A week of spring

But how is it already a week since I posted?

Spring is moseying along thinking about whether it really wants to show up or would rather just turn back, go home, and put its fleecy pjs back on for a Netflix binge. There are more birds. They perch on the roof next door and taunt Reina, who chitters at them. There are snowdrops and crocuses in other people’s yards, not mine. Some other bulb flowers have stuck leaves above ground, in my yard, but that’s all. I considered raking up the leaves/mulch from last year, but we’re still supposed to have some below-freezing nights in the next week, so I think I will wait.

One of my classes is still awesome. The other, well. I had them sign up for conferences about their third paper, and lectured them a bit about making the most of the opportunity by doing a little work beforehand, like at least decide which option they want to write on. And check the instructions for the paper, because I am not giving them instructions just to make them jump through hoops, I am telling them how to do well on this paper and exactly what I am looking for if they will just read the instructions.

I mean, I can explain it to you again but I can’t understand it for you.

I once had a massage therapist who told me that in Chinese thinking, spring is the angry season. Works for me. Of course, then I need some excuse for my mood during the other seasons.

Sometimes I look at spring clothing online or in the catalogs that still show up in the mail, and consider this dress or that shirt, and then realize I don’t want to buy anything new, I want it to be warm enough to wear the spring clothing I have.

Lots of the bloggers I read post recipes they have tried or devised, or about meals they have enjoyed. Sometimes I enjoy these vicariously but more often lately I get cranky because I can’t eat that, can’t eat that, can’t eat the other thing either. It seems like some people travel to eat. I travel to look at things, because architecture, paintings, and scenery don’t make me sick.

I am making progress on some of the things I need to work on rather than having feeeelings about (mainly guilt) but now my feeeeeling is omg there is so much of this no wonder I didn’t want to do it because this is going to take so long. That is, I absolutely should have started sooner, but now the only thing to do is keep slogging along because It Is Not Going To Get Any Earlier, and the best I can do now is Don’t Make It Worse.

Usually this is the sort of thing I say to myself in February. Hey, April, are you going to be bringing warm days and a burst of energy? Come on, girl, we could use you over here. Take off the pjs and put on a flowered dress, you’ll have a good time once you get there.

The day before spring break

That is, yesterday.

Far too much talking to people: colleagues, students, mentoring of colleagues junior to me, meetings, blah blah. Came home feeling that I Cannot People Any Longer.

Students. Both my classes had papers due last night. I required the lower-division class to have conferences with me: bring a rough draft, a thesis statement, or your notes, I said. The assignment even offered sample thesis statements that they could use without altering, so that the essay would be plug-and-chug (an exercise in developing topic sentences and providing support). Well. One student signed up, then blew off the conference completely, did not respond to e-mail. One let me know he couldn’t make his appointment. One, a junior, actually brought a very decent rough draft. All the others—ten or so—came in with various degrees of “I don’t know what I’m going to write about.” People. On Wednesday, you still had two days, so okay, sort of. On Friday, when your paper is due in 12 hours, don’t you think you could at least look at the assignment sheet while you’re in the hallway and pick a thesis statement?

In contrast, three of the upper-division class came in voluntarily. One even came twice, with different versions of her paper, and a most admirable ability to de-couple writing from ego. She’ll go far. That whole class is a lovely group of people and I enjoy them so much.

All week, I’ve been looking forward to the break and thinking about Dr Medusa’s description of the Spring Break Professor House: “Do they still have the MTV Spring Break beach house or party house or whatever? If MTV were to do a Spring Break professor house, there would be a lone dishevelled woman in strange outfits (which I, like many of my comrades, tend to wear when I write), books and papers everywhere, a bored chihuahua, maybe something like The Maltese Falcon on the television, and several bottles of red wine in various states of fullness–one on the desk, one by the bedside, one by the table. Every once in a while in the MTV Spring Break Garret, the dishevelled prof would rouse herself from the laptop, put some Led Zeppelin or Violent Femmes on the iPod and dance wildly. Then it would be back to the writing.” This sounds great to me. Substitute cats for chihuahua and sherry for the red wine, and I’m there.

