Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Because I Needed Something Else to Worry About

...someone decided it would be a great idea to create a counterfeit version of my debit card and rack up charges at gas stations across Jacksonville, FL. $100 has already been swept away, and more charges are pending.

Who fucking does this shit to broke-ass graduate students?? Seriously, we've got bills to pay, and they cannot be paid if money has been stolen from our bank account. This is soooooo the last fucking thing I needed to have happen this week (or anytime, for that matter)!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fun with Student Writing

One of many favorites from my students' annotated bibliographies:

"Whenever writing about a subject, themes are so important to have.Cummings uses many themesin his poems that all have major impacts in the world."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Grading, Job Market, Service, Oh My!

While I can think of several things that I'd like to turn into posts, it's unlikely this will happen anytime soon. Why? Just take a gander at my schedule for the next couple of weeks:

- I still have a stack of about 10 annotated bibliographies to grade by 2:00 tomorrow. Then, my students submit rough drafts of their next essay on Monday, which I have to turn around by next Friday.

- Though most of my job application packets have gone out, there are a few that can't be sent until I finish revising my writing sample, which hasn't been touched this week. The writing sample doesn't need global revisions, but the transitions have been described as "kerplunk," and it currently has "too many personalities."

- I'm in charge of a one-day symposium next week that has 2 keynote speakers coming in, one of whom will arrive early to offer a publishing workshop for graduate students. This whole thing requires much picking up, driving around, escorting, and dining out at fancy restaurants. I'm happy to do it generally, as I very much like the keynote speaker I'm spending the most time with, and it's always nice to participate in swanky dinners on a dime that isn't my own. But, it also means that I'll be relatively absent from my family at the end of next week. This isn't a problem when I'm really gone, like in another city/state/country, but I imagine it will be tricky when my kids see me coming and going, stopping only briefly to chat, give hugs and kisses, and then hurry off for another engagement.

- Oh yeah, Eliza is turning two in one week! My mom gets into town tomorrow, so I'm hoping she can help with the kids while I bake and decorate cupcakes, pick up balloons, Halloween the house, and try to find enough chairs for everyone to have a place to sit outside during the party on Saturday.

- And let's not forget the usual pregnancy-related doctor's visits, which have never lasted less than an hour and a half!

I know this is all stuff that I signed up for, so please don't think I'm being whiny. I'm just saying....Lord please help me make it through the next two weeks!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Blame it on the Flu Shot

I got a flu shot yesterday, and today I've felt like nothing more than roadkill. I'm tired (more than the usual pregnancy tired), my body aches, and the day is far from over. Hubby teaches an evening class tonight, so I've got the girls on my own this evening. Before that mayhem begins, though, I should really use the next couple hours to work on revising my writing sample. Why am I not more motivated to do so?

Blehh...stupid flu shot!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Talk; or, A 9-yr Old Girl Giggles at Sex

During a conversation with my friend Sarah yesterday, we were talking about the difficulties we face in raising daughters in a culture that simultaneously sexualizes young girls, yet chastizes them for engaging in sexual behavior. One of the main threads of our discussion was The Talk: when to have it, what should be included, etc. Long story short, my friend suggested that my oldest daughter already knows what sex is. Well, there's only one way to find out right?

While casually watching some TV, I turned to Hannah and asked, point-blank, "Do you know what sex is?" I assured her she wouldn't be in any trouble for knowing (or not knowing) and that I just wanted her to be honest so we could have a talk about whether her knowledge was accurate. It turns out, she didn't know. At first, she said she thought it was when two people "kiss a lot." Then, after a few minutes, she said, "Well, now that I've thought about it....I kinda think it might be when two people take their clothes off and kiss a lot." Oh, if it were only that simple!! Just as I'd hoped, this inevitably led her to ask what sex is, only after asking that we come up with a "code word" for it because the word "sex" made her uncomfortable.

The code word? Ice cream. I talked to my daughter about how people have "ice cream." Whatever...it works for us.

My response was simple: Having "ice cream" is when a man puts his penis into a woman's vagina."

