First Day in London (2011)

I told the students yesterday that their homework for their daybooks was to write down, before going to bed, just what happened in day one of their London adventure. “Trust me: you’ll forget it very quickly. You’re tired and jet-lagged and tomorrow will be such an adventure, you’ll forget today every happened,” I offered in my wised way.

And then I managed to go to a concert and fall dead asleep without doing it myself. So my day one of London is really day two. Quick recap:

Day One:
An effortless flight over – even got the back of Jackson’s new sweater nearly knitted – and all was good … until we hit customs and one of our students, who has a Dominican Republic passport, was promptly told, ‘No!’ Apparently, poor Kirsis needed a VISA to come to London and none of us realized it. That was a very unpretty 2 hours. Rick stayed behind to be beautifully paternal. He sent us ahead to call the coach and get everyone to the flats. Since the coach was late (as usual), we were loading up and we see Rick and Kirsis come walking up, one laughing and dancing and the other still crying (from a mix of shock and relief, I’d imagine). Yep, Rick had talked them into letter in the country. I can’t imagine how, given border restrictions, but some of it came down to the fact that American Airlines should never have let her on the plane (and will be fined for it) and her being our student. Who cares? She’s here and we’re having fun! Long story short: Rick Taylor is a hero!

Elated, we went to the flats, saw how tiny they are, I was in a horrible mood about it all and missing my home-away-from-home on Edgware Rd. The shower was too small (though wonderfully reliable RE the water) and it was just ew … (Today, however, everything is goodish … kitchen is still to small and I wish we had a living room.)

Post-check-in, we walked the kids all over the South Bank and got tickets for a Wednesday matinee of All’s Well That Ends Well.

Drew and I then went to Shepherd’s Bush to see Villagers in concert. Now, I knew that we would be tired and I knew that it was fundamentally a bad idea to go to the concert on landing day. I got there having been awake for over 36 hours! But I knew Kerri Flinchbaugh would never speak to me again if I didn’t go, so there it is. I actually fell asleep, while standing, waiting for Villagers to take the stage. In my defense, our tickets said 7:00 but by 8:00 we were still looking at a bare stage. WTF? Then the opening act started … and I realized we would be there a long time. Never got the name because the woman was Irish and mumbled. She was good but her “lullaby” did me in. I was standing, swaying, and next thing I know, I was stumbling backwards and grabbing Drew to keep from falling. I’m sure everyone there thought I was drunk, which is less embarrassing than admitting that I had falling asleep. Villagers took the stage at 9:00 and they were AWESOME. But my feet and back hurt in ways I cannot adequately describe, and since Connor sang my favorite 3 songs first (after singing 4 songs from his solo/previous work), I looked at Drew and we both left. I’m embarrassed to have left a GREAT concert before it ended, but I couldn’t stand another minute. Sorry, Kerri! But it was amazing!

Day Two:
I slept nearly 12 hours without rolling over. Yep, that tired. Bed at 10:00 and up at 9:00 … crazy for me.

Then we rambled round Camden before seeing a fringe production of A Clockwork Orange at the Roundhouse. Seriously, a wonderful first day of theatre. I was sad sad sad that more of the students did not come out for this cheap elective event. They’d have loved it. It was just splendid and more “true” to the book (or at least one version of it) than the movie. And it only lasted an 1.5 hours … sweet. The star, who played Alex, is a young actor to watch, the real star of the show.

Post show, we grabbed some food and nipped down to Regents Park so that Rick and I could feel whole again. Up to the grotto we walked. I had my lunch while Rick, Anna, and Brent did sun salutations and downward dogs and all sorts of other yogarty things. True bliss.

Then, we walked from Regents through several neighborhoods and down to SoHo so Rick and Brent could buy a guitar to play while here. Rick will soon be serenading us for sure, and I, for one, can’t wait. So much better than my tragic piano playing last year on out-of-tune pianos …

All in all, this is going to be a stellar year and my head is coming out of my butt. It was hard to leave Jackson, Susie, and Rachel at the airport, and I was very tired to start the trip – did you know that a toddler is a lot of work? – but I fell so much more complete already just being here, getting on the Tube, walking through Camden, smelling roses in Regents … it all just feels so much better.

