- My first new executive order: Able-bodied people only going up or down 1-2 floors are not allowed to use the elevator in our heavily trafficked 10-story classroom building.
- Anyone waiting to enter the elevator will be required to first stand clear of the doors while allowing others to exit.
- New tax levied, creating a second set of elevators that would be designated for use exclusively by middle-aged men who like to stare at women up and down the lengths of their bodies. Save money by servicing these elevators infrequently.
- Job creation: addition of an express line at the coffee & bagel shop counter for people who want only to purchase self-serve drip coffee. Anyone ordering espresso drinks, bagels, pastries, or sandwiches will now be required to use the excruciatingly slow regular line.
- Bonus job creation: hire more people to actually make the sandwiches.
- Strictly prohibited: speaking to people who are wearing earphones.
- Violation of any of these laws would be punishable by a strict fine, with funds going to a different progressive charity each month.
The carby dinner and glass of wine I just had
The long day at work, which includes a lot of unbloggable-yet-exhausting things at this time in the semester
My twin almost-two-year-olds
The one twin who keeps trying to find the most dangerous thing in the room to climb up, dangle off of, and jump down from
The other twin who vastly prefers the other parent and starts a raging tantrum every time I try to do any everyday task like getting out of the crib, changing a diaper, getting dressed, combing hair, putting on shoes, putting in chair for dinner, etc., but who is perfectly fine for the other parent
The sweet, lazy, affectionate, paraplegic old dog who whines and whines and whines every evening after dinner until I position him up on the couch beside me in the precisely correct fashion
My email inbox
My email outbox
My bank account
The people in the elevator with me
The people I see from a distance waiting for the elevator, whom I don’t want to ride with and therefore have to avoid
Textbook sales reps
Textbook buying reps
The leftover Halloween candy I ate
The leftover Halloween candy I didn’t eat
The fact that my children have been waking up at 4:30 (as opposed to their usual time of 6:30) ever since the end of DST, and no, I know that math does not check out
It’s a little embarrassing to tell you how long I’ve been working on this Life List. I was inspired by several I’ve seen around the web and I initially thought it seemed like a pleasant diversion – something I could do instead of grading papers or the like. I think I actually started it while proctoring a final exam at the end of the last Spring semester. Now here I am finally finishing it in the middle of proctoring a fall semester midterm.
The reason I spent so many months finishing the list was that I began to see it as such a self-defining task. It became something other than just a list of 100 things I wanted to experience. The things we want out of life — our goals, our plans, our aspirations — are nothing if not the most obvious signifiers for how we want to see ourselves. I had felt such strong emotions reading other people’s lists — admiration, inspiration, envy, and even sometimes a little smug disdain (it’s not pretty, but it’s true) — that I began thinking quite critically about my own. Who am I now? Who do I want to be? What are 100 things I can do to get there? Or, what 100 things will signify to me, after I’ve done them, that I am who, where, and what I want to be? It’s a lot to think about.
[It’s also a little awful to think about wanting to do things because doing them will make you the kind of person who does those things, but, well. That’s a philosophical question for another time.]
Although I wound up sorting the list into categories as you see below, the very first item on the list was also the very first item I thought of: right there in the number-one slot. “I’m making a Life List,” I thought to myself, “and you don’t have to ask me twice what goes in the top position.” Articulating that number-one goal will, I think, give me some direction in the months to come. All in all, making the list has been a very revealing exercise for me, so I thought I’d share.
What would go at the top of your list? I would love to know!
BUT FIRST: Notes and Disclaimers. I have actually completed some items since I started drafting the list, so I left them on for the satisfaction of striking them out. I have starred the items that I am currently working on. Also, of course, it probably goes without saying that some of these may wind up becoming less relevant to me in the future. As for right now, though, this is the list.
