick in Cananda, where the vast majority of the world's curlers reside. I also love the curling commentator for NBC. He's SOOOO Canadian. Plus is name, Don Dugid, is pronounced "Do good." GOOSHOO and DOGOOD.

Fifth, I like the beaver named Dodger Lodge on the Olympic site. So very not American.

Being from Atlanta, I am a little sensitive about the criticism leveled at my fair city about having a badly organized Olympics. Atlantans I talk to will say everything went fine. One thing that's hard to defend from the Atlanta games is the mascot, "Izzy." It was not cute, not clearly defined and made fun of. Ok, Izzy=very weak. But I challenge anyone to say that the Torino mascots are anything but very very weak. Describing them is hard. Disturbing is the word that comes to mind. And there's a whole mess of them: Gliz and Neve are the main ones, but they have friends Gelindo Calvo, Viva Kapendo, Jo Care (the most disturbing to me), Koji Kojito, and Jose Bueno. Plus there's their friend the snowflake. Named Aster. (Could be after Asta the Nick and Nora Charles dog from the Thin Man movies, I dunno). (The snowflake thing doesn't bother me.) Go look them up. Tell me what you think. But be prepared to be disturbed. Not SAW II disturbed. Worse.

Tomorrow: Not the Olympics.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The 'lyms

My Honey and I call the Olympics (sorry the "Olympic Winter Games") the "lyms." We have one of those couple-y things with a secret language. It's not a creepy secret language like those piercing non-English ones I imagine certain twins raised by wolves have. Maybe it is, but at least I can say that it's a version of English.

Anyway, we've been watching the lyms for the past couple of days. As a sports fan, I look forward to them, but I get tense about Tivo (really Tifaux) capacity. I've stressed how vigilant we must be, but as a curling fan (really--it's cool to watch, I promise), I'm putting our hard drive at risk with overnight tapings of the USA feed. It's a risk I'm going to have to live with because I'm not getting up at 5am to watch curling. Hell, I can't even get up at 6:45 to work out. Which I should.

I've decided that luge is weak. I mean it's fast, but the best luger EVER is known as the flying sausage. You can't even tell how fast they're going. Honey and I were watching the downhill after the luge and they're going 20 miles an hour slower and look like they could die at any second. Plus there's the whole business of the lugers needing to be "relaxed" as the announcer kept saying.

I had a weak moment while watching the luge where I hoped out loud that the American would not medal. I get so irritated with the "homer" tone of NBC's broadcasts that sometimes I don't want Americans to win. Honey pointed out (rightly so) that she's an American and if she were ever an Olympian I could and should root for her. The dudeness of the snowboarders suggests, she said, that they may be Democrats. So they're probably ok. I conceded her point, by which time the American luger's 4th place position was assured in much the same way that when you start talking about whether somebody is dead or not they die right away after. I feel somewhat responsible in that vein for the deaths of Herve Villechaize and Fay Wray.

A few more random lym thoughts:

The skating guys with flames coming from their heads DID NOT suggest passion to me, no matter what Costas says. Neither did the people in tree outfits or the disembodied legs.

Short track speed skating makes me really nervous. And Apolo Anton Ohno needs an extra "l" in his name.

My honey is right that for a guy who "hates the media" the Bode Miller is more present on my tv than he should be.

I can't put a finger on why I like how much the Italians like their athletes and why I hate the pro-American NBC coverage. It may be related to Laura Bush. I'm not sure.

One non-Olympic thought:
If Dick Cheney shoot his FRIEND in the face, how can we trust him around bigger guns?

Sunday, February 12, 2006


So after last week's work hell, I was talking to Assistant Director (AD) late Friday afternoon. We're doing this business that we do because we're both scared (at least a little) of Office Manager (OM). We're sitting at the conference table/lunch table at 4pm in the afternoon because AD is just now eating lunch. I'm back from meetings that stretched from 12-4 myself. I did sneak down to Student Food Zone to eat in between meetings, so at least I'm not in AD's boat. Anyway, we're talking about issues in the Program that we don't need to whisper about and interspersing it with whispers about OM. OM has been giving us both the cold shoulder all day. I'm trying to reassure AD that not only are we doing the right thing, but that I have her back no matter what. And any dirt that OM has on her (which is likely since they were friends in college) is not important.

