- call Ombuds office and have extremely long, very confusing conversation regarding my plagiarism policy

- google stuff about plagiarism

- open a blank Word doc titled “FIRST CLASS LECTURE” for literally maybe the 100th time and stare at it for 15 minutes

- suddenly realize that I am making a list of books to read in preparation for a new book chapter, perhaps the least important thing on my entire to-do list right now

- open up a blank Word document titled “NEW BOOK CHAPTER” and stare at it for awhile

- decide to write chapter outline of new chapter without having done any research on it yet

- make new Word doc titled “NEW CHAPTER OUTLINE” and stare at it for awhile

- go back to my plagiarism policy

- google “British burned down the white house 1814?”

- get email from bookstore saying they are unable to get one of my textbooks

- call bookstore. They say that book is “coming.” No resolution

- find out my spotify playlist, which I need to be able to give to a bunch of students in one week, doesn’t work on a bunch of computers

- worry about my dog getting Lyme disease

- make yet another note-to-self about getting Colson Whitehead’s zombie novel

- read wiki on Colson Whitehead. Get annoyed at them calling him “African American author Colson Whitehead.”

- make note-to-self to get “Erasure,” Percival Everett’s scathing critique of racism in America, in which his protagonist, a scholar of Ancient Greece, keeps finding his academic texts on Plato and the Parthenon filed under “African American Literature”

- download Evernote and transfer everything from Scrivener to Evernote

- realize that almost my entire list of books headed “read these SOON!” are books I actually already not only read but took extensive reading notes on

- google “can I succeed in life if I can’t do anything”

- back to that plagiarism policy

- realize I should make a cake but I don’t have any of the ingredients except flour

- google “cake made only of flour”

- roll out yoga mat in preparation for cleansing home practice

- sit on yoga mat for 30 minutes listening to Comedy Bang Bang

- 8 large wines

- lie in bed staring at ceiling thinking about failure

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Stress Dreams, Dog News

I had nothing but stress dreams last night. I’d awaken from one, wipe my sweaty brow, go to the bathroom, fall back asleep, and have another one with a completely different plot. It went on and on.

The first dream consisted entirely of me trying to calibrate the grading percentages in my syllabus, while all my TAs looked on in growing frustration. Periodically I would say something to them like “how do you make these percentages add up?” and “I just need to calibrate these percentages” and even once, “I just realized I don’t know what ‘calibrate’ means, actually.” The percentages just wouldn’t work. I couldn’t figure out how to break up assignments and their points so that students would end up getting appropriate grades. Hanging in the air above me in the dream was this dense dread, knowing final grade submission was coming up and if I didn’t get this figured out then all my students were going to get As, or Fs, and it would be a disaster. I woke up from this one and lay awake in the dark thinking about my actual grade percentages, realizing I did indeed need to make sure they worked. Then I thought, “I can’t believe after that whole exhausting dream about calibrating grading percentages I am actually just thinking about how to calibrate my grading percentages. And it’s true I don’t really know what ‘calibrate’ means, actually.”

INTERPRETATION: I am not good at figuring out grading percentages

The second dream involved meeting my old man for coffee to discuss “maybe trying to date again.” It slowly emerged that we had been separated and I didn’t know what he’d been doing with his life. I was trying to get him to help me understand what had happened–were we really not married anymore? Why? How?–but instead of explaining, he’d just kind of listlessly recapitulate all the reasons he was lukewarm on the idea of dating again. I woke up from that one real slowly and it took forever to realize the snoring lump next to me was indeed my husband, still stuck with me, thank you Jesus.

INTERPRETATION: I am feeling nervous and shaky in this new unfamiliar life, and I am worried about further rugs of supposed stability being pulled out from under me

In the third dream I was with a huge group of people including my old man, and we were in a van. He informed the entire van that the driver of the van–who I think was one of his sort of peripheral colleagues in grad school, a dude I will call “Joe”–was going to give him oral sex while we rode to our destination. Everyone was totally on board, and even though I was uncomfortable, I didn’t want to seem controlling, so I also acted like it was cool. He took his pants off and waited for Joe to get back in the van. I was very confused but trying not to look stupid. But when Joe got in the van and saw that Gary had announced this to everyone and had gone ahead and taken his pants off, he was mortified, and ran away enormously upset. Gary went out to talk to him and apologize. I sat in the van, feeling really really sorry for Joe, and sort of shocked that my husband had been so callous. Then I sort of started thinking, “wait, WHAT?” and then I woke up again.

