Friday, April 25, 2008

The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring (tra la)

Well one thing I sacrificed this week was my health and well-being. I had returned to God's Country (the town where I grew up, which is also Capitol City and State U), to celebrate Passover with my parents and our family friends this past weekend. All of us had a wonderful time, seeing old friends and making new ones. Then, on monday, my mother fell sick. And I mean really, hideously, wretchedly, violently sick. And I took care of her, which was actually fun because she was so grateful and because I was putting off grading lower-division papers and yes I would rather clean vomit off the car than face another dangling participle. Then, after her fever broke and she seemed reasonably on the mend, I flew home. And of course the next day I fell ill (note to self: do not clean vomit off the car. Grade your papers instead). And the day after that, my dad fell ill. And the day after that . . . well, his secretary who also happens to be my massage therapist will have to confirm whether or not she fell ill, but the odds are fairly high that she did.

I'm finally feeling much better today, even nibbling on apple slices and hardboiled egg, after sleeping all day yesterday and literally letting my colleagues push me out of the office and cancel my third class on Wednesday when they noticed I was shivering in a pantsuit and down jacket, when it was 78 and sunny.

Anyway, that was my weekend and my week. And despite all this, I got those papers graded and returned to my students. I also paid my bills, straightened up my house, did 3 loads of laundry, got new car insurance, finally got renter's insurance, secured a flat to rent in London, and (possibly) found a student house-sitter for the summer. And suddently this is all making me feel a bit like a rockstar. Just because it felt impossible two days ago when I couldn't sit up.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sacrificial Living

I've been thinking about the sacrifices we make, large and little, for our scholarly livelihoods. Specifically I'm thinking about what we give up in order to finish our books, take those desirable jobs, finish our theses. I started musing about this when I emailed a friend to ask him how he got his first book out so early in his career. Did he give up two extra hours of sleep per day? Skip lunch like my friend when she was on leave at an archive? His modest response was that he had a lot of free time in the first two years. (So the mystery remains).

But accustomed as I am to a comfortable lifestyle, I can't help wondering if I'd get more writing done, more articles finished and more books read if I gave something up. And I'm not counting my current celibacy- that's a consequence of living where I do.

When I was finishing my dissertation I did sacrifice sleep. And also cleaning the house, eating healthfully and doing any grocery shopping or cooking or exercise whatsoever.

What kinds of sacrifices have you made or are willing to make for your scholarship? Would you give up sleep or lunch or television or a spouse just to finish your book? Have you?

Why am I so drawn to sacrifice anyway? Maybe it's because I like to think that if I give something up in the symbolic economy, I'll somehow be rewarded with something else, i.e. book completion. Maybe giving something up would make me feel more pious and less hedonistic. Or maybe it's the influence of my former dissertation adviser, who advises that writing itself ought to be painfully difficult- if it's not, then you're not getting anywhere.

What should I give up this summer in order to finish my book? (Please don't say blogging . . .)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Whole New You

I have a new name and a new face. It just seemed more fitting. I'd rather be a poet than a source of inspiration. Wouldn't you?

Next up: maybe a new blog name too? I do still have a tendency for embarrassingly funny Freudian slips, but the blog title doesn't exactly fit with my postings of late. So let me know, dear readers, what you think I should do. Should I come up with a new title or leave it be? Any good title suggestions? (More Wrothplay with something like "The Countesse of Mountgomery's Blogographia" or "This Strange Labyrinth" maybe? "Et in Urania Ego"? For some reason I also really like "Discordia Concors," which is how Samuel Johnson described metaphysical conceits).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I've just learned that I'm also going to spend a month in DC this summer, probably mid-may to mid-June, but it all depends where I stay and whom I hire (or how much I'll pay) to feed the cat. I'm starting to get really, really excited about archival writing again. I tend to get more writing done in libraries away from home, so I've promised myself that this will be the summer when I finally finish the manuscript and send it off.

Apparently this will also be the summer when I get the hell out of this tiny little town for a few months. Hurrah for that!

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Whee- I'm going to London this July. It's just dawned on me, that this is a wonderful, good thing. I'm really going just to have a change of scenery in which to finish my book, but since my summer starts in May and I hope to get a fair amount of writing done in May and June, I might also actually have time for some fun in London as well as long days at the BL. Anyway, I was disappointed to find that the little B&B where I'd stayed last year was all booked up. So instead I booked one a couple of houses down on the same street that actually sounds much better- same tiny rooms, Georgian Terrace, garden in the back, free wireless, but this one also has a shared kitchen and fridge for guests, which is totally necessary given the high exchange rate and the fact that my funding doesn't reimburse for food.

I'm just starting to get excited again. If you'll be there too, let me know. We'll go for a drink. Or else don't tell me, and we'll bump into one another on the 4th floor of the BL and it will be fun.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

April Showers

Bring more April showers. It has rained nonstop for the past five days. This is good- our state is still in the midst of a drought and we need 8 more inches of water in order to be back to normal. I think we're there by now though. I miss the sun. I need to see the sun.

