Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Many different things, really

What a day. It's been raining and raining and raining, and all the kids in the Faculty of Arts day camp have been in my building at work, and making a hell of a racket which would account for why I visited so many of your blogs today. I'm trying to get an article finished, one I've been working on all summer, and I want to send it away for review by the end of the summer. It's currently 40 pages long, but it needs to be about 25--while nevertheless requiring the addition of new material.

If yer innerested, here's a sample of my deathless academic prose:

"As When Harry Met Sally progresses, the characters drop out of history, from carefully marked coeds of the 70s, with big hair, blue eyeshadow, and cynicism to match, through the go-go yuppie early 80s (“Five years later”), all power-suited, shoulder-padded, and briefcase-toding, before beginning their own coursthip story yet another “five years later” in a curiously unmarked and un-named 1987—we would expect, for example, more stirrup pants and asymmetrical haircuts, giant Sony Walkmans, and such. We move from an explicitly referenced problematic period in the history of romantic comedy into … achronicity, the blessed timelessness of fated love. The whole troubled period of the nervous romance is visually ridiculed, its promiscuity and individualism a tacky fad, as outdated and irrelevant as knee-socks and high-waisted shorts. Unshackled from historical referent, the characters are as free as if their story took place a long time ago in a galaxy far away, as Star Wars would have it. History as social and political context disappears as this movie progresses at the same time as history as musical and filmic reference gains narrative traction via the deliberately nostalgic and old-school jazz soundtrack (or its simulation, by launched-to-stardom newcomer Harry Connick, Jr.)."

Just to be clear, my merit pay this year will be based, largely, on whether I can say that this article is 'accepted for publication', or 'forthcoming', or 'published'. For that to happen, it needs to be reviewed, and this can take several months at a minimum. And for that to happen, I need to send it away. Which means it needs to be finished. Which I can't do when there are 20 eight- to ten-year-olds screeching up and down the halls. When it turned out they were all taking over the classroom that's 1.5 paces from my office door, and that they had indeed pre-booked this room, I freaked out. My department just fought a protracted battle with the bookings people to declare that room offlimits for anything other than teaching during office hours.

Anyhow, I was so frustrated and worried, I got mad. I called the woman in charge of the camp and freaked out on her voice mail. I believe I may even have said "I pay a lot of money to put my own child into proper day care centre so that I may come to the office and get my job done." I believe I may also have said, "Please call me back so that we can discuss this. Don't call me on my office phone because obviously I can't stay here and my workday is ruined."

Frustrated and worried. And now a little ashamed of myself.


Speaking of frustrated and worried, I imagine I'm not the only one to have a scare about the big Fisher-Price / Mattel toy recall? In particular, the words 'Elmo Tub Sub' struck fear into my heart, as Munchkin has an item we might (and do) describe in just such terms. Here, in fact, is the toy in question, along with its owner. Notice the little wake created by its possibly toxic, possibly lead-painted little propeller.

However, this is the tub sub being recalled:

Not the one we have. Pynchon has declared we will buy no more toys from China. I defy him to locate one currently in the house that is not, actually, made in China. Worried.

Speaking, once more, of frustrated and worried, did you, oh observant reader, notice that Munchkin seems to be holding onto ... doudou? In the tub? Yes, that's right, she brought her security blanket into the tub with her, because that's just the kind of day she's been having lately. The kind of day where she sits in the tub pointing and wailing and pointing and wailing until she is provided with both doudou and sucksuck, and right now, dammit.

That's just one more reason why we've got three doudous.

Omaha Mama tagged me for the '10 things that silence my inner critic' meme. That's a doozy, because you have to say nice things about yourself ... I have to say nice things about myself. Nice things that will interest you, hopefully, and not show me to be too too puffed with pride.


1. I'm clever. This I know for sure, and have always known, and it's the one thing about myself I can honestly say I've never doubted for one minute. Sometimes I think I'm pretty, but often I don't. My fitness level alternately impresses and depresses me. I vacillate wildly in most areas of self-regard. But not about my brains.

2. I'm an excellent brunch-maker. You should come to my house. I can do fluffy pancakes, with raspberries or blueberries in them, with butter and real maple syrup. Crispy browned veggie sausages. Fluffy scrambled eggs, with a little bit of parmesan and some fresh basil cooked in. Fruit salad with perfect little melon balls. Coffee or tea, latte or espresso. Everything ready at the same time, everything hot, the table nicely set. I'm an excellent brunch maker.

