Sunday, December 31, 2006


This here test

says I'm a girl.

So there.

mr. delagar, I have to say, was shocked as shit. He only married me because I was mostly a dude with tits. Now I'm a secret girl? Bummer.

(Of course the REASONS it says I'm a girl are wholly specious -- I'm bad at math and figuring out angles, I'm good at reading moods and excellent at words and under those criteria, shit, mr. delagar is a girl too. Don't anyone tell him so.)

Thursday, December 28, 2006


We are back from the holiday. We rented a vehicle to visit my parents. This was an interesting experience. It was a 2006 Pontiac something, I forget what, but it is the closest thing to a new car I have ever been in. (We have always bought cheap beaters, with about 30,000 miles on them.) That, I have to tell you is some experience. Plus? An American car. You step on the gas, them puppies GO.

I did nearly kill us about five times on the way to New Orleans (I had to drive, due to mr. delagar's bad shoulder -- he's on Vicodin, due to the bad shoulder, and I wouldn't let him drive when he was high, even though he insisted he could) in the Christmas traffic. Do you know new cars have proximity alarms? When you're about to crash they go MEEP MEEP MEEP MEEP! WATCH THE FUCK OUT YOU IDIOT! It's very exciting. mr. delagar skipped the Vicodin on the way home and drove us himself.

The kid got many gifts from aunts and uncles and grandparents, including two battery-powered remote-controled dinosaurs that walk and roar; I got Kate Atkinson's new book. mr. delagar got an art set. It was a nice holiday. No one started any trouble except me -- I went off on the patriarchy once -- and that wasn't much trouble.

More on the condition of New Orleans later.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Astrological Cold Spots

Here in Pork Smith we have entered what mr. delagar and I wryly call astrological cold spots -- places in life where one must begin to walk carefully, as everything that can go wrong begins to do so. So far this winter, I have been in the shop for three separate medical conditions, and now, lately, this tooth; he's been in for two, including lately, some mysterious shoulder malady; and now, yesterday, in the middle of a rainy, cold, wet Pork Smith rush hour (Pork Smith NEVER has rush hours, but the rain and some idiot in an SUV turning over his vehicle caused one) our one car that actually still mostly worked reliably overheated, for no reason that we could discern. We took it to our guy this morning at dawn, and he said he couldn't fix it, but maybe this other guy (Al) could. We drove it there (still raining, still cold, the kid whining in the backseat, and she hardly ever whines) overheating all the way and Al said maybe he could fix it, maybe he couldn't, but probably not before Christmas - this is the car we were driving down to New Orleans in, mind you, since the other is a bucket of junk. The kid begins to sob.

Al says he'll try to fix it before Chrismas.

Sobbing kids are good for something, apparently.

Oh, and my tooth still hurts. The dentist says to let it go for a while. See what happens. Now there's a good plan.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

For Future Reference

Something you never want to hear your dentist say:

"This is going to hurt. Sorry."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

More Fun In Indiana

You'll remember my trip to Indiana, where the snotty brat of a waiter wouldn't sell me French Fries ("We only sell AMERICAN fries here, ma'am!")?

Here's someone else who had fun in Indiana:


I've got this bad tooth, see...

The dentist can't fit me in until Friday.

It's been bad all week, and here in Pork Smith, since the pain clinic got busted four years ago, doctors are scared to prescribe pain meds -- yes, even to patients in pain -- and this guy won't give me any. He says I should use Advil.

In shit, I say.

I've done bad pain four times in my life: well, more than that, obviously, since I'm a migraine patient, but I'm counting the migraines as once. Four incidents of extreme pain: the gall bladder, the kidney stone, the migraines, labor, and now this.

People who haven't done serious pain have no notion of what it is like. Real pain is a different planet. A separate worldview.

One thing it does is make you scared of pain -- before I knew about real pain, I thought I was tough. I can take it, I used to think; but that was before real pain put me on my knees. Real pain blows your limits and takes you into the land beyond. That's where fear lives, and that's where you never want to be again. So you get to the state where you'll do what you have to do not to be in that place.

I hate pain now.

And here I am, with a mouth filled with it. And a dentist who thinks Advil is the answer.

For a week, now, I've been trying to box off real pain, armed only with Advil. (I called him twice, trying to get in early, and trying to get more help with the pain. No luck either time.)

Well, tomorrow I see the fucking dentist. He's lucky I'm a civilized socialist, that's all.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

That War on Christmas Again

You might have heard about the fuss, out in Seattle, about the Christmas trees and the Menorah.

The Seattle airport with its Christmas trees? Rabbi Bogomilsky who wondered if maybe they might add a menorah or two? Since around 7% of the population of Seattle is, after all, Jewish?

The airport administration who said screw that, if we bend to one minority, we'll be bending to all minorities (never mind that Christians are, in fact, the minority in Seattle -- only 30% of people in Seattle are self-professed Christians) and took down the trees.

For which who got blamed?

Oh, that's right. The Jews.

Because this is America, after all, a Christian nation, and Rabbi Bogomilsky should be aware of that, and keep his faith out of the public square.

Go over to Google Blog Search, put in Rabbi Seattle and Airport, and see what the winger blogs have to say about this if you don't believe me. What an education in the worldview of our country.

NPR did a bit on this yesterday, which the kid heard on the way home from her Aikido. It upset her a great deal. Welcome to America, sweetie.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

This Is Discourse?

So I was over there on Arts & Letters Daily, cruising around, as I do, because I teach the art of discourse, you might remember -- it's my profession, or anyway, part of my profession (seriously, I hardly know what my profession is, somedays -- what do you teach? I'm asked by my doctor or my dentist or the guy who sells me tires and my mind stutters: well, Chaucer, you know, and Victorian Literature, and History of the English Language and World Literature and, oh, yes, writing, that too) --

Anyway, I like Arts & Letters because OFTEN the essays on that site are good ones.

But John Derbyshire? What a tool.

Here's just a tiny excerpt from the bit of nonsense he published in the New English Review, from his essay on what is wrong with public schools in America:

"There is the public school racket, in which homeowners and taxpayers fork out stupendous sums of money to feed a socialistic extravaganza in which, when its employees can spare time from administration, “professional development” sabbaticals, and fund-raising for the Democratic Party, boys are pressed to act like girls, and dosed with calming drugs if they refuse so to act; girls are encouraged to act like boys by taking up advanced science, math, and strenuous sports, which few of them have any liking or aptitude for; and boys and girls alike are indoctrinated in the dubious dogmas of “diversity” and political correctness.

There is the teacher-unions racket , in which people who only work half the days of the year are awarded lifetime tenure and lush pensions on the public fisc, subject to dismissal for no offense less grave than serial arson or piracy on the high seas."

It goes on from there, getting only richer with cliche and lack of thought, every line ringing changes on right-wing talking points, showing not one bit of familiarity with the actual world of public schools -- or any actual school, or any actual teachers, or any actual children, for that matter. What he is obviously doing is pandering to his conservative audience -- those as ignorant of the actual school system as he is, either because they are elderly or because they are religious homeschoolers or because they are childless -- and from the comment section of the post, that is who he has, in fact, appealed to. (The few readers who have children in the public school system protest Derbyshire's ignorance and incorrectness in the comments, pointing out that no, teachers don't, in fact, work half days, that girls don't, in fact, hate science and math -- but the rest ignore these readers.)

Here's the web address -- my links are down, I'm afraid:

I was originally annoyed that Derbyshire got paid to write this swill -- but hey, so does Coulter get paid to write her filthy idiocy, and it's a free market, innit? What annoys me more, I've decided, is that people in America have been so ill-educated is that they can read this swill and say, yah, man, you right!

We deserve Bush, apparently.

Too bad.

Update: I feel obligated to add a discaimer -- my kid, as long-time readers know, is no longer in the public schools. We took her out after kindergarten. But this was not due to the quality of the school or the teachers. Her teacher was excellent, and the school was doing the best it could with the funding it had. No, we took her out because of the culture that surrounded her, especially then, three years ago, at the peak of Bush fever. We took her out because she was surrounded by parents driving their kids to schools in Hummers and five year old girls who wouldn't play with her unless she went to "Dance Team" lessons (where she dressed in a sparkly pink swim suit and high heels and learned to march while throwing a baton) and other five year olds who pestered her relentlessly about why she wasn't Saved and did she want to come to Sunday School or Bible Camp with them and those five-year-olds' parents who ambushed her in the lunch room to repeat the invitation and then her best friend who made fun of her unless she wore pink, every day, and kids on the playground astounded that she had never watched Halloween X, or whatever that mass murder movie is -- did I mention these were five year olds? -- and why didn't she have an XBox (or whatever the game was then) what was wrong with her? Didn't she know what cool was? Not to mention the barrage of sugar -- they lived on sugar and dye, those kids. And she wanted to, too.

Anyway. It was the classmates and their parents, not the school, that we mainly moved from; and also to get the smaller class size -- 44 students they had in her class at the public school. I still can't believe that. Her teacher was amazing, but even so.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Hey, This is Cool

When your kid grows up some? She forgets all the stuff you did when she was little, like putting food coloring in her bath so that she could have multi-colored bath water.

So now you can do it all again.

Recycled parenting!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

More on Income Disparity

This post from Angry Bear:

Socialist Rant

Over on Pandagon, Amanda has an interesting post up about income disparity, and that growing gap between our rich and our poor, and what's up with the middle class.