During all of this we return to one of mutually favorite topics--our mothers--and she mentions that her mother is keeping a journal. I mention that I've got a blog and she seems surprised. I give her full credit for not asking about where it can be found, though for all I know she's spent the whole weekend looking for it. If you've found it AD, Hi!

From there my paranoid mind went back to what I've said about her, the University, myself. Then yesterday slangred mentions that she wants to let her sister and friend from work see my blog. I know and like slang's sister, so that's fine. It sounds to me like I'd like her friend from work, so that's fine too.

Still and all I wonder if I've thought through all the implications of what I say. I am somewhat careful and try to make it a semi-family friendly blog. For example, when the Dean was talking to me, she did not say "don't screw up." The word screw was stronger in her actual statement. Now, I don't know if my inner Southern "be a good girl and have some decorum why don't you" kicks in or if there's some other gremlin of the mind that keeps me from putting the words she actually spoke in her mouth.

I do know that the people who I know read the blog affect it. And then there's this amorphous group who might read it who affect it less, they push into my consciousness occasionally, like that big black cloud on Lost.

I have to think of them like a gentle force I can't see. Blogging is ultimately such a selfish thing, I have to say what I want to say, internal editor and all.

I remember years ago taking a storytelling class. The professor, with whom I had a very complicated relationship, told a story that I still like. She was telling a story about her family and some of her family happened to show up. Afterwards one of them came up to her and said, "well you got every detail wrong, but the story was still true."

One of my favorite personalities in the world is Bailey White, the NPR commentator and author. Honey and I went to see she and David Sedaris read stories a few years ago. She read this fantastic story about being made to go to "technology school" by the elementary school at which she taught. She and the other women start going to the dog track instead. After she read the story, someone asked how they had gotten away with it. She laughed and asked why we had thought the story was true. I was flabbergasted. Bailey White stories weren't true? Her voice and manner suggested a deep red Georgia clay truth. But, then, maybe they were true she said. And said no more.

And that's it, really, isn't it? If I tell my version of the story, and tell it "truthfully," that's the best I can do. That and resist my inner demons that say to tell the truth in a harsh way.

Dickinson had this right, I think:

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant --
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind --

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Trade--A report from Hollywood

For those of you who aren't watching the minutiae in the news today, you may have missed this item. Disney/ABC traded Al Michaels, the sportscaster, to NBC (which owns Universal) in exchange for the rights to Oswald the Rabbit.

Yes indeed. A guy was traded for a cartoon character. For those of you who don't follow the Disney "world," Oswald was an early creation of Walt Disney and a precursor to Mickey Mouse. Disney created him while working for Universal and they've retained the rights all these years, media corporate mergers notwithstanding.

Michaels was planning to do Monday Night Football for ESPN, but for lots of complicated (and boring) reasons, he wants out of his contract with ABC, thus the trade.

Here's how it went down:

NBC guy: We want Al.

ABC guy: You can't have him.

NBC: What do you want for him?

ABC: Um, one of Leno's cars.

NBC: No can do. How about a gross of peacock cups?

ABC: (sigh) Ok, let's see, how about a successful sitcom. Maybe My Name is Earl?

NBC: Are you kidding? You can have the rights to the unaired episodes of Book of Daniel. Watch out though, the scary Christians will hate you.

ABC: Nah. OK, let's see how about we give you Chris Berman, the most annoying sportscaster ever?

NBC: You want to give us Berman so that we take Michaels. No way. See we got Keith Olberman already and he's pretty funny even if he is difficult. Plus he keeps punking O'Reilly, which is pretty nice. Berman would just pun his name. Plus he never shuts up and every senesible person in the world hates him.

ABC: Are you mareketing to sensible people now? No wonder you're third. Anyway, how about you give us one of your lamer cable channels? USA?

