Morning Doves

Lovely rainstorm in the night awakened me in spite of the fact that my husband says it’s “too loud” with the windows open so we have to sleep in a stuffy tomb. Still heard that ol’ pitter-patter outside though! Mother Rain is more powerful than a shut window (note: when asked what exactly he feels is too loud, given that we live in the most silent neighborhood on earth, my old man replied “bugs”).

I made a sourdough starter and for a week now it’s been bubblin’ and doublin’ like MAD. Yet, when I went to make my very first sourdough loaf, dude is dead and heavy and garbage, even after 24 hours rising time. What did I do wrong? If the starter is bubblin’ and alive, why doesn’t the dough rise? I need some hot tips. Is it kneading? Did I not knead it enough–is that possible? It felt like it never stopped being WAY too sticky, while I was kneading it, what’s that about. Did I not work in enough flour? Surely somebody reading this shit knows about sourdough bread. Do me a goddamn favor please.

Today is Friday. I have many documents to write and finalize; a colleague’s article to read and try to comment helpfully on; a book proposal to finish; future plans to make myself sick worrying about; and two syllabuses to finish. Then I will drink wine. At midnight a friend is coming to stay with us, so I might have extra coffee too. Then it is the weekend. Then Monday is the old man’s birthday. Then Tuesday the MADNESS BEGINS and we will see which way the cookie crumbles.

I am going to buy an iPad with my startup money so that I can do my powerpoints in class without lugging my laptop around. GENIUS

My laptop constantly says startup disk full and I don’t know what to do

Things are challenging but healthy challenges are what make life fun and rewarding

Unhealthy challenges (starving to death; being in an abusive relationship; getting harassed by cops because you are black) are not rewarding or fun

It’s important to know which kind of challenge you’re facing, and act accordingly

Posted in Opinion | 2 Comments

Hey what’s up

I woke up thinking about this li’l essay on comedy I wrote a long time ago, I don’t know why, and I just re-read it to see if I still agree with it, and I do. I think I would like to expand this into a real essay about comedy, for some sort of publication or journal or well-read opinion site. I will now do absolutely nothing to make that happen.

So I’ve been going to this hot yoga studio. I’m on the fence about hot yoga. On the one hand, the heat feels so good (/bad in a good way) and you really feel like shit is pouring out of you and your spirit is cleansed. On the other hand, it’s gross, and entails doing way too much laundry, and I also don’t know what you do in the wintertime when it’s 10 degrees outside and you’re soaking wet and the yoga studio doesn’t have a shower. Also, I’ve only take hot yoga from three instructors, which is by no means an exhaustive sampling, but thus far they have all been maniacs. The first one I took was full-on Bikram, and dude wore a HEADSET MIC and yelled things that in my memory have turned into “Come on you bitches, bikini season is right around the corner!” with loud music playing. Look, I fully realize and embrace the fact that any yoga we could possibly do in this country is by its nature going to be weird Americanized yoga, with an unhealthy, sublimated, and deeply ironic given the circumstances, focus on body hatred. I fully accept and understand that American yoga bears scant resemblance to whatever actual Hindus in Indian monasteries are doing as part of their spiritual practice. AND YET, the headset mic and the bikini bod talk is A LITTLE much, for me. Like lets at least pay lip service to peace and calm and breathing and chakras, isn’t that why we’re taking yoga and not jazzercise or whatever they do instead of jazzercise these days?? Aren’t we actively choosing yoga because we’re trying to at least ATTEMPT to chill out for a second, and not think about getting our bods bikini-ready, as they do in ancient India?

So the two yoga teachers I’ve had here thus far have been rigorous and scary and I’ve left class feeling amazing, but there is this tinge of craziness that at first I chalked up to the east coast–which could be the case–but which now I’m wondering if it’s more about specifically hot yoga. Like for example, I’ve taken A LOT of non-hot-yoga from A LOT of different instructors, in different states in this great nation, and every single one of them has cultivated this vibe of peaceful non-judgment. They all make a point of constantly saying “if something is too intense for you, just take child’s pose!” They’re really into you taking child’s pose instead of pushing yourself, because the whole point is we’re here trying to get away from the bullshit capitalist American “no pain no gain” ethos. In these hot yoga classes, they also say this. They say, oh, just take child’s pose if you feel like you’re gonna barf. But then during the actual practice, they’re constantly encouraging you NOT to take child’s pose! At point last night dude even yelled “DON’T TAKE CHILD’S POSE! PUSH IT!!!” and I was like, holy shit, but I really want to take child’s pose right now, and I have been taught that that is a loving and peaceful and appropriate thing to do, so now I don’t know what to do and maybe I will actually just barf, which I really don’t want to do but I’m also conditioned to “push it” when an athletic authority figure yells at me to “push it.”

We end class by chanting 3 Oms and EVERY TIME there are people who go up a third from the root note everyone is singing. This to me is kind of the emblem of American yoga. We’re in America, so as much as we try, we can never escape that. We are too cultured to think about bikini bods and pushing it. We can only be cultured to our very bones in triad-based tonality (a Western system), to such an extent that even as we’re sitting here with hands in heart pose, chanting in sanskrit or whatever, we’re still gonna do it in thirds. It cracked me up. I wanted to try a plagal cadence just to see what would happen. “AMEN!”

