Tuesday, January 31, 2006

more memes

I've been tagged by Bartleby.

= = = = = = = = = =
1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
= = = = = = = = = =

"By sheer providence, I wrote 'Please see me if I can be of any help' on both of their exams."

This came from a post about two older students in the first class for which I ever served as a TA. Both had some trepidation about going back to college, but very much wanted to set an example for their children. I'd just read an obituary for one of them, very sad, but I was so pleased to see her BA mentioned.

Speaking of Providence, masses of thanks to Tom and Rachel.

I have an e-mail from my advisor (may he live forever) in my in-mail box and am working up the courage to read it.

lessons graded: twelve
words written: one hundred

Update: it was a far more positive message than I'd feared. No, Tom, I don't think my advisor (may he live forever) would fire me, but I do worry that his expectations might be more than I, a mere mortal, can meet. I also have a hunch that he read my chapter at the end of a long day and was less patient as a result.

Monday, January 30, 2006

I hate Mondays

The latest feedback from my advisor (may he live forever) is less than inspiring or confidence-inducing.

Why can't I manage to communicate on paper all that I have bundled up inside my head?

Why is it that everyone whom I ask to read something either a) doesn't or b) says it's fine and there are no errors? Apparently anyone who has read this for me "obviously is not familiar with standard scholarly procedure."

Excuse me - I'm going to go look for a teddy bear. Sorry such a downer of a post...

Lessons Graded: thirty-six
Words Written: three hundred and ninety-one

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

another meme

I've been tagged by Harriet.

4 jobs you have had in your life: marking down garments at a second hand store, receptionist, psychology experiment subject (was paid very well to drink cocktails and have my brain waves studied) and encyclopedia entry writer

4 movies you could watch over and over: 1776, Chariots of Fire, Gosford Park, Bridget Jones' Diary

4 television shows you love: only four??! ER, Cops, Cold Case Files, MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour

4 places you have lived: Chicago, IL; Midway, OH; Newburyport, MA; suburban Indianapolis

4 places you have been on vacation: Astoria, OR; Oxford, UK; Iowa City, IA; Atlanta, GA

4 websites you visit daily: amazon.com, wikipedia, BBC headlines, my blog roll

4 places you would rather be right now: Outside the stadium at my university throwing my doctoral cap in the air, in front of a blackboard with students eagerly hanging on my every word, eating clam chowder while gazing at the Atlantic Ocean, in bed & asleep

4 bloggers you are tagging: Hmmm. Chesterley, CPF, Steven and Greg. Accepting this tag is to be done on a purely voluntary basis.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Today is the Feast day of the patron saint of editors, Francis de Sales.

Given what I think of my assigned editor for my freelance work, I think I'll skip the candle lighting for today.

Words Written: found more!! found more!!
Lessons Graded: twelve

Thursday, January 19, 2006

return of the pickle monster

In addition to the usual pens, post-it notes and scratch paper, I keep a photo of Grandpa on my desk.

My grandfather was the youngest son of a coal miner. His only memory of his father was of watching him die from black lung. Grandpa was a straight A student, despite the fact that the language spoken at home (Swedish) was not the language used at school. When Grandpa was 13, his stepfather decided that he was tired of raising another man's children and kicked them all out.

Grandpa never went to high school, but he remained a voracious reader, enthusiastic observer of the world and adored travel whenever possible. From reading his letters, I know that he had a weakness for puns and running jokes, liked the occasional glass of scotch, and enjoyed winning at card games.

I can say, with all sincerity, if no modesty, that even more than cards, Grandpa adored me. Becoming a grandfather was one of the high points of his life. My memories of him are all fun, silly and wonderful.

Yesterday was not a good day for the diss. Not a bad day, you understand, not a time when I wish for vodka shots and legs that would land me a corporate job, but not a good day, either. I toyed with the idea of quitting, thought about it for quite some time, and decided to sleep on it. Quitting, that is...

Then I dreamed about him - he was hugging me, and saying nice things about Ed and Green Book and telling me not to worry.