NBC: It is lame, but no. You want the footage of Costas trying to explain the symbolism of the Opening Ceremonies of the Torino Olympics? By the way isn't "Torino" a cool way to refer to it? 'Turin" is so pedestrian. That footage is so "right now."*

ABC: Ok, let's cut to it. We want the rabbit.

NBC: Rabbit?

ABC: Yeah, the Disney rabbit. All those jokes about how often rabbits procreate--they're hilarious. Plus which, the Disney people WILL NOT shut up about the rabbit.

NBC: You want to swap the rabbit for Michaels?

ABC: Yep.

NBC: Well, ok. It's sort of weird.

ABC: OK, throw in some peacock cups too, then if anybody asks it'll seem less random.

NBC: You got it.

*I know the swap happened before the opening ceremonies, give me a little latitude.

There you have it, the sporkseye view of Hollywood. Come back soon when we will explore other important Hollywood topics like whether Ryan Phillippe is most jealous of wife Reese Witherspoon's money or talent. And we'll reveal, through the magic of Scout's life experience, which "characters" at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood are the skankiest. My money is on Elmo. We'll see.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Being the Boss deux

Today I came in to work feeling ok. I had my jamba juice and had managed to bring my lunch to work, which always helps me avoid the "what crappity crap am I going to eat today?" question. As I came in, I noticed some weird energy in the office. Whatever, I thought. We have staff meetings on Thursday morning, so I did my usual scan of e-mail and brain for what I need to tell people about. Staff meeting can be a little contentious, but this one was fairly calm. Nevertheless, there were a few pop-up issues that bothered me. We had lost a bunch of stuff we needed because the college's server crashed and we hadn't done a back-up in three weeks. Then someone asked if the front office staff could be notified when the paperwork bin is full. Now, if the paperwork bin is full, that means the paperwork isn't getting done. At least to my way of thinking.

So after staff meeting, I go into the Assistant Director's (AD) office and she and I started talking about the problems in the office. She's officially been in her job for six months and I've had my interim job for 18 or so, but I know I don't know what I'm doing. So we're both sort of casting around for what to do.

One major problem we have is that the major problem person on the office is a friend of hers. The friend hiring preceded my presence, and though AD's very good about trying to draw boundaries, I think the emphasis there should be on "trying."

We talk for a while and then I asked what turned out to be the critical question...

"What did Previous Director (PD) and Previous Assistant director (PAD) do that we're not doing?" I'm a big admirer of both PD and PAD. PAD still works in the office in a different capacity. So AD called PAD into the office and we talk about what to do.

I ask PAD the crucial question. Now, see, here's the elephant in the room: AD and and I both worry about micro-managing. PAD says, "don't worry about it. Micro-manage if you need to." Now, I'm not stupid, but this idea struck me as genius. I can micro-manage. AD can micro-manage. If people aren't going to do their jobs and we can't function well for the next two weeks because we have no data because we have no back-up files, then somebody's got to be watching the little stuff.

So AD, PAD and I set some priorities on paper and have a meeting with Office Manager (OM). I try to spin it, but OM sees right through me. She doesn't want to work hard and the new "accountability" plan that we've come up with requires hard work. And accountability. Still and all, if I can't motivate OM, I can make her accountable for her job. And accountability requires fewer inspirational tools. Which is good, because I tend to have very little sympathy for ennui, unless it's my own.

OM asked in the course of the meeting when the search for the permanent director would happen. Whatever.

AD tried to reassure me and suggested I bring in food occasionally.

Anybody got any inspirational sayings I can use? The best I can come up with is, "Sporks for all!"

(Footnote: Blogger's spellcheck suggested "necromancer" as the best alternative to "micromanage")

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Last night I was driving home from puppy school with Biscuit. She's finished her six sessions and now has a certificate of completion. The certificate is not an acknowledgement of skills, it's an acknowledgement of showing up. We did show up. Honey and I started calling her "completer" last night.