Go have a look, and a think.

This issue is particularly itchy with me today since I took the kid to the oral surgeon yesterday. We were at the dentist last month, and the orthodonist two weeks ago. She's only eight, you know. But my, her jaws. Anyway, she needs two teeth extracted and she has a tongue-tie, apparently, though you wouldn't know it from the rate she talks, and then in June the orthodontist is going to start doing major work...we have insurance. Oh, yes. But you know insurance these days. It's useless.

Longtime readers of this blog will know I went through bankruptcy over medical issues just two years ago. I pay almost five hundred a month for the medical/dental coverage I have now. That's just for the coverage. That doesn't begin to address co-pays and drugs, which I also pay for. I'm not pleased to find out how little of the surgery is going to be covered -- almost none of it, as it develops. It will cost over a thousand dollars to extract two teeth and clip her lingual frenum, and I have to pay for almost seven hundred of that.

Someone remind me again why socialized medicine is a bad idea.

Which is not my main point. My main point -- and I do have one -- is besides my massive health insurance bills, relative to my income, my huge medical expenses, relative to my income, my giant tax bills, relative to my income (nine thousand to the Federal government last year, seven thousand to the state, who knows what in sales taxes, because who can keep track), I have all these incidental expenses, added on: three dollar a gallon gasoline, thanks to some stupid Iraqi war; food prices that skyrocket, thanks to the three-dollar gasoline; an electric bill that was suddenly, last summer, in the triple digits, thanks to the skyrocketing cost of fuel; and what am I, the squeezed middle class, going to do about this?

Take money out of my trust fund? Oh, wait. What trust fund?

Cut back on labor cost? That would be cool, if I only owned the means of production.

We are left with nothing to do but either stop eating, stop buying something (but what? rent? fuel? clothes?), or go into debt. I refuse to risk that last one again, and what else is there?

We're doing without clothes at the moment, and eating crap, but that is starting to get truly grim.

As Amanda points out in her article, the New Deal was struck for a reason, and it wasn't because everyone loved Socialists, either.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Trying Something

We'll see if it works.

This one of mr. delagar's publications -- my favorite, in fact:

It's a pdf, obviously.

I've never done one of those before.

Oh, Who Cares?

The lack of uproar of Padilla and the habeas corpus issue in general continues to upset me.

People who ought to care about this and don't -- what is up, dudes?

This should be a central issue. Our country, our government, can take its citizens -- any of us -- seize us, hold us, torture us, for any reason or none, for as long as it wishes. All that government has to do is says it has cause. (Padilla is a U.S. Citizen. Bush said he was an enemy combatant. Didn't prove it in court. Didn't offer evidence to that effect. Just said it. And Padilla got held and tortured for 3 years. Now he has been charged -- not with being an enemy combatant, mind you. With a string of other crimes.)

And does anyone mind? Does anyone care? Are we upset?


Not like anything important is happening, is it?

Go read here:

The Kid Mouths Off

Conversation at the delagar household this morning:

mr. delagar (picking up his keys): well, I'm off to save the world for democracy.

me: me, I'm off to save the world for socialism. Someone put Big Dog out, will you? Big Dog has to save the world for dog-dom.

The Kid: What's he going to do? Bite his butt all day?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sodding Off God

Twisty has, as I'm sure you know, been doing a series called Sod Off, God over on her site --

due to which, along with various events that have been rearing up in my life, I've been forced to revisit this annoying God question.

And shit, is it annoying. Like black flies, you know. Zzzzz, zzzz, zzzzz. They won't shut up and they won't die? And they're useless on top of it? That's how I feel about the theists.

Mind you, I am willing to admit that some perfectly nice theists exist.

Fred on Slacktivist.

Anne Lamott. But that's -- um -- two? And for those two I give you the thousand like these folk over at Jimmy Akin

and Fred Phelps and Dawn Eden and my student who told me with all sincerity that the lake of fire was waiting for my feminist self if I did not repent at once.


Here's what's been happening in the delagar household lately.

The kid asks me about baptism. Her grandparents, who are Christians, take her to their church from time to time, and apparently she has seen them take communion there. I explain what that is, as clearly as I can. It's bizarre, though, when you try to explain that ritual from the outside -- "See, the little cracker is meant to be God's flesh and the grape juice is blood, and -- well, why they're eating it, it's to remember that Jesus died -- no, Jesus and God are the same -- and Jesus died as a sacrifice and if they eat his -- no, it's not really his real blood, well, in some churches it is, but not Grandma's --, you don't have to eat it, because you're not baptized. What's baptized? Well."

And this led into baptism.

And this led into whether I had ever been baptized.

And this led into whether I believed in God. Again.

Because the kid knows other people are theists. She goes to this school full of hard-rock Baptists and Islamists and Buddhists, whatever, they're all theists except her. Even her father is a sort-of Jew. She knows he sort of believes in a kind of a God.

She knows I don't.

"Why do people believe in God?" she demanded of me. "Why?"

"Well," I said, "I can't speak for them. But I think it's mostly because they're afraid of death."

She considered this. We were lying in bed, having just awakened on a Sunday morning, which is when we have our deep philosophical discussions. "Who wouldn't be?" she demanded.

"I'm not," I said. "Not really." I'm afraid of dying, though I didn't tell her this. Death itself doesn't bother me -- but the process of getting there, the inconvenience, the destruction it will wreak upon those I love, that's what worries me. But death? Shit. Frankly, I can use the sleep.
"I used to be," I added, "but I'm not anymore."

"I am," she admitted.

"Well, you're meant to be," I said. "It's evolution's way of keeping you alive."

She considered this.

"Once you grow up," I said, "I think that's meant to wear off. But some people don't grow up, I guess. I don't know. Anyway, I think that's what God is. A way people have invented of trying to pretend they will never die. Like your imaginary friends. And then they get everyone else to believe in it too. Well, all right. That's fine. But what if you started shooting other people because they wouldn't believe in your dragons? That would not be so pleasant."

Which is the main problem I have with theists. If they would just huddle in their churches and believe in their gods, fine. If they would have their delusional moments, whatever. But they want to force everyone to believe what they believe -- and I know why, of course, because unless they can get everyone to agree that the big green bunny is there, then they can't really be certain it is, and then they might have to die after all -- and they need this to such an extent that they start wars, and commit oppressions, and torture the infidel, and create the patriarchy, and all that rest, just to support their central delusion.

Get over it, I say.

You're going to die. Caeser was mortal. So are you. Stop putting your energy into lies, start putting it into the truth, and see what you might be able to do, just one fucking time.

How about that plan?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Real Patriots Don't Flinch

I really tried to avoid writing this post.

I have fond memories of reading Orson Scott Card’s fiction. He wasn’t ever my SF favorite writer, mind you – that would be Bujold and Octavia Butler and Connie Willis, Kage Baker and Eleanor Arnason – but I liked him well enough, though I wasn’t as fond of Ender’s Game as most people seemed to be. I liked his short stories better, and his books about family life. When he started writing military stuff, frankly, he made me itch. And why, you ask? Well, it was so obviously adolescent boy’s power porn – like that Weber stuff, and that other guy, what’s his name, Feintuch. If you get off on that, whatever, but I don’t have to watch while you do, do I?

Anyway. Card has come out with another book, Empire, and I can’t sit down and shut up anymore. It’s about a civil war between the Evil Liberals and the (less) evil conservatives, and, again, whatever.

(Card claims to be a liberal, but anyone who has read his work knows he only thinks that because he grew up among the Mormons. The first time he met a real liberal, apparently he ran screeching and hasn’t stopped.) (In the second chapter of Empire his stalwart hero speaks of the “insane Left,” by which he seems to mean the professors of Princeton, so there you are.) (Also, Card, like most writers outside the Academy, knows nothing about actual university professors. For instance, he seems to think professors would be offended by the sight of a student in uniform. What planet is this man living on? He also seems to have bought that idiot Horowitz’s claim that professors know nothing about their subjects, or know only the PC version of their subject. Yes, right. That’s how we study these days. Only the Leftist version of history or literature, Mr. Card.)

The passage that made me not able to shut up was not, though, either the really stupid skirmish in chapter one, where Our Hero Reuben Takes Down the Terrorists Without Losing a Single Man or Injuring Any Villagers Except One (because, you know, war Really Really works that way – in Enderbot land a skirmish might play out that way, but in a real war I don’t think so) where was I? Oh – or the equally unrealistic seminar scene in chapter two – no it was this paragraph, in chapter 3:

(Reuben’s wife is talking)

"My husband is a patriot. And a born officer. He is not troubled by the things he does to defend his country. He has killed people, even though he's a gentle man by nature, and yet he does not wake up screaming in the night from combat flashbacks, and he doesn't lash out at the children, and he shows no sign of traumatic stress disorder. I know ….that my husband has no qualms about bearing arms for his country and using them. "

What bothers me about this bit is not the implication that someone could kill people and not be troubled by it, because, you know, if Card wants to believe that in his boy-porn fantasy, whatever.

(And frankly, I am willing to believe that people exist who would not be troubled by killing other humans. I’m just not willing to accept Card’s proposition this same person would also be a “gentle,” undamaged human being.)

No, what got under my skin about this bit was its implication: which was that those soldiers who do suffer from combat flashbacks, who do show signs of PTSD, who do lash out at their wives and children, why, those veterans must not be patriots.

