Wednesday, September 18, 2013

You Might As Well Call Me Ma'am

Let's file this blog post under Reasons Why I May Possibly Be 100 Years Old.

I think I may be getting a head cold.  That also makes me cough.  But could possibly be allergies.  Or I may just be someone who constantly needs to have a kleenex tucked up her sleeve or down her shirt.

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Today in class I had a back spasm.  Backstory:  (haha pun) I was gleefully throwing open windows in my house last week when the temperatures dropped and it appeared fall had arrived.  The window in my front room was stuck and I was standing on couch cushions trying to open it and as I wrenched it open, I also wrenched my back.  It hurt a lot for a while, then it only hurt a little, then I picked up Zuzu (this is why they say lift with your back, not with your legs), and then it hurt a lot again.  It's not been anything the occasional ibuprofen couldn't handle, but as I leaned over a desk today to help a student paraphrase Pope's Essay On Man (wearing heels, natch), I felt a shooting pain go through my low back.  If I'd been at home, I would have gasped and groaned and possibly fallen to the floor whimpering until David came to find me.  But since I was at work, pretending to be a Professional Working Adult, I continued to hobble around the classroom, talking students through their line-by-line paraphrases, and then when class got out, I went to my office to lock the door and do some yoga stretches and pop some advil.  I'm still in a lot of pain though.  Like maybe I need to see a chiropractor?  It's really ungood.

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I made a passing comment to a student about how difficult research must have been before the internet.  He said something like, "Yeah, it must have been hard for you in college."  WTF???  I stared at him and then might have shouted when I said, "The internet was invented BEFORE I went to college!"  How old do these kids think I am?

Related:  My college freshmen talked a little bit about re-learning about September 11th.  They were first graders when the planes crashed into the twin towers, and they all said they remembered the day it happened, but they were in high school before they really were taught about what happened.

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I've done some fun things this week--went to happy hour with work friends, played with Zuzu, watched Dexter with David--but one of the things that makes me happiest is referring to my list of Books I Want to Read and putting a bunch of stuff on hold through the library website.  The anticipation of getting the e-mail that my books are in, and going to the library with an empty bag to load up on books to read is enough to get me through the long days of grading student essays while having back spasms.

Related:  I'm on kind of a Bible kick when it comes to reading.  I'm not actually reading the entire Bible itself, although that's not a bad idea (maybe next year?), but I read A Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs, and I just put A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans on hold at the library, and Colm Toibon's A Testament of Mary will be waiting for me, too.

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Okay, this one has nothing to do with me acting like an elderly person, but I have David's and Zuzu's Halloween costumes decided and now I have to figure out something for myself.  My university encourages faculty to dress up on Halloween.  I did not participate last year because Halloween was kind of a grief trigger for me and I was not in the best of spirits, but I am going to try to come up with something this year.

The thing is, I need it to be easy in the sense that I want to wear regular human clothes (no box of crayons or gigantic hotdog).  I would prefer to be a person rather than an object (in terms of Halloween and my general feminist philosophy, thankyouverymuch).

But it also needs to be kind of clever and also I'm thinking somewhat literary.  And I want it to be fairly easy to recognize.  So, for example, I don't want to be Emily Dickinson because I'd just look like myself with a bun and a Peter Pan color and no make up and people wouldn't know if I had on a costume or just wasn't feeling well.

I'm considering Medusa, which I think my students would think was funny (plus I taught Dante's Inferno last semester, so they should know who Medusa is!) but I'd have to figure out a toga?  And create a snake headpiece?

One of my friends suggested I be Mina Harker from Bram Stoker's Dracula, which is a possibility.  I'd just need fake blood to create vampire bites on my neck...  But I'm just not super excited about that idea.  And I'd look more like "anonymous vampire victim" or possibly "Bella Swan" instead of Mina Harker specifically.

Another friend suggested I dress up as Jonathan Swift and "modestly propose" that people eat lunch meat off a plate I could carry around.  It's a terribly clever idea, but (1) I don't have the wig for it; (2) it runs dangerously close to dead-baby-joke-territory so I can't really handle it; and (3) it would gross me out to have to carry around a plate of meat.

