Tuesday, December 18, 2007

things without all remedy should be without regard

Today I entered grades. It's always difficult, both technologically and emotionally.

But this also means that *break officially begins* for me!

Last week was filled with holiday parties (department "winter wonderland," grad student debauchery), last minute meetings (orals, MLA), and tests (giving and taking). My French exam was ridiculous: the last question, which seemed to be a comment on the entire exam, was the following:

The word 'ainsi' at the beginning of paragraph x best translates as which of the following:

A. Therefore
B. Consequently
C. Along the same lines
D. Subsequently

I kid you not. This is for a one quarter French course that assumes no prior knowledge, and that has the goal of getting us to the point of a "basic understanding" of the language in 10 weeks. The language requirement seems to be a holdover from the days when academics knew multiple languages, and before the invention of things like, well, machine translation. Be that as it may, I do like having an overview of the language, and a *very rough* idea of what Becky Sharp is saying in Vanity Fair when she makes fun of someone in French. How is this the second edition of Vanity Fair that I've gone through that neglects to offer footnotes of the French? It's a critical edition and will alert me to any subtle changes between the early versions of the novel, but no translations.

Anyway. Saturday morning Meredith took me to the airport, and I was back in Oregon by lunchtime. Mum, Mer, & I went to Target (rare for them), a shopping complex, & out to coffee to meet up with Mer's gentleman friend.

Sunday I did a ton of grading, baked some cookies (to add to the two prior batches we made that day: Swedish tea cakes, cranberry orange cookies, and lemon sage blackberry jam thumbprints), and tried buffalo. For the past two days, I've been helping Mer take care of the Whitman alpacas (*so many baby alpacas!*). Yesterday was a grading extravaganza (I graded 3 final exams, 8 papers, calculated all the final grades). Today I baked cinnamon rolls (a craving I had had going on for about the last month). In other words, trying to balance hunching over papers with physical work. The impulse toward manual labor.

For now, time to sleep.

Tomorrow, Andrew arrives!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

2 am in Oregon

It's 2 am in mid December and the g*dd*mned rooster is DOODLING. AT 2 AM.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

I Sing the Body Electric

I'm having my second weekend back at Stanford. I love waking up on Saturday mornings with *nothing in particular to do* (which usually means that there are many things I could be doing, but nothing that stands out as being, you know, an *emergency*). This morning I had my tea & cinnamon sugar toast & blueberries & apple w/ pb and sat down to read the blogs & finally make a Christmas list & now, update my own blog (despite the fact that the tea is long gone).

The last weekend at home after Thanksgiving was eventful, with Merrie & I going to a Shaky Hands concert in Portland. Next time, we're going on a sisters-only trip, though. Monday was Mum's birthday -- we celebrated with apple & cranberry pie with a candle. Tuesday morning we got up insanely early (3:30 am) for my flight -- and I did indeed make it to my 11 am class. I had my sections on Othello, which I think went well, despite my tendency to just go off on a subject that interests me (must...fill...up...silences!)

Last weekend was particularly quiet. I went to the farmers' market on Sunday, got some very lovely pomegranate juice, many root vegetables, and persimmons. The week was good -- I called off sections, as we didn't have any new reading this week, and the students already had a review scheduled for lecture on Thursday. I read Tess of the D'Urbervilles (let me save you the trouble: it doesn't end well for Tess). I actually stayed up late Wednesday night to finish it, knowing that I'd then need to sleep through my 9 am French class. Luckily, Jill says I didn't miss much. But I really needed to know how Hardy was going to depress me this time around. Anyways, what I also did this week was socialize: Tuesday was our CA holiday party (where I somehow again got roped into doing the yankee gift exchange, despite my bad memories of last year's confrontations over the hello kitty popcorn popper) & Weds. was our studio cheesecake night. Turns out, if you order 12 cheesecakes instead of 7, you can indeed satisfy everyone.

Yesterday was an intriguing day. I had meetings with students, and then escaped to lunch with Steve & the first years. Then I came home to some chores. Excitement over an impromptu celebratory dinner party: Jill & Sarah came over for apple w/ potato parsnip souffle & wine. Then I was off to meet up with Meredith & Natalie for our trip into SF for the opera. We hit ridiculous weekend traffic (apparently 280 was just as bad though), and listened to Sufjan Stevens to relax. We got stuck in multiple jams around the opera house, and finally found a lot that could valet park the car so we could hurry over. But: turns out there was a *fire alarm* at the opera, so everyone was outside, and Irena found us, so we were reunited & able to get our tickets! Saved by the fire alarm.

The show itself was great -- The Rake's Progress. Visually fascinating (which is good, because I haven't much of an ear for music).

Back on campus, Meredith noticed that all the lights were out... blackout. We parked, and the first thing we noticed were the stars, as the street lamps were out; I saw a shooting star. People were walking around outside, with and without flashlights, wondering what was going on. Only the hall lights were on, probably via emergency generators. Inside, I used my cell phone to find my booklight, to find candles & matches, and eventually to find my emergency flashlight (which makes me wonder how useful my emergency kit is when I *can't find it in the dark*). Anyways, so I called Andrew while lighting candles & drinking wine leftover from my dinner. Took a shower with the flashlight playing torch lamp. Turns out, there's not much you can do in the dark at 1:30 am, so I ended up reading a couple of pages by bad light and went to sleep.

At some point during the night I noticed that my oven clock was flashing, and stopped worrying about the food in my fridge.