She was both entirely grossed out and amused! She giggled her head off while also giving me a look of disgust, seemingly wondering why anyone would even think to do such a thing. Surprisingly, she didn't have too many questions about the actual practice of sex, but rather her questions turned to issues of spreading diseases and condoms. This is likely due to her watching an episode of Private Practice last week, in which a teenage boy who is infected with HIV tells his doctor of his plans to have sex with his girlfriend. Hannah had some questions as she watched the show, and I answered them, but last night she was trying to connect the idea of spreading HIV with her new understanding of what sex is. Thus ensued many questions about condoms: who wears them, who doesn't wear them, why do people wear them.

I don't even know if I have a point to this post except to say that I'm surprised by her questions. My explanation of the practice of sex seemed like it went over in a way that was easy for her to understand, which is a good thing. She didn't want to hear all the particulars, and we didn't get into a discussion about oral sex, which I don't think she's ready for right now anyway. Frankly, I'm not yet ready for that one. But, I'm very glad to hear her asking questions about the consequences of sex, specifically pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. I also think our somewhat odd discussion indicated the benefits that can come from impromptu Q&A sessions, rather than One Great Long Talk that includes diagrams and books and an official video. I want our conversations to be ongoing and questions to be asked anytime by anyone. I think that the kind of off-the-cuff chat Hannah and I had last night takes some of the pressure off of both parties (parent and child) and leaves the discussion open-ended and informal; it loses what I see as an unecessary element of mystery.

So, yeah. My 9-yr old daughter know what sex is, and I'm happy with that.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Advice From My Mother

As luck would have it, there's a job opening for a generalist at a small-ish teaching school with a 4/4 load, in a city and state where hubby and I would very much like to live. It's only 4 hours away from my parents, and only 2 hours away from Hannah's biological father and his family. It looks to be the kind of school that would be a great place to start out, and the department (in my field) doesn't currently have anyone who specializes in my area. To make things even better, yesterday, we found out the school is also hiring in my husband's field!

When I called my mom to share the good news with her, this is the advice she offered:

"You should fly there and start meeting people in the department!"

Normally, my mother "gets" the academic job market. Not this time. I politely explained this would be the academic equivalent of Fatal Attraction. She gets it now.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

An Up-Front Kinda Writer

I've decided, or rather I've known for some time now, that I'm a big fan of getting to the point in my writing. One of the consequences of this is my tendency to say things, quite simply, in terms of the question I'm answering. For example, if I must (and I must) always ask myself "What is at stake in my project?" then I see nothing wrong with writing, "At stake in this paper is x, y, and z." To me, this seems clear and concise. So why does it feel amatuerish when I actually type these words?

What say you? Are you a fan of a writer telling you exactly what the argument will be? What the "so what" factors are? If not a fan, why?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Speaking of Students

Mine will be getting an early Halloween treat today. I've purchased 4 tons of Halloween candy this morning, which I'll use to thank them for their wonderful class discussion and participation on Monday. On Friday, I'd reminded them that class participation counts for 15% of their grade, and only a few of them had an A at this point. This was a timely reminder, as my teaching was being observed on Monday by the director of the writing program in my department, who will be writing my "teaching" letter of recommendation for the job market. I wanted to make sure my kids brought their A-game, so I gave them the instructions to read the text (1st act of ) as if they'd have to teach it themselves. I think they expected a quiz, but I just wanted to make sure they started bringing up their level of class participation.

The reminder worked, and the class was AMAZING! Great discussion, debate, questions, etc. All I had to do was sit back and direct traffic. When I met with the director after class, she said she'd never seen participation at that level, as average participation is 80%. My class? All but one student contributed to the discussion!! So, they did themselves a great service and, in turn, helped me out as well. Candy for all!

Best Student One-Liners

After my friend Sarah pointed out the great humor in the first line of one of my student's essays, I decided it must be shared with the world:

"In O'Connor's 'A Good Man is Hard to Find', O'Connor's characters represent a wide variety of different things."

Aren't you glad he had something clear and concise to say?