1. move back to the West Coast
2. live in a modern house
3. have a dog-friendly yard
4. have as many dogs as I want
5. make my house as environmentally friendly as I can*
6. drive a very fuel-efficient car that is also accomodating of tall people
7. live near a body of water, near the mountains, and where winter snow is easily accessible
8. banish all carpeting from my home
9. find and acquire the perfect office reading chair
10. design/build the perfect book shelving system
11. have a seriously great stereo system
12. design/build/live in an Earthship
13. have a beach/vacation house on the Oregon Coast
14. run a 5K
15. run a 10K
16. complete a triathlon*
17. cycle a half century (and maybe then a century)
18. run a half marathon (and maybe then a marathon)
19. get my (running) mile pace under 10 minutes*
20. take surfing lessons
21. learn the Ashtanga yoga practice*
22. sail the 400 Danish isles
23. start swimming for exercise
24. spend the night of my birthday in the Ice Hotel in Sweden
25. visit Iceland
26. visit Greenland
27. visit Denmark again
28. visit British Columbia
29. visit Russia
30. visit France again
31. visit Germany again
32. visit London
33. visit Scotland
34. visit Ireland
35. visit Alaska
36. visit Yosemite again
37. visit Morocco
38. take a trip by train through the U.S. (and then maybe one through Europe)
39. take a trip by boat
40. take a cycling trip
41. take a truly leisurely road trip
42. take a first-class flight
IV. ARTS AND CRAFTING
43. write a narrative book (i.e. a novel or memoir)
44. work seriously on my photography again*
45. see and photograph a glacier (and then maybe the aurora borealis and a moose)
46. hang my own art in my house*
47. design the interior of my house in a clean and efficient way*
48. finish knitting that one scarf (and then maybe do a sweater)
49. start playing saxophone again (and then maybe play at least once with a band)
50. learn the guitar
51. learn web design, photoshop, CSS, etc. (enough to design my own site)
52. write more poetry
V. HAVING FUN DOING STUFF
53. sing more karaoke
54. learn some badass breakdancing moves
55. achieve excellence at vegan baking
56. have a vegetable and herb garden at home
57. train the dog to do more cool tricks, including not jumping on my guests
58. train a therapy or assistance dog, or help someone do this
59. host a fabulous dinner party
60. get a tenure-track job*
61. get tenure
62. publish that one article* (and those other two)
63. publish the book (and then start the next one)
64. learn Russian
65. learn Spanish
66. get in a position to mentor doctoral students in a way that is actually helpful to them (i.e. unlike how my program “mentored” me)
VII. GROWING UP
67. pay off credit cards*
68. pay off student loans*
69. set a secure retirement plan*
70. meet and ensnare a man I can stand
VIII. HEALTHY LIVING
71. eliminate all animal products from my diet*
72. lose the dissertation weight*
73. banish soda from my diet*
74. quit smoking
75. go all organic*
IX. ACTIVISM AND VOLUNTEERING
76. spend a week volunteering at Dog Town
77. volunteer at a local food bank or food kitchen
78. get involved in local or state politics through volunteer work
79. volunteer or donate to the local humane society
80. volunteer for a community education or outreach program of some kind
81. convince at least one friend to go vegetarian
82. donate time or money to a farm sanctuary
83. help support the cause of gay marriage through some kind of volunteerism
84. see Bob Dylan
85. see Dinosaur Jr. yet again
86. see the Pixies
87. see Morrissey
88. see Neko Case
89. see Death Cab for Cutie
90. see The Decemberists (and then see them again)
91. see Paul Simon
92. see Rilo Kiley
93. get a nice DSLR
94. find and get the perfect pair of black heels
95. have a sailboat
96. find and get the perfect suit
97. get a bike
98. finally get that dissertation celebration tattoo
99. get a pair of high quality, perfectly fitting jeans
100. get a new laptop
I’ve now been writing here at Zemblan Grammar for five years and I can hardly believe it. As you all know (and as one of my taglines states), it’s not about grammar. What I have discovered, finally, after going through five years of posts in an effort to make some kind of hits list, is that it does seem to be about food fairly often. I didn’t think I really wrote about food that much, but even if that’s true it’s still undeniable that many of my favorite posts have been about food. How odd.
At any rate, here’s a list of some hits of the past, roughly in chronological order. These are all either posts that I just plain enjoy or ones that chronicle something important in my life or ones that should tell you a bit more about who I am – or maybe just who I was at the time.
