Friday, October 24, 2008

Pied Beauty

Several months ago, I posted an extended complaint about a senior scholar in my field who was behaving, I thought, less generously than someone of his/her considerable stature ought to behave. (I am reluctant to link back to that post now, for reasons which will become clear in this post.)

I just returned from a conference at which I spent a good deal of extracurricular time with this scholar. I admit that I went to the conference steeling myself to meet him/her, as I knew I must, and fully prepared to loathe this person from the top of the head right down to the shoes. I continued (and frankly, continue) to carry a grudge about one particular act of professional discourtesy and self-aggrandizement that this person committed. But, owing to the high academic stature of the scholar in question and to our having some professional reason to spend time together, now and probably in the future too, I knew I'd have to fake some graciousness and good nature.

To my surprise, this person turns out to be a delightful, engaging, and charming individual. We consumed a meal or two together, during which this person proved to be a lively and selfless conversationalist, reached out to members of the dining party who might have felt less "authorized" to be there, spoke on a wide and interesting variety of subjects, and was gracious and generous to the junior scholars at the table. In email conversations since the conference, these same qualities have been abundantly in evidence.

Now, I don't usually need to learn the lesson that people are complicated, that no one is really totally angelic or totally rotten. I'm grateful to have had the chance to get to know this person better, to have tempered my earlier impressions, but I wonder if I'd be so appreciative of this scholar's comportment if s/he hadn't been such a jerk in the past. Perhaps I'm thinking this way because I'm teaching 1 Henry 4, and because I had a historically, epically bad day yesterday in which I yelled at my classes and threw a full-blown tantrum once I'd left school, but maybe we'd all be wise to behave really badly from time to time, so that folks can appreciate in the contrast how great we can be when we decide to behave well.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Blogoversary bullets.

[Blogaversary? Blogiversary? Whatever.]

What's happened in one year? What have I done, during the many, many hours that I seem to have so much to do (--too much, it seems, to blog with any degree of responsibility/ regularity)?

* Guided Thing 1 successfully through first grade and into second; supported Thing 2 through the successive traumas of peeing AND pooping in the toilet.

* Reclaimed house of my own, painted many walls in orange, blue, melon.

* Reclaimed neglected garden, ripped out grass, prepared former lawny backyard nook for Sunset-magazinesque entertainment palazzo makeover.

* Wrote a fantastic and--I have faith!--persuasive scholarly book proposal, only half of which is speculation about a book not yet written.

* Saw the publication of festschrift I co-edited with two superstars, and had the opportunity to present it to the honoree at a surprise event with all sorts of Renaissancey bigshot scholars in attendance, and goofball me.

* Published a very orange book of poetry.

* Completed about half of next poetry book [qualifier: 26 pages of it is one very long poem, so I haven't actually written that many poems].

* Placed and contracted and proofed a translation of something very old, and secured the same press's interest in my translation-in-progress of something very much older.

* Completed at least a quarter of my quixotic project of uploading all CDs onto a hard drive, for use with iTunes.

* Filed tenure bullshit.

* Attended something like 12 conferences of one kind or another, either to do readings or present papers.

* Staged bloodless coup on Regional Scholarly Organization, of which I am now president and of which my brilliant mentee is now secretary.

* Filed divorce, only 2.5 years after separating.

* Flirted with Facebook, found it too intrusive and self-revelatory, remade Facebook page into a sort of professional self-promotion site instead, and beat a retreat.

* Got custom running shoes, whose backsides are embroidered in bright yellow, "CATCH THIS."

* Figured out a way to go running when I have Thing 1 and Thing 2 with me (one option involves two bikes and a high school track; the other involves a lot of pushing uphill--of stroller and weary bike--but is nevertheless or even therefore a great workout).

* Grew sensual Brandywine tomatoes in obscene volumes; bottled lots of homemade marinara.

* Found myself happy, if overwhelmed, with my life. Some days the emphasis is on the overwhelm. Some days it's on the happy. Discovered that the two are not mutually exclusive.

* Was repeatedly grateful for my blog-buddies, who continue to inspire me, and who've given me the camaraderie I hoped to find when I started this thing.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Did you see the SNL satire on the VP debate? If not, go to the SNL/NBC website and look at it right now. The funniest thing I've seen in weeks.

I think I have a blogoversary coming up. I need to locate my brain before I commemorate that date, though---I believe it fell out when I graded that one paper claiming that As You Like It was written to teach lower-class people of the sixteenth century to overthrow their superiors.