I was listening to "Says You" on NPR on the way home from puppy school and they were doing lists of "what does it have in common?" "Pea, Walnut, Golf ball, Grapefruit, Softball" was one of the lists. The answer, in case you care, is that the are U.S. Weather Service sizes of hail. I found myself trying to make sure I remembered them correctly. I then had to look up hail sizes on the web. According to the NOAA.GOV web site (that would be the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the uber-agency to the National Weather Service), there are the following hail sizes. Are you ready? You sure?

0.25 inch Pea Size
0.50 inch Mothball Size
0.75 inch (Severe Criteria) Penny Size
0.88 inch Nickel Size
1.00 inch Quarter Size
1.25 inch Half Dollar Size
1.50 inch Walnut or Ping Pong Ball Size
1.75 inch Golf Ball Size
2.00 inch Hen Egg Size
2.50 inch Tennis Ball Size
2.75 inch Baseball Size
3.00 inch Teacup Size
4.00 inch Grapefruit Size
4.50 inch Softball Size

I was relieved to see this chart and its specificity, because I had been worrying about the relative lack of difference between the size of a softball and a grapefruit and the relatively large size difference between a pea and a walnut. It helps me to know that there is a complete list and standards to go along with it.

Of course, then I worry about people being killed by grapefruit sized hail. Sure enough, someone was killed in 2000 by a grapefruit sized piece of hail in Forth Worth, TX. Probably a Republican, but still.

I worry about these kinds of things too much. Give me a topic, prompt an interest and I'll find out everything I can about it. I file the little factoids away, trot them out at random times, and admire them like pretty little nuggets or hen egg sized pieces of hail.

My mother says that there are two kinds of people in the world: those that tell you everything they know, and those that know way more than they will ever tell you. She is definitely in the former category and my dad in the latter. I like to think I am more like my dad in this way, but suspect the opposite is true.

Lately, I'm trying not to be the busybody know-it-all that I have a tendency to be. Because I'm not teaching now, I don't have a captive audience for random fact of the day. Therefore, I want to spout them out when I can.

Murphy Brown had a great scene about this whole thing. One of the characters is telling the bartender something (it's been a long time since I've seen it, ok? Don't expect really great scene recreation). The bartender replies, "If I remember that, I'm going to have to let go of Truman's hat size." Please don't remember the hail sizes unless you have room.

I know that facts don't do you much good unless you have the analytical tools to connect them. I was at a meeting yesterday where a faculty member went on a rant about the chancellor of our system. I know facts about him (the chancellor) and I've heard opinions. I was impressed by the provost's response. He talked for a while and then said, "if the problems we have were really the result of one person, the solution would be fairly simple." It was as clever and thoughtful a bit of reasoning as I've heard in a while. And he's right, of course.

I'll probably hold on to the hail sizes for a while. But I'm going to try to figure out how to think about them (and all the other random things) in a more complex way.

I don't, by the way, know Truman's hat size and I'm not going to look it up.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Poker and being the boss

Ok, ok, I know EVERYONE is playing poker these days. It's all so cliched. I learned the play poker from my Dad, who likes to play his law partners. He likes it because he takes their money. I like poker too, though as those of you who read this blog know, I tend to turn pink when I'm excited.

When I started my current job and found that the whole office was a bit poker mad, led by the office manager. The rest of the office often looks to her as a guide for what's good and right in the world. Her mood sets the office mood. She loves poker and everyone else seemed to fall in line.

Occasionally, we have poker parties at office manager's house and tonight's one of them. I go about half the time. The other half the time I beg off or am not invited. It's sort of like the office Friday lunch. I get invited sometimes but I rarely go. When I do go, I sense that they would have just as soon had me skip it. Honey says I should always make Friday lunch plans. I'm too much of a social goober to do that, but when I do, I am always glad to say that I can't go. Everyone is so relieved.

A couple of times I've been in the final two in the winner take all pot during the poker parties. I've never won, however. Inevitably, the person that beat me felt bad about it. It's not that they feel sorry for me or anything, but I'm the BOSS.

