Sunday, December 31, 2023

The last day of 2023

  •  It's the last day of 2023, and according to our friendly national media, Las Vegas is gearing up for a record day since the date is 12.31.23 or 123123 (a lucky day). It's kind of comforting--it really is-- to know that they've prepared by setting up a marriage license stand at the airport and have 6 Elvis impersonators ready to go in addition to the regular officiants. I've never been to Las Vegas, but it's nice to know that the regular Las Vegas institutions seem to be intact & unchanging. 
  • Speaking of changes, the airline I'm taking to MLA in Philadelphia has sent me notifications of flight schedule changes every week (literally) since September, so I'm kind of excited to see if they keep to the same schedule until departure. 


  •  This has been a strange year: we're nominally post-pandemic, according to the WHO, yet my students regularly got sick with COVID or something suspiciously like it (and so did I, for three weeks, though the tests said it wasn't COVID). After recovering, I walked into the doctor's office & when they asked "what shots did you want?" I channeled Marlon Brando in The Wild One, who, in response to being asked "what are you rebelling against?" replied "Whadda ya got?" (What I really said was "all of 'em.") 
  • Speaking of things that do and don't change, in this year of our lord 2023 no home printer that exists will regularly and reliably connect to wifi. Instead, they hold their hands to their foreheads and stagger to a fainting couch, telling me that they are offline. They are not offline, but I have to dutifully unplug/disconnect wifi/etc. and go through the whole dance, sometimes re-adding them under an alias, until they come to life and enthusiastically spit out documents I unsuccessfully tried to print several weeks ago. I've tried printer cables, but the Princesses, as they are known in our house, sometimes don't want to work with cables, either. I've read that The Youth don't like printers, and I sometimes warn the Princesses that with attitudes like theirs, it's no wonder The Youth (and the Washington Post, which says you can just drive somewhere and print, easy-peasy--so much better than home printing!) are dubious about their utility. I spent 5 hours with the Princesses the other day, scanning class materials to print and then to an underlying .pdf with OCR, but I had to use them both, since one would make copies but not scan to any recognizable location on earth and the other would do the reverse. (The Princesses are from different countries--one from HP and one from Epson--but they are united in their resistance to functioning as anything other than shelf decorations.)
  • It's been an odd year: it feels as though we're doing what we're supposed to do as though there was never a pandemic and as though there isn't world chaos, but it feels like the conversation between the Red Queen and Alice: 
    “Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else—if you ran very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”
    “A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

    We're through the looking glass and running twice as fast to stay in the same place.
  • Here's hoping for a smooth, peaceful, and joyous 2024, and Happy New Year to you all!

Saturday, December 09, 2023

Writing the ghosts away

Writing about "The Beckoning Fair One" must have cursed me, because I have written literally nothing on my own work since. What are the obstacles? 
  • All the writing advice is about carving out time and space for yourself. Let's take time: the advice is "Just say no" to extra work, committee, admin work, and so on. Figuring I've done my bit, as the Brits used to say during WWII, I've turned down things until I felt a little guilty. But Spouse pointed out, logically and also comfortingly, that I've already done a lot of all that and ought to let someone else have a chance to shine. 
  • Teaching and grading? Yes, that takes time, but not unmanageably so. I have time to work if I would actually get at it. 
  • Next, space: What about Virginia Woolf's famous room of one's own? I have a space to write that I really like: warm, good technology, comfortable desk chair, good reading chair, lots of books, and all that. 
  • How about resources? I have the materials I need--books, .pdfs, and a handy if too-tempting library.
  • What about the project? Was it imposed on me? Nope, I volunteered. I did half of it months ago, and it's on a subject I really like.
  • What about daily writing? I've done the usual suspects: read some writing inspiration, tried the old, time tracking, word counting, accountability partners, etc. Nothing helped.
  • Tried writing in different settings, writing with pen & ink, with typewriter, in my campus office rather than at home, everything.  Nothing helped. 
What did I write? Nothing. Could not do it, and the deadline hasn't gone away. 

So typing these words is an attempt to break the logjam, or banish the barriers, or to hail the goddess of writing, or to summon the collective spirit of blogitivity, to get moving on this thing.