I am Not Part of the Solution – As you can see here, I’ve often been pretty frustrated by certain elements of teaching. Even then, though, I was aware that my snarky attitude wasn’t really helping.
Open Letter to the Federated Sandwich Makers of the World – My deep love of sandwiches, my deep hatred of messy cole slaw and lettuce.
Open Letter to My Heartburn – I really fucking hate heartburn, don’t you? But is your heartburn a character in a David Lynch film?
The Hippy Series: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three – Three separate posts chronicling some of my observations during my many years spent living among the hippies. Yes, they are also apparently about food.
Ain’t No Thing but a Chicken Wing? Surely Not. – In which I delve into more of my many psychological issues surrounding food, specifically why I hate touching it.
Case of the Conscientious Bandage – A slice of my grad-school nightlife: drinking too much and being clumsy and unsafe. Yup. Lucky I survived those years.
Open Letter to Popcorn – More food issues. Popcorn takes the special place at the top of the list of foods I really fucking hate.
Hand Me Down – An old post imported from another old blog (so one many of you may not have read). It started out being about a hand-me-down tee shirt and ended up being about a late, great friend of mine.
Ninety-Nine Problems and This Couch is One – “I’m the [lady] who sucks, plus I got depression.”
Case of the Canned Asparagus – Canned food, especially asparagus, is notorious in my family’s kitchen. My brother and I were just discussing canned asparagus the other day, in fact. Read about it’s mysterious allure/repulsion here.
It Don’t Take a Token to Get on the Soultrane – I tried, I really tried to write about my love for bebop.
On Love, Tulips, and a Clean Bar of Soap – Why I love being single.
Some People Ain’t Got No Couth – Ask Culture vs Guess Culture, or why I am a conversational wimp.
Anniversaries – My 3-year blogging anniversary, getting hit in the head by a tree, and moving across the country (twice).
Open Letter to My Twenties – Some of the things I said here are still true! Seriously, though, the thirties continue to be the best decade ever. So far.
Back to Black – Getting undepressed: I recommend it.
Grade Inflation: Safer than a Punch in the Neck – A little slice of life at my new job, and why my job security relies on convincing the little whippersnappers of their own brilliance.
Case of the Scintillating Acid Flashback – How I discovered I had migraines.
On Love, Food, and Business Opportunities – Another rumination on love and relationships that turned out to be (once again) mostly about my food issues.
An Explanation of the Title Zemblan Grammar – Just what it says, dude.
Easy Passive-Aggressive and Anti-Social Behaviors you Can Try Today! – Or, with the satire stripped away, “How to Piss Me Off.” And of course, I posted this passive-aggressively on my blog, which is read by everyone I know who acts this way but whom I don’t want to complain to because I am, as previously mentioned, a conversational wimp.
This is Actual: An Extravaganza of Semester’s-End Student Emails – Another slice of life at the new job. My whippersnappers are sometimes just not to be believed.
The Project – How changing what I ate changed everything about my life (yes, more food issues).
I couldn’t fall asleep easily last night because the memory of a month-old annoying incident popped back up in my mind and started annoying me all afresh. Does that ever happen to you? I effing hate that. The worst part is that I will never gain satisfaction because the annoyance is SO stupid and SO petty and I am SO overreacting to it that it would most certainly not be worth it at all to mention it to the people involved, who have absolutely no clue that they annoyed me.
Because of that festering little wound, though, however small it may be, the annoyance has been slowly spreading all day. Little things that normally wouldn’t faze me have launched me on completely vicious interior tirades. Cases in point:
- A few students didn’t get their books for this week early enough, and now the bookstore is sold out. Had they tried to get them earlier, the bookstore could have ordered more copies. The bookstore, meanwhile, maintains it is their policy to order only 15 copies of a book for a 30-student class.
- My neighborhood is turning into a party neighborhood, a neighborhood of cars with giant speakers whose trunks are open to the world as they blast bass music in the general direction of my building from parking spaces fifteen feet away.
