Dame Eleanor Hull

Halloween is Caturday

It is a cold, blustery, snowy Halloween, and I can’t get the black cats to stay in the window and be appropriately decorative.  Basement Cat is spooked by Strange People on the Porch! and runs away.  The Grammarian and Glendower don’t care about strange people, but prefer their soft warm perches.

Pym Fan asked about the older cats, so I’m happy to report that all are well.  The Grammarian is now our oldest, and though he has a couple of chronic conditions, they are well-managed.  Basement Cat has mellowed enough that he really doesn’t deserve the name of Basement Cat any longer; he’s a very sweet boy.  He seems happy that he has advanced in the cat hierarchy.  Although Reina, as a female, is technically “over” him (cats are matriarchal), he’s senior to her, so I think in his mind it balances out.  Glendower gave us a scare earlier this year, but he’s responding well to diet and medication for what turned out to be inflammatory bowel disease (and not something worse).  They enjoy the new house, which has more space to run around, high spaces to jump into, and fascinating bird-watching from the windows.  I imagine that for the cats, it’s something like moving into the really good gym that gets all the cable channels.

Caturday

Any day can be Caturday, right?  Here’s a picture of the new addition to the family (last spring . . . she’s tripled in size since we got her):

baby pic 60

I’ll give her the nom de blogue of Reina.  She’s the same weight as the Tiny Cat, but looks bigger because she has longer legs.  My main achievement so far today is that I managed to clip her front claws, for the first time (and she is now about 10 months old).  The Wild Thing is starting to calm down.

Timing

While we’re on the topic of nostalgia, in my totally unscientific and undoubtedly observer-biased surfing around, it seems to me that a lot of people gave up blogging around 2008-09.  Was this part of the growing hegemony of the Book of Face, or did it have something to do with the financial crisis?  People also identify 2008 as the Year Things Changed in the job market, due to financial stuff.

Because of family problems, I paid very little attention to the outside world in 2008-09.  I sum these things up, briefly, by saying “My parents were both very ill and my mother died.”  Although the death belongs in the “blessed relief” category, the grieving process takes its course regardless of one’s actual feelings.  I hadn’t grasped that before.  Grief isn’t necessarily about sadness, but about adjusting to a new reality.  Anyway, I remember vividly the day that Lehmann went under, because I was in FamilyLand, on the phone with a friend in New York who was stunned by the whole thing; she reported on the financial people wandering the streets in the middle of the day looking shell-shocked.  But it was late morning on the left coast, and, in a brief respite from attending on my mother, I was sitting in the sun in a hemlock grove, on a redwood deck built by my nephew from trees he had felled, enjoying the peace and the sunlight, enjoying hearing from a friend I loved but rarely saw, and who was a tremendous support during my mother’s last years.  It was a rare moment of comfort in a difficult trip.  The bankruptcies and the Dow’s slide seemed remote, unreal, impossible, a matter of pixels on screens; reality was wood, slate, glass, concrete, a whole house that was not there before my nephew built it.  This would continue, I thought, people would make things, the world would go on.

Well, it did.  And it didn’t.  People who move pixels on screens spend actual money on houses and other objects created by the people who make things.  My nephew and his wife spent awhile living in their own basement apartment while they rented out their beautiful house, though eventually they reclaimed it for themselves and, now, their children.  I tell the story to illustrate my state of mind at the time.  I’ve rarely blogged about world events of any sort, preferring to ramble on about writing, cats, and the academic life, but I was especially self-absorbed that year.  I have no idea what the job market was like, or whether jobs were advertised and then yanked, or what else might have happened.

So, did junior faculty and graduate student bloggers get spooked and feel they’d better be more circumspect, shut down, go away, not be available for hiring committees to observe online?  Did they decide to buckle down and write more on their dissertations or books so they’d be more hire-able or tenure-able, and give up on blogging as a time-waster?  Or is this pure coincidence (how many academic babies were born in ’08-’09?), or simply that I haven’t actually counted up how many of the bloggers I once read quit in particular years?

