Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Overheard in NYC

Guy to friend: When Obama wins, I'm going to slap a white person.

--Central Park Bench

Overheard by: Lane

Hobo on subway to man in suit: Spare change? Anyone? Spare change for the homeless? You look like you worked for Lehman Brothers, you're excused.

--51st St

Overheard by: Kate

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh My God, Forms

Stress me out. My university requires that tenure-track faculty fill out these, um, tracking forms every fall. They're called Personnel Action Forms, and they consist of many little boxes into which the faculty member inserts information detailing her triumphs and tribulations over the last year.

There are letters and numbers denoting the different bits. The faculty member is required to include copies of the various articles, essays, and papers he has presented/submitted over the last year--which should be prefaced by some sort of index describing the projects. Cross-referencing and cross-listing are recommended.

It makes my head hurt. And it's one of those tasks that, interestingly enough, is dissertation-esque--which means that:
1) Sometimes, as you are filling out all of the forms (it's like a bureacratic 1AC for all the debaters in the house), you are alternately like, "I am awesome," and then, almost immediately, "What do I do? I do nothing."
2) It makes you forget, at times, that the point of academic work is not, in fact, ultimately all about the correct margins of the paper or the elaborate ritual that is parenthetical documentation.
3) You are not sure what the front should look like.
4) You have to show/explain it to different people who may or may not know what the hell it is you are talking about.
5) It is a cumulative project (meaning, you should be keeping the yearly records very clearly labeled and within reach, so you can just update them from year to year)--which sounds great, but if you are not good at organizing or storing things, you may need a glass of wine (or two) with lunch. Or breakfast.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Things that Torture Me

Being far away from my family. People who claim to like Clarence Thomas. Loving high heels and knowing how (a) ridiculous and (b) dangerous, literally and figuratively, they are. Thoroughly cleaning my red chair/couch/bedspread/throw rug only to watch my stupid cat climb up on it for better fur dispersal. Inappropriate crushes that last far too long. Dentists. Knowing that I read something and forgetting (a) the author's name or (b) important quotations. Speechlessness in the face of inordinate stupidity/cruelty. The fact that I don't like many of the things that other academics like (baseball, opera, microbrewery beer). Missing you. The french horn that I sold 13 years ago. I loved that horn--and I should have kept it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Texas, 45 - Oklahoma, 35

Football Season.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Ought to Be

1) Grading speeches for the Public Speaking class.

2) Preparing a lecture for said class.

3) Grading lit reviews for the Discover New York class.

4) Locating "25th Hour" for that class.

5) Chicago-izing that damned essay.

Instead I Am

1) Listening to this song.

2) Dancing in my office a little bit (see the previous sentence).

3) Reading Kate Beaton's History Project. (Thanks for the rec, E).

4) Debating in my head which of the previous artists I would rather make out with.

5) Hahahahahahaha:

Monday, October 6, 2008

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Think of this as an Appetizer Post

So, today is the last day of the Public Memories conference in Syracuse. It has been enlightening and interdiciplinary and conversational and delicious-martini-ful. And today I am taking the Greyhound to NYC with dear E; we were going to take the train, but the scheduling did not work out, so now we are hoi polloi-ing it back home, bitches.

When get home, I will post something more substantial about the things I got to see and hear. Right now, though, here are a few tantalizing tidbits:
1) New Crush! = Yummy Cultural Interventionist
2) Rejuevenated Crush! = Cara Finnegan continues to rock star her way through life.
3) Crush Maintained! = My dearest E--awesome as she ever was.
4) People who say that they have never been below the Mason-Dixon line are not my favorite.
5) Gumball machines are cool.
6) My love affair with Jean Baudrillard may be turning me into a disillusioned douchebag. And I'm kind of okay with that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On being the Rhetorical (Other) Woman

Sometimes, when people ask me what I study, I want to answer: Temptation. It is the reason, after all, that folks are so suspicious of rhetoric, right? I mean---who knows what dangers may lie behind those seductive turns of phrase, those alluring figures and forms? Luckily, it turns out, there are some people out there willing to investigate (with kindness and generosity) the slippery places between credibility, sincerity, irruptions, and success.

That being said, I was brought right up against the contemporary force of these historical suspicions at the beginning of this week. A student of mine, bright and sharp, is currently considering graduate school. He has never considered himself, in his own words, a reader or a student. And yet... he is fascinated by the life of the mind--presented and performed as it is by me and my two newbie colleagues here at school. He sits in our offices, chats with us about concerns, asks really difficult questions. All in all, he is a delight.

He is also a native New Yorker.

There is a surprising provinciality in the minds of many native New Yorkers. Often, the desire/belief in these minds is that they never have to leave this place to live a full, good life. They want to stay close to home and family--much, to my surprise, like people I have met in less urban places. But being born in NYC does not make you cosmopolitan, and I am constantly reminded of this.

So, my colleagues and I are talking to this young man about his options for grad school... mostly options that are elsewhere, considering his interests and the perspicacity with which he views the academic world. For a variety of reasons, he does not want to leave the city.

Anyway, over the course of our conversation earlier this week, he mentioned to me that another colleague (native Long Islander, former student of the school at which we both teach, pursuing a PhD at Fordham--in the city) had pulled him aside and said, "Now, I know james can be persuasive, but you need to make these decisions based on your own heart/needs/mind/conscience." --or something like that...

I was surprised and a bit dismayed by this sort of sneaky and, um, secretive exchange. And then my student went on to say, "Well, you know, you are quite a temptress."

And I was floored. Silent--which, dear reader, you must know is a fairly rare thing for me to be.

I am a rhetorician, and rhetoricians study temptation. In the practice of teaching/learning temptation, we get accused of various sins: only teaching method without ethics, only providing tools without ramifications, only offering reasons without reasoning.

We are Helen, leading the poor, poor Paris and the angry, mistreated Menelaus into distance, doom, and damnation.

And, apparently, grad school.