Other rainy-day news: I sat down with turbo-tax today all ready to find out how much the government owed me and was shocked to learn that I owe the government $904. How could this have happened? After taking another 2 and a half hours to pore over my tax returns to make sure I hadn't miscalculated, I realized my university has not been withholding enough for me. This is probably due to the fact that I received a raise in July, one that pushed me up into a different tax bracket. My guess is that the payroll office didn't increase the amount withheld along with the salary. They needed to shave off an extra $150 per month- not a huge deal, not exactly something I would have missed terribly, or anything I could have noticed- until now. But now, at tax time, when I have to pay this enormous lump sum, I'm a little bit annoyed. Especially since I was planning on using my unnecessary rebate for charity. Or at least I was getting a kick out of saying that. Now it's just going to help reduce the amount of what I owe.

Some good things are happening, though- the tulips are up, I've finished one more essay and am nearly done with the third and fourth. I received funding to go to London and finish writing my book (though apparently not to eat- it's all handled by reimbursement and meals will not be covered this year). And on Friday afternoon I painted the hallway green, just to cheer myself up. I love how easy it is to change the look of a place- and one's mood -with paint. Even though I know I'll be moving eventually, it's not a waste. Paint is cheap, and I like doing it. Colors just make me happy. And that's kind of important these days.

Friday, April 04, 2008

In the Blogosphere I'm a Tyrant

I'm sorry if I've deleted some of your comments. I want to explain why here. Do feel free to use the comments section to this post if you'd like to complain or disagree with what I'm about to say (wink, wink).

In all fairness I ought to keep every single comment on the blog even if I find it is not productive or friendly or useful. I ought to, but I know I won't. I wonder if this means The Freudian Petticoat isn't technically an Early Modern Public- because it's beginning to regulate what people say? Then again, it never really was either Early Modern nor Public- discuss.

Here's how I see it: In this strange blog-rinth, everyone steps on everyone's toes now and then. And everyone sticks virtual feet in virtual mouths. I know I have, and a few times my comments have been respectfully removed from others' blogs. And I'm very grateful for that.

That said, here are 10 reasons why I might remove your comment:

1. You make reference to my real-life identity
2. You post something mean and hurtful directed at me or at the other commentators
3. You offend
4. You use the comments section to have a personal argument with me
5. Your comment is unproductive
6. You shill
7. You troll
8. You spam

Hmm, with the exception of the last three these look a bit, I don't know- arbitrary? Subjective? I may allow some of you to trash my scholarship and post offensive jokes, but delete others. And what exactly do I mean by "productive" anyway? And what if I happen to be feeling particularly hypersensitive at the exact moment when I encounter it? What then? Well that brings us to the last two reasons:

9. Your comment just bothers me for some reason I can't explain and
10. I just feel like deleting it.

Sorry, folks. It's my blog, I'll do what I want with it. In the Blogosphere I'm a Tyrant!

For what it's worth, I delete a lot of my own comments. Far more than any others.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

State of the House Post, or Vintage Budget Living 101

Living Room

Now that I've just completed my spring cleaning, thrown open the windows to the fresh air and allergies, I thought it might be nice to post some photographic updates (especially given the high praise lavished on my house by certain good friends at the Shakespeare conference). It's pretty much the same but there's quite a bit more stuff: I've finally got my stereo system and vintage KLH-17 speakers up and working- the stereo is on a yellow enamel 1950s kitchen cart (neighborhood salvage shop) in the living room; the speakers are in the dining room (the wire runs along the baseboards and up around the doorway). You can also see some fresh new bed linens, a fabulous hall light (ebay purchase), loads more sunlight, a funky 1970s yellow desk chair (also ebay) and the vintage turquoise pottery collection I've started.

Best of all, very little is new- most comes from salvage, ebay and craigslist.

Living Room: Tea and Sugar posters are reproduction "lecons des choses" from Deyrolle. The coffee table is from 1959, teak with rosewood veneer, a salvage find. The glass side table is vintage Design Research and belonged to my parents in the 70s. Over the fireplace is an old printer's case and a Chinese calligraphy brush. In front of the fireplace are a vintage Chinese basket and rice caddy. Chair on the right was found in the trash.

Dining Room: The dining table is a vintage Heywood Wakefield junior dining table, a craigslist find. The chairs are vintage Thonet from local salvage.

Hallway, Bath, Bedroom entry with vintage Chinese elm bench and art deco dresser.

My desk is an unfinished wood parsons table that I sanded and painted high gloss white. Bookcases are the ever-dependable Ikea Billy. The Kevi chair I found on ebay for $30.

The kitchen table is the "Odyssey" from CB2, a cheap knock-off Saarinen. Chairs are vintage Thonet from the local Habitat for Humanity Re-store salvage shop.

It's really difficult to photograph the guest bedroom/den. The walls are a chocolatey eggplant or a very blue brown. The daybed is vintage '60s Design Research, belonged to my parents when they were in grad school. The carpet is possibly a Bakhtiar, and is from ebay. It's huge and garish and I love it.