OK, Pickle Monster, you win.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I have just learned that, when translated into Japanese, the name Chris means "galloping squirrel."

Friday, January 13, 2006

thought for the day

"Why is it that The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations bulges with quotations by men... when women (as men are the first to point out) do all the talking?"
-Peg Bracken

Words Written: eight hundred and sixty-two
Lessons Graded: five

Thursday, January 12, 2006

the day after

Now comes the joy of decifering all of the enthusiastic notes I made yesterday. I haven't a clue what "EQCR" might mean, but I used it a lot. Still, progress is being made and progress=good.

#4 wants to read the latest incarnation of my introduction. Good thing I proof-read it before mailing, as I caught a couple of sentences that really needed to be cleaned up. It also gave me a chance to incorporate a few of yesterday's great ideas, so it's probably much improved.

Sam is, in unusually undignified fashion, delighted with today's warm temperatures. (57 degrees!) He's dug up a few old bones, rolled about in the leaves, and spent a long time at the foot of a tree, trying to stare down a squirrel.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

lemming progresses!

It's been a very productive day here at headquarters and one that only looks to get better.

1) Suitably fortified by chocolate, I read #4's e-mail and replied. #4 then replied to me, in unusually positive terms. Whoo-hoo!

2) Now that I know what to look for, I've located more and more of Ed's mistakes. Not only does this make me giggle, but it serves to remind me that I really do know all of this literature pretty well. As graduate students are rarely granted a sense of empowerment, particularly where full-fledged PhDs are concerned, I'm pretty happy.

3) While looking for something else I had a huge Eureka Moment, an instant in which a vague hunch became something that I could now argue with conviction, and I had the evidence to prove it. Ten minutes later I had another.

4) When I knocked over my can of diet coke, it spilled on my machine washable sweatshirt, not the library books or dissertation notes or printed out suggestions from my advisor (may he live forever) or the carpet or the...

Oh, it is so nice to have a good day!!

Words Written: so very many things jotted down
Lessons Graded: zero ha!
Books on Floor: fifty-six, plus assorted papers and binders

Monday, January 09, 2006

a new addition

Last night I dreamed that I was defending my diss (a delightful process, and one I await with even less enthusiasm than root canal) and Newt Gingrich had joined my committee. I do take heart that his questions were fair and reasonable ones.

Disclaimer: yes, I do know that NG has a PhD in American History. Trust me, we're in different sub-fields.

After not hearing from or seeing #4 in months, I have an e-mail from them now sitting in the "unread" section of my in-box. Must dose with chocolate first...

Friday, January 06, 2006


Michael "Time to Make the Doughnuts" Vale has died, at the age of 83.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I'm a good little disserter, I am

In my field, dissertations cannot criticize more established figures. We can indicate that we, with the utmost respect and deference, disagree with senior historians, but we may not criticize.

This is why I have a blog.

I'll call this historian Ed. Ed has written several books and is a huge name in the field. Many years ago I wrote to him for help on a research paper and recieved a very kind and informative type-written letter back. Thus I am predisposed to like Ed.

Ed is the only scholar ever to have examined my topic to any degree. He doesn't do much, and what he does is, to put it kindly, dated. Given that he wrote the book a great many years ago, I'm inclined to forgive him for that. The book won a great many prizes, and deservedly so.

He made lots of mistakes!!!

There, I've said it. It's a fine book and one that I've even suggested to people over the years. The mistakes I've found do not change that. They're such small details that only someone doing intimate dissection of the same group of people would notice, and it took me several years. Ed doesn't deserve to have any of his prizes recalled... but I'm finding more and more of them. I suspect that he took some notes incorrectly and the errors then made it into the manuscript and hence into my hands, but if you know where to look, they're not hard to find. Ed is a stupid git!

Thanks. I feel better now.

Words Written: spent yesterday at the library, getting more books
Lessons Graded: classes start soon!

Monday, January 02, 2006


Words Written: one thousand four hundred and twenty-six
Lessons Graded: zero
Books on Floor: eighteen
Books on Desk: four
Papers Scattered About: um, rather a lot...