Saturday, January 07, 2006

Because You Said So

It's so nifty to see people who have contacted me before mixing with those who have been lurking about. I know that many blogs have created a sort of virtual community within comment sections, and I hope that happens here, as long as somebody occasionally brings doughnuts. No matter whether you can afford to donate or no (I can't afford to donate to MYSELF), I'm glad all of you are here, and possibly plotting against me.

Also, who in their right minds WANTS to raise a writer? Please, please, spare yourselves the constant mental breakdown that is my parents' lives, and rear accountants. The world doesn't need one more poetry slam.

In other news, when did I become an artist in the Southwest?

Now, to answer some questions and comments:

1) I've not yet seen the new Pride and Prejudice, but when I do, I'll be sure to let everyone know exactly how much it sucks.

2) As much of my day is tied up in examinig zits, fretting, and eating Wheat Thins, I really don't read other people's blogs, but I do check Drudge a few times a day and heartily recommend reality blurred, the much-celebrated blog of Friendboy Andy. He's WAY more famous (and competent) than I am. You guys should go see it. He actually, like, spells things properly.

3) I never said Will Smith is funnier than Jon Stewart. I just said that in the unlikely event Stewart whizzes it, we should have Will in the wings. Preferably in the neon hi-tops and ready to bust out "Parents Just Don't Understand."

4) College students, do be honest on those reviews, but remember, in most places (I KNOW in mine) people in high places do indeed look at them, and can have some effect on whether or not the professor gets tenure or another job.

As my entire Master's education consisted of sitting in a very small room with five other people who would read something I'd been working on for six months and then say things like "You might want to try not writing while stoned," I'm quite used to constructive criticism; for example, if several people mention that a course moved too fast, I'll slow it down next time.

Then again, I beg and plead my students (I almost mistyped that as "bed and please", which... another thing ENTIRELY) to come talk to me if they have problems or complaints, because by the time the evals come in, the course is done and it's too late to explain things or make any changes. This is what pissed me off with the kid who wrote something like "I learned nothing and she wasted time with her stories" because... if you have problems with the way the material is presented, SAY SO. I even put it in the syllabus. For The Rack is powerful, but does not read minds.

The Ohligarch made an interesting point when he mentioned that sometimes the best rapports produce the worst reviews, for indeed, the most sigh-filled comments came from a rambunctious class in which we had an absolute blast and discussions were high-chemistry and in general wonderful. And I was shocked that some of the best reviews came from a very quiet class I had long despaired over as a complete disaster. Moral of the story... Life: Go fig.

In any case, if you feel like your prof really, truly sucks, rip away, if only for venting purposes. But be specific about WHY, and also remember that kind words do go a long way. I got one comment that said "Pay Her More!" and I'm totally sleeping with it under my pillow. All I'm asking is for you to not blame well-earned poor grades on the prof, because there is nothing like hearing "I didn't learn anything and it's your fault" when the student appeared in class exactly four times. (Of course this does not apply to you personally, Rosella the Reader of Stillwater, Oklahoma! You, clearly, are an intelligent young woman of fine literary tastes.)

Russell the Reader mentioned that he kept a list in the back of his notebook of things to mention on the eval, which absolutely terrified me, and suggested that I confiscate such things at evaluation time to ease the deep, deep fear. The man kept a LIST, people! Notebooks? Please-- next time I'm confiscating any and all surfaces in which students may have tracked evidence of how much I suck, including their own arms.

5) France also sucks.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Report Card

The Packet came this week. The Packet contains an enormous paper clip and my self-esteem.

The Packet contains my professor evaluations from the previous semester. Forsooth, they grade us.

These shouldn't trigger such heart attacks, but they do. Most students finish filling out the sheet by the time the classroom door has clicked shut behind me; there is no greater expression of the gulf between my attitude and theirs over the whole thing:

ME: Ohhhhhhhhh. Ohhhhhhhhhh! They're in there! Judging me! They hate me! I know they hate me! I'm getting fired! I'll never teach again! I'll have to sell velvet paintings of tigers in gas station parking lots for my day job (vomits)!

STUDENTS: We get to leave eight whole minutes early!

YOU try giving a hundred and twenty-five 19 year olds a piece of boss-directed paper in which they are encouraged to anonymously express exactly how much you suck at your job. See how calm YOU are.

I averaged better responses than last semester ("Often showed up to class inebriated"). Some included comments. A sampling:

"We had class every day."

"I liked her clothes."

"She used too much class time."

"I was offended when she made jokes about the French."

"Please conduct class in a more mature manner next time."

This last one, I fully expect to see a varient of written on the hand of God when I die: "Please conduct your life in a more mature manner next time." This particular student had issues with the fact that I constantly insert personal anecdotes into class, ones often involving me looking stupid, because those are the only kinds I have. But they are always prefaced with "Please do not do the following," so in addition to the fact that three hours a week of technical writing instruction are all about ME ME ME ME, I am always attempting to impart hard-won wisdom, such as the fact that one might not want to do things such as this.

fetal positioning at:

Welcome Readers

When Regis Smiles

Also, it seems that most of you out there are using the comments section for its intended purpose, i.e., telling me that I in fact rule. So the comments can stay. For now.