3. I am becoming manifestly more politically radical as I age. I like this about me. I used to say stuff like "It's illegal to do crack. Why would anyone even start that? Everyone who does bad drugs should go to jail. How hard is it to just get a job and not do drugs." [pauses while you all collect yourselves.] Really, as I get older, I become aware much more of nuance in the world, and I temper my tendency to rush to judgement accordingly. Most of the world gets more conservative and judgmental as it ages. Not me.

4. My mom used to say that I have feet only a mother could love--this was not very nice of her, but she was probably referring to my lopsided club foot, and my uneven calves, and well, I've a tendency to cellulite on my quite bootylicious self. Loathing and ambivalence! But: I have beautiful big blue eyes, a long neck, square and delicate shoulders, and a tiny ribcage blessed with good boobs. Go, upper body, go! (We won't talk about my nose ...)

5. I am a good wife. I love Pynchon the best I know how, and learn more and more what it means to be in a partnership every day. I like that. It makes me humble.

6. I'm a pretty good writer of academic prose. Fellow grad students, and my dissertation committee, and my professors ... now my colleagues, blind reviewers, and audiences, uniformly note that I make complicated things understandable, and have a clear and even entertaining scholarly voice. Which you might not imagine from how I write here ...

7. I'm an awesome talker. I'm not afraid of public speaking, of giving talks, or teaching, or leading workshops, or whatever. People can always hear me, I don't hem and haw, I get to the point.

8. I have a strong sense of fairness. Reciprocity and probity (in addition, apparently, to pedantry) are my watchwords.

9. Ageing. I'm pretty good at it. I'm enjoying each year as it goes by, and while I'm sometimes surprised--and not pleasantly--that I seem to have wrinkles, I really don't mind getting older. Wrinklier, a little hairier, a little slower, not terribly interested in popular music. There are rewards to age, and I'm enjoying them (ask me again when I pass this obviously very advanced age of 34. I'm a good talker now ...)

10. I know most of my own faults, can call them out by name, and am actively working to rehabilitate most of them. I don't imagine it would be easy for you to surprise me by calling me on a fault: I have probably already accused myself of worse.

I'm going to tag some new friends I made at BlogHer: Moosh in Indy, and Assertagirl. You're on, ladies.


Omaha Mama said...

We try to only do the pacifier at nap and bed time. Lately (since we're back to the exhausting daycare grind) Mason reaches into the bars or the crib for it, just out of reach. Mommy? he says. Hoping I will fetch it for him!

It's that transitional time of years, I think. Stress levels will be on the rise again, until they aren't. I hope you are able to finish up your article without too much more stress. I agree that your academic prose is very entertaining and would hope you'd link us, tell us, advertise, if you are published? :-)

Mimi said...

What's funny, OM, is that it is taking everything in my power not to pull down the writing I put up: it's in desperate need of editing. And is stressing me out!

And what's funnier is that far far far more people read what I write here, than read what I read for the job at which I am paid to write. And I write about, at least now, romantic comedy!

slouching mom said...

I am blown away by your meme response. So thoughtful, so funny, so you!

And no, this is not a shameless attempt to score myself an invite to your house for brunch Although...come to think of it... ;)

I second your worry about all products from China, umm, all products. Sigh.

bubandpie said...

It's the everything hot and ready at the same time part that always stumps me.

(Going away to watch When Harry Met Sally one more time...)

moosh in indy. said...

Number one on my list will be that I am fully aware that I am not as eloquent and well worded as Mimi and that I am okay with this. *snort*
When Harry Met Sally is my all time favorite movie of ever and ever.
Have you ever read the screenplay? The whole grape scene? Amazing.

Lisa said...

Oh your little girl is ADOREABLE! That is the cutest photo. Good to hear it wasn't HER toy that was recalled. But it does scare you...

I met you at one of the panels. Sorry I wasn't talkative. I had such a migraine it took every bit of energy I had to not throw up. Gah. You were so very sweet. And I wish I could have gotten to know you better.

Jenifer said...

I did laugh when I saw the doudou in the tub, I knew what it was right away!

Your answers are great and yes I want to come for brunch! You would like my Hubby he is a master breakfast/brunch maker. I never make breakfast on the weekends, other than toast. It is all about his pancakes in shapes and custom omelettes. He was very popular at the cottage this past week.