Onward and upward … :-)

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Returning to the Blogosphere

I have wanted to return to the blogosphere for while and haven’t had 2 seconds of peace to do it. So what better than to make my return here to coincide with my return to London. Leaving this morning, packed and ready to go. More soon … but I had to test the WordPress for iPad plugin to make sure it works okay … :-)

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What I Learned in East Lansing #4

Here’s the last thing I learned in EL that I’m going to share, which is really more a “remembered” than a “learned”: the families we make are powerful and important. I’ve spent a week with Matt and Trav, and while I knew, deep down, that they were important to me as people (and as students and scholars and blah blah blah), I was reminded this week that they have become family, part of that family that gay people make in ways that I think other groups of people do not, or not feel the compulsion to make.

Matt and Trav are amazing people. And yes, there’s the part of me that lauds their accomplishments and wants to see them do tremendous work as scholars and teachers and researchers. And I can’t deny that I feel some sort of parallel excitement that I’m standing next to them while they shine brightly and that maybe I’m helping them to do that through encouragement and such.

But I’m increasingly remembering that they are part of my family and that I need them, and friends like them, in my life to give me a sense of completeness and value. I need to remember, from time to time, that the tenuous relationships I create with students who come and go quickly are ultimately not self-sustaining in the way that friend-family relationships are, and that I need these other relationships. I consider myself lucky that people put up with my crazy, and at the moment, as I ride the bus back to the Detroit Airport, I feel especially grateful for the love, support, kindness, and true family spirit that Matt and Trav have shown me.

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Things I Learned in East Lansing #3

The third thing I’ve learned on my trip to MSU/East Lansing is this: I’m too old to hang out with graduate students! Oy vey! These folks stay up until 1:00 or 2:00 or, heaven forbid, 3:00 a.m. and then pop up in the morning to go do things like teach or present papers at conferences.  From whence does this fund of energy come, I ask? Unbelievable …

I think I’m going to need my Monday and Tuesday fall break to recover from trying to hang with the kids this week. Wonderful as this has been, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat, I’m just about wiped out …

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Things I Learned in East Lansing #2

Here’s the second thing I’ve learned/remembered in East Lansing: I miss having gay friends. Facebook is wonderful for what it is, and I adore my friends and colleagues to pieces, but I sooo miss having gay friends to hang out with, to chat with, to camp with, to laugh and have fun with.

When I was in graduate school, I once told a female friend that I missed hugs, to which she replied, “I hug you all the time; are my hugs not good enough?” and I tried to explain that what I really meant were hugs by male friends, which are always always different from hugs from female friends.  Those lady hugs are lovely, don’t get me wrong, and I enjoy them, but they’re different. I’m not sure how to explain it beyond saying that they’re different and that I need both.

Having gay friends is a bit like that.  From the moment I landed in Detroit, there has been a non-stop party (even while working) with Matt and Trav; there’s an easy being when I’m with them. We joke and make looks; we say things that we probably wouldn’t say in other contexts; we know that our immediate audience is going to “get it” … and that is enjoyable. I don’t have that in Greenville. I also, to be fair, probably haven’t sought it out, but that’s a different story / issue for a different time.

This morning, I was sitting at the table working and Matt woke up in the living room, rolled over, and quoted AbFab, which started a full 30 minutes of AbFab between the two of us. Then, we had to get online. Now, we’re determined to spend a few hours this weekend watching Eddie and Patsy. There was an entire conversation in the room this morning that was effortless and one completely in quotations and allusions.

That’s probably my favorite monologue from AbFab, from the episode “Poor”.  I once showed it in class, the whole episode, and the students looked at me as though I’d lost my mind: “There is nothing funny about that show,” they let me know. Whatevs … I think they meant to say that there is nothing not funny about that show.

Regardless, it has been joyous to be with my gays this week and to enjoy that easy camaraderie that comes with that space. Makes me want to return often …

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Things I Learned in East Lansing #1

Here’s the first thing I’ve learned in East Lansing: I miss graduate school.  A lot! I spent most of yesterday and all of today on the campus of Michigan State, which is really quite beautiful, even on overcast and rainy days. I’ve eavesdropped on classes, spent several hours in the Writing Center listening to tutors work with students, talked to master’s and doctoral students, listened to conversations about books, new books, old books, articles, dissertations.

And I miss that so much. In grad school, at least for me, despite the abject poverty of it all, there was also a wonderful excitement about reading something new or working on a new project, of listening to a visiting professor or attending a lecture.  Surely not always, but it felt electric and alive. I felt some of that here the last day or so. So much of my time is now spent administering something, sitting on one committee or another, being frustrated by colleagues who make ridiculously bad pedagogical choices and then seem shocked when they’re called on the carpet for their own idiocy.  I’m reminded of my dear colleague’s essay “Administrating Ourselves to Death” … that’s what it feels like a lot of the time, except for on Wednesday night when I go teach and get a little energy again.

