Tuesday, February 28, 2012

That Time of Year

I'm doing my annual review (late, as usual) which requires me to download my student evaluations and, uh, evaluate them.

The evaluation form, which I turn into the dean (and then we meet and have a friendly chat over it) has a space for me to construct a "reflective" paragraph about the evaluations. I think I'm supposed to learn from this experience.

Mostly my evaluations are really good. I'm not kidding, they are. Like one of my classes this semester, all of the students gave me all 5.00s (which has never happened). I think they must have gotten together and agreed to do it. I can't think how it would have happened otherwise.

But generally I get some sweet comments that allow me to say something to keep the dean happy. (You have to give administrators something to piss and whine about, in my experience.)

My favorite evaluation ever, for instance, was several years ago when a student accused me of "favoring the smarter" students. Um, yeah? And a couple years before that, I got a student get all righteous because I "brought my feminist issues" into the classroom.

Guess I said, "Shut up and make me a sandwich, bitch," once too often.

This time my favorite is, "I love Dr. Delagar. But I wish she would stop saying f#@! quite so often in class."

I said solemnly in my reflective paragraph that I would try saying cocksucker instead.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012


(A Guest Post from the Kid, Who Feels Slandered.)

Okay, that last post about how me and Dad Delagar would starve to death if Mom Delagar left is a LIE! We got along very nicely.

Dad Delagar took out the trash once, and I also did the dishes and filled up an ice cube tray when it was empty!

Plus, I can make ramen noodles without help now! I can survive college!

And Dad Delagar and I went to Fayetteville! He didn't get a guitar but he would have if he had found one he liked.

And Dad Delagar was all like 'do you want some dinner?' and I was all like 'nuuu I don't need your food!'

So basically the only bad thing was that one day Dad Delagar watched war documentaries from dawn till dusk.

I'm baaack!

I'm back from Boskone & trying desperately to re-integrate myself in my life, which, yikes. I swear I was only gone five days. But my life! It crashed and burned without me!

"Didn't y'all do anything while I was away?" I asked the kid, surveying the heaped up dishes and empty fridge.

"Yes!" she said. "I filled an ice cube tray!"

She was kidding. And I exaggerate. It's not that bad.

But apparently if I ever die or leave the two of them will be dead in six months.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Laundry? What's That?

I am off to Boskone this weekend -- leaving on Thursday, flying all day.

This requires me to do laundry today. Well, only if I actually want to have clean clothing to wear at the convention. Which I suppose I do.

(Picture our house, heaped with piles of undone laundry. Towels, we have managed to keep up with, and dish towels, because those are vital, and usually socks. But jeans? Shirts? We just pull those from the least filthy pile...)

I'm also doing dishes, since it's Valentines and I'm Being Kind To Dr. Skull.

And prepping for Chaucer, some time in here...

All those things I don't usually do (except teh Chaucer) because I am busy being a writer.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Snow Day!

First, and only I suspect, snow of winter 2012 here in Fort Smith has resulted in a snow day -- classes cancelled at UA-FS. I had to take the kid to the orthodontist, and the dog escaped, but all my adventures are concluded (I hope) and now I am holed up with the cat asleep on my feet, drinking ginger tea with honey and milk and writing my novel.

More sleet tonight.

I love snow days.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reading List

I've mostly been prepping for classes these days, reading Chaucer and for my American Epics class this summer; but in my infrequent free time I've discovered a couple interesting writers.

1. John Green. YA. Start with Will Grayson, Will Grayson, a book he co-wrote with David Levithan. But don't stop there! I've read nearly everything he's written now. All winners. His plots are interesting enough, but it is the cast of characters that keep me reading -- always a small group of friends in their late adolescence, slight misfits, smart, deeply attached to one another. And! Real women characters! Always a plus.

2. Nisi Shawl, Filter House. I'd actually read this one before. But we published a story by Nisi, "Black Betty," in a recent issue of Crossed Genres, and my kid liked it so much that I recommended Filter House to her; she liked the book so much I read it again. I'd forgotten how good it was. It won the Tiptree Award in 2009. Science Fiction stories, but not the time-anchored sort.

3. Inhuman Bondage, by David Brion Davis. Slavery and slave revolts in the New World. I'm not done with this one yet, but yowza. Found it via TNC, who makes me smarter every time I read him.

Now if I only had an extra month every week, to get all my work and writing done, and time to read as well...

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Fly Our Fascist Skies

So I'm getting ready to fly America for the first time in about ten years.

My long hiatus is due partly to the fact that flying tends to give me migraines and mostly to the fact that I object to being treated like a criminal because for the sake of security theater.

(Deleted: about three hundred words of ranting on civil liberties and the idiocy of surrendering them for putative safety, etc.)

Not to mention how uncomfortable airplanes are these days.

BUT IN ANY CASE. I haven't flown for a long time, and now I am flying to Boston, to attend Boskone, and (among other things) reading from Broken Slate.

Anyone have any tips for how I might make this adventure less adventuresome? Shoes not to wear? Things not to include in my pockets? Things not to say to airline security dudes? The sort of carry-on luggage that works best?

Any & all help appreciated.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

What's This?

It's cold here. Overcast. GREY.

Like an actual winter day.

How odd.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Reading American Epics

I'm reading novels -- I guess auditioning novels might be the right word for it -- for the American Epics class I'm planning to teach this summer. Right now I'm in the middle of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, a novel I read about fifteen times between the ages of 12 and 19 and not since then at all.

It's a book that formed me, in other words; but at the time I thought of it as history. I was already, then, mostly a SF writer at heart -- I always read every kind of book, but I've always read thinking about the SF novels I was writing or planning to write, and how this book I was reading might help or inform that.

So Grapes of Wrath, well, I looked at it mostly for what it could tell me about structuring big fat novels and building novels with multiple characters. I don't think I was paying much attention to its politics at all (at least consciously) in those days. Because, you know, we'd fixed that problem.


Reading it now, as with Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here, it's a gloomy trip. Romantic to have expected Americans to have learned anything from experience, I know, or to have been paying attention at all -- but these books, they might have been written a month ago. Same arguments. Same issues. We've got food stamps instead of soup kitchens, unemployment and prisons instead of chain-gangs, but other than that.

Like none of the gains we made made any difference. Like no one has been paying attention.

People are even making the same arguments -- the market has to decide; if we divide things more fairly, the rich will have it all again within ten years; poor people just like not working, that's why they're poor; well, poor Americans aren't really poor, I mean, not compared to the poor in OTHER countries; you can't tax the rich, because they'll just take their money and leave!

I've heard every one of those arguments within the past two months. They're in Lewis and Steinbeck, novels written in the 30s, the last time rich thieves broke our country.

As I said, it's a been a gloomy ride.