73 minutes

There are 73 more minutes left to the time band in which I was told to expect the washing machine repairperson to arrive.

. . .

sigh. This is what my afternoon has been like so far: sit down to work. Our younger dog barks furiously, I go to the front of the house to see if it's the repair person. No, it's the spaniel across the street who's causing our dog to bark. I return to my chair. Work for 20 more minutes. I hear a noise of a large truck, go to the front window, and no it's not the repair person. I hastily pee in case the repair person suddenly arrives while I'm in the bathroom (because that's usually how it works). Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.


follow up

Well, after writing a carefully casual email, we have a plan to meet the afore-mentioned couple at a neighborhood coffeehouse/bar type place later this week. We'll see how it goes.

And I didn't mean to start a with kids/without kids debate in the comments -- I can't possibly know what someone else's experience is like. From this side of things, I can say that it's often hard to become friends with people with kids, because they are busy doing all the kid type of things. I've been to too many parties and picnics filled with moms of 3 year olds who look at me blankly when I explain I'm a colleague of the host, not a playgroup friend. But one of my (not local) friends who does have kids complains that it's hard for them to meet couples they want to socialize with too. So I guess maybe it's just difficult for everyone of a certain age. Once you're out of school, it's harder to meet new people.

There's a hilarious How I Met Your Mother episode about this phenomenon, so it must be widespread enough to be reflected in sitcoms. Lily and Marshall get new across-the-hall neighbors and start "dating" them -- ordering takeout food, playing games, watching movies. And then the buzz wears off and they have to sneak around to get in and out of the apartment without the neighbors seeing them. Luckily for us, these new neighbors are several blocks away -- on one of my dog walking routes, but it's easy enough to walk another way if need be.


the couple friend game

I have probably said this before, but I'm not so good at making friends. The ones I have, I hang onto, and treasure dearly. But the small talk, getting-to-know-you part is hard. Even harder, though, is finding suitable subjects for such a small talk experiment. Even more challenging has been the project of finding some couples for GF and I to be couple-friends with. Usually, one of us knows half of a couple, and it pretty much stays that way. We have tried hanging out with a few other couples, but haven't really clicked with any. To be fair, GF and I are socially awkward introverts with semi-geekish interests and fairly clear ideas about what we do and do not want to do while socializing. (Do: eat at non-pretentious restaurants, play cards/board games, watch movies. Don'ts: drink beer at smoky bars, attend crowded sporting events/outdoor festivals, watch the other couple fight passive-aggressively.)

So it was quite exciting today to serendipitously meet a couple who've just moved to our neighborhood who we might actually want to hang out with. I just happened to be walking by when a guy I am sort of friendly with was going to their house and so I was introduced as a friend-of-a-friend. They are academics at another university (a plus), they have dogs and no children (a definite plus), and they seem smart and kind of interesting (super plus). And they just moved to our city so are actively interested in meeting people.

Now, however, comes the hard part. The part that feels too much like dating. Figuring out whether we email them, or wait for them to email us. If we get together, what place/time/activity do we suggest. Etc. Junior high all over again.


not really quite so exciting

I recently read Rachel Pastan's novel Lady of the Snakes, which was enjoyable enough for a Possession wanna-be. I did think Pastan's awareness of the complicated lives of young academic women was noteworthy (although some of the breeding details I thought were heavy handed -- really, does "linea negra" have to show up not just once but twice in the book as the main signifier of pregnancy? that was just clunky writing).

But once, just once, I would love to read a novel featuring an academic in literary studies whose work seems remotely like what I and my colleagues do. In satires of academic politics (like Moo or The Straight Man) the literature profs usually are depicted as raging Marxists or Old School defenders of Truth and Beauty. Most people I know are some complicated mixture of both those things (plus many more). And Possession and its many imitators turns the study of literature into an historical/archival treasure hunt, complete with stolen or forged or hidden documents, literally or figuratively backstabbing colleagues, and biographical information as the be all and end all of literary study.

It's just not really like that, in the real world. Very few of the interpretive or historical or theoretical questions that motivate people in my field could be answered by the discovery of a particular lost document. If they could, they wouldn't (for the most part) be considered a complicated enough question to justify one's research.

But I guess having the heroine of a novel sit on her couch for hours reading obscure poems and thinking about their interconnections doesn't make for nearly as an exciting plot arc . . .


if I were Miss Manners

If I were an etiquette authority, these are the two sentences I would proclaim banned from polite conversation:

(1) "You look tired." Because really, if you don't feel tired, you don't want to hear this. And if you do feel tired, you don't need the reminder. Or the news that you are broadcasting your inner climate to the world.

(2) "You look like your mother/father." Because there's at least a 50% chance that the child really, really doesn't want to grow up to resemble his/her parent. At least.


damn, September.

How did it get to be September already?

I know, this is hardly an original complaint, or a concern unique to little old me. And in fact at the beginning of summer I even predicted that I would feel some anxiety at the end of it. And look, I do.

I don't know any academic who doesn't close out the summer with at least some tinge of regret for pages unwritten or books unread. For me, since summer was the prequel to the Semester of Leave I was busy thinking/saying/acting as though "leave" began in June. But that wasn't entirely true, as I was still mopping things up in the land of administration, moving offices, recovering from the past academic year, and coping with all kinds of Elderly Parent stuff.

But now, the semester's been on for a week. This is my leave, for reals.

And what am I doing? sitting in Oppressive Childhood Town preparing to take my hostile Elderly Parent to her Alzheimer's screening tomorrow.

I did read poetry for about 30 minutes today. And I read an article on the plane. But that's about all I've been able to manage.

I'm going to be super-hungry for work by the time I return home. And super sad about September.