Or, I don’t know, maybe they just aren’t good enough patriots.

Not like Orson Scott Card. Who spent – someone remind me – how many days in the armed services?

The real reason this passage pissed me off so very fucking much was I have students who have returned from Iraq. Lots of them. One of them missed half of this semester because he was in Iraq. Others have gone and come back, others are going. One of them, in my freshman comp course, is one of my best writers. He just wrote me a series of essays about dealing with PTSD, interestingly enough. He is also a conservative – a red stater from way back.

(Not all veterans are, despite Card’s claim in Empire: I’d say about 40 percent of my veteran students are liberals, and that’s in this state, Arkansas, buckle of the Bible belt.)

He and I wrangle, politely enough, about feminist issues and the war and terrorism and any number of things. Unlike Card’s stalwart hero Reuben, he doesn’t wear his uniform every day to class to Show Me (he’s never worn it, oddly enough); and if he did, would I glare at him? No. Because do I hate veterans? No. I don’t even hate conservatives. I like this student a great deal, in fact.

Back to his series of essays about PTSD. I can’t quote him, though I wish I could, because he’s an excellent writer, but he wrote in one essay about setting down in Fallujah in a helicopter and having things go wrong, what that was like; he writes in another about what it’s been like since he got back, how even having ice drop from the icemaker can set off a flashback, how he thinks he hears gunshots in the night and drags his wife under him in the bed, covering her body with his (oops, I’m quoting him) before he realizes it was just a nightmare, only he isn’t really sure, even after he’s awake, that it was a nightmare. He’s still half-convinced he heard the gunshots.

I get essays like this from my students. Not all as good as this one, but real experiences. I read the essays from my students, and then I’m on Hatrack River, listening to Card shoot his mouth off. Real patriots don’t suffer PTSD. Real patriots don’t fuck up insertions. Real patriots have no qualms. Real patriots think liberals are insane for thinking the Iraq war was and is a bad idea.

I won’t even go into Card’s ideas about homosexuality and feminism, and what he’s getting wrong in those categories.

We’ll save that for some other sleety afternoon.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I Suppose

I shouldn't be surprised by this, but I find I am.

Denver police are going after Mike Jones -- you remember him. He's the fellow who blew the whistle on Ted Haggard? Apparently because Haggard has lawyered up (and is being protected by his church, which, mind you, is his right under the law, and I argue not with that one bit) the police are now leaning on Jones. If they can't get the Turk in power, they'll take whoever they can get.

(Via Joe.My.God:

Luckily Jones has a lawyer himself, but still.

This, if we needed more evidence, is what is wrong with this idiot war on drugs. It leads to idiot moves like this one. Not to mention that of the 2.2 million of our population in prison (the highest number in the world, btw, no other country in the world has that many people locked up), what is it, nearly a million of them are there on drug-related charges? Any idea how many schoolteachers we could put on the ground for what that's costing us?

Education Saves the World

Or it might, you know, if we only did it properly.

Here, read this bit in the Times:

There are a number of interesting things about this article.

One is the teaching of Latin. Now as someone who specialized in Greek and Roman literature, you can imagine I am all for the teaching of Latin, and in fact I am. I do think we ought to go back to teaching Latin to all gits, starting at age seven, and not stopping until they're seventeen or so -- and I do think that all of them can learn it, by the way, because Latin is not that hard, no matter what you have heard; Latin is one of the easier of languages: it is so very orderly and makes so much sense. The very learning of the language itself forces the mind to learn order; knowing the language means the student knows grammar, far beyond anything a class in English grammar will give him or her, simply because, in order to read Latin, the student is forced to analyze grammatical structure constantly; and, as this article makes clear, studying Latin doesn't mean just studying language, it means studying culture -- ours, the Roman culture, the Greek culture, Western culture itself. That's why learning Latin is the underpinning of an educated mind. Or it was. Or it should be.

So that's one thing.

Here's another: the article insinuates that these students are succeeding not because they're studying Latin, but because they're in small classes -- 15 students per class. (That's small, apparently -- my daughter's Montessori class has 4 students in it. I drop that in as an aside. Hers is also an unusually small class -- the first grade, just below hers, though, has 10 students, a normal size for her school.) First, I'd like to ask, why is this an either/or? Why is it not both/and? These kids are doing well both because they're learning Latin AND because they're not crammed into a public school classroom with 44 students in the classroom? (As my daughter's public school kindergarten classroom had 44 students in it? One of whom was ED and threw chairs if he was crossed?) By which I mean to ask, we are told, by people who are always telling us with their next breath that we have to pay CEOs a huge salary in order to attract the best men to the position, that you can't solve the problems of public education by throwing money at them, but damn, I say, sounds like to me this might be one you could.

Put more teachers on the ground. How? Why, pay them huge salaries to attract the best (ahem) people into the positions, put fifteen students into each classroom, hire classics majors to teach every student Latin, hire engineers to teach them math, get college professors into the classroom (notice in this article that these *are* college professors teaching here), see what happens.

I have to tell you, with college professors? It wouldn't even have to be huge salaries. Lots of us are working for adjunct pay. You offer us forty a year and benefits, you'll scoop up plenty of adjuncts and folks working two and three year contracts. I ain't lying.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Decline & Fall

Teaching Didactic Children's Poetry in Vic Lit (Belloc, mostly), I discovered that my students had never heard the charming ditty, "Mabel, Mabel, strong and able, get your elbows off the table, this is not a horse's stable!"

Well, really.

What is the world coming to?

No wonder these kids today have no fucking manners.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Katrina Update

“You don’t have the internet?” I am appalled. Living as I do in Arkansas, I am used to people not having high-speed cable access, which is, you know, bad enough – but to be off the net entirely? Yikes.

“We don’t even have cable yet.”

“At all? No cable at all?”

“Hey, we just got power in June. We went halfway through June with no air conditioning.” My sister-in-law, the sainted one, the other liberal in the family, who married my youngest brother, shrugs. She doesn’t care about not having cable, or even air-conditioning. She and my brother – who is six-four, by the way—are living in a FEMA trailer, in Gentilly, still, a very small one, basically one room, from what I can understand, with two Large Dogs, and no cable, and no internet access, and an oven that uses up half their bottle of propane every time they cook anything, she tells me, and she has not killed my brother yet, and she shrugs at the information that the power was just hooked up in June.

You remember June, 2006? Which was very nearly a year after Katrina blew through, in August 2005?

Because I live some distance from my family I get these fast-forward shutter-like pictures of New Orleans. So: I visit for Christmas, I see some things. I drop the kid off in the summer, I see some things. Some of them come for Thanksgiving, I hear other things. Bits and pieces.

My nephew goes to Loyola. He tells me the area around the universities – Loyola and Tulane and there – is up and running. The Garden Districts, they’ve got that area all flash, he says. (I think he used a cooler word.)

My parents live out in Jefferson Parish. She claims things are fine out there. My father, though, is standing for the Levee Board. This tells me he must be tense about something.

My brother and sister-in-law, as I have said, live in Gentilly, in what is called, when one wants to be polite in New Orleans, a “mixed” neighborhood. This means both poor folk and richer folk live there. (No really rich folk, mind you – just some who actually own their own homes and lots who rent and some who are HUD folk.) This neighborhood is still FEMA trailers and houses being rebuilt and many houses not being rebuilt.

And down in the 9th Ward, I hear from one of my students who is a refuge from that area? She says it’s still a wasteland down there. She says nothing is being done in the 9th Ward. I don’t know that for a fact. But I wouldn’t be shocked, either.
(Scroll down for a charming picture of what the 9th Ward looked like after Katrina -- well after it.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Heart of Steel, Me

Sent off the query to the next agent.

This one takes email submissions. So at least it won't take very long before I get rejected this time.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006


What's that?

No, no, just a semi-mortal wound!

Hardly stings at all! Never mind the gush of blood!

Pain? What pain? Bah! I laugh at pain. Ha! Ha Ha!

Rejected. Apparently the agent does not like gay socialist science fiction with sociopathic heroes who speak odd dialects of English. Hmm. Go figure.

Don't mind me. I'm off to sulk a bit.

No, not actually. Actually I'm trying some other agent.

Because we writers? Hearts of STEEL.

(I wish.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Speaking of which

Which I was, in the previous post --

The kid has latched onto Harry Potter. Thanks to our fearless leader (what did Scott Card call him in that darling essay? Statesmanlike? What the fuck ever) anyway, thanks to Prince George and his No Child's Behind test that she had to take last year, the school knows she's reading on at least the 11th grade level, so they have started sending her into the upper elementary side of the school for her silent reading books. (Montessori school has silent reading every afternoon.) Anyway, she found a Harry Potter book last week and now she's reading all 3 of the first 3 at once, which is how she does things, this kid.

Where as I?

Oh, right, Hermione.

"Why are Harry and Ron so mean to Hermione?" she demanded of me last night as I was making her bedtime snack. She had just read the scene where Hermione is crying in the girl's bathroom and almost gets pulverized by the troll.

"Excellent question," I said. "Why are they mean to her? What do you think the problem is?"

"Is it just because she's smart? What's wrong with being smart?"

"Are they mean to other people who are smart?" I nudged. "Like...oh...Percy?"

She frowned. "Well...they make fun of him a little...but no."