I forget that a lot. People act reluctant to ask for vacation; they defer to me. It can all go to my head. Last week I talked the Assistant Director down from her opinion in the middle of a staff meeting and then realized that I shouldn't have done it. I apologized to her and am going to try to be more thoughtful about that kind of stuff in the future.

I guess it's hard to have it both ways. Respect and distance often go hand in hand. I appreciate that they invite me at all, I guess, but wish I were just one of the gang.

I decided to be an academic in part because it struck me as less hierarchical than most jobs. While that is true, I get a little tense around the Dean, a lot tense around the Provost and the President's presence makes my mouth pasty. I guess I fit somewhere on that food chain and the staff in my office know it, even if I forget it sometimes.

Meanwhile, tonight, I play quietly and carefully and probably lose. And it's probably best that I do. At least I'm pretty sure they like me enough not to shoot me in the back, even if I have Aces and Eights.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Why craigslist is worth watching

I like craigslist ok for the usual reasons. I bought a Tony Little Gazelle on it. Fine transaction, cheaper than retail by a lot. The guy did insist on my taking the Tony Little videos that came with it. I can't say I blame him.

I sold an old bike of mine on it. It was poring raining and this German guy drove from Santa Monica to the Valley to buy it. He then got soaking loading it into his car. It was a hideous sea foam green Peugeot U.S. Express I bought on a whim in 1989. I should have kept my 1985 Trek Elance. Honey says I shouldn't worry about old bikes or dead pets. She's right. But I can't help it.

For the most part, I don't use craigslist the way some people do, looking for jobs or apartments. I like reading the "free" section and the "pets" community board.

Now, the pet board is a whole bizarre thing. It's supposed to be for people to exchange information about pets (which happens a little), and to post available pets for adoption. It's a tense place. It throbs with conflict between backyard breeders of animals (or wannabes) and rescue folks, really intense folks.

Every day there is a post or two with the euthanasia lists for the Los Angeles City Shelters. An aside, honey and I have three pets, all adopted from the L.A. City shelters. Calif was gotten from the South L.A. shelter, Halo from the East Valley Shelter, and Biscuit D. Dog is a South L.A. product as well. We helped Slangred and Bryduck pick out Amber at East Valley. And Honey and I plucked "the best cat ever(tm)"--Squeaky--from the West Valley "Sick Pet Room." I believe in shelters, I have only ever owned rescue dogs and cats in my adult life and have helped friends and family pick out same. My sister-in-law so believes in her Atlanta shelter cat Mambo's right to platinum care, that she calls the vet during every vacation to remind them that Mambo should get any medical care he needs.

So, anyway, I find the L.A. shelters pretty depressing. They are full of pit bulls and pit bull mixes. I felt very lucky to find Biscuit and would not have gotten her had I waited until a weekend to come in. Honey was one of two people who wanted Calif. I know that pit bulls can be nice dogs. I know. But, here's how the shelter is described on craigslist (pit bulls=staffies):


Then the poster goes on to describe individual dogs. Here's a typical example:


Do I need note that the caps are in the original?

Without getting into the politics of the thing, I want to say that I'm very much in favor of saving dogs and I think this person is probably a good person. Nevertheless, I am worried about the hysteria here. I've been to these shelters. These dogs are not that nice. They're just not. They may be great with A LOT of work at home. They may not.

Biscuit was at the shelter for a day. She's a handful undoubtedly backyard bred and probably ignored for the first year of her life. I try to work with her. She's still a lot of dog.

Anyway, if you want to watch human tension, check it out. On the gentler end...

Here's what's great about the "free" section:

"I have a cute cat bowl, one vial of advantage for cats (9 lb and up), an ornate glass vase, and a few assorted sealed jams (2 strawberry and 1 apricot)."

Ok, I guessing the cat died and I'm sorry for it. But why throw in the jam? And how is the vase related? And do we have to take all of it?

There are a lot of "clean dirt" ads in the free section.

I liked this one today too.