Now I gotta go to campus and have eight thousand meetings

Posted in Opinion | 2 Comments

Changing and Arranging and Haranguing

I am sitting in my office, on the shitty blue Ikea couch, with my feet on a decent rug we got on sale that is all reds and blues and curlicues. At the rug store, we really immediately fell in love with this crazy rug that was all pink and blue and teal and psychedelic medieval iconography but it turned out it was a vintage hand-made Persian rug and it was $600, so even though we obviously didn’t buy it, we felt very validated by having such good taste.

Next to me is a big, black, smelly dog, who is licking his own foot. The inside of his mouth smells like death but as long as he keeps his mouth shut he smells like chips and dirt. Now he’s done licking his foot and he’s resting his chin on my shoulder and breathing hard. We got him an additional bed for downstairs, so now he has somewhere to hang out while we eat dinner or watch a movie. He is no longer allowed on the couch since we got a nice couch. It makes everyone really sad but it just has to be this way. I don’t know if it will be this way forever but for now god bless

Whenever you go down the stairs in our house he comes with you, and takes them (the stairs) in these ungainly bounds. It is only a matter of chance, which of us falls down the stairs first, but I bet it will be me. I have already stubbed my toe on everything you could possibly stub a toe on in the whole house, including a dog bone that somebody left right in the middle of the floor when he was done chomping it. I remember stepping on jacks as a child, what a legendary pain that was, and then my mom telling me about stepping on jacks when SHE was a child. Now I truly believe no child in America owns a set of jacks anymore, thus my childhood was more like the childhood of the 1950s than it is like the childhood of current young adults, which is how you start becoming old.

We are fighting some pre-semester panic and blues. I’d say we are doing an okay job in this fight, although there have been some defeats and setbacks. I have had a couple truly bad days and then some days when I was able to buck myself up with yoga, coconut macaroons, or large wines.

The week or so before the semester starts is always terrible. You’re afraid of what the future holds–what if this time all my students hate me? What if this syllabus, which seems so awesome, is actually full of holes and problems I’m not noticing somehow? What if I can’t figure out my schedule or when to do my course prep? etc., stuff like that, but also you’re just sort of overwhelmed at the major, epic transition from Summer Time to School Time. The two types of time have literally nothing in common and switching between them is jarring and difficult. Even switching from School Time to Summer Time, which you’d think would be joyful! It’s difficult. You get the blues and you mope around and you don’t know how to start all the looming enormous projects you’ve been putting off for seven months. Like you turn in your final grades, slap your hands together in a “that’s that” gesture, then turn to your summer to-do list, upon which you find “READ MARX’S CAPITAL” and you’re like “eeeetttthhhhhhhhhhhpppttt” (sound of a balloon deflating in a loose, farty, and uninspiring way).

So yeah. As much as I love the weird academic schedule, the in-between times are challenging. But added to this usual angst is the fact that this is a whole new job in a whole new institution in a whole new state, and all that that implies, and added to THAT is the fact that it’s my first Real Job, and so the list of things I’m worried about has at least doubled. Not only worrying about my students and my syllabus but, you know, “how to make everyone in the department like me” and “how to figure out what kinds of longstanding political issues are simmering underneath the surface of the department” and “who is mad at who” and “who should I be scared of vs. who should I befriend” and “which committees should I join” and “what if I forget to do something that means I don’t get tenure in five years” and “wait where’s that form to get reimbursed for this airplane ticket” and also I have GRAD STUDENTS now so I am trying to learn all the arcane shit they have to do to get their degrees so I can make sure they graduate, etc. And I also want to do things like take piano lessons but I just feel like, how can that happen?? Meanwhile some of my colleagues have small children and yet are also finishing books and planning conferences and I feel like a heel.

It is just one foot in front of the other, of course, one thing checked off the to-do list at a time. But by this point in the summer the to-do list has become shaggy and unclear. There’s a lot to be done but I’m not sure what-all it is. I feel confused. I haven’t socialized with a living human aside from my husband in a month. Oh, Julia came by with her mom awhile ago, that was awesome.

I am turning 37 in three days. 37! An unremarkable age. That’s fine.

We went to a local village and popped into a truly shitty bookstore where I found a novel based on Mork and Mindy.

We also ate at a vegan cafe that was textbook 90s Portland. I felt so at home in it. And the food was spectacular. I am very pleased to be biking distance from this town. There’s also a copy center that is actually a worker cooperative, and you get free copies if you need 3 or less. WTF? And you can also buy morroccan body oil there, and fair trade coffee, and books on politics by local weirdos.

My office is truly pleasant, goddamn! I can’t wait to see what it’s like in autumn, with the leaves outside and the crisp air and the woodsmoke and the radiator burbling. I bet it will be cozy as hell. I am very excited to be in the thick of things, mid-semester, because it will mean I have gotten at least some kind of a handle on my duties and my routine. I am excited to be grading like normal, in my cozy office, with the blizzard coming down outside.

I am having trouble figuring out what is interesting about my new research project, and I don’t know if that means it’s not interesting or if I’m just not seeing it correctly.

Now this big dog is having a dream and slapping me with his tail. It’s one thing after another in this crazy life!

Also I tried making a sourdough starter but I feel like I failed and now I am bread-dejected again. I’ve tried so many times to make a sourdough starter! It’s so fucking simple! And yet it doesn’t work for me again and again.

Well, that’s about it

Posted in Opinion | 1 Comment