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.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Writing about Work

News about the blogosphere lately has been "For heaven's sake, don't write about your job." And there's no way I would write about several aspects of mine: namely the parts in which I deal with students. Or about my colleagues, even though absolutely everything I would write would be glowing (and how often do you see people in English departments write that?!). However, I think I can write about one aspect of my job with complete freedom, mostly because everything that happens with it is in my brain. I'm talking about, of course, that third prong (or do I mean rail?) of academic life: research.

I'll admit it - the dissertation wore me out. I'm a bit sick of Anglo-Saxon politics, and I think my writing style has suffered permanent damage. One reason I started this blog was to give myself another forum in which to write; it's an attempt to de-academicize my prose. But I'm tenure-track (yay!) and that means I have to continue to produce "scholarly" literature. Practically nothing got done during my first semester. This is no big surprise; two new classes plus moving plus figuring out how to live in a new town -- all added to dissertation exhaustion-- do not contribute to a profitable research agenda. However, I did get a few good paragraphs on an article done this afternoon - and I feel good about them. Confidence is a wonderful thing, and it's been a while since I've felt it.

In fact, I was working enough that my computer is low on battery power, and I must conclude this entry before my computer shuts off on its own.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


It has been a while since I've written explicitly on the topic of my domicile, the Yuppie Dorm. Therefore, I will write about a topic that's intrigued me lately: noise.

As a former factory, the YD has all the wonderful qualities of loft living: exposed brick, high, beamed ceilings, huge windows. But the beamed ceilings also have another side: they do not stop any sound whatsoever. If my upstairs neighbor walks across his kitchen, I hear it. If he's talking on the phone, I hear it. I actually know too much about his life. For example, I know that he occasionally has a young child visiting, and there's often (but not always) a large dog up there. As I found out the very first night in my apartment, his bedroom is above my office, and he's an active heterosexual. (Note - I found out recently that my eastern neighbor, whose bedroom adjoins my living room, shared this quality. At 2:30 in the afternoon, no less.)

On the one hand, this could be annoying. When Visiting Small Child is on a crying jag at three in the morning, it is. However, most of the time the noises are small and not intrusive. There's no loud music for hours on end, and I seem to be the greater offender when it comes to TV. The heaters in our apartments are also quite loud, and when they turn on, I can not only hear my own, but the above one and the next door one. And oddly enough, whenever I'm in the shower, I can often hear two female voices - I think it's the girls who live across the hall, which makes me wonder how the plumbing in this place is arranged.

All in all, it's like living with a big family that I never have to actually deal with face to face.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

DVD Player Woes

One of the ways to handle depression is to allow oneself carefully planned periods of OKness. Not "looking forward" to something (that can backfire), but generally knowing that a potential future event might be OK. Tonight, I found I needed such an event, and as serendipity would have it, I got the big, long, 42-hour (I only exaggerate slightly) edition of Return of the King in the mail today.

So, I put it in the DVD player, and after less than 4 minutes of play time, the thing stopped. Frozen. Smeagol hadn't even finished off that other hobbit yet. Thinking that I might have gotten a bad copy, I popped in another DVD from my collection. The Philadelphia Story didn't even get so far as to show Katharine Hepburn's name on the credits.

Now, instead of an OKish event to distract me from things, I have a broken DVD player. Luckily (as I've been looking on line) they're not that expensive anymore. In fact, they're downright cheap. Small comfort right now, really. But comfort nonetheless.

UPDATE: New DVD player purchased: Magnavox, $54. The hobbits and company are now free to divest themselves of the Ring in Mount Doom. Which they're doing in small chunks as I find the time to watch LOTR:ROTK, as the cognosenti abbreviate.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Growing Things

The Plant

This is the second edition of the Grad School Plant. It was made from a cutting of the first edition, which I do still own, but had to trim severely before its move to the Yuppie Dorm. It was literally as long as the room on multiple strands.

Why I call it the Grad School Plant: I first bought the plant in the fall of 1995, the same month I started grad school. I also bought a peace lily, which I killed within the year. However, this plant (whose little tag proclaimed it a Jade Pothos) grew and flourished. In fact, my forgetting to water it, or even take notice of it for weeks on end didn't seem to bother it. It just kept growing. I don't know when the idea came to me that if this plant stayed alive, I would finish grad school and get the PhD. But after a few years, that became my belief (only partially in jest; I'm not that superstitious, but I'm not that neglectful of omens, either) and it actually seemed to come true. Obviously, I hedged my bets by propagating cuttings, but the original plant does still survive, too.

The question now is - what is its purpose in life? What does its continued existence signify for me? Is it now my "Tenure Plant?"

I have been thinking about trying my hand at orchids...