I should be working on an abstract I need to submit by June; I should be writing a new book chapter; I should be exercising; instead I’m not doing any of those things. Last night I slept at Katy’s house because she and her housemate are both gone and they needed someone to dog-sit for a night. They’ve got this incredible dog named Benny who is some kind of sheepdog collie guy. He was found just wandering around in the countryside–they think he is an escaped farm dog, because the pads of his paws were super soft and not all tough and gnarled like a city dog’s. He’s like six years old. He’s actually, legitimately, the best dog ever. He’s a much better dog than my snoopy, even though I love my snoopy much more, just like parents of shitty children, who can’t help themselves. Anyway, Benny loves carrots and “can have as many carrots as he wants.” While I was there I gave him four, and he would have eaten more.
It’s interesting taking care of an unfamiliar dog. Some things are the same, and seem to be the same across the dog world; surely just because they are the same across the human world, and dogs pick them up. I now have a sample size of two, and have come to some scientific conclusions: Pointing out of the room and saying anything in an irritated voice will send any halfway decent dog slinking away apologetically. “Lets go” seems to be a hot-button dog word. All dogs stamp their feet in joy when they can tell you’re about to go outside with them. All dogs will eat the cat’s food if you turn your back for even less than one second. All dogs will get down in a ditch and eat some old McDonald’s fries that someone threw in there.
Benny, unlike snoopy, sits politely while you put on his leash, instead of racing wildly in a circle around your legs, knocking over umbrellas and bicycles and literally crying out loud. Benny, unlike snoopy, greets you calmly with a wagging tail when you come in the door, instead of leaping up and down and grabbing his kong and bouncing it at your feet to show you what he’s been working on while you were gone. Benny responds to “GO CHILL OUT” while snoopy responds to “BUTT OUT.”
Both smell similar. Benny has a stupid underbite that makes him look like a total dweeb; snoopy is 4 years old but still trips over his own legs and does face plants a lot. Snoopy would not eat a carrot. Snoopy likes to bark and leap with you if you dance for him; I did not try this out on Benny.
Well I wonder if this blog entry is interesting to anyone on earth. “Just Thinking About Dogs,” I think that’s what I will title it.
I was nominated as a finalist for teacher of the year! I didn’t win, but just being nominated was such a huge honor, and the ceremony where they announced the winner was so awesome, many of us were crying. Such great students. So cool to see that students are able to clearly and specifically identify what their teachers do that works and is special. You always wonder how the work you do appears to them. And I’m sure a lot of them never think about it for one second, and take your work totally for granted, just like we all took our parents’ work raising us totally for granted until we were like 30 and suddenly realized, hey, I bet that totally sucked! But it was just extraordinarily validating and touching to hear students reading their letters about various professors they had nominated, explaining exactly how that professor had reached them, helped them, guided them. I was so sincerely moved. Wringing my hands and fighting back tears while my student read his letter about me.
So that was a really special thing that happened, and it came at a crucial time in the semester, when, like I said before, things are really falling apart and I am like “Uh….class dismissed” when I realize I have no idea how to explain inverted tone rows or whatever, and when I am spilling a whole cup of coffee on a whole stack of papers, and when I am having anxiety dreams about assignments I forgot about. The other day in class I suddenly wondered IN REAL LIFE if I had forgotten to put clothes on. I literally looked down surreptitiously to make sure. That is a thing that really happened. Dream is becoming indistinguishable from reality; summer comes not a moment too soon.
The desperate scramble to find a house to rent in Northampton continues apace! I asked a rental agent for help actually. Fuck it, I’ll pay extra money for some peace of mind. I’m very afraid that nothing will come through and we’ll end up in some weird corporate studio apartment right in Barfing Sorority Girl Alley, which is what happened with the old man’s first apartment in Iowa and which was an actual nightmare. You could sit at his living room window and watch so many assaults happen! Plus things like HUMAN SHIT in the hallway.
Remember how our last year there we finally got a drunk kid in our house in the middle of the night? And how he was throwing himself against our door and yelling “DONOVAN! LET ME IN”
I really think the age of 18-20 is some sort of pupal stage where like some gross slimy insect has to gnaw off its own skin in order to become a functioning butterfly.
Well, some 18-20 year olds anyway; not the ones who read their letters about their professors. Some 18-20 year olds really have their shit together. I definitely have students who are technically smarter than me–I know more stuff, and have more skills, but just comparing them to me at their age, there’s no contest. They have sharp, sharp minds. My road to critical thinking on the other hand has been long and twisty and hard fought (mixed metaphor, sorry). I read this kid’s thesis and it was legitimately as good as a lot of published articles I’ve read; I would rather die than let him read my own senior thesis.
My students are doing their presentations now and they’re SO GOOD. I am just giving everybody As all the time, I don’t know how to be more judgmental of them! Almost all of them are just doing such excellent work, and taking their work so seriously. You should see these PowerPoints.
A really sad tumblr idea: Dogs Crying Outside Coffee Shops
Just Doggin’ It
I just realized I think today is Easter, right?
God, remember Easter? Remember how rad Easter used to be. No other holiday gets so utterly swept under the rug of aging as Easter. Unless you actually believe in Jesus I guess. So many epic presents were given to me in my Easter “nest” my parents would put at the foot of my bed. “Thriller” on vinyl (still have it!). A pink sweatshirt with a unicorn and a rainbow on it. Actually those are the only two I can remember; still pretty epic.
I had a realization: do you think Christianity has tended to attract so many small-minded, childish, fearful, stupid people because it is based partially on worshipping an infant? Is there any other religion that worships an actual straight-up baby as its central deity? It’s actually pretty bizarre. Maybe this explains so much–the American fetishization of fetuses and desire to be themselves totally infantilized by the state.
This is a blog so I can say whatever wild theories I want to. It’s basically Salon, but less pandering. Isn’t it weird how shitty Salon got? It happened so slowly I feel like we only lately have noticed. And now all of a sudden they’re rolling with headlines like “DARWIN: DID HE CAUSE THE HOLOCAUST?” and “WHY ATHEISTS HAVE IT WRONG” and “WOMEN: ARE THEY BIOLOGICALLY LESS ABLE TO BE BUSINESSMEN? WHAT I SAY NEXT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND”
The most recent issue of the New Yorker is that rare issue that makes you remember why you continue subscribing. That crazy article on deep caving? The Rwandan Mourning Week column? STONEHENGE? And now I’m halfway through this excruciating story about all the people who are tortured for ransom on their trek through Africa, only to drown off the Italian coast because the army won’t let them swim ashore. This issue is like a jaunt through the coolest, and weirdest, and most fascinating, and most horrible elements of humanity and human history. It almost makes up for all the Anthony Lane garbage one must wade through for months and months; all the boring-ass tech articles; all the stupid restaurant reviews: “oh, the fetal pig braised in a sauce of its mother’s tears was too salty, but at the bargain price of six million dollars what do you expect? Signed, A Complete Dipshit”
Do you ever wonder if you’ll ever actually read Moby Dick? Sometimes I just sit around wondering this.