Thursday, May 20, 2010

RBOC: My Brain is Full edition

Long time, no blog.

I've been fighting off some kind of lung plague for three weeks now, and I haven't been feeling very bloggy. More nod-off-on-the-couch-and-watch-reruns-of-Bones-y. (Which, I might add: Why did no one ever tell me that the show is about a woman scientist working in a Smithsonian-like museum? Hello--that was my dissertation topic.) So instead of any semblance of sustained thought, I present a long-overdue random bullets of huh-huh-huh.

But first, a question: I'm supposed to give a talk about teaching next Friday, kind of a "last lecture" thing for a small audience of (usually senior) faculty. Typically speakers talk for 30 minutes and then take questions for 20. Number of times I've talked for 30 minutes straight in the past several years: 1. (Job talk. I'm chatty but not lecture-y.) This Faculty Mentoring Faculty Program presentation will be videotaped and made available online. What teaching topics would you want to hear about? Bonus points if you can describe the topic without using the words assessment, literacies, instructional technology, or student learning outcomes. Extra bonus points if you use the phrase rats off a sinking ship.

Now, the bullets:
  • I was interviewed last week by a reporter for the Sacramento Bee. He grilled me about the literature of the TV show Lost. I blame my friend Dr. Andy, who handed over my cell phone number to the university news service when the folks there were looking for someone to comment on the show. The reporter's sole follow-up question was on the symbolism of rabbits on the show. I think I last used the word "symbolism" in 1998. Where are the English and cultural studies faculty when you need them? (I'll post a link to the interview when it's available. They asked for a photo of me, which is unsettling, as I thought I'd be one source among many, not the entire horse and pony show.)
  • Tomorrow I'm talking to a TV reporter about Lost, but I'm not sure what about the show most interests him, other than that ZOMG the show is ending, how will fanfolk ever live without it? The reporter's first and last names are both those of nice East Coast colleges. If I were writing a short story about an English professor, I'd probably give him the same name.
  • Dr. Andy tells me I should write an article or book about Lost. My first thought: Ooh, shiny! I then reminded him I'm about to launch onto the tenure track in history. Put down the contemporary pop culture references, Leslie. . .
  • I remind myself that (ack!) I'm moving to Boise in less than two months and I have yet to sign a lease, line up movers, find a preschool, get health insurance, or do just about anything else. It's just a tad too early to do anything of these things because apparently everything in Idaho (except for sign-ups for the best preschools, whose deadlines have long since passed) happens at the last minute. "Show up with your stuff and then find a place," was how one property manager put it. "You can sign up on July 31st for health insurance on August 1st," enthused the insurance agent. Um, no. But if this is the case everywhere in the Gem State, I'm looking forward to my first trip to the DMV. (Though on a side note, I don't think any DMV could beat my trip to the Iowa City DMV. No lines, and they handed me new license plates within minutes.)
  • What have I done thus far? Ordered my textbooks for fall. I made a lovely matrix to evaluate potential textbooks for my U.S. history survey to 1877, filled in several cells with details after browsing a dozen or more textbooks online, came up with my own "gut check" scoring system. . .and then threw a mental dart that landed, conveniently, on the one desk copy I've received from a publisher. What can I say? I like paper. (Plus, the textbook's writing didn't make me cringe. I learned the writing in many (most?) of today's history textbooks kind of sucks.)
  • The department chair contacted me this week to let me know I don't need to teach one grad seminar and two lower-division courses in the spring. Instead I can teach one grad seminar and any upper-division course of my choosing, preferably one with a focus on gender. I'm thinking of tackling the capstone writing course for history majors. The class size is apparently pretty small, so I could give students' papers a good deal of individual attention. Your thoughts?
  • We've had nothing but bad luck with trees lately. Our landlord sent out some apparently tree-hating in-law of his to trim our trees. We now have no cherry saplings, a fig tree trunk that protrudes about seven feet from the ground where there used to be a glorious sweeping fig tree, and the shoulder-height remains of a few 15-foot-tall oleander bushes in the backyard.
  • Well, we thought, at least the neighbor's big, lovely, leafy cottonwood tree (my favorite species!) provides us with shade. I came home this afternoon to find the neighbors have completely removed the giant tree.
  • I'm glad we're moving in July. Summer in Davis with no shade = unbearable.
  • After months of working on it, I finished my first copyedit of Fang's 750-page novel. Yes, our next talk about it will be how to cut it by at least one-third. Can you say "trilogy"?
  • Sometimes it bothers me that Fang is a much more prolific writer than I am. He made the good choice as a writer not to sweat through an M.A. in creative writing and a Ph.D. in mumblety mumble like some people you might know.
  • Our puppy, Jacob, is getting big. He's about 45 pounds now--halfway to full grown. As puppies go, he's very manageable, despite his oafish size. Pictures soon, I promise.
What's on your mind?


Laura said...

Wow, lots! Sounds like good stuff though, but stressful I know. I have had similar busyness, but it feels pretty good. For your teaching talk, could you use the fear theme at all? :) I'm sure everyone feels like hunkering down, playing it safe in the face of dire circumstances, but really, shouldn't now be a good time to take risks? Just a thought.

Fang Bastardson said...

You've had that death-rattle cough for closer to 3 months than 3 weeks. If only there were professional healers, learned in the ways of human physiology, to whom you could take this most puzzling conundrum in search of some sort of treatment...

Unknown said...

WOW. Good luck with everything. Now, this is your situation: "I'm moving to Boise in less than two months and I have yet to sign a lease, line up movers" -- what about us: we're moving in way less than two weeks an we have yet to sign a lease & line up movers?? Crazy much? In any case, we'll hire the mover today and hopefully sign a lease on Monday when we'll drive down to VA to look at them (realtor is sending us photos of possible houses today).


Jeff said...

Busy busy busy...

As for the DMV, when I was young one could do almost everything by mail in Wyoming: drivers' license, high school, voting, probably even jail time. In 1993, you couldn't find much bureaucracy that was easier than getting a Wyoming drivers license: sign your name and affix a stamp. Thanks to the Internets, the Equality State is no longer quite so special. But it helps explain why I saw a truck in Massachusetts with Wyoming plates that were 20 years old. If you never have to go into the DMV, nobody has to know you've moved.

Anonymous said...

I'd prioritize getting rid of the Cali plates asap once you get here. And it won't take long.

fairbetty said...

You should write more about Lost on the side... to help clear your brain some... when you need to clear your brain. I'd like to hear about it. I personally was quite annoyed with the show throughout the whole series.

Your moving details will come together easier than you think. We signed a lease last week... and the movers are coming TOMORROW!!!

I'm excited to see pictures of the pup at half grown!

Oh, and I loved Bones. GREAT show. Witty... very witty.

Good luck with the move and looking forward to hearing more of your exploits!

Britney said...

I saw your introduction over on newcurator, so exciting to have you in Boise! I'm finishing up the last 2 weeks of my arts admin/museum studies master's at the University of Oregon, and then I'm back in Boise too. Good luck with your move!