19 July 2007

Off to PDX

Highlights from this week:

1) I've learned to love reading again. I actually started reading one of the books that was on my comps list and that I therefore barely "read" (Wilderness and the American Mind, by Roderick Nash). I had some vague ideas of the books' points before, based on the hard-earned comps skill of skimming, summing up and book reviewing. But then this week some other demanding person requested it, and as I brought it to campus to return, I opened it and rediscovered that I actually do enjoy reading the written word for sheer enjoyment. Wow! Ideas, words, thoughts for their own sake. I feel like I'm back from a long, weird trip.

2) Good people were in town! Kungfuramone and Beetlegirl swung through for some food, some catching up and some Hell's Kitchen. I still need to know how that ended.

3) I am currently addicted to the Gilmore Girls. It's all cute and snarky. I enjoy.

4) I compiled a coursepack for my class that begins next week. It's long. My students are almost all white male poli-sci majors (cough-pre-law-cough). Did I mention the coursepack is long? Why didn't I teach a class on pop culture and TV-watching? Or wine-tasting 101?

Now it's off to P-town for some family stuff, a Patty Griffin concert at the zoo, and the Columbia County fair, where I hope and expect to run into any number of my high school classmates, most likely with their three to six children in tow. Woo-hoo!

12 July 2007


One year's worth of library fines for 450 assorted monographs on US history and theory: $300. No joke.

Coffee. More coffee. Even more coffee. Frankly, I don't want to think about how much I spend in a year on this. Let's just call it a bajillion dollars.

Replacement pens during the last two months in which I frequently drained the ink from a pen a day on my notes: $30.

Passing my oral comps and never EVER having to go through that rite of passage again: You know what it is.

Yay! Took the comps, passed the comps, even felt good about my answers on the comps. It was actually, dare I say it, verging on fun (minus the nausea) to get to talk about things I find interesting with thoughtful, intelligent colleagues for a few hours. I got to talk about Foucault and Judith Butler as well as the US as a simultaneously postcolonial and colonial nation and, of course, race and class and gender. No one tried to nail me in any way, and the one professor I was afraid of seemed to like my answers the most and was the biggest pussycat of them all. It still hasn't completely sunk in that I'm done with this hurdle, but I'm getting there. I'm just glad I didn't, you know, freak out unnecessarily or anything. Ahem.

I cannot thank everyone enough for the love, support, understanding (especially those who had to deal with me at my most neurotic or talk me off ledges a time or two or twenty), coffee cards, singing cards, gifts, flowers, emails, phone calls, and for those in town yesterday, drinks and food and more drinks and more food. (At last! A chocolate butterscotch martini at the Excelsior for the Little Match Girl!) Pretty much, when I felt like throwing up for the 24 hours prior to the exam, I just thought about my awesome friends and felt better. I really don't think I've been this relaxed in about a year, so I'm going to enjoy it for a while longer before thinking about things like...what do you call them? Ah, yes, dissertations. Thanks again for the support! And for those who still have something like this to look forward to in their future: all will be well.

Here is the dazed, goofy smile that was plastered onto my face for about two hours straight after the exam:

03 July 2007

State of the Field

1. Practice session yesterday with adviser went well. Despite the fact that she didn't ask me a single question from the subjects she was assigned and instead asked all kinds of outside things, I still managed to answer it all to both of our satisfaction. After forty minutes, she said "well, this is an interesting conversation, but I can't drag this out for you any longer -- you're ready." I have not had a single vision of my potentially-homeless self with the monograph-and-propaganda-lined shopping cart since. So, basically, I'm a much much much less crazy person today than I was three days ago. But of course it's all relative.

2. Ratatouille is an exxxcellent movie. Sneak in a wedge of artisanal cheese and a hunk of crusty bread if you can, because popcorn does not really cut it. If you like good food, you will like this movie.

3. Vote for Oregon. Do it. This state made Matt Groening what he was, it was our broken-down nuclear power plants (cough-Trojan-cough), our bumbling public officials, our crappy schools and depressed economy that led to the genius that is the Simpsons. We don't have all the fancy-pants "population levels" of say, a state like Illinois, but I'm hopeful we can get some West Coast solidarity and snag the California vote. So basically, Y. & S., we're relying on you. I don't count my former Oregon cronies now in California as people I need to recruit because once you've lived here, you're loyal FOREVER.

4. I'm not hiding completely as per KFR's suggestion for the Fourth, but there will be some white-trash junk food consumption, some unmitigated bitching about this country's leadership, and attendance at "Sicko" during the hottest part of the day. I feel that being difficult and ornery and non-patriotic (and also kind of trashy) is kind of the most patriotic thing one can do. For those in hiding, may the neighbor kids not torture you too much with loud bangs. For those at barbecues, check how long that macaroni salad has been sitting out. I'm just sayin'.