So...  any brilliant suggestions?  Bonus if it includes a cane to help me hobble around campus.


  1. I feel like if we were talking over coffee (I freaking wish), I would've had an unnecessary comment for all the above items. So let's list them as they come. Because I'm sure you want to read my nonsense.

    - When pregnant with B around 18 weeks, I bent over and heard a snap. I was twenty-eight at the time. Honestly. Most excruciating, shooting pain ever. I went to the chiro twice in one day (while out of town!) because I was that miserable. I can almost feel your pain.

    - Those little punks. Tell them you used to have a account and they might shit themselves.

    - I'd love to go to happy hour. Little unknown fact: the Chi suburbs are CRAP for happy hour. Almost no restaurant participates. Also, you're a huge nerd for getting excited about those books, but I love it all the same. :)

    - No brilliant suggestions. I would totally dress up like a crayon box. Hah.

  2. Oh I totally feel your pain on the back thing! I throw mine out once or twice a year these days. OUCH! I went to a job interview using crutches once because the pain was so bad!

    I don't really have any brilliant ideas either...can't wait to see what you come up with though!

  3. Lady Macbeth? Dress in Elizabethan get-up and have "blood" on your hands.

  4. When Ella was little we made all her costumes based on books. That lasted for awhile, until she insisted on being a lego.

    A year or two ago she wanted to bring back that theme and really wanted to be Jane Penderwick. She had the exact paragraph highlighted that described Jane and the clothes she was wearing...which sounded exactly like...drum roll... Ella, on any given school day.

    It took several weeks to get her off that kick - she finally switched to Hermione, so at least we had a robe...

    We just got the girls the sequel to Iggy Peck, Architect. It's called Rosie Revere, Engineer, and it references Rosie the Riveter. So maybe not obviously literary (unless you know your kid lit) but I could totally see you with your hair curled up and tied in a red polka dot scarf and a denim shirt with the sleeves rolled up. "We Can Do It!"!

  5. Bonus if it includes a cane to help me hobble around campus.

    Miss Haversham?

    Good luck with your back -- it might be worth seeing someone, either a chiropracter or someone who can give you really strong muscle relaxants. I threw out my back (picking up a paperback book!) in college, three weeks after I'd officially started dating this really awesome guy. He came over to my place, found my lying incapacitated on my floor, knew that I wouldn't be able to take care of myself, much less get up to my lofted bed, and proceeded to take me back to his place (via urgent care), stash me in his bed and wait on me hand and foot while I got to sample some really exciting drugs.

    Next year we'll have been married 10 years. :) I pretty much knew he was the one after that week.

  6. not literary, but "devil with a blue dress" on is always cute and recognizable/punny.

  7. Hmmm - Hester Prynne from The Scarlett Letter? Red A and an old fashioned dress and instantly recognizable.

  8. The Hunchback of Notre Dame?? ;)

    You think YOU're old?? My journalism school class (30 -- GULP -- years ago) was the very first to use computers -- and that was only midway through the year, and they were extremely primitive by today's standards. We started off using typewriters -- we all had to pass a typing test to show we could do 50 wpm. If you couldn't cut it, they sent you to remedial typing class.

    Dh & I have often said that we'd both like to go back to school someday, if only to enjoy the pleasure of researching & writing a term paper using a computer. I used to lug piles of books from the library (& spent hundreds of dollars feeding rolls of nickels into the photocopier machines in the library, copying the restricted stuff I wasn't allowed to check out), make notes (longhand), sort the notes into piles on my bed according to theme, & then start drafting my papers from those (longhand). Edit (longhand) & sometimes rewrite a second longhand draft and THEN I would start typing (since most profs wanted your papers typed). Usually at about 11 p.m. the night before the paper was due, setting my typewriter on a couple of towels to muffle the noise, since I was living in a dorm with paper thin walls. And if you made a mistake, you had to roll up the page and use whiteout, & then try to align the page back to the right spot again. Ugh!!