My desk is in a state. A state of not having a proper place to live. A state of being halfway through an attempt to create a “concise” scrapbook of my Europe trip while also being overwhelmed with obligatory reading.

This is my stack. DSCN6675

Hmmm…

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Oh dear. You will see how I try to comfort myself by placing certain fun little chotchkies around the desk, such as my friend the black sheep, perching upon my beloved Terry Eagleton and pile of Latin books. (And I also disagree with you , Urban Dictionary, who claim that chotchkies are “A small piece of worthless crap, a decorative knick knack with little or no purpose.” They clearly have a purpose, duh.)

Perhaps, “as they say,” clutter breeds productivity? But, how excited am I to have several books based on medieval monster theory on my desk?

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Rawr.

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Seeing as this blog is called “the art of book collecting,” I thought that it was about time I posted something that was actually book-related. I’m going to try to do this once-a-week or so; consider it my nerdy version of The Soup. (Which means I get to pretend to be the sarcastic wittiness that is Joel McHale, only without the skinny tie…and random people yelling in the background. Unless you’d like to yell a catch phrase or two? Heh?) So here we go…

This week’s randomly selected book-related thoughts (note to self: think up catchy title):

~Please do not all Dante by Dante Alighieri; the Alighieri refers to where he’s from, it’s not his name. (And, by the way DaVinci isn’t really Leonardo’s real last name either)

~ Dante’s Inferno is surprisingly different from what I expected; the poetry is almost soothing in meter, and much more Romantic than I would have thought, you know, since it’s set in Hell and all. And purgatory seems a little silly at times, downright funny at others (flatterers walking around in a river of crap, fortunetellers with their heads on backwards, suicides as trees being pecked by harpies – it reminds me of a Monty Python movie). Maybe  it’s because I’m not a religious person, but perhaps I’m diffusing the situation with humor because the whole concept of this type of belief-system hurts my brain, and tickles it at the same time. The thought of every great lover from literature and every person who existed before the invention of Christianity stuck in Hell just seems wrong. And I’m sorry, but the woman who told her lover that he was “extremely pleasing” does not deserve to be in one of the lowest circles of hell along with tyrants and dictators. All for a little while lie?

~ If you took Dante to the DMV, what would happen….?

~ Medieval Italian is very similar to Latin. Just in case you were wondering.

~ Sorry creators of The Office, but Dante beat you to the punch: there’s a Michael Scot in Inferno. (which is sort of fitting…)

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~ Kids, when y0u’re sitting in English class hating life because you’re in the middle of a Grammar lesson, just remember that your teacher is probably just as miserable. But wait, you say, I thought English teachers lived for that shit? Turns out that not only do teachers hate teaching things their students check out on, grammar is as hard to effectively teach as it is to learn. (I’m speaking from both ends here people.)

~ My boyfriend, who avoids books as fervently as I read them, is finally waist-deep in a book….wait for it….he bought for fun. And it is a real-deal paperback that you can a. not buy at the grocery store b. has nothing to do with football and c. is critically acclaimed non-fiction. So apparently you can change a man, if you date him for 7 years and surround him with hundreds of the items you want him to be interested in.

~ I now have a ridiculously extravagant number of books on my nightstand, because I couldn’t resist stocking up on “fun-reading” despite the fact that I’m trying to read 10+ books for my grad-school oral exam while teaching and TAing at the same time. Just because I don’t have time to read them doesn’t mean they can’t live in my house, right?

Right?

I need to go read.

[Fashion Binge.]

The worst part about having a shopping addiction problem is when the items you want have a legitimate place in your wardrobe.

A couple weeks ago the boyfriend and I went out to a lovely Italian restaurant in SF (the Magic Flute, which was supremely awesome, I do recommend it) and I was faced with the fact that my “going” out wardrobe needs updating, or expanding. I’ve been so busy with my work-looks (i.e. looking just-so while hopefully expanding the minds of college freshmen) that I forgot all about the equally important night-look! Granted, I usually spend Saturday nights watching Criminal Minds and eating soy ice-cream due to the “convenient” schedule of said boyfriend, who works as a residential youth counselor, but still! Add to that the fact that I recently dropped several dress-sizes, which means that basically most of my clothes are a bit bigger on me, which for going-out is not so good.

A girl needs options!

But when such options are not used every day, there’s no point in over-spending, and I if anything a smart shopper (except I will never embrace my mother’s adage that you can save 100% off an item if you don’t buy it at all – no fun). I was quite happy to snag a deal on this shirt, with silver-white beading instead of grey. Just loose enough to balance a super-tightly dressed lower half. ($19.99 marked down from $88 – it’s like a drug!) Quotation: Matty M Jersey Tank with Beaded Neckline

(Maybe you see where I’m going…) This isn’t the exact skirt, but similar…and so cute! It actually unzips though, which means I have to wear the zipper on the front, otherwise bad things could…happen.