I just have to do Three Things in the next week: translation, grading, house. That’s it. Three things.

Um, except then I remembered another Three Things: letter, assignment, taxes. Dammit. So maybe this morning I will try to knock off at least a couple of those, and say that I’m still on the Day Before Break, until maybe noon, and then I can start my Spring Break Professor House Party with Three Things.

Blogroll

I have finally created one.

It’s an alphabetized jumble, without categories for academics, ex-pats, writers, gardeners, readers, travelers, or friends-of-blogfriends, and some of the blogs haven’t been updated for awhile. Nonetheless, I recommend their archives and continue to hope that their authors will return to regular blogging, or at least give annual updates, or something. As a somewhat irregular blogger myself, I’m in no position to criticize!

Slightly brain-dead

Yesterday I turned in my application for promotion, along with a crate (literally) of supporting evidence. Sir John asked a few times why I kept referring to “the crate.” That is what my department calls it; each applicant gets a plastic storage crate in which to assemble paper copies of everything: publications, syllaboi, sample assignments, and so on. It will take at least four months to get through the next stages, possibly longer depending on how many cases the college level has to look at and whether any of them are controversial. The rubber-stamping stages will drag out the process for another six months or so.

But you know my motto: any excuse is a good excuse for champagne. Some members of my writing group accompanied me for a celebratory glass of wine yesterday (the only place open in mid-afternoon didn’t have anything sparkly on the menu). I’ll crack a bottle every time I hear anything. Last night, however, my main celebration involved a novel in the bathtub: Marina Endicott’s The Little Shadows, about three Canadian sisters in vaudeville in the 1910s. It’s divided up into short scenes of 2-3 pages that make it fatally easy to read just a little more . . . and just a little more . . . I enjoyed it. I wouldn’t say it’s an all-time favorite, but it was fun. I got the recommendation from ClothesInBooks, whose author seems to have similar tastes to mine, both in books and in interest in clothes.

In short, I stayed up far too late and got up at almost my usual time this morning, so I’m a little tired. I plan to do nothing much today (some housework, gym, gardening, more reading). Tomorrow will be time enough to get back to work.

K’zoo weather: my fault

Sorry! I should not have ironed my linen blazer, trousers, and sleeveless tops. The next few days are going to be cool and rainy in Kalamazoo, rather than linen weather. That’s arguably better than the really hot and steamy years. I will do what I can to improve the weather by packing a wool sweater, raincoat, and umbrella. If I throw my wellies into the car, maybe I can ward off serious rainfall.

Green stuff, Summer, Projects

Yesterday I graded All The Things and then filed All The Grades. At home I drank sherry, had a bath, and crashed.

Summer started this morning, and despite my protests about being overly married to this house, I started with housewifery. I put out the bags of yard waste from my weekend endeavors, did some more weeding and spraying of bellflower, thought about the way it and the thistles were resisting the Very Nasty Weedkiller recommended by people at the gardening group I attend sporadically, and laughed at them a little more. Clearly they think of gardening as a genteel hobby, whereas the way I do it, it’s more like habitat reclamation. Or terraforming. Some of us just can’t do things the easy way. The clematis, at least, is doing beautifully, and the little volunteer clematis is back with buds on.

I like the thistles, or at least I love the goldfinches who perch on them to eat the seeds; the yellow and purple are beautiful together. If we weren’t trying to move, I’d just let the thistles be. But I don’t think most people want to buy a yard full of thistles.

Anyway, then I did a load of laundry and some ironing, because secretly I like ironing if I don’t have many other more important things to do. My linen will wind up crumpled, of course, because that’s the nature of the beast, but at least it won’t look like it spent the winter in a ball on the bottom of my closet. There are degrees of rumpled.

After lunch I turned to scholarly endeavors for a couple of hours.

