17 December 2009

From the Bottom of My....Er, Feet

And now, a timely message from my socks while I finish up my last term paper of the fall semester:

03 December 2009

Parenting Strategies in Elizabethan Drama and Its Sources

This was inspired by an email conversation among several colleagues about final paper topics for Shakespeare and His Contexts (the "feckless mice" course).

Parenting rule number one: Do not feed your children to your dinner guests
PR number two: Do not feed their children to your dinner guests
PR number three: Do not have sexual relations with any mysterious, beautiful stranger your child's age. It will turn out to be your child in disguise.
PR number four: Do not leave your children under a rock/on the top of a mountain. This will result in the ultimate violation of rules 1-3 in the distant future.
PR number five: Do not divide your kingdom among your descendants. Most of your children are greedy dirtbags. The only one who really loves you will end up dead if you do this.
PR number six: Do not lock your children up in towers. They didn't do it.
PR number seven: Conversely, do not allow your children to sneak out the bedroom window every night. They are up to no good with your sworn enemy.
PR number eight: Never, under any circumstances, brag that your children are better/prettier/stronger than (insert name of local deity here). It will just end badly.

In fact, perhaps it's just best to dispense with this "having children" nonsense altogether. It just leads to too much disruption of your tidy plans for world domination. Become a nun and lock yourself in a convent.

Oh wait. That leads to the same sorts of troubles, doesn't it. Maybe you should just bite off your own tongue and allow yourself to be tortured to death during a play for the royal palace to expose the murder of your sister.

19 October 2009

Schadenfreude, darling, Schadenfreude

Oh, no. No no no no no. They didn't.

Well, yes, actually. They did.

17 October 2009

When Bad Things Happen to Good Shakespeare Classes

Reason number one why Dr. Glenn should not refer to characters in a play as "feckless mice" in my presence? The following will immediately appear in my notes and set Mark, who sits next to me, laughing so uproariously he almost snorts a Ricola out his nose.

Really, Glenn? You didn't see this coming?

02 October 2009

A Brief Note of Explanation

I have not forgotten this blog exists. I am not dead. I am in grad school full time (again). I am still teaching two classes per semester. I have seven more pages on Schiller, Rousseau, and Chateaubriand to pound out before Monday.

I have a death wish, apparently.

If I can make it through the weekend, I'm due for a nice, long post. But how sad is it that my idea of weekend fun includes a movie about John Keats? And this paper's not even about that!

09 September 2009

Sometimes a Manual Transmission is Just a Manual Transmission

Today whilst at work I found out that apparently I've been driving around without car insurance for two weeks! Because my fucking insurance company canceled my policy. Ok, it's not their fault. I love my car insurance company, usually. But they didn't get my check. You know, the one I wrote and mailed the first week of August. Which is apparently on holiday in the Caribbean somewhere, because it sure as hell didn't get to Trenton.

Of course the first thing the insurance company says to me is, "In the meantime, don't drive the car." Oh sure, I'll just climb aboard my MAGIC CARPET and LEVITATE the fuck home. Seriously. I pointed out that I needed this fixed sort of now, because I don't even have an office to sleep in, I'd have to sleep in the hallway, which was pretty embarrassing, and anyway I had to go to Trenton (unlike my check) for a class in literary theory, and while I'm sure I'd be delighted to skip two and a half hours discussing Freud, College B would probably be less so. So they accepted a check by phone. Which should clear....tomorrow. So call us then, to see if you have an active insurance policy again and can drive your car.

Sure. In the meantime, I'll just be STUCK IN PENNSYLVANIA LIVING OUT OF MY CAR. Since that's apparently all it's good for right now. Other than being a relatively soundproof place for me to vent my frustrations safely at Very Catholic College A.

Short version of rest of evening, paid beaucoup bucks (again), emailed College B, drove car home VERY CAREFULLY, exchanged car for mom's car, drove to campus, parked IN CHICAGO because mom's car doesn't have a graduate parking permit and can't park anywhere useful, got to class as they were taking a fifteen minute break.

