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Location: Upstate, South Carolina, United States

I think that the Meredith Brooks' song, "Bitch," summarizes me rather nicely. Or, if you prefer, X. dell says I'm a life-smart literary scholar with a low BS tolerance...that also works!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Isolation Amongst Many

Ever since this fabulous person gave me his old iPod, I have really enjoyed using it wherever I go. I haven't loaded up my own music on it because I don't want to wipe out what he had on the iPod. Most of it is fun stuff, and I figure I'll enjoy it a while longer before I mess with changing anything. One of the most useful applications of the iPod for me is that I can dance my way from my car to my office every morning if I like. It's quite a hike since I have chosen to take the easy way out with parking (that is, I know where there is a space and so I just take it, not worrying about the long walk it then creates from my car to my office). I consider it part of the Clemson health insurance plan: walking, walking, walking.

Sometimes, while walking with the iPod on, I know I am humming to myself or pretending to beat drums or something. I don't care if I look like a freak, so it doesn't bother me to be open in this fashion. I did notice that there are many other iPod users across campus, students who also have the earphones in as they walk to class, and they never seem to be reacting to the music. That was my first observation. Then, suddenly, I realized...hey wait...a LOT of students are using the iPod. Depending on the time of day, I see about 25 to 33% of the students walking by with their iPods going. Wow! Then I started looking further, and I noticed that out of the remaining students, many were also talking on their cell phones rather than to each other. Even when students were seemingly together, they were talking on their phones. I walked by two anorexic sorority girls (identifiable by their greek lettered bags), sitting down companionably in silence near the water fountain near the library, texting happily to...for all I know, each other. Texting, talking, iPoding...all these people, hundreds of people, and nobody was directly using face-to-face communication. All right, "nobody" is a strong word. Let's just say "very few."

Is this really where we're going now as a society? Are we actually heading to a time when we try and talk to each other in every way but a position that involves eye contact? Amazing.


The other night, I wanted to get fried zucchini. I haven't had it in over ten years, and I used to love it. Alex looked puzzled and said he didn't know what it was. You know, that happens so rarely to him because he's extremely bi-lingual. He usually displays a higher vocabulary in English than most grad students can show. Now, my French is merde. So, when we have moments wherein he doesn't know the English word, I frequently can't pop out the French equivalent....

...except if we are talking about FOOD! Woohoo! I have long been highly motivated to know all sorts of foreign words for food items. That comes with the territory of being food-obsessive. "Courgette!" I cried out, grinning. "Courgette...frit?"

Then, of course, Alex's whole face wrinkled up. Let's be honest: the reason why he doesn't know the American veggie words (the Brits use courgette instead of zucchini too) is that the man doesn't enjoy vegetables. I've gotten him to like quite a few over the years, but I still have a long way to go! I had to laugh as he looked so displeased to find out what a zucchini was. He decided he would be a grownup, though, and try it despite its vegetable status. Good news: he liked it! Yay!


I'm still hacking up my lungs. I will never be well again. I swear.


My daughter has been chosen to be the goalie of her soccer team. Why, you ask? Well, she's the only kid who they tried out on that position who was extremely dedicated to keeping the ball OUT of the goal. The other kids would sort of stare at the ball as it went by or would make a halfhearted attempt at grabbing it. Not my daughter! Finally, the killer instinct I knew she had inside but she never really showed when she was on the field surfaced. Ariana dove, dove, and dove again. She even got smacked in the face once with the soccer ball, leaving a large red splotch on her cheek for the rest of the day. I was so proud...sniff! I need to take her to see some good women's soccer somewhere. She loves this sport. I want her to be inspired.


And speaking of women's sports, I would like to say that I am very, very happy with my alma mater's women's basketball team right now. Duke is ranked #1 in the country, and they are undefeated. They have one game left: against UNC, of course. Usually, women's sporting events are not supported. However, Duke is a basketball school all around, and the word has it that the tents are popping up as the students wait in line for tickets for this final season game. I can't tell you how happy I am to know that my school is supporting their excellent women's team in a fashion that they deserve. Even when women's teams win, they are often ignored. But not in Durham! Go Blue Devils!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Plague

I ended up getting round two of the plague. Go me! I had a fever and have been sick now since last Saturday. It's Wednesday, and without the miracle of drugs I'd not make it to school. I warn the students to keep their distance so I don't breathe on them, and then we continue. Life goes on.

It's funny how a fever will totally knock me out if I have one. Let me clarify: I never feel a fever unless it's high. Numerous times in my life, my mom would tell me, Kira...you're running a fever! I wouldn't believe her until we took my temp. I run a fever with every cold or anything. I don't need a thermometer at this point; 103 is the earliest temp wherein I feel it. 104, my mind gets foggy. 105, I hallucinate and talk to doors. I've had three 105 degree F fevers in my life, and all three times I hallucinated, so I know that's the pattern. The end.

On Saturday, I woke up and was bewildered. It was still sometime in the early hours of the morning, and I had no idea what was wrong (fever of 104). After moving around and being confused, Alex woke up and knew something was odd with me. He made me take nyquil, massaged my scalp, and I fell back asleep. I had chaotic dreams. I think the strangest dreams I ever have are when I have a fever...and typically there are ones I need to pay attention to in the mix. I awoke about two hours later in a pool of sweat, the fever having broken. It came back and broke again several other times, all the way through Monday night. The only good part of it all: the ex had the kids for the duration. I could actually BE sick. Whew!