Dictes moy ou, n’en quel pays

Est Flora la belle Romaine,
Archipiades, ne Thaÿs,
Qui fut sa cousine germaine,
Echo parlant quant bruyt on maine
Dessus riviere ou sur estan,
Qui beaulté ot plus qu’umaine.

Tell me, where or in what country
is Flora the lovely Roman,
Archipiades and Thaÿs,
who was her first cousin,
Echo, speaking when one makes a noise
across a river or a marsh,
whose beauty was supernatural.

It is a truth univerally acknowledged that Facebook and other forms of social media killed blogging; some of us noted long ago that the academic-blog populace first changed, then shrank.  And yet there are, of course, numerous good bloggers still out there, some even from the Olden Days, like Dr Crazy (who somehow has kept her voice miraculously integral, distinctive, while still finding new perspectives; unlike, say, Profgrrrl, where the late voice really seemed like a different person from the one who wrote in the earlier Oughts).  Undine, of course, and Flavia; Notorious; Fie, though a relative newcomer, has been around a good while and is still going strong.

Nonetheless, I am nostalgic for the blogging community of years ago, and when I started thinking about People I Miss, the list grew long in very little time.  I didn’t interact with all of them.  Some of these were people I read before I started my own blog, or in the days when I was too shy to comment.  A few have posted relatively recently (within the last year), if only to give an update on the status of book or tenure decision.  But they’re mostly gone, and I wonder what happened to them, and hope they’re happy now.

Ancrene Wiseass, Badger, Dorcasina, Hilaire, Professor Me, Russian Violets, Heo Cwaeth, Phantom Scribbler, Bittersweet Girl, Pink Cupcake, Advice At Your Own Risk, Freudian Petticoat, the See-Janes (See Jane Compute, and See Jane in the Academy), Professorial Confessions, Marcelle Proust, Dr Brazen Hussy, Dr Crazy’s friend Dr Medusa, Fumbling Towards Geekdom, Ink, Annie Em, Renaissance Girl, Wayward Classicist, Terminal Degree, PowerProf, Dr No of Acadamnit, Medieval Woman.

A few of these I know about through other channels—I run into medievalists at conferences, for example; some, if I went to the effort to be an internet detective, I could probably track down.  That isn’t really the point, though.  Is there a point, besides that I am nostalgic for a time when we were all younger, cuter, sexier, more hopeful, in the way that the young(er) probably always seem to their elders?

Mais ou sont les neiges d’anten?

McPhee had it right

“You may see that your best ending is somewhere in there, that you were finished before you thought you were.”

It’s not just that classes are about to start and I feel like I have at least two full-time jobs, between work and new-house stuff.

My initial model for blogs was “newspaper” or maybe “newspaper columnist,” with a side order of personal journal.  One just keeps writing, because there is always new news, different people seeking advice, new events one needs to process.  But I think I was wrong about that model.  Some blogs, including mine, are books.  They come to an end.  To continue writing past the end is to repeat oneself.  That’s what I’m doing.  My real conclusion is probably back a few pages.

Some books have sequels, so I won’t say I’ll never be back.  And you’ll probably see me in other people’s comments threads, from time to time.  But I am going to be taking a break, possibly a permanent one.

So, writing group members and other readers, fare you well.  May your students be bright, your editors insightful, and your administrators efficient.  (Similar good wishes to non-academic readers, though I’m not sure how to phrase such wishes in parallel to the academic version).  Keep calm, and write on.

Maygust 2013 writing group, week 15

Writers’ daily routines:

http://dailyroutines.typepad.com/

If you were going to be one of these writers—as kiwi2 has become Allan Wilson—who would you be?  What routine will be yours for the coming months?

