A few months ago I was on the phone with my friend Tess, who is married to Animal of Cranial Flatulence. As we were getting ready to hang up, Tess called to Scott/Animal, “Anything you want to tell Steph?”
“Update your fucking blog,” I heard him holler.
I didn't at the time, because I was in the middle of a Hell Semester. Or it would have been a Hell Semester, were it not for the fact that I quite enjoyed most of it. I tell you, people, whatever its flaws, academia is the place for me, and I was probably crazy to ever think otherwise. I had about four years of feeling like absolute crap about my professional capabilities because I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do, where I could realistically seek employment, what to say when people asked me what my job was. Which you know, if you were reading this blog during any of that time. Then I entered a PhD program, started teaching again, started working on research, and suddenly, presto-change-o, I'm a person with professional skills that garner respect. And an insane schedule. Nothing confers self-esteem in this culture like the badge of professional busyness. That, of course, is shallow, but I don't mean to trivialize my sense that I'm at last on a career path that fits me.
I get really excited about the work that I do. I often enjoy teaching. (Anyone who says they always love teaching is probably lying. College teaching involves humiliation, difficult personal interactions, paperwork, and freshman males. I hate much of it, but the rewards are still remarkably tangible.) I loooove my research. I wish I could write more about these things, but I still have the same confidentiality concerns I had a year ago. If I could write a completely honest blog about teaching, it would be the most side-rippingly fucking hilarious thing ever. I could tell you about the time...and the time...and the guy who...and the other guy who...and that paper with the song lyrics...alas. It would really cathartic and fun, but I'm not going to make that mistake.
It's kind of strange to be sitting here at my kitchen table, writing this. Part of why I wasn't really able to keep up the blog during the school year was that I was writing so much already, in every working moment in which I wasn't teaching, planning my teaching, sitting in class, or reading. So in my spare time, insofar as I had any, I just wanted to be with Eric, cook good food, see friends, run, and veg out in front of Netflix. Consequently it's been a long time since I've written anything other than e-mails that doesn't contain words like “ontology” and “discourse.”
It's also been a long time since I've taken out the trash. I'm pretty sure it's my turn to do it. I can smell it right now.
As a partner in housekeeping, I really dropped the ball this year. Eric picked up a lot of my slack, but he also likes to relax after work, so things have built up somewhat. Every time that we have noticed that something is covered in disgusting filth in a way not befitting mature adults, I have defaulted to “once this semester's over, I'll take care of that.” And now Eric is hitting a hell stride at work, so I have resolved to undertake some of these projects on my own. I have been free for over a week now, and have accomplished these domestic tasks:
1. Went through my clothes and stuffed everything I no longer wear into a bag to go to the Goodwill.
2. Rinsed out approximately 200 empty, dirty cat food cans on the basement floor for recycling. Received several really nasty cuts on my right hand in the process.
3. Swept under the upstairs futon/couch. Wow.
Uh...hmm. I really thought I'd done more than that.
OK, here's what I still have to do:
1. Take the clothes to the Goodwill
2. Take the cat food cans to the recycling center
3. Take a lot of other things to the recycling center—like, oh, I don't know, maybe an entire closet's worth of things
4. Go through a shitload of old bills and papers that I currently can't get to because of the recycling
5. Organize the books and papers in my home office, after removing the veil of cat hair covering them
6. Remove veil of cat hair from entire house
7. Paint the bathroom which has remained unpainted since it was remodeled over a year ago
8. Remove forest of weeds and small trees from between the neighbor's deck and ours
9. Figure out what's going on with the upstairs toilet
10. Clean the basement
In addition to these things, I plan to go to Portland for a week, do a weekend workshop on oral history, run a half-marathon, do some archival research for my dissertation, attend a family wedding, hang out a bunch with friends, and read every piece of quality young adult fantasy fiction I can get my hands on. Also, update this blog at least once a week. That's a promise.
I know there are probably only about four or five people reading, but those of you who kept me in your feeds and blogrolls despite my bailing on you for over seven months, and then gently prodded me to take things up again over the summer, thank you, thank you, thank you. It really does mean a lot to me to know I still have loyal readers. And friends. I missed you all.
Stay tuned for news of my cats, my shin splints, and my lousy housekeeping. It's good to be back.
1 hour ago