"They don't despise him they way they do her. Do they? Hmm," I say. "What's up, do you suppose?"

She gave me a suspicious look.

"What's the difference between Percy and Hermione?" I said. "I'll give you a hint. It's one word."

"Patriarchy?" she said, annoyed.

I grinned at her. "But don't worry. Harry and Ron get over it in a bit here and stop being patriarchal jerks. Well, mostly."

She scowled at the book. "It's not Hermione's fault she's a girl."

"Uh," I said. "Sweetie? There's nothing wrong with being a girl."

She kept scowling.

Fucking patriarchy.

My Fucking Shit

I aim -- y'all know me and I do aim -- to believe that most people are decent human beings.

But I was over there on Twisty's site, reading about this lap dance referendum in Seattle?

(You must read Twisty, by the way. If you have not yet begun to read Twisty's site on a regular basis, bookmark it now and start stopping by. She is not always easy to edge into, and maybe you will not always be happy with what you find, but Twisty is writing some of the most important posts on the blogosphere. Link up.)

Anyway. I'm reading that one, and and I clicked through to link to Fark, where some guys and Patriarchy-lovers who support guys are giving their deep thoughts.

I have to warn you. This site is evil.

Monday, November 13, 2006

My First Time

So I return from fetching a fresh cup of coffee to find the kid standing ON the chair at my writing desk, preliminary to knocking it over (landing quite deftly on her feet, but never mind that bit). I yelp in outrage. "Hey!"

"What?" she inquires innocently, having safely landed.

"That is my writing chair! My sacred iconographic writing chair!" I snatch it up and make sure it is okay. "I have sat in this chair to write since I was fifteen years old! D'you know what would happen if this chair broke?"

"Umm...we would have to buy another one?"

"No! I would have to become an ACCOUNTANT!" I give her a fierce glare.

She studies me. "You're messing, right?"

"Maybe," I say. "A bit." I adjust my chair and sit in it. Then I give her a fierce sidelong look. "But NEVER do that again."

She lets out her breath, patiently. "You're weird, Mom."

Shit. And it only took until she was eight.

War On Boyz

I'm still teaching that Rogerian thing, still with mixed results.

It's really reading I'm teaching, of course.

I used to go into Freshman composition and tell my students I was here to teach them to read, but I have stopped doing that, since it annoyed them too much. Really, though, it is what I do: teach students to read. They don't, in fact, know how.

Oh, they can read: I mean, they can look at the words on the page and figure out what the sounds mean. But they read on the most literal of level, nearly all of them -- as do many Americans, apparently -- and they cannot read irony or subtext at all.

So when I ask them to read for Rogerian context, it's like I'm asking them to see a color off their spectrum entirely.

This essay here, "A War Against the Boys," another off the Chronicle Arts & Letters site:

about 3/4 of them misread entirely.

They all liked the essay -- enjoyed reading it, seemed to have put some time into reading it, knew it well enough to discuss it in a lively fashion, but took it wholly literally.

It starts like this:

Doug Anglin isn’t likely to flash across the radar screen at an Ivy League admissions office. A seventeen-year-old senior at Milton High School, a suburb outside Boston, Anglin has a B-minus average and plays soccer and baseball. But he’s done something that millions of other teenagers haven’t: he’s sued his school district for sex discrimination. Anglin’s lawsuit, brought with the aid of his father, a Boston lawyer, claims that schools routinely discriminate against males. “From the elementary level, they establish a philosophy that if you sit down, follow orders, and listen to what they say, you’ll do well and get good grades,” he told a journalist. “Men naturally rebel against this.”

And contains paragraphs like this:

If boys are doing worse, whose fault is it? To many of the current critics, it’s women’s fault, either as feminists, as mothers, or as both. Feminists, we read, have been so successful that the earlier “chilly classroom climate” has now become overheated to the detriment of boys. Feminist-inspired programs have enabled a whole generation of girls to enter the sciences, medicine, law, and the professions; to continue their education; to imagine careers outside the home. But in so doing, these same feminists have pathologized boyhood. Elementary schools are, we read, “anti-boy”—emphasizing reading and restricting the movements of young boys. They “feminize” boys, forcing active, healthy, and naturally exuberant boys to conform to a regime of obedience, “pathologizing what is simply normal for boys,” as one psychologist puts it. Schools are an “inhospitable” environment for boys, writes Christina Hoff Sommers, where their natural propensities for rough-and-tumble play, competition, aggression, and rambunctious violence are cast as social problems in the making.

But it also has lots of paragraphs like this:

WHAT'S WRONG with this picture? Well, for one thing, it creates a false opposition between girls and boys, assuming that educational reforms undertaken to enable girls to perform better hinder boys’ educational development. But these reforms—new classroom arrangements, teacher training, increased attentiveness to individual learning styles—actually enable larger numbers of boys to get a better education. Though the current boy advocates claim that schools used to be more “boy friendly” before all these “feminist” reforms, they obviously didn’t go to school in those halcyon days, the 1950s, say, when the classroom was far more regimented, corporal punishment common, and teachers far more authoritarian; they even gave grades for “deportment.” Rambunctious boys were simply not tolerated; they dropped out. Gender stereotyping hurts both boys and girls.

The essay goes on to cut down the arguments of Sommers and her ilk -- in fact, a bit too harshly, which was why I gave the class the essay, because I wanted them to note that Kimmel was failing to be Rogerian to that opposition. Instead, they failed to notice that he was arguing against Sommers at all! They thought he was arguing against feminism! They thought Kimmel was agreeing that there was a war on boys!


So -- obviously -- before we can teach them to write and think -- we'll have to teach them to read, won't we?

Seriously, though, the Kimmel essay is a good one. Have a look.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Oh my

Here's a commentor over at Ann's Blog. His name is Kirby. I'd link him, but I'm having trouble with links lately. (Grr.)

Anyway, over at Ann Althouse, they're debating, yet again, how to win the Iraqi war -- y'all remember? That one we have no business fighting & George never should have started? Which was first because of -- well, why WAS it started, first? Was it WMD? Or because of 9/11? Or to protect the Iraqi people? Or to draw the terrorists away from us, over to there (the flaypaper theory of war)? It's so hard to keep track...Orson Scott Card and Ann and the rest are NOW arguing, as near as I can follow, something like the Domino Theory: we CAN'T QUIT NOW! Cause if we do, everyone will KNOW we're wimps, and all the nations will tumble into the gap we leave like like like like like --

Oh, yeah. Like Dominos.

Damn. I think I heard this argument somewhere before.

Anyway, whose fault is it that we're losing Iraq, according to Kirby?

You got it! Feminists!
(I was thinking Clinton, too, but don't worry, he's next, I'm sure.):

Kirby sez:
"There's a neat book called The Vacant Chair by a historian named Reid Mitchell. He argues that the Civil War was won by the greater will of the mothers of the north to sacrifice their sons for the cause.

"A good woman nurtured, and her nurture was the means by which boys and men had good moral sense inculcated" (74-75) Oxford UP, 1993.

I think feminism vitiated women's sense

a. of the value of American culture

b. of the necessity of war

c. created women like Cindy Sheehan, who are now legion

Very few moms have the toughness of W.'s mother*. Very very few. And it's the women's will that matters. What men do is mostly to please mom.

If mom says grow your hair long and take drugs, that's what the men do.

If mom says, defend your country: the men and boys will. That's why at the top of the Civil War monuments it's always a woman holding the flame of liberty.

Reid Mitchell argues that the mothers of the north never caved, but that the women of the south did cave. They wanted their men home, and so they went. That's the story of a film like Cold Mountain. She wanted her man home. He went, and he went in the hundreds of thousands. And the war ended.

"Soldiering leaves the chair vacant; death while soldiering leaves the chair more vacant still" (xiv).

The vacant chairs of the north were not put away. There was always a place for the soldier. Something happened between then and now: Cindy Sheehan is a bigger part of the mystery than we currently believe. She's part of a new generation of women who were trained to believe that war can not be moral and that their job is to prevent it at any cost."

Althouse's blog is here.

Kirby's comment is under the post comparing the Iraqi War to the Civil War.

Card's essay is all over the web -- apparently Rush gave him a mention and the Wingers got all hot for him. Just go to Google Blog Search and put in Scott Card and "only issue" and "this election" and it will come up.

(*Of course, as a later commentor points out, one TINY problem with Kirby's theory is that George W. never actually WENT to any war, but never mind, never mind!)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Build This World

But not with us.

I'm teaching this ENGL 1203 this semester -- that's the first half of Freshman comp -- and we're at the end of the semester, where I start teaching them about Rogerian argument, and begging them not to do what America has been doing for the past dozen years or so. Build common ground, I say. Assume, even if, or especially if, you don't believe it, that those you are trying to convince are at least as well-intentioned and well-educated as you are. Treat the enemy like your neighbor: like your fellow human.

And why would you do this? Because Jesus and Buddha and Plato said you should?

No. Because it works.

Anyway, all of that, yap yap yap, I go on about it in class until my students can recite it like the alphabet, and then I give them essays and make them tell me what the writers are doing that's effective, in a Rogerian sense, or inneffective, in a Rogerian sense.

Which brings me to this essay, "Shopcraft as Soulcraft," by Matthew Crawford, lately linked off the Arts and Letters page of the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

Let me say up front that on the whole it is a fine piece of work, and that I like his thesis. Further, my students liked the essay too, despite its length and his discouraging habit of saying things like "gratuitous ontological insecurity is no fun for most people."