I am waiting for a blast of e-mailed temper from my Brother Less Reasonable, since the other one has found an appropriate assisted-living facility to which to move our father. Less has already stated that he is categorically opposed to such a move. But he’s outnumbered. Maybe he’ll realize that that dignified silence might be the better part of valor.

Well, I can hope.

Time for exercise and bill-paying. There will no doubt be TV later. With sherry. Such an exciting (well, satisfying, anyway) life I lead.

Favorites do wear out

I have long recognized that when shopping, I really only notice what I already have at least one of. I have several copies of the same dress in multiple colors. I have half a dozen different grey sweaters (pullover, round neck; pullover, v-neck; dark merino cardigan; pale grey cashmere cardigan; asymmetrical zip merino cardigan; long open cardigan, Oxford grey). I likewise have cashmere cardigans in several colors; jeans in multiple colors (more likely to have decent pockets than “dress” trousers); and, of course, at least half a dozen black skirts in different fabrics, lengths, and degrees of formality.

Possibly my favorite and most-worn skirt ever is among those: washable black silk crepe, mid-calf length, flowing, pocketed. I bought it when I was in graduate school, from a small shop in Hill Town, on sale at a price that was still high for me, then, but price per wear must have amortized to something outrageously low over the years. If it has faded to charcoal, it’s no less a workhorse for being somewhat paler than it once was: see above for my love of grey sweaters. It dresses up, it dresses down, it has accompanied me on multiple trips to London town (and other cities). And after the last trip, it had somehow acquired stains that I have not succeeded in removing. I’m going to let a dry cleaner have at it, but I am not optimistic. I do not know where I will ever find a replacement for this one. Despite my tendency to buy multiples or different versions of the same garment, I’ve never found another skirt as versatile and wearable as this one.

I had hoped to wear it to a formal-ish occasion coming up, but I’m going to have to find something else, possibly out of a box that’s already packed.

I’d welcome recommendations for a replacement. Also stories of your favorite clothing pieces or types.

Day 7

Well, the best I can say for yesterday is that it’s over.  That was some fog I was in.  I kept looking at the clock, doing something (like feeding a cat), thinking about two minutes had passed, and discovering that 20-30 minutes had gone by and I had no clue what I had been doing.

The teaching list?  I forgot all about it.  I also forgot that it was Friday (though I knew in the morning that it was Friday the 13th), and therefore I had a yoga class to go to.  It took all afternoon to do a handful of house-things: adjust the screws on the door-closers so the front door closes more slowly and the back door, faster; find and put up the bedroom curtains; move a couple of pieces of furniture; swap out plastic shelf-pins in two kitchen cupboards for metal ones; exchange the contents of these cupboards*; and pay the bills.  I then went for a 4.5 mile walk when I should have been at yoga, and bought a book at the local independent bookstore**.  Once Sir John got home, we watched two days of Paris-Nice, and I answered a friend’s e-mail, and ordered one book and two dresses online (inspired by Cloud, I’m trying out eshakti. This is the dress I really want, but it’s not what I’m getting).

I used to have a lot more days like that.  I’m glad that they are now rare.  Having one makes me very appreciative of my improved state.

At sunrise this morning I put the cats out of the bedroom and, thanks to the curtains, went back to sleep.  I’m getting a late start on the day, and there are pre-planned events that will break it up in ways that may inhibit productivity, but at least I’m rested and thinking clearly.  I think.

*Astute readers may suspect that a different cupboard has already had this operation performed, and for cause (i.e., plastic fatigue).  Astute readers would be correct.  Mirabile dictu, very few dishes were broken in that event, which happened months ago.  I’m not very good at getting to these house tasks.

**Support your local independent bookstore!  I could have put that on my spring break to-do list.  Why not?  Never mind that I had intended to walk to the public library, but in my fog couldn’t get out of the house until too late to get there in opening hours.  The ultimate effect is good for the bookstore, so I’ll claim it as a Useful Thing To Have Done.