"We thawed this turkey to cook today for the Super Bowl, but we all woke-up too late to cook it in time (needs approx 5 hrs, unless you deep fry it). So if you want the turkey, you need to come get it before we go over to our friend's place at about 1:30. Otherwise we are going to have to trash it. "

It's really a way to watch people struggle with themselves. What can they not bring themselves to throw away? What do they not want to move? It's like little existential crises available for everyday. Free!

Saturday, February 04, 2006


Sandra--the coolest person ever drew me three sporks. I picked the coolest looking one and then picked a new template to go with the spork! Here were my choices...

Go sporks!


I have great nostalgia for my own past and the distant past. I am enough of a realist to recognize that the past was problematic. The life I live today couldn't have been lived fifty years ago. I love my tivo and my female life partner (not in the same way!). And I recognize that neither tivo nor an open relationship with my honey would have been possible way back then in black and white land.

Two women died this week who affected my life in different ways. When I was in college, filled with the kind of post-feminist angst that seems only possible in the 1980s, I fell into a pleasant obsession with Wendy Wasserstein and her plays. I saw Heidi Chronicles on Broadway with Christine Lahti (Joan Allen originated the part) and was sure that Heidi spoke to me and my "issues" in a profound way that no one else could understand. My Dad, who took me to see the play, recognized the obsession (if not the reason for it) and went back to the theater the night after was saw it and asked to buy a Christine Lahti Heidi poster. The play had just won the Pulitzer and Allen was coming back. We had seen the last Lahti performance. They had no more posters. Dad talked them into selling him the one from the marquee signed by the cast and Wasserstein. He then got it framed for me. I loved Wasserstein. I never met her, of course, but she had things to say to me.

Lillie Scoville ran an alternative pre-school/kindergarten in Atlanta called the Out-of-Doors-School. Miss Lillie was an amazing woman. Tough and fair minded. She taught me to read and caught me in a lie or two for which I was always embarrassed. There were other teachers at the school, but Miss Lillie was one of those presences that shone bright and clear in my mind. She attended one of my mother's churches and I had lunch with her once ten or twelve years ago. She was gracious and thoughtful. By that time, she couldn't see very well. But she told me I was beautiful. It was a nice thought, I suppose. I laughed, but she meant it.

Miss Lillie and Wendy both left me this week. Left me to think about what they meant to me and the others whose lives they touched.

Billy Collins has a wonderful poem called "Nostalgia" the last verse of which I have always particularly liked:

"As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past,
letting my memory rush over them like water
rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.
I was even thinking a little about the future, that place
where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine,
a dance whose name we can only guess."

There are people I know and love who are sure that we will meet again with those who we have lost. I have to content myself with the hope that they are right and the promises I've heard my whole life are true.

I do know that my heart is full for their presences in my life.

Happy journeys.

Friday, February 03, 2006

I'm white

Ok, big time confession...

Are you ready? You sure?

I'm white. Caucasian. A WASP. You may have guessed that from the whole "turning pink" thing yesterday. But, just to confirm, I am very white. There's no olive undertone to me. I do have brown eyes, so it's not like I'm Nordic looking. Actually I look like what I am--a white girl from Anglo-semi-Celtic (but nowhere out of the British Isles) stock who grew up in the South. My family is from South Georgia and England.

As I was growing up in Atlanta, white people of certain ideologies worked hard to prove they weren't racists. I went to a mostly African-American high school. Before you get too excited about my diverse upbringing, I should also note that the school used what was called "leveling." I was in Level 1, which was all white kids and one black guy. Level two was about half white and half black. Levels three and four, all black. Coincidence? You decide.

I went to a middling private college in the Northeast. Mostly white people.

I did graduate work at UCLA. Mostly white people.

I don't pretend that my sexuality actually makes me understand the experience of ethnic minorities in the United States. It's not the same thing. I work in academia, my honey works for a GLBT publishing company. Being lesbians in either context=not a big deal.

I am both humble and proud of growing up in the New South, proud of the changes that were made in the Civil Rights movement by Southerners, both black and white. Like any good folklorist, I approach any person, regardless of their cultural background as someone from whom I can learn things.