Honestly, I'm pretty overwhelmed by the avalanche of niceness. It's like the final scene of It's a Wonderful Life, only instead of cash, you all are throwing love on the big dining room table. Although I would not necessarily turn down cash.

Welcome, welcome all, and many, many thanks. And now: We ride!

excommunicate all clowns at:

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


I'm experimenting with enabling post comments, so play nice.

Professor Dump Truck

It was an enriching two weeks with Jim the Baby Nephew and his mighty fleet of gucks. The season rained a great many gucks down upon Jim, and they all had to be taken out of their original packaging, which was designed for inventory control purposes by Satan. There were plastic trays and industrial tape and twist ties, all of which resulted in the introduction of large sharp pointy objects into the play area, not to mention a tidy pile of choke-ready twist ties. Thanks, PlaySkool. Way to go, Mattel. I enjoy your attempts to kill my godchild. It was good times on Christmas morning:

ME: Look, Jim! Aunt Beth freed your truck for you! It took her twenty minutes and three college degrees! Here you go!

JIM: (Does not care, as fifteen minutes ago he began ordering his grandfather to open another, entirely unrelated toy.)

Santa Claus also brought Jim a full-service kitchen, and when I raised my eyebrows at Daddy, he said, "Are you aware of Emeril's net worth?"

You should see this thing. Jim has a stand-alone mixer, a coffee maker, and a scale. It's far better equipped than my kitchen, and I have a job.

Da and Mama are very serious about non-gendered toys, as Jim also collected a baby doll. He cuddles it and lays it down on various surfaces, saying, "Shhhhhhhhh." I was concerned that he was becoming overly womany until the morning he spiked the baby headfirst to the hardwood floor, then tenderly "Shhhhhhhhh"ed. Good! That's pretty much how I cared for my doll babies, and look how wonderfully maternal I turned out.

There's one thing Jim is very good at, however, and is that is Loving Meeeeeeee! "Where's Jim?" we will say, and he will absolutely beam and tap his royal chest. He loves himself. I gave him a tree ornament with a little picture of himself inside his Christmas card, and he lit up, kissing his own image and hugging himself to him. He is what Trump must have been like before potty training. "You are your favorite you!" his father says when this type of behavior is unleashed. I cannot imagine from whence his attitude issues; it can't possibly be the fact that every single adult around him is constantly referring to the fact that he is the smartest, cutest, most wonderful child ever to enter the universe.

We had several intense vocabulary expasnion sessions-- "dump truck", "cup", "Mama," "antidisestablishmentarianism", and my name. Some words went better than others:

ME: Who loves Jim?
JIM: An Beeeeeaaaaaath!

I was working on adding a salute when the time for my return flight rolled around.

However, sometimes the new trick backfires, including the fact that his inflection on An Beeeeeaaaaaath! is exactly the same as what happens when you ask him what the cow says:

ME: Jim, did you see any dump trucks today?
JIM: An Beeeeeaaaaaath!

email Meeeeeeee! at:

Monday, January 02, 2006


I'm watching the Tostitos And Other Corn-Based Products, Blessed Be Their Name Bowl, featuring the football-playing half of The Womb and Ohio State. The last time these teams met, I was a freshman, and Ohio State won 295720572053810604 to 3. That was when I was young and new to the ways of sports-related pain.

It's halftime, and the highlight of the entire game so far consisted of the following moment:

(Referee blows the whistle, stopping play for no apparent reason)

COMMENTATOR #1: It's ANOTHER PENALTY. That is so sloppy and unforgivable. I don't believe this. You don't commit penalties at this level! Incompetence, bah!

COMMENTATOR #2: You guys, I'm totally going to marry Troy Smith when I grow up.

REFEREE: Will the broadcast network please keep the camera off the field. The camera encroached on the field and we were forced to stop play.


COMMENTATORS: Here is a closeup of Brady Quinn 's sister and her ho-tastic sunglasses.

I am quite the connoisseur of university football halftime ad. Ohio State's featured students who were all, "I don't go to Ohio State for the football! Or the basketball! It's all about the access to illegal recreational drugs!" while Notre Dame's, more authoritative but no less subtle, featured new University president Fr. John Jenkins announcing, "Proceeds from today's game will go to helping these assorted minority Notre Dame students, outfitting our new science hall, renovation of library facilities, and certainly not the plush 12-foot deep rug handwoven by virgins from the first wool of newborn rams currently carpeting the football locker room."

I have also just been treated to perhaps the World's First Sponsored Proposal. A solider returning from Iraq popped the question to his girlfriend at halftime, and she freaked and trembled and said yes, and everybody went awwwwwww! and then the stadium announcer was all: "We'd like to thank Tostitos Scoops for making this moment possible." Perhaps Funyons will option the rehearsal dinner, for every girl dreams of a snack-chip themed wedding.

I want a Cheez-It honeymoon at:

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