- Due to people in the department leaving and new people being hired, they are re-shuffling all our offices once again. I not only have to move up to the next floor, but I also have to move in with a complete stranger who will be teaching the same days as me next semester, meaning we will both always be in the office all the time. Meanwhile, the furniture is being moved around by a team of maintenance workers whose animal-like screeching echoes down the halls all fucking day long. They are worse, even, than the horrible grad students.
- My office mate has already moved out and she has taken her jar of delicious rhubarb candy with her!
- The new school year is fast approaching and I still have not come to terms with the fact that I’ve been assigned a TERRIBLE, AWFUL, NO-GOOD, VERY BAD writing theme. I am in complete denial and refuse to plan the course.
- My ceiling is no longer leaking but the saggy, moldering plaster has never been replaced.
- I wanted to buy two kinds of soda at the store today but I hadn’t opted to get a cart on the way in and had so much to carry that I could only grab one kind of soda. What if I picked the wrong one? WHAT THEN?
Do you have any grievances you would like to air? Please air them here! It’s good for your health, you know. You can’t keep those things bottled up. Simply click “comments” and then leave a reply. I like it when you leave a reply.
In lieu of an actually thoughtful post on any of these subjects, here is a list of discoveries I have recently made:
- Everything tastes better with spinach (not, in fact, bacon, as others have argued).
- Getting 7-8 hours of sleep and exercising regularly makes me into a much, much happier person and makes the world into a much, much more reasonable place to live.
- I am not compatible with the weather in my part of the country at all, and should devote as much energy as possible to finding a job somewhere that is else.
- My students can inspire me in completely unexpected ways, just when I really need them to.
- Finally, on a more pedestrian level, there is a paper towel roll holder in my kitchen — the kitchen in the apartment where I have been living for two years! — that I only last week discovered.
Tell me, have you learned anything new lately?
Evidence that it is Monday:
Sunday Night Insomnia Continues, Scientists Warn Against Getting Less than Three Hours’ Sleep
Constantly Malfunctioning Photocopier Continues to Malfunction
Creepy Maintenance Dudes Lock Instructor Out of Office, Sneer
Lit Class Jerkwads Arrive Late, Disrupt Lecture Multiple Times
Constantly Malfunctioning Drink Machine Continues to Malfunction
Constantly Malfunctioning Paper Towel Dispenser in Ladies’ Room Continues to Malfunction
Last Night’s Acceptably Spotty Banana too Brown to Enjoy by Lunchtime Today
Worries about Possible Layoffs Continue
Stuck on Elevator with Rudely Loud and Domineering Office Neighbor; Elevator Stops on Every Floor
Prescription Reasonably Priced at $50/Year Turns Out to Really Cost $50/Month
Dean Emails Students, Reminds them to Skip Class Friday for Religious Reasons; Faculty Inundated by Student Requests for Excused Absences
Mitigating Factors Give Skeptics Reason to Think It May Not Be Monday:
Landlords Take Pity on Careless Renter, Do Not Charge Late Fee on Rent that is One Day Late
Long Late-Afternoon Nap and Red Panang Curry Provide Pleasant Transition from Day to Evening
Cute Dog is Cute
New Ballet Flats for Summer Arrive, Match Blog Color Scheme
Forgotten Brownies Discovered in Local Freezer
What do you think? Is it Monday where you are, metaphysically speaking? What are your headlines?
My friend Golightly and I, along with about a dozen other people, got kicked out of the on-campus gym today in the middle of our workout. Why? Apparently the building wasn’t open yet, due to a change in operating hours during finals. (Tell that to the open door, the lights, the maintenance staff, and the dozen ladies running on the elliptical machines.)
I have now been rejected by three universities and two others have had to cancel their searches due to money problems.
I am running on a modified budget myself, also due to money problems. (Tell that to the ridiculous dinner I ate out on Saturday night, however: the price of the wine, even after splitting it among three people, had me quaking in my fashionable boots.)