So, I had to have a meeting earlier this week with two of the ethnic studies departments on campus. I had put it off and put it off. Then I called the very sensible Associate Dean and told him the problem. He said we needed to meet with them. I said I'd rather bury my head in the sand. He said to call them.

Here's how the meeting went:

Me: The state standards are x for y course. Does your course include x?

Ethnic Studies Department 1: Yes, though from a ethnic studies perspective.

Me: Great! Can you take the x list and share them with your faculty?

Them: Sure, we'll make it part of the common syllabus.

Me: Great!

One down, one to go.

Me: (to Ethnic Studies Department 2): How about you?

ESD2: Maybe

Me: Ok, well here are three options... (you don't want to know them: boring). Can you present to your faculty and discuss?

ESD2: Sure.

Me: Oh and we could do this really nice thing for you, if we can't fix the y course problem.

ESD2: Ok

So, last night I get cc'ed on an e-mail from one of ESD2's faculty. (He called me Ms. Sporksforall in the e-mail... Honey said I should just e-mail back and say, that's Dr. Sporksforall, thank you very much! Which I totally should have done, using sporksforall instead of my name.)

Anyway, here's to let everyone know that Dr. Sporksforall is a racist. I don't care at all about the history of oppression of ethnic minorities. I am totally responsible for the white bias in government standards.

Aren't you all glad to know how powerful I am?

I was good and calm and sent a message to ESD2's chair in a calm a judicious tone. But there the e-mail sits, in my inbox. There may be little flames coming out of it.

I had a dream the other night that there were wrapped Chipotle burritos in bed with me to ward off heartburn. Last night, Honey and I had Chipotle. She asked if I'd like her to put my burrito on my pillow for protection.

Chipotle burritos can't protect me from heartburn (and may, indeed, cause it). What can protect the white girl from charges of racism? I dunno, but I'm guessing burritos won't help there either.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Some thoughts while avoiding bed

Lo, the Blessed Surprising Pencil arrived today and it was not at all surprising. It looked just as it had in the efficiency catalog and wrote, not at all surprisingly, like a pencil. A mechanical pencil. But a pencil nonetheless.

I'm avoiding bed right now. There are periods in my life when I sleep the sleep of the just and righteous. This isn't one of them. In fact, now I am sleeping the sleep of the obsessed and unwell. I would rather be just and righteous.

Biscuit thinks the up-late locked in the office thing is ok. She's locked in the office, I'm not. If she doesn't stay locked in the office, she goes fishing for snacks in the litter box. It's a hobby I don't condone. I like it better than her vigorous play with "dead bird friend." But that hobby had a time limit. Once dead bird friend was too decomposed to play with, the game, was, well, over. Litter box surfing goes on and on.

She's ok now, though. She's probably just as relieved as I am to have checked the daily woot and found it wanting. My blog doesn't show up if you google "whateveronfire." What does show up is the night when I bought the last item woot had to sell Whatevernfire is my woot user name). I'm listed as the "member to blame." Yea me. It was far a watch too small for my uber-chunky wrist. Honey wears it a lot. It looks good on her.

I'm listening to the newish Michael Cunningham book on CD right now. I loved The Hours. This one may have gone a step or two off the weird dock for my tastes. We'll see. I've just gotten to the part about the lizard people. Lizard people? Yes, lizard people.

I know, I know, books on CD are so, so, lazy? Anti-intellectual? Indeed. And let me add that my favorites, those for which I will pay full-pop retail, are the 'Series of Unfortunate Events" young adult novels written by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) and performed with great aplomb by Tim Curry. Last November I harassed a Border's employee for 45 minutes to find a copy of the CDs on the day the novel was released. By the end, she started to feebly gesture at the stacks and stacks of hardcovers of the same book. I found the audio version myself, misfiled and tucked away. She didn't smile in triumph as I left, rather in relief.

My folks like books on tape too. When they made their flee from Chicago, my mother discovered that her new car didn't have a tape player and that she had bought cassettes. They stopped in Gary at a Radio Shack to buy one of those old-fashioned flat cassette players and a car adaptor. How desperate were they to leave Chicago? She drives around in a BMW with a $12 tape player lying on the front seat.

