Good things recently.

[If you aren’t into the whole “glass half-full” thing, you might want to leave now.]image

 1. Being sick: You may be thinking “But illness is generally a bad thing….,” to which I say,  yes, it does suck. Especially when your ears are completely stuffed up and you have a Latin final during a time when you wish you could be at home watching re-runs and trying not to get sucked into the abyss of a head cold. But, what does not suck is when you start feeling better, and every day you wake up you feel progressively more like a human being again. Ah, to be able to appreciate the everyday normal workings of one’s sinuses. Plus, whenever I start getting down about my allergies (which are at their best right now, as I live in the capital of tall-growing sneezy grasses) I remember that they aren’t as bad as the recent evil cold.

image Ok, so I don’t have a window, but still…

2. New Job! So, as of this week, teaching English 99 will soon be over. Classes themselves are officially over. No more lectures about topic sentences and thesis statements, no more fervent 1a.m. grading sessions. I’m a bit sad not to be teaching at SSU anymore, but I was also getting a bit weary of it all. But, I will not be unemployed in the Fall – you’re looking at (well, reading at) SSU’s newly-appointed WEPT person. Which means an office upgrade; I get my very own little office (with a door and everything!) in a corner of SSU’s administrative building with which to do lovely WEPT-related tasks. I can only thank God (or the patron saint of employment, whatever) for giving me a reason to be away from home and to have a space of my own (well, for a time anyway) at school where I may escape into the small, bureaucratic world of filing, phone answering, and email replying. 

3. Finishing Latin: One whole year, down! Now to decide if I want to submit myself to the slightly-masochistic realm of language one again. I’m also considering French…whenever I look into Ph.D programs the language requirement makes me feel rather inadequate as an intellectual. I’ll work on it.

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4. Europe Trip: Less than 2 weeks away! Am I freaking out a little? Yep. Am I still in disbelief that I’m going, and that I actually have the money to pay for it myself? Indeed. Very, very excited.

5. Gluten-Free Cinnamon-Sugar Donuts: Enough said.

Overall, general bounciness. I still have a pile of work to do before the semester ends, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. A super-shiny-travelly-light.

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Procrastination – from the Latin “cras,” meaning “tomorrow,” and the prefix “pro,” meaning to put forth. Literally meaning to put something forward to tomorrow. (cited from the dictionary of me being bored in Latin class)

Yesterday, I graded 17 papers. Tonight, I will have graded 17 papers. Somehow that equals me being sick of the (poorly) written word.

Today, a guy in my Latin class (a classicist, and therefore an English/history major hybrid, with a bit more pretention added in) saw my stack of said yet-to-be-graded papers and remarked that he couldn’t wait to be a teacher, so he could have “that sense of authority.”

Chuckle.

I replied with the notion that the more time one spends grading, the less one feels authoritative, and instead mentally abraded.

He then said that I must really “bring the smack down” to seem more authoritative (and perhaps badass?) in my classroom, because I’m normally so nice (and blonde? in the sense of hair-color, not intelligence) and not angry-professor like. At that point the conversation shifted, but I smiled to myself knowing that classroom authority is a complex animal, and that at the end of the day, knowledge is authority.

It’s a thrill really, sitting in a classroom, as either teacher or student, realizing that you actually know something about what’s being talked about, and maybe knowing more than is even being discussed. When a professor mentions some specific moment in a text not being read in the class and you actually know what they mean, it feels like all that learning is starting to pay off (well, not literally – wouldn’t that be nice if it did).

As a slightly-weathered grad student I say that you should not feel pretentious or rude for giving evidence of your knowledge, or showing that you truly know something – such moments are much less common than the ones that make you feel like an undergrad wearing pajamas to a black-tie affair. Don’t be the know-it-all (there’s one in every class, you know who you are) but if you really do know a little, I say own it. Maybe you’ll get a little authority out of it, or at least some respect.

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ZOMG: How awesome is it that this shirt exists in the world? Albeit the fact that it’s slightly dorky…

And if you were thinking that you would like to express your constant  state of mental-overload-by-grading without sacrificing your fashion sense?

warning_driver_grading_papers_bumper_sticker-p128875244845743505tmn6_210

Problem solved.

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.

Oh blog, I have long neglected thy pages!

Do you ever have those moments when you really feel like writing, but there is so much going on in your life, and your head, that you can’t seem to even start? Thus is my life.thesis

But, thus will not be my life in a week or so, when I am done with my first year of grad school, and can retire to a summer of brainless loafing. Bear in mind, however, that my definition of ‘brainless’ involves reading and doing prep work for my thesis next year.

Add in the fact that my little, serene house is soon to be invaded by the men in my life, and will be rather crowded for the summer, at least. But, while my dad is up here taking up MY space, I may just have to flee south to his empty Irvine apt, to sit on the nice warm beach for awhile. We’ll see.

But good news! Picture me on Monday, quite exhausted from having writer’s block (or writer’s laziness, who am I kidding) till about 1am when I proceeded to write my recent article report for class, and stayed up till 4am doing so. (Why oh why do I get a second wind at about 12:45am? It freaks with my sleep schedule.)  Sitting on my bed, dripping coffee into my veins, and checking my email to find that SSU had finally made a decision about the teachers for next year. And I am happy to report that next Fall I will be joining the ranks of the ever-exhausted and underpaid grad student  who teach freshman comp, otherwise known as English 99!

Get me with my very own little group of resistant students and (shared) office hours. Am I excited? Does a bear…oh you know the rest.

Perhaps the best thing about this news is that I’m going to get the chance to see what I want to do with my life, to see if teaching is really going to be my future. Hopefully I will not be discovering this during the 8am class – I will be flitting between grogginess and caffeine highs, not so good.  Recently all my efforts to find a summer job have come to no success, and I was beginning to think that I was un-hirable. The crazy thing is that I could always find a simple job before, so maybe the economy is really that bad, or maybe the job market is being flooded. OR maybe no one wants to hire grad students? I rationalize that they just don’t want to be around someone smarter than them all the time (let me cling to my last shred…). But, thank God, apparently I’m not like the employee plague –someone wants me!

And really, I need the summer to decompress, because right now, my brain is being squeezed through the academic equivalent of a sieve.  So what’s left to do…finish my article on the history of medieval writing instruction (20 pages), write my last paper for the publishing and  politics class (6 pages), and write my paper for the English garden class (a very painful 15-20 pages). If in two weeks my next post is incoherent and full of stupid grammar mistakes, take pity on me. I gave at the grad school office.

But oh, the weather is calling me outside. The rain and fog has finally gone away, and the sun is predicting at 73 degree day. Now why do I have to go to class in a room with no windows? 

proc

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?