Jack BB Dakota-The Shanae Skirt in Black

I also tried on  several spectacular-looking shoes, but ultimately chickened out – you see, I’ve had mixed opinions about the “latest” shoes, the ones that are sky high with hidden platforms and insane strappiness. You’ve seen the like, I’m sure. (Still can’t get on board with the whole “caged-in” look)GraysonThey just seem impractical, and too extreme. But things are changing, and now I am in need. Maybe Lady Gaga is sneaking in somewhere. Tried on a pair of black-patent Nine West (not expensive, a plus) sandals with a platform and what must be 5 inch heels, at least, and I was surprised at how comfortable they were, due to the platform, I’m sure.

Nine West Women's Elkie Platform Sandal

But these seem a bit better to me, more wearable (though the pair I tried on had a different ankle strap, this one seems less flattering). The only problem with heels this high, even though they’e do-able (ha, ha ha) you have to walk different, and I’m a fast-walker by nature, not used to being slowed down by anything over 4 inches. Nine West Hambert

So I think I might be able to rock this pair in “real life” more easily – plus, they’re blue! I don’t have any blue shoes…..yet……

But then again, don’t these look practical to you? Basic black, un-adorned, simple? Perfect for any occasion and season? Yes? Really?

(Did I mention they were Prada? Does that change your answer?)

Now let me ask you, is is wrong to spend an entire month of graduate student-teacher’s salary on a pair of Prada platform crisscross sandals that may or may not be in next season?

[Yes. Dammit.]

I’m putting the word out there, fashion gods. Send me the perfect pair of platform sandals – oh, and if they could be on sale and versatile, that would be great.

Because sometimes a grad student needs to put down the books, and go out. In the perfect pair of shoes. How else can we change the image of people who read too many books?

 

I feel like it’s been a very long time since I’ve written here, and guess what; it has been quite a bit.

I don’t know if I have ever felt, or been, for that matter, so busy in my life. I am seriously missing last year, formerly known as year one of grad school, where I had blissful days without school during the week. But this year, it’s Monday to Thursday with no gaps. Every moment I am either scheduled to be in a classroom somewhere, or I’m home, where I should be doing something related to said classroom. Basically, by the time the weekend is gone and Monday rolls around, the week is already flying away.

I can’t decide what the proverbial straw is exactly, but I do know that I am one seriously burn-out grad student (and not in the fun way). Maybe it’s the teaching, and having to think up things to fill 4 hours a week with that will magically improve my student’s writing. Maybe it’s the 4 classes, and all the studying that Latin in particular requires. Maybe it’s the 4am nights I keep pulling on myself.

On the bright side, I’ve given up some things (partially induced by my mom’s diagnosis of Celiac’s disease or gluten-freeness, partially by the annoyance of pinchy clothes) and the bit of weight that I have wanted to lose for years has finally started to flutter away…

But I’m still 85% overwhelmed most of the time.

The thoughts I had of applying to ph.D programs have been shelved, temporarily or not, due to the fact that the 6 years I’ve already (consecutively) spend in college is getting a little too much.

I need a break. A vacation. A new view.

A part of me also really wants to get out there (wherever there is, exactly) and get a job. The other part of me, however, is spooked by the lame California economy and the fact that I will have to start paying off the multiplicity of student loans I have thus far collected. Kind of makes you want to stay in college forever, doesn’t it….

But don’t get me wrong, it’s not books or reading I’m mad at.

Homework and essay-writing on the other hand, is not my best friend right now.

Why can’t I just pack up a little bag, hang it on a stick, and run away down the street?

The problem is, the adult in me knows exactly why I can’t.

Stink.

Ok, I’m done whining now. 😀

Tune in next time in a few months, when I’ll be whining about a new topic: My thesis!!

Oh, Sunday, what shall I do with you.

A better question might be ‘what am I supposed to be doing,’ but alas, this question is no fun.

I SHOULD be …. reading the composition theory article I have to write a response paper on and present to the class, working on my application to teach English 99 in the fall, reading Horace Walpole and his theories on gardening (yawn), doing the massive collection of dishes in the sink (oh dear), reading a biography of Ralph Ellison, and being productive in general. Sigh.

Instead, I am … on the couch, in my pajamas, drinking coffee, watching the Cosby show, and typing this.