I have just come from a celebration of John Milton’s 400th birthday, and am happy that I know people who would throw such a celebration in the first place, and happier still that I got to eat a slice of devil’s food cake decorated with Naked Adam in the Garden of Eden. I didn’t eat any of his interesting parts, unless you consider muscley calves interesting…hmmm, wait, I do.
I got my panel information for a conference I’ll be attending next semester, and I’m happy about the prospect of writing the paper and about seeing two long-distance friends who will be in attendance.
Tonight is trivia night, and we English Department Nerds will rule with iron fists. The best part: I don’t have to teach class at 9:00 tomorrow as usual; instead I’ll be proctoring a final exam at noon. Bring on the adult beverages!
I couldn’t possibly post today without making a list of all the things I find pleasantly tolerable in my life — you know things I don’t completely hate or whatever. Fine, fine. Things for which I am thankful. It is Thanksgiving, after all, and I do love lists.
Our new president-elect
Coffee, Diet Coke, wine, gum, and all the other substances that get me through the day
Good friends both near and far
Sane, supportive, and sensible family members
All the friendly folks of the internet who come by here and make my usual self-involved nonsense into something more like a conversation
A good job in a good department and the motivation and possibility to find an even better one
This batch of double-chocolate chip cookies I just made
Healthy living (in spite of all the aforementioned)
The wealth of good books and good music that seems to have dropped into my lap lately
The finally completed sidewalk that now stretches the whole length of my street, making walks a thousand times more pleasant
The good students
I hope you are having a lovely Thanksgiving, wherever you are. I hope there is plenty of pie and wine. And while you’re here, if you wouldn’t mind: tell me what makes your Thanksgiving list this year!
People, I am having One of Those Days. Every little thing is annoying me today, and I could write some kind of cohesive narrative about it all, stringing together all of the little annoying things with, like, thematic unity and shit, but I don’t really want to. Thus, you get a list:
1. I have both a headache and heartburn, and yet I can’t take Advil and Tums at the same time because the Tums will invalidate the Advil in my stomach through some kind of chemistry.
2. People keep asking me annoying questions they could easily resolve themselves, as if I am their personal, human version of Google or the IMDb. (Example: let’s say you don’t know what the IMDb is, and you then leave a comment going “What is the IMDb?” This would be one of those annoying questions. “You are on the internet right this second,” I would scream at you in my head, “LOOK IT UP.”)
3. The cat decided to poop on the floor in my office YET AGAIN.
4. I spilled an entire can of Diet Coke all over my couch, carpet, and tee shirt. I am mad not only about the stains and the endless clean-up, but also about the loss of Diet Coke.
5. I have a student who missed the last, oh, six weeks of class without telling me anything, and she decides to email me over break to tell me that her excuse was for medical reasons and to ask how she can make up all the missed work. All I can do is look at my email in disbelief, screaming, “What? WHAT?!”
6. I chose to stay in town over break to finally, FINALLY get some alone time, but people keep wanting to socialize with me, and I feel like I would sound like a psycho if I told them that I can’t go out because I am so stressed that if I don’t have a couple of days to myself, uninterrupted, I might go on a murdering spree (I mean what sounds crazy about that, right?), so I keep accepting the invitations (and sharpening my knives) (just kidding) (maybe).
7. I am on my last roll of toilet tissue and I forgot to buy any while at the store today, which means I have to go back tomorrow and I HATE the fucking Kroger with the angry heat of a thousand suns.
8. After that one nice cold day, it is back into the 60s again, never mind that it is November. To really appreciate this, Celsius users, you’ll need to know that the high today was about 16 C. It is supposed to be winter, dammit, or at the very least Autumn. Also, it is still 75 in my house (24 C). And all over town, all around campus, all on Twitter and Facebook, all everyone can do is complain that it is too cold. Too cold?
9. TOO FUCKING COLD?!
10. Speaking of Facebook, the horrible “People You May Know” tool decided that today was the right time to tell me that it thinks I may know the first guy I had sex with. Yeah, I know him all right. I know him to be a GIANT DOUCHEBAG. Thanks, Facebook.
Well, I’m not sure I feel better yet, but it’s a start.