This point here, for instance, is an excellent one:

" While manufacturing jobs have certainly left our shores to a disturbing degree, the manual trades have not. If you need a deck built, or your car fixed, the Chinese are of no help. Because they are in China. And in fact there are reported labor shortages in both construction and auto repair. Yet the trades and manufacturing are lumped together in the mind of the pundit class as “blue collar,” and their requiem is intoned. Even so, the Wall Street Journal recently wondered whether “skilled [manual] labor is becoming one of the few sure paths to a good living.” This possibility was brought to light for many by the bestseller The Millionaire Next Door, which revealed that the typical millionaire is the guy driving a pickup, with his own business in the trades. My real concern here is not with the economics of skilled manual work, but rather with its intrinsic satisfactions. I mention these economic rumors only to raise a suspicion against the widespread prejudice that such work is somehow not viable as a livelihood."

But -- here comes my giant but -- all through the essay, Crawford has passages like these:

"The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. Boasting is what a boy does, who has no real effect in the world."

"Finding myself at loose ends one summer in Berkeley, I built a mahogany coffee table on which I spared no expense of effort. At that time I had no immediate prospect of becoming a father, yet I imagined a child who would form indelible impressions of this table and know that it was his father’s work."

"More fundamentally, the durable objects of use produced by men “give rise to the familiarity of the world, its customs and habits of intercourse between men and things as well as between men and men,” as Hannah Arendt says."

Women, when they appear in Crawford's discourse at all, (apart from the scholars he cites) appear as wives -- there to sniff him when he returns from a hard day at work and attempt to guess, unsuccessfully, of course, about what he might have been doing all day long (such things being beyond a woman, I'm to suppose?) or to accompany the man to the bars he frequents and be the audience as he wins applause from the bikers whose machines he has repaired.

My students, who are, and I swear to you, good students -- they have cottoned on to this Rogerian thing, they understand the damage that is done when a writer fails to reach out to his audience -- but when I pointed this problem out to them, how Crawford, by ignoring half of the population, lost half of his audience, not only did they utterly refuse to agree with me, refuse to admit that this problem existed in Crawford's essay, they grew absolutely furious with me for pointing it out.

Not all of them, mind you. Three or four of the women agreed with me.

But about nine of the men and maybe three of the women were pretty angry.

So we've still got some room to go, folks, turning this red state blue.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Not to gloat, because that would be rude,

but doesn't it feel good, to have the good guys winning again, finally?

Yay, America!

A New Day, A New Plan

So what about this idea: We impeach Bush. Then we impeach Cheney. Then Pelosi is the new President.

Whaddaya say?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Diane Speaks Out

If you're still confused about what the problem is with the Bush Administration, or this administration general, Diane over at The Dees Diversion has done a fine job of making it clear:

...people are fed up with the war in Iraq, but not with the fact that the U.S. has been responsible for killing who knows how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens. And they are not fed up with the fact that Bush has poisoned them and their children with industrial toxins. Nor are they fed up with the fact that he has destroyed the economy, instructed schools to teach that girls should be submissive, brought about the suffering and death of countless African women and children (his very first act as alleged president), broken the wall that separates church and state, refused to permit Americans their guaranteed freedom of speech, supported the torture and rape of detainees, removed the basic rights of the accused, replaced science with right-wing Christian jabberwocky, and determined that he does not have to obey any national laws.

It hasn't helped that the news media has refused to discuss Bush's (actually, Cheney's, of course) enthusiastic destruction of our country, which was way far from being what it should be, but is now broken beyond recognition. And it hasn't helped that the "liberals" have, with a few blessed exceptions, gone along with the program.

There's more.

Vote Them Out!

The kid asked me this morning what this election day was for -- she knows it's not to to vote Bush out, she's been doing the count down for that since she was six. I explained what this election was for and how even if we couldn't get rid of the idiot in chief it was still an important election, since we could get rid of many of the very bad men who were letting their chief do things like pass torture bills and get rid of habeas corpus and put us in a war in a Iraq that served no purpose (aside from slaughter and increasing terrorism and ill-will against America) while here at home he was putting on flashy shows like the Defense of Marriage Act to distract his base.

"So we still have to get out and vote," I finished, "even if we can't get every one of them out. We can change a little of it with this vote, at least."

So get out and vote, y'all. Hear?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Another Reason to Vote Them Out

Just in case you needed one, you know.

Alyssa Peterson...[an]Army specialist who spoke Arabic and served in Iraq as an interrogator. She passed away on the night of September 15th, 2003 in Iraq. She was not killed by insurgents or friendly fire. She shot herself to death with her own service rife.

Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


So we went out last night in the Other Liberal Professor's 'hood. The Kid was a dragon ("I am a dragon from a spell-cast village," she announced. "I need lots of candy to save the world.") and Miles was a very dapper green Power Ranger and Mick was a handsome cowboy. We scored big time on the candy, let me tell you.

Mick was excellent at finding houses that were giving the candy. (Not all houses do, in AR. This is due to the Fundie thing. Because Halloween is the holiday of the devil, say many of our churches here*. So many people will not give candy or put out pumpkins, because they would be encouraging Satan's work by doing so. But, this being the South, no one wants to be rude about it, so we have evolved a polite way to indicate who thinks Halloween is evil and who's cool with it: if you're cool with it, you put out a pumpkin and leave your porch light on. If you think it's Satan's work, you do no pumpkining and keep all your lights off. Very civil, in't it?) Anyway, Mick, by the time we had gone half a block, had figured this system out --- he's 20 months old -- and was finding the next target and pointing it out to us, urging us on to the candy, the candy! He's a clever boy, our Mick.

Me, I was ready to head home by the 21st house ("Don't we have enough candy?" I hinted, because their plastic pumpkins were full) but I got scoffed at. Enough candy? What was I talking? We pressed on! We got more candy!

Then we collapsed! Luckily we were not far from the Other Liberal Professor's home at that point, because when 8 and 5 year olds collapse, it is not a pretty sight, even if they are dragons and Power Rangers.

*Here's an ancient post of mine on the topic

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Light Blogging

So where have I been?

(1) Grading midterms. Still, yes. I am the world's slowest grader, I believe. I hate grading students. Surely students are not like eggs, or sides of beef. Surely they cannot be graded as if they were. Yet here I am, trying to do just that. Grrr. Many of these midterms, though, are not as bad as I had feared, having graded the first few, though my Vic Lit students are showing a distressing tendancy to mix up Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens. Still it is very slow going.

(2) Halloween. Here it comes, and all its attendant joy. We must carve pumpkins. We must buy candy. There are parties. We must get costumes. (The kid was a siren for the pre-Halloween festivities, with a fancy green gown, full of flowing green veils and lacy bits and sparkles, from the trunk of dress-up clothing given to her by her favorite aunts, also a hat from the same trunk, also Dr. Who high-tops with the costume, and went around telling everyone who mistakenly said, Oh, what a sweet princess!, I am NOT a princess, I am a SIREN, I lure members of the PATRIARCHY to their DEATHS, then followed this up with several high notes of lively melody. For the actual Halloween night she plans to be a dragon. Green and red.)

(3) The agent. My submission came back because the address I had was the old address. So I had to find the new address and send it off again. The agnst, you would not believe. Now I must fret and moan and whine and eat more Xanax.

(4) My alloparent, mr. delagar, is making a documentary, about a local artist. This is while he is writing his dissertation and teaching five classes and writing his novel and while I am working on the revisions of books 1-3, just in case the agent actually wants to take me on, and grading midterms, and teaching four classes with four different preps, and -- wait. Weren't we raising a kid in here somewhere? Where did she go?

Anyway. It's been crowded here lately. I might get some time to post more often soon. Who knows?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Mend This World

Go over to Slacktivist and read all of this post -- this is just a bit of it:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

And then get out in November and vote these evil, evil, evil bastards out of power.

Do it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What's a Blog, Again?

Why I Do What I Do

(A post for Reconstruction Journal:

I started my blog my accident, two years ago, when I was trying to comment on Pete’s blog. Pete used to run the Dark Window. I still miss Pete.

I keep on blogging because I keep having things to say. I forget which blog it was that said a blog was a little First Amendmant machine – Lawyers, Guns, and Money, maybe? – but this is so. Once upon a time in America to be heard by any audience at all you had to command a printing press, or a sizeable amount of money, or to be connected to someone who could get your words in print or over the airwaves or on film. Now, well, all you need is a computer. And some luck at getting linked, of course. (Where are all the feminist bloggers, huh?)

I blog because, here in the 21st century, America is not the utopian paradise it was supposed to be. Remember that? Do you remember that? We are supposed to be a more perfect union. I was reminding my freshmen of that this morning in class. No, I said to them: No, no, no, no. This is, in fact, America. We are, in fact, supposed to be created equal here. It is not, in fact, all right for us to treat some people as though they were somehow lesser beings – he’s not a citizen, so we can torture him? That’s an illegal immigrant, so I can do what I want? That’s not what we do here. This is America, I told them. That’s supposed to mean something! We are meant to have justice here! This is supposed to be the place where everyone is free and equal!

Right, one of them answered back. More perfect union, and all that.

And all that: that is why I blog.

Because “and all that” has not yet happened.