This week for me is all about reviewing papers. Ug! And today, well, even though it's Vday, my spouse is in another city....so, ug! But the day was still rather cute. Why, you ask? ANDREW! Yes, my daughter's nine year old boyfriend still impresses me. He discovered she wanted a Beta (the fish). He bought her a Beta that was blue (her favorite color) with a red tail (for Valentine's Day...no really, that's what he told me). He got her a container, pretty rocks, a decorative item, and a snail so that she wouldn't have to worry about algae/cleaning it too much. Oh, and also Beta food. Then he bought her seven red carnations. Why seven, you ask? Well, he told me! He said that's all he could afford with his allowance money after buying the Beta...haha! I swear this kid is tremendous. I wish I could just marry them off and never worry about my daughter again.


One of my office mates, Jill, received a Valentine's Day card from a student. She said it was ok because it was a friendly one from a girl. She mentioned she only worried about stuff like that if it were from a guy because the guys there are generally much bigger than her. I responded, "Nah, that's why God made men have external genitalia: the great leveler! You can lay a man flat. You know where to hit. You're good." I can thank my older brothers for teaching me that essential knowledge. Thanks Mark, Ken! I appreciate being shown how to deal with a big guy!


Speaking of that general issue, I was talking to a former Tech student who is now a Clemson student. He used to make all sorts of suggestive comments to me while I was there. I suspect he was the student who wrote in that one of my greatest advantages as a teacher was "wearing cleavage shirts and being sarcastic." Anyway, I told him that the Clemson guys didn't hit on me like the Tech guys did. I mean, I get maybe a tenth of the outrageous flirting and hitting upon that I got at Tech. I told him it was one of two things: either I had finally, at 37, gotten too old to appeal to even hyper hormonal 18 yr olds, or the guys at CU tried to be more respectful of their professors than the Tech kids. He laughed immediately and said, Oh Kira! You're SO not too old. If you didn't have Alex, I'd be all over you right now!

Heck, it's ok to be pleased by the flattery, right? I mean, I just had a birthday and all and feel older...and that was actually sincere. I feel almost guilty for feeling happy that he said it. It's not that I want ANY student to hit on me. Please don't get me wrong. I just....well, what woman wants to think she's lost "it", you know? I grinned every time I thought of his comment for a while after that.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Collard Greens

There's been a bit of a buzz about a questionable party thrown at Clemson University. Jadedprimadonna already wrote about it, so I don't need to elaborate that one. However, I have to say that a few days before the whole party hit facebook and then the media, I already had a clue that some of the students thought some ways of treating people were cool when they really aren't.

We were discussing false cause, one of many fallacies of relevance that I felt that my kids needed to know in order to avoid them when writing the argumentative essays. I asked them to give examples of false cause, informing them that superstitions were always false cause. So, they tossed out the usual examples: walking under a ladder, breaking a mirror, stepping on a crack, etc. Then this one fellow--who happens to be an African-American, and the only minority present in class that day--mentioned that black-eyed peas on New Year's Eve was good luck. Several members of the class immediately stated that you had to eat collard greens with the black-eyed peas or it doesn't work. Then this white chick who sits next to the black fellow grins at him and says, "Geesh! YOU should know all ABOUT collard greens!"

Now, this girl doesn't know this guy. It's not like they are close friends and joke around all the time about...whatever. I raise my eyebrows, surprised, and sigh heavily. The guy reassures me and the whole class--a class frozen in disbelief, mind you--that he's not one of those fellows who cries racist after everything he hears. I tell him, wow, well, I'm glad for you, but I still have questions about what she just said. The girl instantly said, "But my best friend is black!" I believe that was supposed to be some sort of "Free Card." If you state your best friend is X minority, then it's ok, you can say what you want and you are not racist. I sighed again, and then...because my mouth works quicker than my brain or any other part of me...before I knew it, I smiled to the guy and said, "Well, that's good, just make sure to tell her that you were shocked that she was intelligent enough to come up with something like that." The whole class went silent again, gaping mouths staring at me, wondering where that came from. "Oh, can't you see?" I explained. "She's BLONDE! We assume blondes are really stupid. We assume blacks eat collard greens. Since she made the first shot there, we can assume she doesn't mind being teased about things that she can't control like physical appearance, so we can tease her back." The guy, horrified, insisted he'd never say anything like that to her. I replied, "OH! I see. So she can tease you and make fun of you, and that's cool by you, but you can't return the favor? I'm not like that, you see. I figure if somebody takes a shot at me, I get to open fire!"

And then we went on with class, but I guess the class was a little stunned. So was I. You should know about collard greens? What, next she's going to ask him when he last had watermelon and fried chicken? Sheesh. The worst part was that even though I thought I made my point clear with my returning volley, I don't think she got it. I really don't think she understands why her comment was not appropriate.

I'm not one of these crazy over the top Political Correctness Policewomen. I just believe that what Ms. Manners said long ago was true: good manners is about making people comfortable. And teasing like that type? Definitely not good manners. And not even funny.


Damn you blogger for making me switch! Damn you! Damn you!


So, we are the plague household. Alex just has a bad neck so far, but the kids and I are sick. Jared barfed everywhere yesterday, and we've all ran fevers. I hope we're better by tomorrow. Alex went back to Columbia today. I figure tomorrow his neck will feel all better. Then Tuesday he'll barf and get a fever too. It's so fantastic when families share!