Thursday, February 24, 2005

You know you've been blogging too much when...

... you start dreaming in html.

You know how you can right-click on a web page to see the source code? Last night I had a dream in which I saw the world that way. I could look around my ordinary surroundings, and see the html behind all of it that determined the size, color, and shape of things, how far apart they were from each other, and so on. It was kind of fascinating and kind of... disturbing.

I don't know what browser my brain was, though.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A professor's work is never done

So a while ago I had a very inspiring conversation with Dr. H, which probably wasn’t that extraordinary from her perspective, but a few things she said shook me loose from some mental traps I’d fallen in.

I’m up for tenure this year, and so far it’s going quite well – after several very harrowing moments (suffice it to say that Murphy’s Law was wreaking all of its glorious havoc on the fate of my book manuscript over the past year and a half) I’ve been approved by my department, my college, and my dean, so that all that remains is the rubber stamp by the provost and the Board of Trustees. (Yeah, we’re very administration-heavy for a smallish college, but that’s another story.) But every time someone congratulates me, I brush it off with “No, no, don’t say that, it’s not official yet.”

But I’ve been saying that for months (years?) now, and I’ve been stuck in the rut of always focusing on the next thing, and not pausing to appreciate what's gotten done. The whole time I was writing the book, I thought, I’ll be so damn happy when this is done, I’ll treat myself to a week of massages and a chocolate cake and a trip to Costa Rica. Yet getting it done didn’t really count without having a publisher, so I thought, boy, when I land a contract, that’s when I’ll party. Then I got a good contract, but a contract alone does not a tenure case make, so I’d better wait until the tenure thing goes through. My department’s recommended me, that’s nice, but I’d better not celebrate until it gets to the dean… and so on and so on. By the time I get the final word on tenure, sometime in April, I’ll have forgotten what it was I was supposed to be celebrating. I have yet to even get myself that massage.

So much of the academic life is like this. It’s very process-oriented, which I enjoy, but we’re always struggling through the middles of things, and rarely looking back to appreciate how far we’ve come. (Prelims done? Great, but you'd better get to work on that dissertation. Dissertation defended? Nice, but have you landed any job interviews? Got me a job. Good for you, but you'd better start publishing so you can get tenure and keep it.) There’s a wonderful Goya painting of a dog up to his ears in a stream, gazing in desperation (or is it hope?) at the waterfall in front of him, and this painting always brings tears to my eyes, because it’s often how I feel about much of my work – bravely paddling away and keeping my head above water, but never on solid ground enough to relax.

Last week Dr. H insisted on congratulating me on (almost) getting tenure, despite my earnest efforts to dissuade her, and she suggested that it might actually be okay for me to be excited about this even if it wasn’t fully official yet. You know what? I decided she was right. Those of you who know me may find this ironic, because I’m usually readier to celebrate than most, but even though I’ve been working my butt off with the book and the tenure case, somehow I’ve not let myself enjoy finishing any of it. Too, one is always surrounded by friends and colleagues in the middle of their own struggles, and one doesn’t want to offend by tooting one’s own horn when others are stressed (lest one be whomped upside the head with a ten-pound textbook or stabbed in the throat with a laser pointer).

But dammit, I’m about to get tenure and publish a book. I’ve decided that it’s safe to do a little gleeful dance, very quietly in my office, when no one’s looking. And who knows… I may even go get that massage. Thanks, Dr. H.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Pilgrim 99.5: All Memes, All The Time.

Found at frogblog:

Ten Things I've Done that You Probably Haven't (and if you have, do tell!)

1. Been spat upon by an elephant
2. Held Tipper Gore’s hand
3. Edged my right foot into Burma (the guys with machine guns wouldn’t let me go any farther)
4. Made a rocket in my kitchen (although that wasn’t really on purpose)
5. Exploded a kite
6. Picked a guy up in a bar by starting an argument about seventeenth-century art (we ended up dating for several months)
7. Walked 300 miles across Spain
8. Ate grasshoppers (mmm, crunchy!)
9. Was questioned by security guards as a possible terrorist – long before September 11
10. Called the Pope to wish him a happy new year (okay, we didn’t actually talk to the pope, but we did talk to some nice folks in the Vatican. And yes, we were a little drunk.)

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Baby steps.

So I've finally made the leap to Blogger... as everyone says, half the fun is in the comments, and although I much prefer my template setup on LJ, it's too much of a closed circle for my taste. I apologize for the rather personality-deprived setup here, but when I have time (yeah, right) I'll come back and paint the walls and hang up some decorations. In the meantime, welcome, make yourselves at home!

Or perhaps I am.

Gacked from Dr. H. (clearly, for some reason some of these brought out the Midwesterner in me!)

If I were a month, I would be: October
If I were a day of the week, I would be: Thursday (I think I enjoy anticipating weekends more than I enjoy weekends themselves)
If I were a time of day, I would be: 2 am… best time for viewing stars and getting perspective
If I were a planet, I would be: 51 Pegasi B (in a different solar system entirely)
If I were a sea animal, I would be: wet
If I were a direction, I would be: away
If I were a piece of furniture, I would be: something chunky and pine
If were a sin, I would be: omission
If I were a liquid, I would be: rain
If I were a body of water, I would be: the Platte River
If I were a stone, I would be: agate
If I were a tree, I would be: cottonwood
If I were a bird, I would be: a meadowlark
If I were a flower/plant, I would be: prairie grass
If I were a kind of weather, I would be: a big fat Midwestern thunderstorm!
If I were a musical instrument, I would be: a cello
If I were an animal, I would be: a python, or maybe a coyote

If I were a color, I would be: coffee
If I were an emotion, I would be: nostalgia
If I were a vegetable, I would be: spinach
If I were a sound, I would be: silence, with crickets
If I were an element, I would be: water
If I were a car, I would be: an Audi TT
If I were a song, I would be: Béla Fleck, “The Great Circle Route” (Tales from the Acoustic Planet)

If I were a movie, I would be directed by: Almodóvar (that one’s more of a fantasy – I’m not nearly that colorful!)
If I were a book, I would be written by: José Saramago
If I were a food, I would be: manchego cheese, or maybe lentils
If I were a place, I would be: somewhere you could only get to on foot
If I were a material, I would be: linen
If I were a taste, I would be: paprika
If I were a scent, I would be: grass
If I were a word, I would be: Sasquatch (just because it’s so damn fun to say)
If I were an object, I would be: an amulet
If I were a body part, I would be: skin
If I were a facial expression, I would be: unreadable
If I were a subject in school, I would be: ANYTHING but preparation for a standardized exam
If I were a dog, I would be: an Australian shepherd
If I were a cat, I would be: blissfully happy
If I were a number, I would be: twelve (because I’m a synesthete and I like the color)