I am here to help bring that world.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Kid and Lit Crit

So I'm making quesidillas for dinner last night (now that I have finished the draft of book five, I am actually cooking again. And cleaning out closets. And doing laundry. And amazing shit like that.) and the kid comes in, frowning.

"Why," she demands, "is the mother always dead?"

"What?" I ask.

"In all the Disney Movies. Finding Nemo. Bambi. Beauty and the Beast. Why is the mother always dead?"

"Ah. Well. I got one word for you, kid."

She gives me a look. "Patriarchy?"

I grin happily. "Patriarchy," I agree. "Even Winnie the Pooh, where there is one mother, Kanga, what's she do?"

"Nothing," the kid says, warily, because she hates it when I turn my critical lens on Winnie the Pooh, her archetypal text. "She says oh my."

"There you go. In the patriarchal world, the woman is absent, passive, or evil." I am warming up to my lecture now, as I put the quesidillas in the oven, about to go off on a rant on Saturday morning cartoons and how they reflect this patriarchal worldview, maybe with a side paragraph on tokenism, when the kid interrupts:

"What about Dory?"


"Dory. In Finding Nemo. She's not absent, passive, or evil. She's important. She speaks whale! She figures everything out! She always knows what to do! And she's a woman!"

Don't I love this child?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Advising Season Opens

It's advising season and students have been coming to me for advice.

I give it to them.

This is actually my favorite part of the job. I like students a deal better one on one than I do in large masses, so I like the chance to talk with them in my office, and to go over their progress with them, and here in the office, uncircumscribed by their peers, they are more who they are and less a construct of who they feel they ought to be, so I enjoy them more, too. And I like the mentoring bit. No, I say. Don't do that. Well, I say, have you thought of this? The things I wish someone had said to me, when I was nineteen.

On the other hand:

You know what I have had my bait of?

Students who wander into my office and inform me, as if I might sympathize, that they hate to read.

Pup, I say to them, you might consider that you are in the wrong field, then.

They stare at me in surprise.

No, they say, I want to do English. I just don't like to read.

Right: as Lydgate tells Rosamund, that's like saying you love to eat peaches, you just hate how they taste.

This field is nothing but reading. We don't make collages here. We don't drink tea and spent whole afternoons in garrets constructing perfect sonnets. We don't, no matter what Wordworth might have led you to believe, spend much of our time wandering the woods and fields admiring daffodils. We read. From time to time we write, yes. But then we read a lot more. And we do a truckload of committee work. And we read some more. And then we read some more. And then we advise students. And read some more. And teach. And read some more. And here is the truth: we like this. We like to read this much. We went into this profession because it was the only job we could find that would pay us to read this much.

So if you don't like to read this much, pup? If you wouldn't rather read than eat? (Heh -- I read while eating. I read while bathing. I read while I do laundry. I'm reading right now.) Do something else. Anything else.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Being the Man

So here is another reason I do not like midterms:

Students who cheat.

Fuck knows I understand that impulse.

Not that I ever did cheat -- oh, not me, not with my intellectual vanity. I was far too good to cheat, me. My giant brains always made me the smartest brat in the classroom and I knew everything and I never needed to cheat, hah, look at this, exams without a net, me, half the time I never even studied, why would I need to cheat, and I wouldn't have anyway, I would have taken an F before I cheated, cheating was for L-OSERS!

On the other hand, as I have noted, lifting small items from drugstores and bookstores? I had no problem with that when I was a kid. So obviously we are not talking moral issues here. It was pride, not ethics, that kept me in check, when I was seventeen and nineteen years old.

And I thieved novels from the chain bookstores because, well, it was easier than working for them, wasn't it? So I understand why my students are thieving their answers off of Wikipedia and and Essaysforfree. Beats working for the knowledge, ain't it? So far as they can see, anyway.

I'm also uncertain of what my response should be. On the one hand, I'm the man. I'm the authority here. Obviously I should smack them hard, make them learn that theft of other's work is not the path to wisdom, yap yap yap, and we do not tolerate this in the academy, you know the drill.

On the other hand: I was never caught. I got over it. I grew out of my wicked ways. (I submit to you further that, in my experience, most people do.) If I had been caught -- at nineteen -- I am fairly certain my life would not have been improved by the punishment that would have been inflicted on me. I am almost certain, in fact, that my life would have been made far worse by the punishment the legal system would have inflicted upon me. I would not, I am saying, be where I am today. So isn't it better that I wasn't ever caught? That punishment was never inflicted upon me?

Where was I?

Oh, yes. Smacking students.

I'm not the legal system, heaven knows. I don't send them to prison. But the actions I take sometimes have serious consequences. Students do lose scholarships because I fail them for cheating in my class. They lose health insurance. Their parents kick them out. I can say, as I have said in the past, well, this is not my fault. This is the student's fault. She cheated. He cheated. He should have thought of that before he took his essay off of EssaysAreUs. I said I would do it if they took their answers from Wikipedia -- did she think I was joking? But the fact remains -- am I making the world better or worse by harming the students in this way?

I can also argue that the jury is still out on whether they are harmed or made better by being failed in my class. But Plato said no one is made better by being punished, and I am slowly starting to think he might be right. (Oh, when has Plato ever been wrong?)

So my question is, what should I do about students who cheat on exams? Continue to slam them hard -- fail them for the semester -- or choose a different path?

Maybe a more useful one?

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Kid Grows Up

And becomes a girl.

And I am not sure I am happy about this change.

She studies me critically while I comb my hair in the mornings now, while I dress. She inserts comments. She instructs me that it is time, for instance, that I shaved my legs, for heaven's sake, what am I waiting for, Hanukkah?

This morning, standing beside me in the bathroom while I cleaned my teeth, she said, "Mom."

Recently she has taken to that, too: Mom, not Mama. I disapprove, and not only because I did so like Mama: also because the "Mom" comes with a little tone to it. As in "Mom, I'm only telling you this for your own good." Did I mention she was getting mouthy lately?

I spat. "What, you?"

"There is fuzz under your arms," she said, severely.

"There is, in fact," I say.

"Why are you growing hair under your arms?"

I resist the urge to say, in Snarky Mama guise, Because I'm turning into a werewolf. So many fine moments are ruined by our inability to pay for nine more months of therapy. "Because it's winter. I don't shave in the winter. No one can see it in the winter except Daddy. And he likes it."

This is TMI, and she flinches away from it. She has entered latency, and S-E-X (which is how she refers to it, S-E-X) appalls her now. "AAAGH!" she says, when anything vaguely sex related comes on TV. "S-E-X! Call me when it's over!").*

"That looks funny on girls," she informs me instead, still very firmly. "Hair under the arm."

I eye her in the mirror. "First," I say, "I am not a girl. I am a woman. Second, what are you, the Junior Enforcer for the Patriarchy Brigade? Where's your Badge, miss?"

"Blah, blah, blah," she says, and runs away.

"Would you give it a rest with the patriarchy bit?" mr. delagar says from the bedroom.

"When I'm dead," I say, rinsing my toothbrush cheerily.

*I think many Far-Right Christian Wingers are still in latency, btw. As evidence I submit how hysterical they got about the season premiere of Battlestar Galatica, because it had -- gasp -- S-E-X in it! No! Not that! Go see Jimmy Akin's site, with the comments, for an example.

Oh me

I sent the query to the agent yesterday afternoon.

mr. delagar said I couldn't kill a chicken first and check its entrails b/c Jews didn't do that, it was forbidden by the Torah. You twerd, I told him, I was only messing anyway.

I ate some Xanax instead.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Right, then

Someone remind me.

What are we doing in Iraq again?


had a charmingly woeful day today -- kept forgetting everything. Forgot a student's conference at 8.15, so that he was sitting sadly waiting for me when I arrived at 8.30; forgot that I had promised to cover The Other Liberal Professor's midterm exam, so that I had to run (yes, I actually ran, exams clutched in one hand) across campus, five minutes late at that point, to get to the room -- AND I had the wrong room number, so it was lucky Mouse was in the class and met me on the way, though she did get to mock me unceasingly all morning, both for forgetting and because seeing me sprinting across campus amused her so highly.

Then I forgot I had an appointment to advise a student -- which was no deal, just boring for her, since she had to hang about and watch me run her transcript, instead of me having it done when she arrived -- but the REASON I forgot all this stuff was I had wholly and entirely forgotten today was Wednesday, apparently --

The day I volunteered to take the book fair at the kid's Montessori school.


And I had already sent mr. delagar home with the car.

(mr. delagar now teaches two classes, adjunct, at my university -- yay! -- so we carpool, which is fine, except for times like this, b/c mr. delagar is not known for answering his cell phone. Ever.)

He did this time, though, and came back to fetch me, and I made it to the book fair on time.

Can I say I love volunteering at book fairs? If there is any experience prettier than helping three and four and six and seven year olds pick out books, I can't think what it would be. They have their tiny envelopes with five dollar bills or a seven dollar check or (one girl -- yikes!) a twenty dollar bill inside, and I pace with them gravely up and down the book display and we discuss the merits of this text and that, it is just priceless. It makes me want to give up being a professor and go be a librarian.

Especially the three year olds. "I wike dwagons," one confided in me. "Do they have books about dwagons?"

"I believe we do," I said. "Step this way."