I blame the wind, the crazy creepy making-noise-blowing-over-the-hills wind. Did you ever hear of the Irish Banshee? She’s this creepy old hag of a ghost who makes the same noise as creepy wind. Oh, and she takes the souls of young women. Anyway, this morning I was up at about 10am, when I learned that the power was out. And seeing that I live in the country, and my water comes from a well with an electric pump, when the power goes out there is no water. Also no tv, no internet, no coffee, no fun. Thus I made the executive decision to go back to sleep. Being without clocks, I woke up three hours later.

And now, it is almost 3pm, and it feels like morning.

Thankfully, since the time change and the coming of spring, there is now more daylight, and thus more time to procrastinate without feeling like a slump.

So I may have finally made some kind of decision in regards to the next few years of my life. 

I was reading some paper comments from one of my grad professors and he observed that it seemed like I was pursuing my passions by being in school. And I though, Wow, I guess I never quite thought about it that way. Over the years I’ve been through my share of different career aspirations, architect, politician, editor, and I finally chose English because it was really what I cared about – and was good at.

So I asked myself,  if I could do anything that would just be for me with my life, what would it be? And the quickest answer I could reach was to keep going to grad school after my Masters to get my Ph.D. Now I know how incredibly hard it will all be, and all the extra work I’m going to have to do, but it’s work that I believe I can do. Pursuing a career in publishing, however, is work that I am mostly unfamiliar with, and with this economy I could end up with a MA working some menial little job. If I find a job at all. 

But then, another voice says maybe I won’t like teaching –fortunately I have next year to figure this out.

The funny thing is, with thinking about all the things I will have to do to be accepted into another school, it is somehow comforting because I can make a list – it’s less unknown. And the list is looong. Retaking the GREs (because, lets be honest, they were not good), rewriting all my statements, getting new letters of recommendation, picking a really good writing sample. Finding many more schools to apply to – last year I only applied to places in California, which was limiting, and I really don’t want to have to leave the state, but I need to think about my options. And of course, it all rides on the money. I’m not goint to take on three more years of debt, ending up with almost -$100,000 when you’re trying to be a professor is not so good. At all. So in this perpetually icky economy, I’m going to have to find someone to finance me. Or give me a TA position that will pay the bills.

And if, in the end, I don’t get in anywhere, at least I will know that I tried my best and that I’m supposed to do something else.

Oddly enough, while I was coming to all these revelations, Michael already knew that I was going to make this decision; he felt that if I didn’t go all the way I would regret it and end up doing it anyway. So maybe I’m more transparent than I thought. Or maybe it’s just very evident that I love what I do. Because at the end of the day, I do.

milkshaketh Though reading over 40 pages of Oliver Goldsmith and John Clare last night was not so fun actually. Clare’s poem is written in an odd form of English where it seems like he’s really misspelling half of the words, but he isn’t. Think wanna-be Middle English.

It’s funny, yesterday in my teaching comp seminar we were talking about the difference between ‘free’ writing and academic writing, and as other students were talking about how academic work can be stuffy and annoying to write, I was thinking that I actually like it. Even though I may not understand half of the theory I read, I still like it. Literary masochism, maybe?

And can I just say, reading theory about teaching is a weird experience. While you can’t read literary theory and tell someone to stop speculating and go out and put it in practice, with teaching you can. Just stop talking about voice and go teach a class. Because as far as teaching writing goes, we really don’t much.

But I guess being able to say that you are anti-Elbonian in your teaching style make one sound smart, no?

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Today’s book: Confessions of a Shopaholic, Sophie Kinsela

Now, as an English grad student in general, I try and weed out the more ‘fashionable’ i.e. less ‘literary’ books while I’m at the bookstore. That being said,  can’t help but sometimes go for the trendy – the shiny covers are just so inviting.

Last night I started reading Confessions of a Shopaholic, and it really is the paper equivalent of a blueberry muffin. Delicious, sugary, and full of fat, but somehow you can still convince yourself that it’s healthy in some way because it’s not a cupcake. However one can’t help but fall in love with protagonist Becky whose shortcomings translate into actual debt. And I understand her shopping addictions; when all you can think of is how you need to not spend money and cut back on everything buying yourself a little reward is a small consolation. The difference between me and her is that she buys a 200 scarf, and I buy a sweater from the Gap, on sale. And who doesn’t think, in the back of their mind, that they could someday win the lottery and pay it all off?

And I also wonder what exactly is going on in the publishing world but suddenly there is an explosion of books with women in period costume on the cover. Queen Elizabeth, Marie Antoinette, and everyone associated with the Tudors or Henry VIII is apparently in vogue.  The books themselves may not have much in common, but they are all working a look, and for some reason including an actual woman’s entire face just ruins it for them.

           

If you’re going to pick one, I’d recommend Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser. She’s an amazing writer who makes history seem like juicy fiction.