Thursday, May 20, 2010


  • One of the students I tutor blew off hir third appointment in a row this week.  That is, zi has blown off three appointments this week, on three successive days.  On Tuesday, zi forgot to show up, which I suppose can happen from time to time.  But then yesterday and today zi called in to cancel the appointments only a few hours beforehand, which means that the tutoring company can charge hir for missed appointments.  I suppose I should be happy that I got paid for three hours' worth of work that I didn't actually do, but that affords me little joy.  What the hell is wrong with a person, that zi would screw hirself out of three sessions' worth of money for absolutely no benefit?  May as well flush the money down the toilet at that rate.  My father would have killed me, had I been in this student's place.  Once again, the old lesson is reinforced: some students are simply hellbent on fucking themselves over in all kinds of incomprehensible ways.
  • In the continuing clusterfuck of DOU Meets the Recession, my (soon-to-be-former) department was informed yesterday that its summer-session courses were insufficiently enrolled, and therefore the university was cancelling all of them.  Cancelling the courses, naturally, means withdrawing every last TAship relating to the summer classes.  A whole bunch of my colleagues had planned to be here in DOU-Town for the summer, holding those TAships and supporting themselves while they took coursework of their own and, you know, paid DOU for the privilege.  (Albeit at highly subsidized rates.)  Some of them turned down opportunities for research or other summertime work.  All of them are now furious and completely over a barrel.  I know this is the sort of thing that happens in a big university in the context of budget cuts, but fuck, the timing is horrible for my poor friends.  At least DOU could have told the department ahead of time that it was changing its rules on course enrollment!  I taught a course last summer with a total enrollment of 25, and even had my own TA to help out with discussion sections.  This week, everyone suddenly learned without warning that even twice that number of enrolled students would get a class nixed.  Morale is plummeting, and I am glad to be jumping off the sinking ship leaving.
  • My whole family is coming into DOU-Town tomorrow in preparation for my graduation on Saturday.  Dear God in heaven.  My parents got divorced years ago, and I think it's been at least three years since they've said a word to each other.  I've ordered everyone to be on their best behavior, since I can call at least some of the shots at this particular family gathering.  The trick will be keeping my mother and (maternal) grandmother from letting fly with any bitter remarks to/about my father and stepmother.  I've drafted two close friends of mine to come along with me as my father's my invited guests, and my brother will be there as an additional buffer.  They're all in town for a mere 36 hours or so, but I won't really be able to relax until they leave.  I used to mourn the fact that the two sides of my family can no longer converse civilly for long, and I used to wish that they could put all the bad feelings behind them and be like the more amicably divorced families I've seen.  I still privately mourn that reality, but I've stopped wishing they could put all those feelings aside.  They can't and they won't -- my mother's family being especially guilty on this score, I'm sorry to say -- and now I find it much less stressful to see them in moiety-segregated circumstances.
  • I have some serious apartment cleaning to do tomorrow before they all fly in.  I'm a lazy ass about housekeeping in a lot of ways, but it's really overdue.  (Did I mention that I recently finished writing a dissertation?)  Plus, focusing my attention on mopping the kitchen floor and vaccuuming my lint-ravaged bedroom carpeting will take my mind off my anxieties about family.
  • Why don't I ever learn that baked and roasted chicken is much more delicious when you marinate it first?  I was kicking myself tonight after wasting a lot of lovely seasonings by sprinkling them on top of the chicken breasts with some olive oil, rather than mixing everything up in a bag and letting it marinate for an hour before cooking.  Top of the chicken: overly seasoned and almost painful to eat.  Underside of the chicken: nearly flavorless.  I should put a "MARINATE" note on the refrigerator to yell at me. 
  • Maybe it's just as well about the chicken, though; my homemade harissa was kind of terrible anyway.
  • On a more positive note, I've already gotten started on cleaning things up, and I had the tremendous pleasure of throwing out a bunch of grad-school documents that are no longer relevant to my life.  It also felt good to throw out the chaotic collection of half-baked ideas that I charitably filed as "Dissertation, Draft 1" and replace the file with one neatly bound copy of the completed diss.  (Why did I even get started with this nonsensical filing of hard copies of successive drafts?  Ah yes, that was before my last computer died and I upgraded to a much more spacious laptop and external hard drive combo.)  It also felt good to toss all the failed grant proposals I've saved over the years.  I think I once believed that I might consult failed grant applications as a means of strengthening later efforts.  I suppose I actually do that in some ways, but not in hard copy!  Bad enough that I'm accumulating filing cabinets full of photocopied articles and book chapters; I need to put the brakes on how much other stuff I print out.
  • And yes, I know this sounds like I'm leading up to a bourgeois consumerist whine of longing for an iPad, but it isn't so.  Frankly, given that I'm going to Research City later this year -- a city infamous among my colleagues for the rigors it afflicts upon digital hardware -- I can't see how I would handle caring for (or even carrying!) my MacBook and an iPad.  For God's sake, there's only one Apple repair shop in all of freaking Research Country!  Of course, that one shop is right in Research City, so it's not much skin off my nose, but still: not exactly a Mac-friendly hotspot.
  • I can tell that my intellectual muscles are getting twitchy after a few weeks of indolence.  An idle thought while watching a movie the other day led me to call my grandmother to ask a question about what her father did in the Old Country before he immigrated to America.  This, in turn, led me to consult my brother, who knows more about our family's genealogy than anyone, who wrote me a fine little email telling me what he knew about all of our great-grandparents' occupations, and he even threw in their home towns.  Home towns!  Things you can google and look at on a map!  AVOCATIONAL RESEARCH!!  All right, so Bro has already done that research; no need to reinvent the wheel.  At the moment, all I want to figure out is how I can create a PDF file of the map showing the large region whence the immigrant generation of my family sprang, with little markers -- you know, the digital equivalent of pushpins in a real map -- that flag each town.  I've gotten as far as zooming to that region on Google Maps, saving that as a PDF, and then marking the towns with Stickie Notes, but I find this inelegant and actually clumsy for perusing.  Plus, I keep getting a wasted page before the map, and I'm actually so technologically inept that I haven't yet figured out how to make that go away.  Any ideas from the tech mavens out there?

1 comment:

  1. Happy Graduation Day! I hope everything goes well with your family. I'm in a similar situation, and the first time that the two halves of my family interacted after the divorce was at my wedding. Luckily, everyone left the snide comments until after the day, so hopefully they can do the same for you.

    Remember to enjoy your victory!