A brief chronicle of my new life in Michigan, focusing on the fact that I live in a converted factory loft building with several hundered other "young professionals." Yeah, it's a yuppie dorm.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Self-Googling

I just Googled "Yuppie dorm" and while I got this site, I also found out that this site is listed on Yahoo! Canada. While I'm happy to be listed, I'm amused also by the fact that they don't seem to have visited the site, as they seem to think that I'm actually living in a dorm - and that my name for the building isn't laced with irony.

Oh, well. Maybe they think I'm in Canada, too.

New Year's Letter

Well, Christmas has come and gone, and true to form, I realized that an academic schedule and writing Christmas Cards do not go together. I managed to actually acquire nice cards; however, the process of writing a letter (I did have some major life changes this year!) and finding addresses proved too much to do with the massive amount of grading and then the massive amount of traveling I've done since then. Therefore my goal this morning is to write the letter, and start trying to find addresses (scattered over various computer files, address books, and random pieces of paper.) If you'd like a card and a letter, e-mail me your snail mail address, and I'll happily whisk one your way! Remember, it's all about the new year, not Christmas.

To update on the holiday so far:
1. Traveled to Bloomington on the 20th. Trip uneventful, and highlighted by lunch at Shapiro's in Carmel.
2. Wednesday/Thursday morning: Bloomington gets dumped with 17 inches of snow. My mini looked like a large marshmallow with an antenna and mirrors poking out of it. There was literally no other part of the car visible. And that was after I had brushed it down once after the first 8 inches of snow.
3. Thursday morning: Matt and I had intended to travel to Iowa first thing in the morning, but the snow emergency road closures made us delay until about 2 in the afternoon. In the meantime, we shoveled. We managed to get the Subaru out of the driveway, and dug my Mini out enough to get it into the driveway. I was worried that if I left it in the street it would get snowplowed. (A rather frivolous notion, as Southern Indiana doesn't really have snowplows, which made a 17" snow particularly exciting.)
4. Thursday afternoon: Drove as far as Iowa City, where we stopped for the night. In the cold (-24 wind chill) we drove around saying things like "that wasn't there (x) years ago!" and "I used to live there - no there, in that nasty little apartment building!" (Matt and I were both undergrads at the University of Iowa, although in different decades.) Then we saw a silly movie (National Treasure).
5. Friday morning: Drove to Webster City to spend Christmas with my parents.
6. Saturday: Drove to Cherokee to spend Christmas day with my grandmother. Drove back to Webster City in the evening.
7. Sunday (Boxing Day): Did not drive anywhere. There was much rejoicing.
8. Monday: Drove back to Bloomington. In an effort to keep it interesting and avoid Peoria (because one should avoid Peoria) we took back roads through southern Iowa and mid-Illinois. While we saw some incredible examples of Midwestern small towns, we also saw two deer. On the road. That was too exciting for me, really.

On the whole - a good holiday. I'm tired of the traveling, though!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Done!

Well, I just finished the grades for my first semester classes. Its amazing how fast the exams for the last class go. Light at the end of the tunnel and all that.

The feeling of completion seems somewhat unreal; it's not a usual feeling for an academic. I'm used to long, ongoing projects that never seem to end. I suppose I can look at the fact that I need to write a Christmas letter, send cards, pack, clean my apartment, wrap Christmas presents, and finish buying Christmas presents to offset that weird sense of accomplishment.

Now - what books should I read over break? So far on my list: Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi; Will in the World by Greenblatt. I'll also probably continue on my project of reading all of Shakespeare's plays. I'm in the Greek/Roman tragedies right now.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Lake Effect

It's been a week since I posted, I know. I can only plead "last week of classes" and the grading of papers and the writing of exams.

And of course - with finals week (starts tomorrow!) comes severe winter weather. I remember my first finals week at Iowa - I was taking Intro Physics (for majors), Calc I, Russian I, a modern philosophy class, and a computer lab for the calc class. I think that was all - there might have been one more class in there. In any case, my Physics final was slated for 8 am on Friday morning, and the Calc I exam for 7 pm that evening. Yes - the absolute last exam spot. And when Friday dawned, the snow started falling. I distinctly remember getting up before dawn to get to my Physics final (which I had been studying for all week), taking it, and then going back to my dorm room and studying for the Calc final for literally the rest of the day until I took the thing that evening. It was so quiet- and I was exhausted, and I think by the time I took that exam I was exulting in my decision never to take another serious math or science course again in my life. Which I didn't - my math GER was completed with a very fun logic course, and my science GER by Astronomy w/out a lab. However- I did manage to get As in Intro Physics and Calc I. I think I even got an A+ in the computer lab.

So, to me finals week = snow. And when you live in Western Michigan, where the words "lake effect," I've noted, are usually accompanied by a lowering of the voice and a dimming of the lights (for effect, obviously), there's snow. Supposedly 3-5 inches by tomorrow.

I hope they all remember to bring blue books.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Panera People Watching

I'm sitting at Panera, purportedly grading. I got one of the two "outlet tables" -- excellent for the plugging in of computers to take advantage of the free wi-fi. Have I ever mentioned my affinity for Panera? Free wi-fi, refillable drinks, and only slightly overpriced food. I'm not leaving until my grading's done.

In between papers, though - I people-watch. There's this couple sitting directly opposite me who where here before me. They're middle-aged, and seem to be married (the man has a wedding ring on). And he strikes me as absolutely, completely hen-pecked. His wife is a large woman with a hard face; he's small, balding, and has tiny round glasses and a rather slouched/stooped demeanor. As I sat down, I could overhear them discussing Christmas plans -- she seemed to be trying to get him to agree to not visit his family over the holidays. He kept sitting there doodling on his PDA - and sort of flinching at the tone in her voice.

I'm reading so much into this - for all I know, they could have the happiest marriage, their interaction is pleasing to both of their personalities, and their lives a model of civil interaction. It's just fun to spectate. Currently, she's working on a computer, and he's got a big giant Bible open in front of him. On a Sunday morning in Western Michigan, this choice of reading material is not that surprising. They haven't spoken in at least 1/2 an hour.

A woman with what looked like a cow-purse walked in. White with black spots and sort of furry. You know, like a Gateway box made pouch-like.

No more interesting people - so back to grading papers on Spencer's The Faerie Queene.

Friday, December 03, 2004

A Picture for Lemming


Festive

Well, I'm not going to have a Christmas tree this year for several reasons -- first, mostly because I simply don't want the hassle. I don't want a real one, because I'm going to be gone from Grand Rapids at the end of the semester, and I'd have to take it down before I leave. And who wants to take down a Christmas tree before Christmas? And I have no room to store a fake one.

So - I decorated the treehouse instead. Well, I put up lights on it. No ornaments. When Matt was up here for Thanksgiving (most of which was spent at his sister's house in Chicago, actually), he mentioned that it was a bit dark in the area under the treehouse. I agreed -- and so dug out my string of Christmas lights (from that one year I did have the cutest little real tree; it was about three feet high and a perfect conical shape). I put them up with quite a few u-tacks and voila - festivity and utility.