Friday, August 31, 2007

College days

The students are definitely back in town and the fall semester under way.  I am so clearly not teaching, but I do have a meeting today for those on the job market this year.  We meet, talk strategy, get a big packet of examples (job letter, writing sample, etc.), and most of us won't even get a job come next spring.  I've put this process off long enough, but I'm still not looking forward to it.  Shifting gears seems harder to do these days, for some reason.  From housework, to childcare, to sitting at the computer in the basement, to meetings filled with a stress vibe.  It's no different from working a day-to-day job in a cubicle, which has its own harsh shifts in pace and context.  But there is an unpredictability to the whole mess, like working for a company that keeps getting sold. It feels like there is a new management team coming in every three months or so promising to "turn things around."  How different it must feel to have tenure, where one accumulates 20 years worth of dust in the same dingy office and faces the same 18-year-old faces in the same painted-block classroom year after year.   

Thursday, August 30, 2007


After just two days of new day care, LB spent 18 hours or so vomiting and crying. AO and I split the next day. She took the morning and I the afternoon. Her work schedule is even more brutal than mine, so I appreciate it. The thing about one-year-old sickness reality is at the time it seems like it will never end. I don't do well with this sort of eternal suffering. It's the most I can do to simply keep the kids warm and dry under such circumstances. These things usually (always, really) come to an end, but it's hard not to see the episode as somehow symbolic for having kids. It reminds of the obsessive blog by a stay-at-home dad that documented each diaper change and its volume. Jeez, my mode is to try to forget each diaper change until I'm forced to deal with the next one.

Another music post

I can't ever get enough of Brian Jonestown Massacre.  He (Anton) channels british invasion--Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who.  But it comes in this self-conscious, insouciant psychedelia package.  He's a complete asshole junkie in the documentary Dig!, but an amazing musician.  What's so fun to watch in Dig! is how he confounds the music industry, who keep throwing money at him that he proceeds to spend on drugs and equipment.   

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Type O Negative

A recent guilty music pleasure: Type O Negative.  Tongue and cheek metal.   They do absolutely exquisite, I-feel-dirty-all-over covers of Summer Breeze, Cinnamon Girl, and Hey Joe (Pete).  Many years ago Summer Breeze actually became a summer song for me.  Someone's mixed tape had the Isley Brothers version.  It's a sick song--"When I come home from a hard day's work/And you're waiting waiting waiting waiting there, yes you're waiting there/Without a care in the world"--but was great for ironic fun. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I feel lucky that I have a provisional acceptance for one of my chapters in a prestigious journal, but the revisions are killing me.  I just turned the first ten pages on their head, thinking I should begin with a different emphasis.  And after a couple of weeks, it still looks like a chapter rather than an essay in many places.  Meanwhile, I'm not getting anywhere with the rest of the dissertation.  So many fateful decisions in a day.

Monday, August 27, 2007


After more than a year, LB still sleeps with us, and nurses about four times a night.  We're both starting to feel the strain, as though we still had a newborn.  And it's like we already forgot how do this, although it was just 4 short years ago.  It's become completely mysterious how to get LB into the crib and sleeping through the night.  

Sunday, August 26, 2007


I was trying to tell someone recently about steampunk. Here's a great definition via boing boing.

Author Paul Di Filippo, the first to use the term "steampunk" in a title of a book, "The Steampunk Trilogy," says, Steampunk "embodies both handicraft and mass-production elements in a rich visual vocabulary totally lacking in today's plastic, cheap-jack gadgets."

Bee sting

Over at friends who have been grad students for a long time, but are now expecting their first child.  They have an old shepherd that loves to spring on the kids and bark in their faces.  Then, BB is outside and suddenly begins screaming.  The kind of screaming that sounds like a killing is taking place.  He's holding his crotch and I think something very personal may have torn somehow.  But it's his thumb and he comes running in absolutely, abjectly screaming.  So we cake baking soda on it, band aid it.  He says the blood cells are pulsing in it.  We're done.  Friends are traumatized.  We never do figure out whether it was a sting or not.  Maybe his imaginary cobra friend nipped him with a fang.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Waiting for the bus

I had a romantic image of taking BB to the bus stop, and picking him up there, and getting lots of work done in between.  But what I didn't count on was all the other parents.  There are at least four parents there every morning.  BB, of course, has longer hair and wears weirder shirts than the other kids. And his enthusiasms seem more extreme.  What with getting LB in the stroller and BB put together for real school, I always make it to the bus stop all sweaty and grumpy.  Since I'm a boy, they want to know what I do at home all day.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Altered Carbon

I just finished Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon.  Science fiction is generally the only genre fiction I can read, but I haven't been reading more than books for work and some magazines lately.  In fact, I've only really been keeping up with William Gibson in the last few years.  Altered Carbon was fun, in a genre fiction kind of way.  Some nice meditations on identity.  Individuals, if they have the money, can "resleeve" themselves if they're injured or old, but unless they are really wealthy usually end up in a body that looks and feels different from their previous bodies.  Criminals are put on stack, stored in digital form to serve out their sentences.  The main character is some sort of super agent "resleeved" on earth to solve a mysterious suicide by a "meth," a wealthy person who can afford to keep resleeving.  The usual Asian proclivities, which seem still to proliferate even after all these years since Blade Runner.  I recommend it for those so inclined.

Monday, August 20, 2007


I watched an episode of Barney with the kids. Normally, just BB watches the show. It was remarkably better than other episodes. They had actual musicians on talking about and playing traditional country. Now, BB wants to hear all his country music, which he really seems to love. I can tolerate a little Hank Williams.