At the end of the day, the kid and I picked out books, and I'm afraid I indulged her a bit much. Oh, well. If we're not to spend our money on books, what would we spend it on? Rent?

I have just read an excellent book, btw -- Benighted, by Kit Whitfield. Though it is about werewolves, and I, like most of you no doubt, don't like books about werewolves, never mind that: this is one you'll like. Me, too. It's not a werewolf book, even if it is. Trust me here.

Also Lee Smith's new book is out, Agate Hill. I've started it. A bit slow at the start, but I love that Lee Smith, so.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Oh, do I hope this tactic does not catch on with my students:

The Kid: (From the back seat, as we are driving home): So is it because I am clever that I have thoughts in class like 'is this all there is? Endless days like this? Math and spelling and then silent reading and more math?'

Me (amused): Yes, I am afraid that is a function of cleverness. You are having what is known as an existential crisis. Most people don't get them at eight.

The Kid: I don't like existential crisises. Do I have to have them?

Me: Actually, the plural of crisis is crises. Let's practice that. 'Mama, I had several existential crises today.' Say it with me.

The Kid ( at the top of her lungs): I AM AN ECTOPLASMIC BLOB! I EAT PROFESSORS!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Conversation at the delagar Household

The kid (watching me anxiously as I dress this morning): Are you going in to school?

Me: No. Today I am staying home and drinking coffee and writing my book.

The kid (relieved, but wistful): I wish I could write a book.

Me: Who is stopping you? We bought you that notebook. Get cracking.

The kid: I can't WRITE neatly. (flings herself backwards on the bed): EVERYTHING I write is messy. When --

Me: Do you think I was born knowing how to write neatly?

The kid (she has heard this bit before): groan.

Me: How do you think I learned to write neatly?

The kid: (flings blanket over her head)

Me: By writing, that's how. You won't learn any younger, that's for sure.

The kid (rolls off the bed, covered with the blanket): I am a giant blob of ectoplasm.

Me: Hey! I'm ranting here!

The Kid: I eat professors. Aargh!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Doing the Right Thing

Mouse's post here

has made me think.

Acting right is important to me.

This wasn’t always the case. Like many another child, I was an uncivilized barbarian. I was raised in by authority figures who ruled by smacking kids around, so that was that: right and wrong were reckoned by whether or not you got hit. If you didn’t get hit, it must be right. I still remember the time my little brother was snoring so loudly – he had a cold – and I, furious at not being able to get to sleep (I suffered even as a child from vicious insomnia and it was, perhaps, two in the morning) went into his room and slugged him as hard as I could in the stomach. He ran wailing to my parents’ room. I cowered sullenly on the floor of his room, waiting for the beating I was sure would come. Nothing happened. My mother took him into bed with her. I remember thinking, very clearly, even at that age, the fuck? Then I climbed into his bed and went to sleep.

But around the age of twenty-three or so, after an adolescence spent in the sheerest anarchy – I had long since stopped even pretending to believe in the possibility of god (stopped saying agnostic, in other words, and now said atheist), told people I was an anarchist, shoplifted my cigarettes from the New Orleans drugstores, cut class, swore like a filthy guttersnipe (wait – I still do that – uh), drank and, oh, here’s the worst, refused to vote because it would make no difference anyway, well, I read this book, by Robert Parker.

Yes. A book by Robert Parker changed by life. Spenser the P.I. taught me to act right. Why? Not because Jesus said so. Or even Rabbi Hillel. Or Plato. No. Because you ought to. Just because you should. The existential world according to Spenser.

Why this worked, when Plato hadn’t, and God hadn’t, I can’t say. But I still remember sitting on the levee, smoking my cigarette, my Raleigh bicycle behind me, saying huh. That’s true, you know.

So I started acting right. Later, rereading Plato, learning about the Buddha and Rabbi Hillel, I found they all said the same thing Robert Parker did – that you should act right because it makes the world a better place and because you have to live in the world, don’t you, you idiot? Do you want to live in a better world or a worse world? Well, obviously, then, you should act right, shouldn’t you?

So don’t go around torturing people. Don’t go around polluting your own water. Be nice to your neighbors. Practice random acts of kindness. Recycle. Forgive your enemies.

It’s that last one I have so much trouble with. I suspect most of us do – it’s a human thing. Someone harms us, we want to harm back. (This doesn’t mean, mind you, that it’s a good thing, or a bad thing. That a thing is part of the human tool kit says nothing about whether it is useful or not. An example: Many of us like sweet foods. Another: Many of us like to do sex. A third: Heights and large shapes looming from the dark give some of us an adrenalin rush. These are all part of the human tool kit. So is the consumption of sweets, the act of doing a great deal of sex, and the fear of high places useful behavior? Is it useful behavior in 2006? Was it useful behavior in 10,000 BCE?) When someone harmed us in 10,000 BCE, was harming them back useful behavior? Was it useful behavior in the small group we lived in? Is it useful behavior now?

I like “useful” by the way, rather than “right” or “wrong” because I think that helps focus on why we ought to do things: not because some giant sky-bunny might approve or disapprove or cast us into a lake of fire, some millions of years in the future, but because the acts we do now will impact our lives, now. And yes, for years in the future.

Thus: is it useful to harm our neighbors? Or colleagues? Our children?

Well, no. Because this is the world we live in, and if we make it worse, then we have to live in a world we have harmed – in a world that we have made worse.

Practice forgiveness, Rabbi Hillel says, not because it’s sweet of you to forgive, but because this is the world you live in.

Do you want a better world? Build one then.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ah, Yes

I'd forgotten how funny this was.


Thanks, Scott!

My Funny Class

I've got an excellent Freshman Comp class this semester -- they can most of them write, and, not only that, even though it meets at 9:00 in the morning, they are all awake and alert and responsive almost all the time, which, for a composition class, can I just say? Yikes.

Anyway. We've started work on style and grammar issues, and today I put this sentence on the board, demonstrating the proper use of a semi-colon: "Mick likes to watch House; Earl prefers to spend his evenings reading."

"What's House?" one student asked. "Is that a movie?"

I cast my eye upon her in mock horror. "You don't know from House? Barbarian!"

"I watch House," my guy in the corner assured me. "Well, I watched it once. He's that smart-ass, right? I mean," he said, when the class busted up laughing. "The smart doctor?"

"Right," I agreed. "Some of you watch House?"

Nine or ten students raised their hands. The smart girl in the front row assured me, "I like it because he's so rude."

"Oh, yeah," I said. "He's totally dysfunctional. The kid and I watch it together. Dr. House is her imaginary friend now. He follows her around whacking people with his cane."

"So it's a medical show?" a kid in the back asked.

"Tuesday nights," I agreed. "Seven o'clock."

"Oh. I can't watch it then. Dancing With the Stars."

Midterm Time

Midterm time, and I'm depressed.

Usually I get depressed after I have given midterms, when I have solid evidence of what a lousy instructer I have been, but this season I have decided to get depressed ahead of time. I do like my job, as I've said. It's the best job for me, it's a job that needs doing, I love the work, I like the students, I like that moment in the classroom when I can feel connection sweeping from me to them and minds are lighting up everywhere, I even like it when they aren't getting it, and I step back and say to myself, all right now, what then? and find some other way to get to them. I love know how to do this job. I like being good at it.

It's just the exams. Boy, do the exams suck. I give the exams, and they take the exams, and the answers are so often so awful. Such sure evidence that nothing I have said in the classroom has made it into the land of their souls. I thought their minds were lighting up -- but no. The cave stayed dark. Or it is lit with someone else's light, I guess. Or, maybe (this is when I am most hopeful) they only can't communicate the light inside. (Don't I wish.)

Occasionally I consider doing away with exams. Why do they need to be examined? I rail. Start the revolution here! I declaim. No exams this term! It is an outmoded system! Down with the midterm! Down with the final! A's for All!


Don't I wish.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Um, ick?

Over at Ann's blog

She's got this post on "What song do you want played at your funeral?"

Am I the only one who thinks that's a truly whack question?

Because first, ick.

And second, why even have a funeral? Ick. Donate the organs, cremate the rest, have a sandwich, let's move on. Music with this? What's wrong with you people?

As I've previously noted, I am a feral child, so I might be wrong on this one -- but surely we ought to be spending this here life dealing with this here life? Not, well, scripting an event to be maximally certain that people will feel as bad as possible about our deaths, once we're gone?

Monday, October 02, 2006


Not that I am for sex with under-age subordinates of any sort, because I am not. Clearly, I am not. Let me come out as appalled by that at the start.

But -- yikes -- *this* is what is going to upset America?

Habeas corpus? Go on an take it away.

Torture? Yeah, that's cool.

(Gay) sex? No, no! That's EVIL!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

What, now?

Cruising the Winger blogs, I'm given to understand that torture and the suspension of habeas corpus is no big deal and we should not be worried because it is "only" going to be done to non-citizens.

First of all, what?

Second, WHAT?

Did I wake up in Nazi Germany this morning?

And also, while we're on this point, are you idiots high?

This is not "America where we only protect the rights of some individuals," is it? The last time I checked it wasn't. This is not America where "some people are equal and others we can lock up and torture if we feel like it," is it?

Or well, you know, wait. I guess now it is, isn't it?

Yay, Bush.

As I was saying -- the terrorists won. We're now them.

Carry on, you fucking beasts.

Friday, September 29, 2006

It happens here

Our government suspends habeas corpus and votes to allow torture.

