2009 has been a year of changes. I began it in the middle of Iowa cornfields, halfway through a one-year job as a librarian and very uncertain about what the future might hold. I had just finished the marathons of thesis defense and PhD application, one of which was taxing & rewarding and one of which was taxing & draining. As the second semester started, the snow piled up and every day I got more and more anxious about hearing whether or not I’d gotten in anywhere. I distracted myself with job applications (having put the possiblity of staying for an offered second year in jeopardy by applying to grad school) and Battlestar Galactica. Given that there were no good wine shops within 50 miles, surprisingly little alcohol was consumed during this period, although I did develop a taste for dirty martinis. Then, in February, the call came in and my wish officially came true. My future had an address. In June, we moved all our stuff there.

As the blog silence reflects, I’ve found it hard this year to live and write about it at the same time. It has been filled with moments I wanted to protect for long enough to understand them. And that waiting turned into… no blogging. I’m still not entirely sure that’s going to change, but I do miss it sometimes. Okay, often. But I don’t browse the internets the way I used to, and that means I’m just not coming across the same amount of potential blogging material…So, I guess I’m either going to have to readjust to blogging about my life in real time (which would mean a lot of solipsistic musings about grad school), or find a way to blog interestingly about things that are not related to my life… hmmm.

We’ll see! But for the time being, I’m counting 2009 as one of the good years, and hope 2010 is another one for all!

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The halls are alive

May 16, 2009

With the sound of flat screen televisions and Target furniture being hauled out of rooms and into waiting Subarus, Priuses, and Jettas. School’s out, and this blog shall soon be back on–I’ve been chewing over a longish, “welcome back, self” post this past week. Plus, I’m soon moving on to Ann Arbor and the next sixish years of my life, and that is sure to bring out some of the angst that brings on blogging. So much to look forward to!

But, in the mean time, as a tribute to the students I’ve worked with over the past nine months through their ups, downs, and too late to ILLs, I’ll share my favorite of the short films at this year’s student film fest. If you thought it was pretty sweet to be on a boat, that just means… you’ve never been at Grinnell!

Okay, well, maybe you had to be here….

And yet another new context for the color red on Friday nights: Tonight, D and I spent the bulk of our evening watching Division III college basketball. We got to witness our team, the Pioneers, defeat the St. Norbert Green Knights (who had beat us earlier in the season) in thrilling fashion to advance to the finals of the Midwest Conference Tourney. Tomorrow, they take on the Lawrence Vikings for the title of all-out champ and entrant into the Div III national tournament come March.

Basketball has been one of our unexpected discoveries this year. It started when I met the new women’s bball coach during new faculty orientation. We’re about the same age, and we have “I don’t really know if I should be called faculty solidarity,” so we hit it off. Being friends with her naturally led to learning a thing or two about the game, and that led to being at the women’s opening game, and from there it was a small step to being at the men’s opening game, which was the same night, immediately following. 

When it comes to basketball, I’ve never been a big fan of the men’s game. As in tennis and soccer, I rarely connect to men playing. Maybe because the play is too fast for a non-athlete like myself to really follow, or maybe because male athletes play like a**holes a large amount of the time. But the Pioneers drew me in with The System. The System works like this: they run a full-court press, play as little defense as possible, and engineer all their plays around creating openings for 3 point shots.

Did that last sentence not mean anything to you? Yeah, that was me. Last fall. Before I started watching The System.

It didn’t take long before I was an all out Pioneer basketball fan. Now, I sometimes even switch to college basketball on television when I want to kill time. Crazy. I know, right? 

I don’t know if this fascination will hold over next year, when I no longer see the athletes on the court as students first, coming to the library, doing their liberal arts thing and being great at sinking 3’s at the same time. It might be a one-year thing, like this job, like being able to hang out with the basketball coach and a physics prof and a Classics prof at the same time, all of them conversant in this game we spend our evenings watching, quietly breaking plans with non-fans and getting up early to get our real work done beforehand so we can. 

I’m not thinking about this right now, reviewing key plays in mind as I get ready to go to bed. I’m thinking about how I hope this team full of gifted, but relatively short, seniors can recover from tonight’s tough game to play their hearts out tomorrow, because in all likelihood, it’s going to be the last game of their careers. I’m hoping that the 3’s sink convincingly and Lawrence falls all over itself trying to outrun our Pioneers. I’m nervous about our injured point guard and the sophomore guard who is being asked to learn how to take his place. This is a distraction, but I sometimes think it is an important one. Most of us don’t win or lose in 40 minute spurts, but watching those who do can remind us how important it is to focus and take the risk of believing we can succeed. When it matters, the outcome is never certain. You can play a technically perfect game and lose–it takes more than that in the long run. You have to do your best every minute you can and take the chance it won’t be enough. Sometimes it won’t be. Learning to step into those moments honestly is a lesson that can come in many forms–Greek quizzes or Moby Dick final papers or conference finals–and I like being at a school that sees it that way.

The very first thing we did upon D’s arrival in Iowa in August was take a trip to the Iowa State Fair.

Our goal: only eat food on a stick. (Or, a drumstick, as the case may be.)

Can’t skip the corn dog:

These enormous turkey drumsticks were amazingly delicious:

This beer brought to you by the Budweiser Clydesdales:

This is a cow:

But is it an Americow? We’d have to check the passport to be sure:

You can’t kill the rooster!

