Monday, February 15, 2010

My Day As A Victorian British Man (In honor of a day of leisure)

I woke up somewhat earlier than I am accustomed, and immediately put on my slippers and went to the lounge to read a little Aristotle. Thus I spent the morning, aside from a brief jaunt down to the gymnasium for my customary calisthenics. At noon, Miss Tamarin Hooper and Miss Erin Kulesus called, spending half and hour to discuss theological matters. Then, after a spot of dinner, I applied myself to my manuscript, appealing somewhat more to my readers. This occupied me for the great part of the afternoon, until my head throbbed with mental excursion. Since the weather has been so typically Londonian, I figured that I could take an early evening constitutional through the precinct without damaging my tender throat, which has been sore of late. So, tying my scarf in the fashionable manner and donning my hat, I enjoyed a stroll past the local townhouses and homes. Being much refreshed, I returned, enjoyed a spot of soup and reapplied myself again to my labors until the Monday night social hour at the home of Mr. James Reed. A good time was had by all. Then a bit more of Aristotle and then to retire early.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

They Don't Really Make a Card For This Sort of Thing

When I heard that Mike Leff was in the hospital for advanced cancer, I knew I wanted to get him a card. After all, he was the nice, Hawaiian t-shirted academic who had made me feel so at easy during my initiation into the world of rhetorical academia this summer at the RSA institute. I liked him a lot and wanted to let him know that I was thinking of him, so I went down to bookstore with all the cash in my wallet to look for a card for him.

Turns out all of the get-well cards assume two things: (1) You're not well because of either injury or virus and (2) you're going to get well. I didn't know that he was. Some of the cards were too flippant--hope this sexy nurse fixes you up, har, har--and others were too sentimental--a sleepy-looking puppy, I recall. It reminded me of an article I had just read in the New Yorker about what bad grievers we are in this society--extremely uncomfortable with the idea of death before it happens and somehow expected to get right over it once it comes to our loved ones. The card selection reflected this. Not that I'm looking for a wide selection of "I'm sorry you're dying" cards, but if we trust a card to express our tenderest feelings of love (and, with Valentine's coming up, there were plenty of those), couldn't someone make a sort of pre-sympathy card for those who know that they're on the way out? I even considered a "farewell" card briefly, but it seemed entirely too grim, especially because I wasn't sure of his prognosis. Besides, the farewell card was black.

Finally I settled on a some-what old-fashioned image of two bean-people that had the words "Bean thinking of you" written below. It seemed just weird enough to not be discouraging without being too cheeky, but, as it turned out, I was 18 cents of sales tax short, so I told myself I'd buy one after class.

Checking my email before class so that I could open up my students' reading quiz, I noticed Jack Selzer had sent a message informing us that Mike passed away suddenly. "Oh my gosh," I said out loud, and the students who were there early looked up, but didn't ask any questions. Still, I was staggered and was grateful to have the time it took for them to take a quiz so that I could regain my composure.

Sent a card today. Just a blank one with a landscape on the front. Turns out it's just condolences.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

What I Like About Me

My students are writing resumes and cover letters. I've just finished applying to my last PhD program. I think, all-in-all, this could be a pretty good time to get in some shameless self-esteem booting. I make my students finish this sentence: "I freakin' rock because..." They find it really hard. It is hard to toot your own horn. But here goes:

1. I have predictable favorite foods: popcorn, diet coke with lime, fresca, margarita pizza, gum, yogurt.

2. I make lists like this one. I make a lot of lists. I'm always trying to improve myself, define myself, relate myself to the world through lists.

3. I'm funny. Not just being "on" as a comedian, but in conversations, teaching, even academic writing. It just adds a little spice to things.

4. I like to try new things. I'm curious about stuff, so I go to lectures I don't have to go to, play new sports, buy new hair products.

5. I try. Typically, I'll apply for something, submit to something, and generally put myself out there. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, eh?

6. I've improved. Comparing the way I dress now to junior high, even high school, I have come a long, long way in the world of personal hygiene and aesthetics. When I was in elementary school, I wasn't much of an innocent, laughing at vulgar and, frankly, racist jokes that I would never tolerate now.

7. I don't tell people about everything I do. (I can't elaborate on this one, obviously.)

8. I sing in the shower. And the parking lot. And mowing the lawn. And if I think no one's around.

9. I'm creative. (I can't think of any other way to put it...ha!)

10. I'm a dang good public speaker. Of course, I can't take total credit for this, but I'm comfortable in front of crowds and I like working out a little speech or a talk or a lesson. Generally speaking, I can balance the time, include attention-grabbers and get to the heart of the matter.

That seems like enough for one ego-massaging post. Feels good, though. I highly recommend this practice to anyone on a Monday morning.