Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Another good thing/bad thing list?
Sure, why not.
1. The campus is pleasant but I don't know where anything is.
2. The admin staff knows much but seems reluctant to share what they know with me.
3. There was a lot of orientation. None of it orientated me toward where the printer is.
4. I have a new computer. It's not ready yet--still needs to be tagged as "property of."
5. We're starting the new MFA program. We're starting a new summer conference.
6. There's a union with many food choices including sushi. They take only dining cards.
7. The school is located right downtown and I can walk to other fooderies but I haven't gotten paid yet so I may as well be taking a dining card to the downtown restaurants since that would be as effective as my debit card.
8. I am on two committees. I am on two committees.
9. I teach in the late afternoon/evenings. I teach in the late afternoon/evenings.
10. I unpacked all my books, bought with my no money (read AmEx) two plants, and opened my two lovely windows. There's construction out those windows.
11. I taught my first class. I have two more to go and the first week is very hard for me. I hate the syllabus spiel.

In other, less binary news, I love my colleagues. They're pretty mellow, pretty funny and, in the advising center, I advised a student well with my advising coach looking on and I got all accolades. Was even called a whiz kid. I like positive reinforcement. A lot. The chair took some of my ideas to the Dean and he loved them. Yay. Now we're looking for a name for our new program to brand it a little. I'm sure it will be hokey but I love hokey as much as I like anything else (which includes not much so I shouldn't complain either way as to my likings).
In my first class, the laptop cord was broken, only I didn't know that so I kept trying to get my laptop to put up the cool stuff on the screen. I looked like an idiot. Today, I found out the cord was broken. I hope everyone who taught in that room looked like an idiot so I'm not alone in idiocy but this isn't that techy of a department.
The first week has already been brutal and I'm only at the halfway point. Advising, committees, 400 emails, and a general lack of knowing where anything is or how any thing works is draining. An example of the the how-anything-works-lack-of-knowledge: the rooms have codes. I arrive at my first class, and my first grad class ever, carrying 18 Writers Chronicles, two books, one laptop (unusefully), 18 syllabi, a camera and my purse. I arrive. The students are waiting outside. I'm told by the students that I'll need a code. A code? It's 4:30. The English Dept. office closes at 4:30. I run down three flights of stairs. The AA is still there. She looks surprised that I didn't know that I needed the code. She practically shakes her head in disapproval at me as she gives me the code. Perhaps there was yet another orientation I missed? The how-things-work-around-here one? You know, the truly useful one.
But, back to list of good and bad: most faculty offices are in the same building as the classrooms! But the classrooms have codes and I still need 3 more to remember.

If I recall, the first week is always beyond rough. I'm sincerely hoping that next week is less frantic with busywork and more thick with content.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I am proofreading my syllabi. I have been replaced by an alien. Or at least have enough bile-inducing memory of reading typos aloud to the class.
I'm getting a little nervous. The first day of class with no books, no assignments, no papers, just me and a now proofread syllabus drives me a bit mad. I'll bring in some exercise called make a poem from the syllabus. The students will find the word chicken therein. They should be able to do something with that.

I have time to proofread because Z is at school today. From 11:30 to 4:30. I can't quite stand it. I can stand it quite a bit. I just fear I've just dipped her in a vat of germs and 3 to 5 incubation days from now, she'll come down with the dreaded cough. But, in more optimistic and productive news, I've called the city to have them come remove the old stove, talked happily with Deon, the plumber who has installed the new gas line and put the gas line into the new stove (they call them ranges. I don't like it. I love the word stove), and have helped him lift the stove (see, sounds heavier, no?), and sympathized when he realized he had to move the whole down-draft blower mechanism. I drove to campus, going turny-turny (Z thinks I drive too turny-turny and that's what makes her car sick. Today, I didn't have to avoid turning) the whole way there and turned back toward her school to spy on her class if they were outside (which they were not), and found a good carne asada taco down the street. I also just stopped in at the "Farmer's Market" store which is kind of a Mexican green grocer with all kinds of peppers and bulk items. I bought Z gummy bears and Egg cinnamon bears and for me I bought pablanos and Anaheim chiles. They call Anaheims New Mexico Chiles here and they'll roast them for you. A case is $25. If they scrape the skins off them, then I think Egg and I will be convinced it's a deal (an unroasted case cost $20). I also drove over to the Prairie Dog town where I ate my tacos. I heard the noisy dogs but saw nary a one. The wildflowers hide them well.
I still have an hour and a half before Z gets home and, did I mention I've already proofread my syllabi? Now what to do? Oh, the expansiveness of time. I may have to proofread one of my mantel-piece manuscripts (my friend Steve calls his manuscripts mantel pieces in that they, like so many ancestoral portraits, can be placed on the mantel to gaze at adoringly. They're easier to dust than frames).
Orientation tomorrow. All day. I already figured out how to use their HR Portal, what benefits I want, how to enroll in said benefits and how to check my email. What else will I need to know?
Perhaps I'll bring my computer and continue my proofreading extravaganza.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Am So Dedicated

I have just spent 30 minutes searching for and adding wingdings to my syllabus.

