Showing posts from April, 2011


I went to the doctor today to get medicines for the sinus infection that I seem to have been fighting for going on twelve or thirteen years. I didn't realize that it was a chronic infection; I thought that I just kept getting sick all the time. My mother has been telling me to get myself checked for a while now, but what does she know? She's only a radiologist. Who knows what chronic sinus infections look like thanks to all the CT scans she's read. But never mind. I didn't want to take the time to go to the doctor because I didn't think that he would be able to give me anything other than a talk about how all I had was the flu. I was wrong: he gave me antibiotics and steroids (nasal, not anabolic!). I also got my wrist x-rayed. It's been hurting for a good year and a half now, ever since I fell during an epee bout (I know, what was I thinking?  Epee?!!) Thanks to the pain in my wrist, I haven't been able to do my yoga for a good six months, and I

Liber primus explicit

Justice has fled and the Devil rules the earth. Who will save us now?! Read on...

Lies My Teachers Taught Me

"It's the market," they say, spreading their hands to show me how helpless they are. As if they spoke only the language of bullying and threats: "I have an outside offer." As if The Market were the ultimate arbiter of academic excellence. As if it were not fully in their power to count experience over celebrity, service over speed. As if one's salary and rank said anything about one's significance as a scholar other than that one was able to sell oneself to the highest bidder. As if fellowships and awards were less indicative of the quality of one's work than willingness to move. As if they trusted only other institutions to decide whom they should hire or promote. As if it really mattered when what is at stake is only our intellects--or our souls.

Post-PRK Three months to the day

I am still putting drops* in my eyes several times a day, plus Fluorometholone morning and evening. I am still putting gel** in my eyes every night and falling asleep to the same P.G. Wodehouse audiobook*** I've been listening to for the past three months. I still experience significant ghosting when my eyes get tired or I forget my drops or, as today, when it is cloudy outside. I still have trouble seeing faces or reading signs at a distance (e.g. in church or when driving), and right now, I can't read the spines on the books across the room from where I am sitting. But.... Most of the time I can see faces clearly across a small room. I can read my computer screen without glasses. I can see nearly perfectly in bright sunlight and sometimes I even forget that I didn't used to be able to see that far without glasses. I suspect I am still not yet fully healed and that my vision will continue to improve. Am I sorry that I had the surgery?   No. Was it worth

Poem in lieu of a post

Here I am, raw.  Voiceless.  Naked before the world. And yet, not voiceless, but ever so practiced in making meaning with words. You listen, but you do not hear me.  I hear, but I do not listen. Look!  The world is born anew, I can see it now. But I am afraid, ever so afraid.  That you will judge me. That I will misjudge you. I have been locked away inside of myself for so long, I'm not sure I can hear clearly anymore.  That look, I know what it means. And yet, I don't.  I can't tell whether you like me or not. Perhaps you do, and it is I, not you, creating the barrier between us.  But I am afraid, because you have judged me before, I know. Or maybe I don't.  Did you say what I thought you said?  Did I listen?

Scala academica scriptorum

PRESTIGE decreases.... 1. Monograph published by academic publisher 2. Article published in peer-reviewed journal 3. Monograph published by commercial press 4. Article published in edited volume 5. Chapter in co-written work 6. Edited volume as editor 7. Edition of primary source (with introduction and commentary) 8. Translation of primary source (with introduction and commentary) 9. Book review in mainstream literary press 10. Book review in scholarly journal 11. Fiction 12. Coursebook or collection of primary sources 13. Textbook 14. Journalism 15. Non-fiction 16. Catalogue 17. Bibliography 18. Dictionary 19 Encyclopedia entry 20. On-line lists, syllabi, and other aides 21. Wikipedia entry 22. Blog UTILITY increases.* *Or maybe I'm just feeling snarky.