INTERPRETATION: I am worried about looking cool and collected while confronting all the surprising, unsettling, confusing scenarios that await me in the coming few weeks; I am worried that my new reality is going to be an unhappy one but I’m not going to be able to show my feelings about it

Everyone is stressed out all the time, it’s the new American way, and it’s boring to talk about like you are special for being stressed out, so I apologize.


Yesterday was the 200th anniversary of the British burning down the White House in 1814 during our slightly lesser-known war against the tyrant King George, and everyone was celebrating. The British Embassy commemorated the event by baking a huge cake in the shape of the White House and lighting sparklers all around it. I’m not making this up. Wikipedia says Great Britain is “the only country to have burned the White House.”

It makes you think about time and history. That this event now seems legitimately funny to citizens of both nations.


One thing about our new home that is lame, aside from the terrible drivers (the term “Masshole,” which in my childhood was used merely to identify someone skiing in jeans, has taken on vast new resonances upon actually living here), is that there is no dog park culture. Everyone has a dog, but it is a solitary affair, with no places for dogs and the people who love them to congregate and ask one another incessantly what breed that is. The snoopy has not spoken to another dog in weeks, and even though he’s never been much of a dog’s dog, it still seems unnatural and depressing, to go so long without communicating in his native tongue. Google “off-leash dog park” and you will see only 2 red dots within driving distance. One is this epic 70 acre wilderness where people play frisbee golf and where dogs are sort of allowed off-leash, unofficially. To be fair, this place is amazing. It goes on and on, it’s got fields and woods and a river with innumerable swimmin’ holes. But it’s not exactly a “dog park” in the truest sense of the word, because it’s so dang big that there’s actually nowhere that dogs actually hang out together in a big pack. It’s off-leash nature time, which is great, but it’s still solitary for the most part.

There is another dog park in a neighboring village 8 miles from here that we are going to check out. And there is a pub in a different town where you can bring your dog. Other than that, though, it’s solo time for snoopys. This is fine but just sad when you consider that in Portland we lived 3 blocks from a beautiful dog park constantly filled with dogs and their irritating owners. Where, now, shall I be blessed by listening to an insane stranger’s entire life story while I try to pick up dogshit? Where will I get to witness rich assholes fretting that a pit mix has shown up to surely murder their poorly-trained but very expensive Vizsla? Where will I get to pat a brand-new puppy visiting the park for his first time, or see the joy on my snoopy’s face as he runs full-out, so much faster than any other dog in town, with a stick in his mouth, while a gasping yellow lab tries futilely to catch him and everyone points and laughs??

Furthermore, on Tuesday/Thursday we both have to be away from the house from 7:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., which is right on the cusp of being too long for snoop to go without peeing his pants.

In light of these two issues we have decided to become the kind of people who take their dog to daycare while they’re at work. It happened………it happened TO ME!

I think it will be good for him. Twice a week, he’ll have to get in the car, drive somewhere, and go in to kindergarten alone and deal with his emotions. And he’ll get to talk to other dogs, and get covered in pee, and ramble around outside with a tennis ball in his mouth. The place is right on the road that goes from our house to school. Anyway, now this is happening.

What next, I walk around town with my yoga mat in a bag? TOO LATE

The other day I was biking home from hot yoga. I was wearing what was essentially a soaking-wet swimsuit. I was stopped at a light, and a dude drove up next to me in a car, and goes, “What, no bell?” What a weird way to start a conversation. He goes “What, no bell? Yeah, I guess they are pretty lame.” I had said nothing. I then said, “bells are cool; I’d have a bell!” Then he said “I guess they’re better than those horns.” I said “yeah.” Then we sat in silence until the light changed. It is very characteristic of my life that it is always unclear if someone is hitting on me or if they are mad at me or if they are a crazy person.

I have been combatting this bad mood for a week at least. It is so hard to maintain equilibrium in the countdown to the new semester, and being at a new school is much worse, like I have said already. Ughhhh I am trying so hard to keep my chin up, to do a fun thing each day, to push worries from my mind. It will be whatever it is; there is only so prepared I can be; etc. But I have these “dread spikes” where I feel like I’m gonna barf. Why haven’t I published my stupid book yet?/???? What is wrong with me? I don’t know how to do anything!!!!!!!! I keep forgetting to think about how to manage my TAs! I can’t hook my computer up to the printer! What if my spotify playlist won’t work for my class?? It’s too late to do something else! holy shit

Posted in Opinion | 1 Comment

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