My students, and their aesthetic pleasure, come first.

In the end, actually, I ended up using the tilda. Boring. Perhaps I can make it up to them by finding a stimulating font. And alternating between italics and boldface letters. Oh, how they will pay attention to the details thanks to these machinations. Late papers. What are they? Not accepted! (ha.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stress and Distress

I knew the trip to GR would be exhausting. It's a crazy long flight from here. SW to NE via the south. It was great to see a few people. I made two new friends of the guy who now has my job and his partner. I ran by my old house and through the college. I sat outside in the near-perfect temperatures. The air was thick with oxygen and water and bird noises and city sounds. I stayed out until too late with my old students, whom I love. I went to a lovely wedding and made better friends with friends I'd left behind. But. Friday was a loss from the too-much-with-students night. I slept in until 10 almost every day. So whatever hopes of this becoming a writing retreat quickly fled from me.
And flying is killing me. It's the rush to get there and the attempt to rush the plane to make your connection and the freak out if I should have carried on my luggage and the fear of making your almost-brand-new friends wait for you at the airport. And the turbulence and near-death experiences.
I hurt my neck again too. Like the last time I traveled frantically, I think it was to Chicago, I hurt my shoulder carrying too much stuff on it. It's been 5 days now and I can barely move my neck. I'm supposed to be having last fun of the summer with Z but mostly I just say ow. Ow.

But the truest ow is that Little Hands and son are sick. He's been in the hospital for at least three nights now. I'm pretty sure the Hotel California means the Children's Hospital. I'm worried and sad for them. I had bad dreams last night remembering Z's incarceration. I would feel better about things if the doctors ever knew what was going on but with viruses, they seem completely idiotic. IV fluids and a lot of hemming and hawing. You can hem and haw. I'm going home to quarantine myself, I want to say.

I wish I could do more but I can't even offer the IV fluids.

Oh, and school starts. Soon. And my syllabi ? They're MIA. Poor syllabi, lost in the forest of my computer. Perhaps they'll find their way into shape and home soon.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


If eating locally means not having to drive to the store and eating what's in the fridge, then I've been a champion since moving here. The store is 10 minutes away. This is insane. I used to live two blocks from Smiths, or half a mile from Nature's or a mile from the D&W. I could walk or ride. Not that I always did. But I did once and awhile. And I could drive in like 2-5 minutes. This 10 minute thing might be good for me though. I've been planning meals, stocking way up at the farmer's market, and shopping more thoroughly at the Safeway.
So yesterday, I looked in the fridge and saw that I had whole milk ricotta, a bag of basil, and a bunch of tomatoes. And I'm leaving tomorrow for GR and these things will not be good when I get back (I can rely on Egg to eat the tomatoes but not to use the ricotta. Or probably the basil).
So I googled those ingredients and came up with a fettuccine and fresh tomato dish. But then I saw the fettuccine was supposed to be fresh too. Instead of bailing to the store or making it with regular spaghetti, I remembered I had a pasta maker.
It took an hour but Egg and Z helped pull the sheets and hold the machine down as I cranked the handle. Z had her noodles with peas and butter. We had our ricotta. Z's was better but in both dishes, the pasta was great.
Fun fun fun. I love being hobbled by my hatred of driving to the store!

Friday, August 01, 2008


The internet was down at the house from 4 p.m. until 10 a.m. The next morning. I literally started twitching. I suggested going out to dinner not because we had no food in the house or because I didn't want to cook but because I held some hope there would be internet available at the restaurant. I drank my glass of wine at the pizza place a little too quickly to try to cover the withdrawals.
When Middlebrow was here, we talked about how we'd been trying to be on the internet less. While he said he actually was putting pen to paper, I just nodded and applauded myself for not taking the computer on my walks with the dog. I've cut down my usage by about 1%. Usually that 1% is dedicated to playing puzzles with Z.
I think it was the not knowing when Qwest would fix the phone line that drove me the most crazy because it's not like I missed that much. No, even when I'm online, I'm like, where is that thing that used to make me spend so much time looking for it? And then I spend so much time looking for it, which is the thing I think I used to do that seemed so interesting but was probably not that.
We're having more guests this weekend. Perhaps I'll knock off the habit a bit.