Terret me vita mea

It's dawn, or thereabouts. I can see a row of palm trees outside my hotel window. I was up too late last night watching Pay-per-view and hulu. I'm scared. As usual. Because here I am at the keyboard and I can't quite think what to say. I saw my first saguaro yesterday. My cousin's wife asked (on Facebook) if they were in bloom. It is as warm here as it will be where I live sometime in June. I am afraid of my life. There, did you notice that I was quoting Anselm? Perhaps this is a mediation to stir up fear. Perhaps it is a prayer. Lord, I have been so alone. So alone in the midst of your love. In the midst of my husband's love that I refused to see because of my fear. And I've been angry. Angry at you for giving me dreams and ambitions. Angry at the world for not giving me what I wanted when I thought I wanted it. Angry at myself for not having the courage to ask for what I want because I am so afraid of hearing the word "No." T

Reverse Therapy

It was my mistake, thinking I could impress you with all of the things that I thought I had learned--about myself, about the way women are disinclined to ask for things , about the anxieties that I carry with me about ambition and success thanks to the mythology of the 80s , about the ways in which I do not automatically press when I hear something that feels, to me, like a criticism or attack. But you punctured that pretty quickly. I don't listen. I'm still just as broken (defensive, scared of what you might say) as I ever was. I can't learn. It was only my pride telling me lies that made me think anything had actually changed. Or maybe that's not what you said at all, I just can't hear it.

Child of the 80s

Thanks to David Sirota , I get it now: I know who John Galt is. The valedictory speech that I gave to my 1982 high school graduating class (and then promptly lost, out of embarrassment) was an oh-so-thinly-veiled celebration of Ayn Rand's call for Creative Self-aggrandizment. I didn't know it at the time--I was never that self-aware--but I was only months ahead of my time, the perfect expression of the Eighties Individualism and Celebrity Worship that was to take over our culture in the course of the next decade. No wonder I have been so obsessed of late with not Making It Big. "Big" was the mantra of my young adulthood; "big" was--and is--our cultural definition of success. I feel like such an idiot. Like exactly the kind of drone-like sucker I despise, being, as I am, a card-carrying, valedictory follower of Mr. Galt. How am I ever going to live this down?

Why Prayer Can Be Scary

"Praying is no easy matter. It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very center of your person, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched." -- Henri J.M. Nouwen (quoted in my mother's church bulletin last Sunday)

Lies My Demons Taught Me*

"You are broken."  (Not just humanly fallible, but flawed, damaged in a way that others are not.) "You are dangerous.  One day you may even kill somebody."  (Said to me, age 8 or 9, when I was fighting a bully.) "You are wrong to defend yourself, even when you are attacked."  (See above.) "If you cannot do x or y now, it is because you have no talent for it.  Don't even try."  (My father's rule in life.) "You are impatient--and stubborn--because of where you were born."  (Meant as an affectionate joke, but heard as an accusation: "You can't change.  You're just the same as when you were two.") "It's amazing anybody would want to marry [you]."  (Said by my father to one of his friends; reported to me at his funeral, albeit in disbelief.) "You're not brilliant, you just work hard."  (Said by one of my classmates in college after I got a higher grade on a paper than he did.

Fair Play

"Another indication of the dog's perception of fairness comes from a new experiment demonstrating that dogs who see another dog getting a reward for doing an act--shaking a paw on command--but who do not themselves get rewarded for the same act eventually refuse to shake anymore.  (No rewarded dog was moved by the clear injustice of the situation to share his earned bounty with his unlucky partner, though...)" --Alexandra Horowitz, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know (New York: Scribner, 2009). Ah.  That explains it.  I'm a dog.


I am not who you think I am, so professional and grown up.  Inside there is a little girl, terrified of making a mistake, terrified of breaking the rules. Living by the rules, certain that she has done something wrong.  But angry that others do not seem to feel the same constraint. Look, I did what you asked me to do, but I know I didn't. I'm trying to find a way around the rules because I think that they're wrong.  But I know I deserve to be punished.  I broke the rules. Please don't take my puppy away from me, it wasn't her fault.

Friday Night Flake Out

Now I'm reading Alexandra Horowitz' s Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know (New York: Scribner, 2009), at least until my iPad battery runs out or I can move onto the couch and plug it in.  If I had the energy, I would tell you about it, but, alas, it's been a full week.  And tomorrow I have another tournament.  In the meantime, there's always John of Garland .  One day maybe I'll tell you a bit more about why I think it is worth spending what looks like to be the better part of a year (plus) translating his text.  Go on, ask me!  I know you want to know.

On Fairy Stories, Tom Bombadil and Magic

I have such amazing students.  Go read their posts for our first discussion .  Really .  Right now .  You'll thank me !