October 1st: Looks like I’m on hiatus (Read: Must finish MFA thesis to become MFA)

October 9th: Do I stay or do I go now? Or: When a one year job can become a two year job, and you decide to say screw the economy and throw it all away to try to go to more graduate school!

October 20th: I. Am. 27. And vow never to complain about that again.

October 22nd: Defended!

October 27: Am exhausted.

November 1: Knock, knock, knocking on my neighbor’s doors

November 3: ahhhhhhh so scared

November 4: yes!!!!!!!!!!!!

November 4, 10 something pm CST: Oh, that acceptance speech was going so well until he misused the word “enormity.” Oh well, nobody’s perfect.

November 9: Mormons confuse me–some of them do, anyway

November 10: Manuscript margin drama

November 13: Binding fee receipt drama

November 15: More naked people in my library! And this time it’s 25 degrees out!

November 18: Mailed my manuscript!

November 19: Strep throat: not just for first graders anymore

November 23: Having blankets on your bed can make you so much warmer at night

…and that brings us up to the present, which I hope will mark a return to the blogosphere!

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It’s Friday, 4:45pm, and the library is filled with naked running people.

It takes me a minute to figure out why there are running naked people in the library, but I soon do: they are all whispering “Come to the Duke! It’s tomorrow!”

And then I realize, this is the entire cross country team, advertising their biggest meet of the year. Naked.

We did our own share of clothes-free running at Kenyon, but we always did it in the middle of the night. So, as my husband just emailed me in response to my first panicked email re: NRP, these cornfield college kids have got balls.

But did I really need to see them?

Oh college, I am surely much older than your students now.

It’s now 4:52, and the naked people have left the building. But really, is it even any use to get back to this institutional repository content survey?

No, no indeed. HOME!

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The calm before

August 23, 2008

The more accurate title for this post would be simply “updates”–but I’m not the type to leave it simple now, am I?

D got here on August 9, ending a 40 day long distance period which, I am relieved to say, wasn’t hard at all on my end. Well, maybe it was hard for the first two days. And then I had a grand, perhaps long overdue realization: I can do this. I can live on my own. Once upon a time I could fill my whole day all by myself, and happily. This isn’t to say that being in a serious relationship and then being married had stunted me, I think, but more to say, it’s easy to lose track of your capacity for independence. It was much harder for him, w/o the novelty of a new job and a new town to distract him. But for me, it was perfect. I had a month to settle in to a new group of colleagues and a new set of responsibilities, and more importantly, a month in which no one wanted to talk to me when I got home, which made it much, much easier to get my butt in the chair. And in the chair is where it needed and continues to need to be–the radio silence I’ve once again slipped into over the past couple weeks is mostly due to the fact that I’m making a sustained effort to get my writing act together and get my head straightened out to commit to meeting some (mostly self-imposed) deadlines. I will be submitting work to journals this fall. I will be making a final decision about more graduate school. I will be coming up with a book-length manuscript to call a thesis and then tear apart and call my first book. As the Mistress of Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds and I discussed over local food in Iowa City this summer, it is important to decide these things and commit to the work it takes to mean them, regardless of the outcome. The outcome is not what I own. The work is what I own. I’m glad I had a month to practice before writing officially became the reason I only see my husband about two hours a day, even though we once again live in the same state. And that’s not just fine, it’s as it should be, at least for right now.

Shortly after D arrived, the rest of the new faculty arrived for their two-day orientation. At the college where I work, librarians are considered faculty (my title will actually be assistant professor now that I’ve completed my terminal library degree). Although I have absolutely no illusions about the parity of my intellectual accomplishment on this front (in fact, I have a major insecurity complex, as you probably know), it makes a huge difference to be included even if in name only. Instead of being shunned to my office, I got to spend two days with everyone else who is new around here, and they got to see me as some kind of peer. That’s important for the library, politically, and it’s important for me socially. It was also wonderful that tenure track and temporary (they call us “term”) faculty were treated equally during the orientation, and will be treated equally over the next year when it comes to conference funding and grant consideration. There’s a lot of very progressive things about this school that I will miss when I move on.

Anyway, the long and short of orientation was, D & me now have a social life! After a month without so much as a beer at the bar, we’re headed into our second straight weekend of having places to go and people to see. It’s just like new student orientation–this is a small town, and this is the time when everyone is silently asking will you be my friend, so I’m hitting up as many barbeques and happy hours as I get invited to. When I’m too busy, I can stop, but for now I can work around what feels pretty darn important–getting friends, being a friend. And last weekend’s Madonna’s 50th party left no doubt in my mind that indeed, I have found a fitting niche for myself this year, a place where I am viewed as not just an okay but a good dancer. Scary, right?

Things are about to get more intense as new students are pouring into campus as I type and classes start on Thursday. I think my workload, which has been kind of light, is going to take off, and I say bring it on. I’m ready to earn my keep around here. Still, it’s been nice to ease into it, and to have had some time to myself.

All of this is not to say that I’m not missing the company of a few select Floridians, ex-Floridians, and others. I have a few more letters I’m meaning to write, and some thoughts on other stuff I hope to get up here soon, and (bonus!) Iowa state fair pics. But right now I’m off to Saturday red, Iowa style. I’ll let you know how it goes.