kitty rampage


 today i had my annual meeting in which my performance was to be discussed. while it turns out that my fall evaluations are outstanding, what i need to work on is how to make myself more appealing to students who don't give a shit about anything. this is because this is the kind of student we cater to. although my good students get awards, i need to be more concerned about the shitty ones because they prevail: they are our "bread and butter" as it were. 

on a related note about the centrality of shitness to our mission, today i went into the administrative office of the department to talk to the ultra-competent woman who works there. we seem to be on good terms and she was even willing to print off pictures of hairdos on her color printer that i could show tomorrow to the guy who cuts my hair. i accidentally looked up and to the side and there was my woolen scarf, which i thought i had lost two months ago, hanging from the separator wall of her glorified cubicle.

why was my scarf there? because it was found left in the conference room after a faculty meeting by the chair. she didn't know whose it was. it was after hours. so she threw it over the wall of the administrative office but the scarf didn't make it over. the wall was too tall for her to reach. so there the scarf stayed for two months in the hopes that someone some day will raise their eyes to the point of no interest, outside the regular range of ocular motion, and recognize the scarf. so it happened today. would i expect civilized humans to think this way? i guess not. 

interestingly, i didn' t react with any kind of emotion, except to think of it in relative terms and to remind myself of the necessity of vigilance at not adjusting too well. are these people shitty in the big scheme of the world in which most people are presumed shitty and treated as shit? clearly not. 
mechanics, machine, sewing

more reading

i finally got a (library) copy of the book by silvan tomkins in which there is that scary passage on the "depressive script." i am reading more about his theories of affect, about 'late bloomers' and then about people who went through the "iceberg model of affective development."

In this case the individual also begins with the same contempt from parents for crying, which teaches the child that whenever he feels distressed he should hang his head in shame instead. However, these parents otherwise are a source of much reward. They give the child much loving attention and enjoy his company so long as he does not cry. Further, they much applaud any show of achievement. This child begins then with a relatively sharp differentiation between affects of his own which elicit positive affects and affects of his own which elicit negative affects. [Years of successes intervene: accentuate the rewards; minimize punishments.]

As he enters adulthood this individual has a firm sense of his own identity as the master of his own destiny, as one capable of achieving what he wants, of eliciting respect from others for his efforts, and of generally enjoying his interpersonal relationships. However, he may be suddenly confronted with distress which he cannot counteract, produced, for example, by a long siege of enforced passivity through illness or by loss of a child or of his wife, or by the loss of his savings and business in the event of an economic depression which does not permit his customary counteraction, or by senility and retirement which undermines his customary activity and productivity and confronts him with the imminence of his death. Under any one of these or similar circumstances he is confronted with deep and enduring distress for which he has learned only one reaction, that of shame and humiliation. In such a case the iceberg of childhood learning may suddenly intrude itself as an utterly alien experience, so disturbing to produce further negative affect and depression or withdrawal. It is just because this individual never experienced protracted distress and its associated shame that he developed no gradations of such affects and therefore no psychological immunity to these negative affects. 

not only for reasons of personal attachment and recognition of the script, i think i haven't thought well enough yet about the combination of family scripts and political/national ones. i like that this sort of thing gives me some faith back in psychology. apparently, forty years ago the man worked for the same institution i'm working for. there were some positive effects and some of the "negative side" of the experience: "he was really not an administrator at heart, nor was the arts of compromise highly practiced in his way of life." he then moved to a different institution across the river, where he "became increasingly disenchanted by the apparent lack of interest shown by the students in anything other than practical, concrete problems." 

have i

have i seen a jar? no, i haven't. it's a small jar with an orange lid. no, i haven't. it's a small jar with an orange lid and it has oranges on the lid. it's a plump jar with an orange lid and it was a mustard jar. it's not a big deal but have i seen it? i may have seen it. i went through the fridge a while ago and threw out everything that was expired. it might have been one of those jars but i can't remember. maybe it was one of those in which i made salad dressing? maybe it was. it's not a big deal but it was one of those jars she collected when she was having a home-making phase. oh, i'm sorry. it's not a big deal but i do understand? i do. it's not a big deal but she was collecting those. do i see what she means?
fun with steak

nothing, except catch 22

i haven't read anything here in ages, until tonight, and then i only checked a few things. i have meant to write but then, again, things would pile up and then i wouldn't know any longer which ones were important. it all became a big mass of gray.