I came very close to breaking my own first rule tonight.

18 August 2009

This FireCat Reserved for Private Party

You may have noticed that this blog disappeared for a few weeks. No, there was not a glitch in the Matrix. I was being taught a lesson, or so I was informed.

Without going into the details that would give undeserved attention and detract from my ultimate point (there will be one, I promise; in six years together, Scully, have I ever been wrong?) I was being moderately cyberstalked. I knew who the person was. I have never met her personally, but we have had quite a bit of interaction in the past several years on several related internet forums. Apparently this person maintains a grudge against several people who frequent these forums because she feels that her privacy was invaded, and she felt I was as good a target as any to take one for the team, so she began posting my blog address all over the god-knows-where of creation. Her intent was to violate my privacy, so that I might presumably know what it felt like to be her (though how she thought she was going to violate my privacy by encouraging traffic to a professional writer's already public blog, I'll never know--I might as well thank her for the free advertising).

However, she miscalculated one thing: the only way she can violate my privacy is if I allow it to be violated. I have nothing to hide on this blog. Or anywhere else, for that matter. I have written about the things that shame me, but I have done so knowing that I am writing in public. I have made the utmost effort in my writings not to violate the privacy of others--my parents and siblings, my students, my beloved husband, my best friend (whose life occasionally literally depends on the collective silence of those who know him) and the many others held dear to me. (You know who you are, because mostly you're the ones who noticed when my blog went missing!)

Regardless of the point she was trying to make, wherein she to this day earnestly believes she has taught me and others a lesson (really? really-really?), she fails again to absorb the larger lesson being offered: everything offers a chance for forgiveness and growth. But you have to be willing to put down your grudges to take the blessing. You'll need both hands free to accept its grace.

08 June 2009

What the Puck?

I can't even begin to describe the number of levels on which this is wrong, nor the amount of wrongness those levels contain.

They're damn tasty, though.

21 May 2009

Brief Update

There were finals, and then there was a weekend wedding in Harrisburg followed by a trip to Pittsburgh and the most grueling half-marathon I have ever run (it was cold, it was wet, we ran up every hill in Pittsburgh, then I drank a beer. The end.) Then, on returning home, there were more finals, and a photo exhibit to dissassemble, crate, and and ship, and then a flight to Spokane and a marathon. In which I PRed, thank you very much.

And then I came home, bought groceries, went through six days' worth of mail, and dug a hole in my backyard big enough to contain a friend's hundred-pound shepherd mix when she couldn't afford to cremate him. Just in case you've been wondering where the hell I went lately.

I'm looking very much forward to having to go back to work soon.

12 May 2009

Overheard Whilst in My Bathrobe

Early this AM, I met my dad on the stairwell as I stumped grouchily tea-wards and he trundled up in search of, from the looks of it, his hairbrush. We grunted at each other and shot a little half-wave, half-salute out from hip level, our customary pre-caffeine greeting.

Then, as I hit the downstairs hallway, his voice echoed back at me thoughtfully: "We are just two snips, passing in the flight."

27 April 2009

And Now, a Poem. Sort of.

I spent a lot of my weekend visiting a good friend of mine, and her utter snob of a cat. The cat in question (who, I should point out in defence of my friend's taste, arrived in our lives with her name already firmly intact) spent much of the weekend whining at us in typical theatrical cat fashion. I'm inside. I'm hot. Feed me. My fur is touching me. Pet me. Stop petting me. Why are you staring at me? Etc. Late yesterday evening, after just enough gins and tonic (gin and tonics just sounds wrong), I composed a song in her cranky honour, to be sung to the tune of Don McLean's "Vincent".

"Xena (Furry, Furry Night)"

Furry, furry night
Paint your kitty blue and grey
Take her on a holiday
Go through the garden underneath the fence

Furry, furry night
Patterns in her stripey fur
Listening to hear her purr
As she sheds her coat upon your couch

Now I understand
Why you sit there hating me
How you suffer the stupidity
Of humans who won't set you free

We cannot not listen
We do not know how
While you stare and say, "Meow!"