So thanks Matt & Trav, and others I’ve met, for reminding me of the joy of reading and thinking and talking …

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Visiting East Lansing, Writing/Reading

I’m now one day in to my visit to East Lansing, MI, for Feminisms & Rhetorics.  Terribly excited about this trip, largely because I get to spend a whole week with two of my favorite people, Trav and Matt. Despite the joy of a week with these two, and dear-hearts from MSU to boot, I’m excited about doing some work this week. It seems to me that if you’re staying with two doctoral students, should have lots of time when everyone’s reading/writing or doing some other sort of scholarly activity.  So I’m hoping that will be true for me this week. I have bunches to do.

This morning, day two, will begin with me working on chapter one of the novel. Rachel has said that she’s attempting 10,000 words this week; I can’t imagine getting that much writing done, but I’m going to make an effort at getting at least 5,000 words. Right now, chapters are averaging around 3,000 – 4,000 words; I’m not sure if that’s normal or not for a YA novel, but we’ll see how it goes. Wish me luck!

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A Study in Contrasts

I have to admit that I tend to enjoy feeling myself a study in contrasts. I like to think that I enjoy an eclectic set of things.  Once, in college, a friend riding in the car with me was looking at my CD collection as we tried to pick out something to play — I know, right, a “CD collection” … not something one would have in the car post-iPod, I suppose — and said to me, “So what kind of music do you like?”  “I like some of everything really,” I replied.  As ran his finger over the options, he said, “Oh, I see, you don’t know who you are yet …” It rang with a sense of judgment that I wasn’t expecting: what? how do liking lots of musical genres mean I’m not aware of who I am? I still think that’s strange.

But musical tastes aside, I still like to think it.  When my washing machine quit working last week, I wondered if I could fix it, but was resigned to the fact that I’d never even see the inside of a washing machine and so probably not. Then today, after a trip to the laundry mat, while throwing the whites in drier at home, I thought, I wonder what it looks like in there.  Grabbed the toolboxes and in 5 minutes I had the console apart to see if I could replace the timer mechanism that seemed “broken”.  Turns out, “broken” meant that the plastic casing, which was secured to the panel by a single screw, had broken and the screw could no longer hold it to the panel, which mean the knob couldn’t protrude enough to move in and out, and thus turn the machine on or off.

So I thought, “let’s find one of these online and fix this thing!”  Let me tell you: that timer contraption is $120.00! WTF? For $400 more I could get a brand new front-loading machine (which I want anyway, so this was not encouraging me to fix the one I have). Then I thought, “hmm, what if I …” and I did. I went to Lowe’s, bought a large washer that would pressure-anchor the remaining piece of plastic to the console.  Put it all back together and washed a load of bathmats. Yeah, I’m pretty handy …

Of course, then I come downstairs and remember that I’ve spread out a Simplicity pattern for a child’s Halloween costume so that I can get the fabric and “notions” and begin work on it. So that’s me: repair washing machine, sew a child’s Halloween costume. It’s good not to be condemned by gender stereotypes … this way, I can just do any and everything …

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Zombieland

Last night (Saturday) was supposed to be a Dudes Night Out, and it kinda was, though Faheem bailed on us and timing was against us.  Regardless, Jeff, Dan, and I had a few beers, some dinner @ East Coast, and then caught the 10:25 showing of Zombieland.  OMG … loved the movie!  Probably has the best opening credits I’ve seen in some time, the wonderful use of slow motion and music.

I wish maybe I’d had a little less beer and we’d seen it earlier b/c I started to fade at one point, but all in all, great movie. Especially the cameo with Bill Murray playing himself. Hilarious!  And I know everyone is quoting Woody H’s “Nut up or shut up!” but I thought the best line in the movie was from Jessie E when he offered us a simple but poignant “Fuck you, Clown!”  Great timing …

No spoilers for the movie, but it was great. I wish I were more knowledgeable of the zombie oeuvre, but I’m not, so I can’t really compare it …

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OMG Sarah Furguson!

Sarah_Ferguson.jpgJust saw in The Daily Reflector that Duchess of York Sarah Furguson is coming to G’vegas in May … OMG … now, how do I get myself into the “Power of the Purse” luncheon on May 5 so that I can see Sarah.  We have got a LOT to talk about!  I have a few general suggestions about England and few very specific ideas about what needs to happen with Prince Harry, mostly involving myself.

Given that she’s a ginger herself, I think Sarah will understand my needs somewhat intuitively and we’ll be fast friends. Call me, Sarah!

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