So that's that.

The terrorists won.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

But Gas Is Really Cheap Now!

Intel Dump has a must-read Post up here:

Just an excerpt:

Iraq is now more violent than it was in 2003, 2004, or 2005. The number of attacks on US and Iraqi government forces are at an all-time high. Sectarian violence is prevalent, and most observers, with the notable exception of the Bush Administration, admit that Iraq is fully engaged in an internecine civil war.

North Korea has not only admitted to possessing nuclear weapons, but is conducting missile tests on a frequent basis.

Iran is continuing with its nuclear weapons program.

The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan. Opium production has reached record levels.

Osama Bin Laden is still free.

The president has recently admitted that Iraq had no ties to Al Queda (something that all national security professionals knew long before we invaded - Al Queda hates all secular regimes in Islamic nations, including Saddam's Iraq).

The president has admitted there were no WMDs in Iraq.

The commander of Fort Eustis recently admitted that the Army was ordered not to plan for the post-war occupation of Iraq, and that when Army leaders continued to argue with Secretary Rumsfeld over the critical need for a post-war plan, he threatened to fire the next person that mentioned the subject.

The National Security Agency, the nation's largest and most expensive intelligence-collection agency designed to collect information on our enemies, has been ordered by the president to spy upon Americans by warrantless wiretaps in violation of a law passed by Congress and the US Constitution.

The administration is in open conflict with Congress over whether CIA interrogators can torture detainees without legal repercussions, and wants to "clarify" the Geneva Conventions despite every JAG general stating no such "clarification" is needed because the Conventions are clear already.

Iraqi troops are now digging trenches around Baghdad.The intelligence on Iraq was admittedly wrong, and admittedly based on discredited sources of information. As a result, CIA director Tenant was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


This here is why I love Joe:


Just some stuff here:

  • Gave my Comp I students yesterday, as an exercise, an essay that argued that spanking and poverty are linked -- that is, that children who are spanked tend to grow up to earn less money. The more a kid is spanked, the lower his or her income will tend to be; and the greater chance he or she will have of being in a lower income range. The purpose of the exercise was just for them to (a) list the thesis of the essay and (b) say whether the essay gave support for the thesis (that is, did it list its sources). But I like to use this particular essay because of the outrage it always generates among my students, who have, as you can probably guess, all been spanked a great deal as children and who are, hey, get this, mostly from poor families. And -- you can guess the rest! -- will all insist, to a student! -- that no correlation could possibly exist there! I don't get involved in the debate. I put them in their groups and hand out the essay and give the assignment and watch it happen. It's always lots of fun. One or two came up to me afterwards to ask what I thought. I told them, and they looked surprised.
  • Took the Kid to the fair -- Yes! The Arkansas-Oklahoma State fair has arrived yet again! The Other Liberal Professor and I and our families go together each year. Miles and the kid go on rides together. Mick, who is two now, was old enough to go with them this year. I bought a bag of cotton candy for the Kid and turned Mick onto it. The Other Liberal Professor was appalled, but I told her it was my job to corrupt her children. She said she would pay me back when the Kid get a bit older. Eeek. The Kid and Miles won stuffed dragons at the dart toss, breaking balloons very professionally, I must say, and gyros and corn dogs were eaten, and we saw chickens and cattle and canned okra and quilts and science fair exhibits and many of the school mates of both our children and us. Everyone goes to the Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair, apparently.
  • The weather was viciously hot yesterday, but it is cool again today. My power bill came -- a hundred dollars less than last month, but still shockingly high. Yikes.
  • We're doing Middlemarch in Vic Lit. It is a deal more racist than I remembered. How did that happen?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


In our country. Mine.

The president got everything he wanted. What he calls the "program" -- and which much of the world calls "torture" -- will continue unabated, arguably even stronger, as a result of this legislative "compromise."

In his celebratory statement Thursday night, the president was absolutely right when he said: "I had a single test for the pending legislation, and that's this: Would the CIA operators tell me whether they could go forward with the program, that is a program to question detainees to be able to get information to protect the American people. I'm pleased to say that this agreement preserves the most single -- most potent tool we have in protecting America and foiling terrorist attacks, and that is the CIA program to question the world's most dangerous terrorists and to get their secrets."The White House's Dan Bartlett put it best, and most accurately, when he said: "We proposed a more direct approach to bringing clarification. This one is more of the scenic route, but it gets us there."

Only the Bush administration could speak of taking a "scenic route" to torture. But Bartlett's description, creepy and chilling though it may be, is not mere spin designed to make a compromising president look triumphant. Bush, in fact, did triumph and did not compromise in any meaningful sense, because the only goal he had -- to ensure that his "alternative interrogation program" would continue -- was fulfilled in its entirety as a result of this "compromise" (with the added bonus that it will even be strengthened by legal authorization from Congress).

But hey. Gas is way down, close to two bucks a gallon, so what do we care?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Rosh Hashanah

So Friday we went down to throw the bread in the water.

mr. delagar thought maybe we could just go to Ben Geren Park and do this, instead of to the Arkansas River, as Friday was a viciously hot and sunny day (as Rosh Hashanah tends to be in these here parts) and as we had invited The Other Liberal Professor and hers over to celebrate the New Year with us, and they were to arrive at six, and mr. d. had lots of cooking to do if he was to have things ready by then.

But no! The kid objects!

Apparently when we thought we had just been doing stuff, we had been forming Traditions!

"We have to go to the river!" she cries. "It's a tradition! We have to go across the railroad tracks! And Mama has to make that joke! And I have to walk on the rock wall, and Mama has to make the other joke, about the word that starts with e and ends with e and has only one letter in it! And we have to walk around the old fort! And--"

So off we went. And it was a beautiful day, mind you. The sun on the river was brilliant, and the wind was fine, and we saw an egret wading, and I do love the rocks. And I made the joke, which was the one my father always used to make to us, whenever we crossed a set of railroad tracks (which is, "Hey, I see a train has been here!" "Oh? How can you tell?" "Heh! It left its tracks!" How long, exactly, will the kid continue to be amused by this? About two more years, if my record holds) and we made it back in time for dinner.

Oh yes -- and we did the winter dance, and it is nicely frosty here again today.

So all is well.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Winter Comes

When the kid was little, not yet two years old, one of her favorite books was Angus Lost, by Majorie Flack. She had it memorized, I swear. She couldn't actually read yet, but she would sit and turn the pages and recite the thing, word by word: "When winter came, Angwus gwew tiward of the same howse and the same cat and the same yawd and all the same things he knew all about. (Turns page) So one day Angwus went out onto the (pause) WIDE WODE!"

All of this to say that -- yay! Winter is coming.

And I am glad.

After a summer when we had, I swear, six or seven weeks when the temperature broke 102 every single day, I am more glad than usual, and I am always glad when winter comes.

It is gray and windy and chill here now. Leaves are blowing. Rain happens often. We sleep with the windows open. I am hoping for no more long hot spells, though I know, from history, we will likely get at least one. This Friday is Rosh Hashanah, which the kid and I subvert slightly, by doing our annual winter dance afterwards, on the banks of the Arkansas River (we go down to the river to throw the bread in the water for Rosh Hashanah, and on the way back up, the kid and I do the winter dance to bring winter on faster, and mr. delagar looks very pained, because how can I pollute his religion that way?) and maybe that will help.

Here's hoping.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Five, Huh?


on Bitch PH.D

says Ophrah says we should find five things to be grateful for.


Well, I'm game.

(1) Ain't I pleased women are cool to swear these days? What if it was fifty years ago, and women couldn't say shit? Wouldn't I be fucked? It's bad enough trying to teach in Pork Smith, when I can't say damn in the classroom without getting it from the dean, which does happen. At least most of the time I can use my native language, which, I must tell you (well, I imagine you have noticed) is appalling.

(2) I am grateful for mr. delagar. What if I had, like some ijit, married one of those destuctive guys who got all snitty about a woman who spent the past year writing five novels instead of, oh, say, (ever) cooking dinner or (hardly ever) buying groceries or doing laundry or mopping floors or like that? Plus (and this is so cool) he reads the novels and tells me how to fix them. I mean, yay!

(3) I love that I have a job I love. I was teaching The Death of Ivan Ilyich in WLIT II the other day and my students start in claiming that Tolstoy means us to read Ivan as a good man in a good life and I went OFF on them. WHAT? I shouted. WHAT? WHAT IS GOOD ABOUT THIS GUY? WHAT IS GOOD ABOUT HIS LIFE? ARE YOU PEOPLE INSANE? Well, it develops that they think no one likes the job they do. Ever. I told them this was unso. I told them, for instance, that I, me, right here in front of them, I love my job. They looked startled. I then told them that if they, right now, them, were studying for a job they did not love, that something was fucking wrong. (I had to cough and choke and say some other word besides fucking, but they knew what I meant.) I told them they had to follow their passion or they would end up like Ivan. They looked *shocked* at this news. Ai.

(4) I'm grateful the muse is back. Whatever the muse is. I don't know. I'm not poking it too hard to find out. I spent 8 years not able to write anything worth reading hardly, and now? Five books in a year? And they're just burning out of me? O muse don't go away, I am SO grateful. Whatever you want. Stay baby stay.

(5) I am grateful to my writing group. I suspect 4 is connected to 5. Thanks, y'all! Sorry about all the socialism!