Furry, furry night
Paint your kitty blue and green
Put her in a soup tureen
And set it on the sunny window sill

Now I understand
Why you sit there hating me
How you suffere the stupidity
Of humans who won't set you free

We could not listen
We did not know how
We thought you said, "Meow!"

10 April 2009

One Man

One of my students invited me to photograph her final project for her Communications class. She and several other students traveled to Center City Philadelphia (an area with which I am only moderately familiar, mostly as home to the Reading Terminal Market and packet pick-up for the Philadelphia Marathon) for an experimental project in nonverbal communication: free hugs. Technically speaking, there was both verbal and nonverbal communication here, as they were both speaking and holding up signs with words written on them, but that wasn't the subject of their experiment. What they were interested in was how ordinary people would react to being offered a hug by a total stranger. Coincidentally, they chose to carry out this experiment on Good Friday.

The title of this post is a homonym for the man who began this campaign in Sydney, Australia--Juan Mann. That is not, to the best of my knowledge, a pseudonym. That is his actual name.

Scenes from the City of Brotherly Love

The free hugs crew sets up outside City Hall.

Bethann bends down for a little stroller action.

Heather gets a surprise!

John from Texas.

Something that doesn't happen nearly enough.

Lennon makes some new friends....

...who borrow our signs....

...and make friends of their own.

Diane and friend.

Bethann and Lennon.

16 March 2009

A Delightful Combination of Earnestness and Stupidity

The text of a recent email from a student, who seems somewhat befuddled about the way things work around here:

Is the class(8:30-11 mon) still in room 204? I went last week and ems
people were in there. I can't get into my school email at all so I was

My carefully phrased response:

Last week was spring break.

Maybe The Matron is right. Maybe we do need to evaluate whether everyone belongs in college.

11 February 2009

Faces of Freedom

(a traveling phot exhibit by U Roberto "Robin" Romano. Now I know why he didn't return my emails for two years. Seems he was a little busy.)

20 January 2009

Our Patchwork Heritage

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."

(The above image is one of dozens I shot today as my college campus packed itself around television sets, streaming video feeds, and radios to celebrate the end of a very long and shameful 233 years. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.)

16 January 2009

Weather Alert: Unusually High Kitty-Knot Factor

Current temp in Three Feathers is not something I'm going to investigate numerically, but I can tell you it's a plus-two kitty-knot factor (Current kitty-knot standard of 2.5).

Kitty-knot factor is a scientifically accurate way to tell ambient air temperature without removing yourself from under the covers. Just poke your nose out and see how many household kitties are curled up on your bed. A kitty-knot is determined in increments. A full kitty-knot is achieved when said kitty is curled up so tightly you cannot tell which end is which. An extra half kitty-knot can be added if two or more kitties are twined together so as to be indistinguishable, or more than half the given kitty's body weight is draped over yours for warmth.

The kitty-knot standard is the current number of kitties in your household. My current kitty-knot standard is 2.5 due to the extremely large nature of one of the participating kitties (she's also the one with one eye, so it sort of works out even in computations).

14 January 2009


I lost a dear friend late this week, in a senseless, stupid, utterly preventable tragedy that his family and the police are still trying to sort out, and will be for many weeks to come. His only sister is one of my closest friends, and my heart reels at the thought of what Chloe and her family have lost.

Life wasn't always easy for Jake, and sometimes he made it harder than it had to be--something he and I had in common. But he had a sweet gentle soul, and a bear hug that would literally lift your feet off the ground when you were caught up in it. His giggle was contagious, and he was always finding the slapstick humour in otherwise ordinary conversations: because who the hell slips on toast?

It's unbelievable that I'm standing here speaking these words, and I can't begin to imagine the struggles his family will face as they try to make sense of what happened last night. All I know is that the world has lost something very, very special, and none of us who knew Jake will ever be the same.