on the whole, it seems that i will be allowed to reside permanently in the land of the free, which is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so i'm guessing that might be worth mentioning. other than that, i'm just doing daily living and trying to figure out what that means for my sense of where i live and how.

i should decide soon where i'd like to spend next fall. i had a theoretical plan to go to london and stay the summer and the fall, but the more i think about it now, the more i feel like it's unacknowledged escapism. i've been running all over almost every weekend and inventing places to go so that i could see people i like. so i could go to london but the plan has turned into a philosophical question about whether i should 'settle' more actively in one place (e.g., new york) so that maybe i could feel like i live somewhere (e.g., new york).

i am keeping house in new york, but i don't have any house-related things, except for a few kitchen items. the idea of living somewhere has to do with the possibility of being in touch with actual, physical people in the locality and not pining for those who are far away. i think i have made some friends here, but they are also likely to disperse. as i keep house, i live in my head, and i wonder if living outside my head more would help, provided that it could happen at all. what concerns me more than anything is that my ostensible routine would be disrupted, which fundamentally means that i would have to find a place to live in london and a decent place for yoga. both are probably not huge problems, but solutions would take energy.

at the same time, i don't feel tied here too much so i don't know why i'd invent reasons to stay. of course, if i stayed, i could find attachments. and like that, over and over again.
balthus, patience


i organize monthly meetings with guest speakers who talk to our students about their careers and what one can do with a degree in english. i have known for a while that my chair is profoundly alarmed by my project because i give students ideas about what they could do that she doesn't think they should do because they can't afford to be that ambitious. that is because they are poor and should be thinking stability and steady jobs, rather than law school, theater, or (god forbid) creative writing. she was also freaking out about the food i was ordering because she was perceiving my effort to give a semblance of dignity to the event as some sort of horrible dissipation entirely undeserved by anyone in attendance. 

this was all implicit in her tone until i got the message below yesterday about the most recent meeting which she couldn't attend because she had to go meet with the college president. in this message, please note, i am being praised for my success and being trusted with *information and *facts on whose relevance we shall certainly have to agree: 

How wonderful, [info]shmizla. I am so happy you took the initiative on this. I'm thinking it might be useful to have one on high school teaching. More of our students might be interested in teaching at this level than at college level with research etc. How would we find English teachers with MATs? (I actually have a former JS student, very limited -- she got a C- as I remember on her final thesis -- who wrote to me about a year ago saying I'd be surprised to know that she went into the NYC version of Teach America, had gotten her MA, and was very happily teaching high school English. Since she'd had seemingly unconqueable thick blackdialect writing problems I'm hoping she learned a lot of grammar in her MA program. She said she loved the teaching. I wonder if we have others . . . . Or if the lot of us keep making inquiries we couldn't find some.

Sounds like the food after all my fuss was just right.

Kudos to you. Very impressive. I plan to be there for the next, PRESIDENT or no PRESIDENT! 

the last time i was trusted with such information was when i stepped away from two of my spanish-speaking friends who promptly switched to spanish. then a white lady standing next to me asked if i, too, was uncomfortable when a foreign language was spoken around me. i said i was not. 
travel, suomi, train


i'm reading the letters that mrs. carter sent to her friend mrs. montagu back in the 1770s. they were two of the 'bluestockings,' the fine ladies who discussed politics and literature amongst themselves, but wouldn't be caught dead discussing politics and literature amongst themselves, as it was revolutionary enough for women to do it, but not so fine to be seen doing it. hence it is all in letters, which are a festival of bitchiness to other women, especially those who didn't know what not to do in public.

the 'protofeminists' are also bitchy in the sort of way that feels familiar to me--the way i imagine regular american women talk about me when they think i can't hear them. mrs. carter writes in april 1779:

I met Mr. Stuart yesterday, and enquired after the progress of your palace, which he told me went on very prosperously. He is grown fat, and looks very happy with his young wife, who was with him. I pitied her, for seeming so de-paysee among gentlefolks. She had on a very odd becoming kind of dress, which made her look like a foreigner, and was I think on that account advantageous to her, as it seemed to assign a reason for the difference of her manners from the rest of the company. Perhaps he had furnished her mantua-maker with some Grecian patterns.
travel, suomi, train


i stink all the time when i'm in the land of my people (hereafter, lomp) in the winter. unless i stay at my parents' house, i have to go to places where smoking is yet to be banned. there was a conversation tonight about the degree to which a smoking ban is inconceivable here.