Mad Hatter said...

Yup. Tiny rib cage. Good boobs. I can vouch for you. Am now wondering, though, why I have never been invited to brunch--although that was one fine Christmas cookie exchange.

Kyla said...

Munchkin (who I almost called by her real name *gasp*) is adorable. Oh my! I think this is my first time to see her. What a doll! And we are so jealous of the 3 doudous! We only have 2 Gees.

Your meme answers are spectacular. If I ever make it on my Blogging Through Canada trip, I'll be at your house for brunch. :)

I feel like everything I hand my kids to play with and everything I wash them with or use on their skin is a gamble. It is overwhelming. I wish regulations were tighter and had the consumer in mind, not the companies.

Mimi said...

Mad, you remember you gave me that gorgeous Chinese silk blouse, because I have a tiny rib cage? I still wear that ... I think I started brunching after you moved away.

Everyone, maybe we should do brunch and browse my Nora Ephron film collection: WHMS, Sleepless, You've Got Mail. And I've got The Shop Around the Corner, too. Professional needs, you understand ;-)

Bon777 said...

I've also been feeling frazzled when trying to concentrate on work lately...I too have loud children running around outside my office door but alas they are mine and I can't blame their noise levels on anyone but me...damn home office...most days I wouldn't have it any other way...but that conveniently located daycare across the street is starting to look a little inviting...

Beck said...

I was going to comment on how yummy that brunch sounds but I was too distracted by finding out that I am OLDER then you - or will be, in about two weeks.
We've made the same grim decision as you guys not to buy Chinese-made toys anymore, which means only beautiful European toys. And which also means no more toys at all, since we can't afford those.
Hey, I did something yesterday that's REALLY upset me, so I know how it feels to go a little bit further with what I'm saying than I intended.

Amy U. said...

Yeah, I'm gonna have to read that 40 page article because I friggin' LOVE When Harry Met Sally, still. It's one of those films I could probably recite if I tried.

Also, good at brunch, eh? :)

kittenpie said...

You DO have lovely eyes. I always notice eyes. And cute haircuts, too.

My big problem with the toy recall is that the packaging for such things is long since thrown out, so I have no idea if I have ones with those codes. We do have Thomas trains (an earlier recall) and a few Little People-type Dora figures that came in a tube. But I don't know if they are THOSE ones or not. In any case, Pumpkinpie is past the stage of sticking those things in her mouth, and they don't go in the water, so I think the paint should stay where it's been put.

nomotherearth said...

Well, if you DO end up doing brunch and Nora movies, please say I'm invited?? It sounds heavenly.

Lawyer Mama said...

I've been getting more liberal too! Glad to meet another one.

Sometimes I wish I could bring a security blanket with me everywhere. She's got the right idea!

ewe are here said...

Great 10 Things. I envy you the ability to speak in public comfortably and confidently... a skill I never acquired. And your brunches sound spectacularly yummy. Love brunch!

Good luck with your editing... perhaps one of those white noise machines you plug in....? I've heard they work for little ones who need quiet to sleep.

Bon said...

dude, can i review your article? i'm enthralled.

and no, i'm not mocking you. :)

your ten things makes me want to hang out. i am, apparently, a sucker for commonalities...i too am a good writer of academic prose, have a strong sense of fairness, trust my brains and cleverness above all other areas of self-esteem, and am aging with happiness. see? we're twins. except i have cute feet and a flabby upper body, but hey.

Oh, The Joys said...

There are WAY more than 10 things to love about you.

(and I would so trade you the rain for the 100 degree heat.)

Mimi said...

OTJ -- i'll take that trade. my roof is now leaking.

BOSSY said...

Your deathless academic prose reminds Bossy of her identical When Harry Met Sally prose:

The flick was decent.

Mimi said...

Bossy -- you anticipate my later excruciating treatment of the sexlessless of Nora Ephron films, including the critical treatment of the problem of "accidental consumation" (Williams) in WHMS.


Sandra said...

Loved your 10 things list ... add to it a charming, warm, welcoming kindness that is felt the instant someone meets you. Cause that's the truth.

Now I want to go watch when Harry Met Sally ,..

Denguy said...

Just like Asia says: It was the heat of the moment.

Her Bad Mother said...

I love your academic prose. I'd read that paper, and love it.

Lisa b said...

your brunch sounds so impressive. I wish I could do that.