Allan Wilson (formerly known as kiwi2)
write and submit Cox 1
amstr
polish dissertation for September defense
Contingent Cassandra
submit Article J
Dame Eleanor Hull
complete rough translation of all my assigned chunks of Translation Project
Dr. Virago
finish draft of Slow Perk article
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
finish Article B
emmawriting
finish MCA
Heu Mihi
research, plan, and outline the first chapter of Projected Book
Humming42
finish MS for Revised Book Project (RBP)
hypatia cade
complete Grant Article
jliedl
finish Article RT
John Spence
edit, introduce, translate short medieval text and submit it for review.
luolin88
submit Article H
K(ris)
combine two conference papers into one article
Matilda
revise article draft for publication
Metheist
contain the Many-headed Monster: about 20pp more of Head 4, ~15 pages introduction, groom the hair on Heads 1, 2, and 3.
nicoleandmaggie
clone Small Paper from Big Paper and submit both
nwgirl
write Conference Paper B
OdilonRodilon
finish/polish draft of Cutting Edge Research Book (CERB)
professorsusan
finish Book Spinoff article
Pym Fan
turn WGS Project into finished essay
RentedLife
4 chapters of Reincarnation Book (fiction)
Sisyphus
Revise and resubmit Floyd
SophyLou
revise paper for submission as article
tracynicholrose
complete draft of Methods Paper
What Now?
Finish one chapter of book project
Whoosh
Design Fancyproject; write up grant application for Fancyproject
Widgeon
finish article for Big Name Journal
Z
Paper on the darker side of mestizaje
Zabeeltwo
produce a detailed plan for Book Two

Breaking it down

Good advice from Notorious, some time back: “I decided on which two subsections I was going to work on first (LESSON ALERT: break chapters down into manageable three-page chunks; these are easier to envision yourself actually writing than trying to think of the whole chapter, or even major section of a chapter).”  http://girlscholar.blogspot.com/2007/06/books-n-veggies.html

Clarifying

“I had found by experience that putting things down on paper helped to clear the mind in precisely the same way as . . . an eggshell clarifies the consommé or the coffee, which, of course, is a simple matter of chemistry.  The albumin contained in the eggshell has the property of collecting and binding the rubbish that floats in the drk liquid, which can then be removed and discarded in a single reeking clot: a perfect description of the writing process.”

Alan Bradley, Speaking From Among the Bones (New York: Delacorte Press, 2013), p. 216.

Maygust 2013 writing group, week 14

Z’s notes on Donald Murray on what writers need:

https://profacero.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/mais-yeah-revelations-du-jour/

Allan Wilson (formerly known as kiwi2)
write and submit Cox 1
amstr
polish dissertation for September defense
Contingent Cassandra
submit Article J
Dame Eleanor Hull
complete rough translation of all my assigned chunks of Translation Project
Dr. Virago
finish draft of Slow Perk article
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
finish Article B
emmawriting
finish MCA
Heu Mihi
research, plan, and outline the first chapter of Projected Book
Humming42
finish MS for Revised Book Project (RBP)
hypatia cade
complete Grant Article
jliedl
finish Article RT
John Spence
edit, introduce, translate short medieval text and submit it for review.
luolin88
submit Article H
K(ris)
combine two conference papers into one article
Matilda
revise article draft for publication
Metheist
contain the Many-headed Monster: about 20pp more of Head 4, ~15 pages introduction, groom the hair on Heads 1, 2, and 3.
nicoleandmaggie
clone Small Paper from Big Paper and submit both
nwgirl
write Conference Paper B
OdilonRodilon
finish/polish draft of Cutting Edge Research Book (CERB)
professorsusan
finish Book Spinoff article
Pym Fan
turn WGS Project into finished essay
RentedLife
4 chapters of Reincarnation Book (fiction)
Sisyphus
Revise and resubmit Floyd
SophyLou
revise paper for submission as article
tracynicholrose
complete draft of Methods Paper
What Now?
Finish one chapter of book project
Whoosh
Design Fancyproject; write up grant application for Fancyproject
Widgeon
finish article for Big Name Journal
Z
Paper on the darker side of mestizaje
Zabeeltwo
produce a detailed plan for Book Two

The last camel

Two of my favorite novelists have died.  She had a long and prolific career, and there are some Barbara Michaels titles I haven’t read yet, but it’s always sad to know that no more books will be forthcoming.

The official website looks like a good read, though.

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