i even went to a wedding last night. i didn't even mind it. i had only my sister to talk to and it was almost interesting people watching. it happened twice (with two different men) that i was asked why i wasn't more forthcoming about how bad the lomp was and how fabulous my life had to be elsewhere. when i said to the first questioner that i wasn't that kind of talker, and that i figured people lived where they chose to live, he said it was a "cruel" thing to say. i didn't continue that conversation.

i didn't even meant to come to the lomp but it was inevitable if i was to leave the country at all because i couldn't return to the us without renewing whatever paperwork i had. it took three days to get here because of all the storms. i've been having trouble sleeping and waking up before noon. there is no yoga to be had for love or money, and i'm stinking all the time. meanwhile, i dread checking my work email because i get emails from students who wonder how come they failed after not doing any work or why deciding to skip assignments (because one just can't do what one doesn't like) costs so much. those seem to be subsiding. i keep getting questions about what i'm doing new year's eve. i don't want to do anything, really. getting stinky in a crowded space just doesn't sound like fun.

it feels like i'm done here and i'm not done, officially speaking. maybe this is the last time i had to come because of officialdom. maybe this is the last time i escaped: i had no pressing physiological problem that would get resolved by leaving. i left partly to leave the shared housing situation, but that could have been resolved otherwise. overall, a bit unhinged on all sides.
mechanics, machine, sewing

good riddance

today was the last day of semester and it came not a day too early. i couldn't wait for it to be over, for the past few months really. it felt like it never came together. too many students who couldn't be turned around, arrogant but not too smart, patriotic and tedious, 'creative' and trite. but i took it in stride so i'm not expending much energy on that.

in that same spirit i went to the holiday party at the yoga studio. i even baked again and took a pretty bread there, causing surprise. had more conversations with white people who most often flock to yoga because they don't know any better, because that's the smartest thing they've ever heard. so they haven't heard much of what i listen to daily, and i never hear much of what they ponder daily, including "energy work," "polarity" and "reiki." all of them "feel energy" and i have to stop myself from asking for the fifteenth time what that means. i spent hours listening to songs about everyone and everything being beautiful, but i kept contact with the regular white people and i didn't even cry afterward.

the most giggle-inducing detail was the confirmation that the woman who runs the studio, ostensibly with her husband, is a recovering shrew. the recovery is going very slowly. i hope i never deviate from the path of universal positivity and all-encompassing love or she may bite my head off. also if i don't do exactly what i was told to do, or if i have spontaneous conversations at parties about topics that hadn't been pre-approved.

(no subject)

again i thought there was something to say and now i can't remember what it was. it feels like a good thing that i don't.

i've been looking at photos of myself and the female nuclear family who came to visit. i think we look like mrs. golly. that's not a good thing, it feels like.

Mrs. Golly

it's not a good thing not only because mrs. golly was the kind that "never had any interest in anyone else, nor in any book, nor in any school, nor in any way of life, but who has lived her whole life in this room, eating and sleeping and waiting to die." now, we don't seem to be that kind, but i feel like we look it, in the tight shoulders of people who are chronically tense and afraid.

i've been trying to walk without tensing up and it isn't easy. i am trying to be different in yoga classes because all of my back hurts because all the muscles there are always tense. i'm learning from the serious teachers where my hips are getting stuck. that's good. i'm trying to leave my body alone as much as i can. according to latest theories, i ran into a wall because i have a viral ear infection. sometimes these leave people deaf; sometimes they just damage the center for balance. it takes a while for the body to re-figure the balance system so that's why it feels like it's getting better, but still happens on occasion.

yesterday i went to a "chakra yoga" class with the tacky excellent teacher and i had two aroma therapy options:
a) right hand on the belly if i "only take care of myself and have no sense of direction" or
b) left hand on the belly if i "have trouble expressing emotion and am sensitive about touching"

it was the left hand for me. and i do wish, as i was recently communicating to fflo, that i were better about telling people they are objects of my desire. i have lost some of the 'ability' because i have lost the sense of motion in that respect. too many abrupt stops, i guess, so that i don't know what to do with it. but i do know i'm alive to it. that much is still there.

and i should sleep more, as in right now.