Last summer, when we went to the beach (she and Dad in one car, Honey and I in the other), she kept the tapes of "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" (oh damn) while Honey and I were given the bloody thriller to listen to. Honey thought the bloody thriller stupid, but we'd have been dead in ditch having fallen asleep listening to some random BBC actor perform Decline and Fall. Did I mention that Mother had part 2 and not part 1? I'll take Caesar over Constantine EVERY TIME. And Rene Auberjonois performing an overblown thriller with lots of deaths over either.

That said, in my continuing obsession with tv, I want to give a shout out to ROME, the HBO series this fall. Loved it. I was sad when Caesar died, but as Dad pointed out, you get to 44 B.C. and March and all and what are you gonna do?

Ok, maybe bed now. Probably not, but I'll give it a shot.


My honey and I were watching a West Wing repeat this morning on Bravo. Actually I was, Honey moves around me while I watch. It helps me feel a little centered for the day if I sit on the edge of the bed after I shower and watch WW. Bravo's morning sponsor is eHarmony. I am strangely drawn to and repulsed by the eHarmony ads. My inner Sandra likes the mini-romance stories. My inner non-Sandra hates the pablumy founder, the anti-queer stance of the company, and the use of bad pop music.

Bravo, like any other media outlet move seamlessly from a homophobic company's advertisements to ads for Queer Eye. Oh well.

So this morning's ad is my favorite. The couple talk over each other at first and then she stops to let him finish. The expression on her face shows such loathing and resentment, that her tension and unhappiness are palpable. They show a few more shots of them saying the right things and then hugging, but my read of her was so strong, that I asked Honey to watch. She agreed with me.

Our faces betray us, of course. Honey's lip trembles a little when she's excited (it's really cute). I flush red in the face when I'm angry or agitated. (It actually isn't just my face, my whole body goes sort of pink). I'm inclined toward playing cards, but can never really do so for money, since my body and face betray me.

Last night and today I have been very tense about a phone call I needed to make. I've made it, but now I'm waiting for the call back, which isn't any less nerve-wracking. I know that my mood is out there for all to see. I snapped at Assistant Director. Every encounter that doesn't end in my losing my temper seems like a small triumph.

Right now, I've shut my door so that no one can see my face. It's easier that way.

I asked Sandra to draw me a spork with a face for this blog. Friendly, I said, but with an edge. That's about what I can do today. Friendly with an edge.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Despite my relatively grandiose status in the world of academe--I am the Interim Director of something or another--I do not have a permanent job. My honey thinks this is funny, because I have worked at the same IHE since 1998, and no one seems inclined to fire me. But, I do not have the blessed "tenure-track" job and essentially serve in my current position "at the will of the Dean."

The Dean is a good woman, whom I like, trust, and respect. (A rare combo, indeed). She's trying to get me my current job permanently. Yesterday we were talking about some of the details and she said, "just don't screw up." I resisted the temptation go drop my head into my hands and list all of the things I thought I had screwed up in the last week or so.

The "something or another" program is an interdisciplinary one. Our students take classes across campus from many different departments and programs. For the past two days, one of those programs, run by a new coordinator who trembles more than I'd like her to, has become a royal pain in my interim director butt. The imminently sensible Assistant Director of something or another suggested I talk to the Associate Dean. When she suggested that course of action, the Dean's face and words came flying back into my head.

University faculty are an odd bunch. They're smart, to be sure. But often that intelligence gets them in a corner of their own thinking from which they cannot emerge. I like smart, I appreciate it when it's used right. I also like the people who like being at our IHE and don't long to be at UCLA or Berkeley or Stanford or Harvard. Damn, did I just give away that I don't work at any of those places?

I'm going to have to spend the next few months waiting for the search for my job to be over. I'm going to try not to screw up, but if I focus on it too much, I probably will. Now, I have a phone call to make. Trembly coordinator is going to have to take care of her own business.