All week I’ve been remembering Jake’s favourite joke, the one about Jewish people in China. He never got tired of telling me, and I never got tired of hearing it and watching him grin so wide his hair bounced when he told the punchline: “Sharom!” Which of course, is a politically incorrect version of the Hebrew word for peace. Anybody who knew Jake knows that peace is what he wanted to find in this world, more than anything else, his whole life. Last night, I wondered, as I heard his voice in my head over and over, sharom, if maybe this isn’t just a happy memory. If maybe this is Jake, trying to tell us that he’s finally found it?

Carol, Jerry, his beloved Cher, Peace.

Little brother, Sharom.

11 January 2009

A Day in the Life (with apologies to Paul)

A good while ago now, Mrs. G  invited readers to share their average day via a photoblog. First, I had to wait to get a digital camera. Second, you may have noticed by now that most of my days are in no way "average." Third, to make matters less than normal, I'm on semester break. And last, there are various points where the day itself (yesterday) veered wildly toward the absurd. And yet that t00 is, in many ways--at least for me--typical.

And so, with a modicum of explanation where needed, I present to you, Saturday, 10 January 2009 as it appeared in Three Feathers.

Lately, I've had a chest cold, so I've been applying essential oils to my chest to try to break up the worst of the crap.
Consequently, there's also a fair amount of this going on throughout the day:

(Yes, I realise I have not even peed yet. Yes, I realise this qualifies me as an addict.)

I have two cats. Only one of them likes me (though they both seem to like being fed).

Without tea, there would be darkness and chaos.

Without these, there would also be darkness and chaos. And also cancer, which is pretty redundant when you think about it.

A little morning music. Sadly, I'm not a big fan of Rhythm Revue (nothing personal, Bob).

A little light research before breakfast....

I was scheduled for my second five-miler in as many weeks, which is (I might add) the only reason I got up at dark-thirty on a Saturday. Well, that and I coughed myself practically right out of bed.

And then...

What? There's not even that much snow yet.

A change of plan requires a change of uniform.

Decision time. I have more than one syllabus to write. In fact, I have four--two identical pairs. I have been in deep denial of this since before the break. I also have some last-minute TA application stuff to fill out for various PhD programs....

...but knitting all day in the snow also holds serious temptation.....

Damn. Repsonsibility wins. To the office I go! (the office is also my bedroom, since I am currently in a house that has two other people in it.)

Yay. Lunch. I forgot to ask for lettuce, so I had to insert it later.

Meanwhile, this explains the strange noises and delectable odours coming from the kitchen while I slaved over a hot syllabus:

After lunch, it's time for a little smackerel of something. Mostly to keep my lungs from turning inside-out and ending up all over my nice, fuzzy new sweater. Fresh grated ginger, hot water, fresh lemon juice, honey, and a pinch of (aiee!) cayenne pepper. Good for what ails you. Also, my brain is full and I have hit a bump on my work upstairs and am waiting for an email reply.

Also good for what ails you. Unless what ails you is the black oil.

Speaking of a little smackerel of something....

Oh God. More snow. And more work. Back upstairs.

Don't ask why this is posted on my door. If you have to ask, you haven't met me. Or my dad.

My favourite time of day. 5:30 pm. The time when wine appears as if by magic, wherever we are in the house.

An earnest (and mostly successful) effort to finally finish the ham left over from New Year's dinner.

Except that the house is very cold.

Furnace restored, it's time to clean up.

Tea makes the world go 'round. All set up for tomorrow.

The second bottle of wine...

...it was around this point that my mother randomly referred to a certain New York Times columnist as "the variegated hamster." (and you wondered where I got it from?)

What you see here is not knitting. What you see here is unknitting. More specifically, what you see here is me taking out an entire section of a friend's baby blanket to fix an earlier fuckup. Fortunately it was a fairly minor (though very colourful) fuckup.

A Saturday night ritual. That is, of course, the Sunday New York Times crossword. I know, it's only Saturday night. Everyone should misbehave, just a little.

My toes have turned to raisins....

....and the NyQuil has kicked in.....