Saturday, April 28, 2007

Last Massey event of 2006-07.

How sad. But it's ok---I have a dissertation to write!

Last night I was at Massey eating a hamburger and hanging out with a bunch of Massey types. It was fairly entertaining, and then I went off with a few of them to the Duke of York for more talking. Unfortunately, we left just as the dance party was really getting started. Now that totally looked like a good time (for the slightly inebriated and assorted uninhibited folk).

I am feeling uninspired by this blog today. But you should be happy to know that I am working on my dissertation. No, not actually writing anything yet, but reading relevant material and notes.

Unrelated to my dissertation, I am looking forward to heading off to Israel in a couple weeks. It should be fun times. (And probably exhausting.)

Time to eat. (It's important not to starve.)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A feast fit for fĂȘte-ing.

Last night JDS and TC---er, Dr. TC---came over for dinner to celebrate their accomplishments. FN whipped up some excellent dishes, and I helped out. It was much fun and not as much work as I expected. We now have a fridge-full of leftovers to keep us in food for a while yet.

I've finally finished that dreaded grading, just in time for a bit of a break before I start grading final exams next week. Those will be painful, but hopefully less painful than the essays. (They'll be shorter, at least, and I won't have to comment.)

I'm finally starting to want to write my dissertation these days. The research I did in New York helped me figure out where I want to start my story, which is good, since that was a problem before. And there are even some books I want to read! This is a new feeling. I'm excited about it. Of course I'm still feeling daunted when I think about how much material I have to go through, but I try not to think about that too much.

The weather outside is frightful, but hopefully things will clear up so I can leave the house without getting soaked tomorrow. Must run some errands---including taking those books out of the library and handing off the last 6 essays---and then eat BBQ at Massey. Mmm.

Ok, time to go start writing something dissertation-related.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Because I don't want to grade those last 5 essays . . .

I will tell you about the quick---but eventful---storm we had here yesterday. FN and I were just talking about going down to Bloor St. to get food when it suddenly started to rain very hard. Then almost immediately the wind kicked up, and, before we had a chance to close the windows, there was a loud BANG and a flash of light. At this point, all the lights went out in the house. Crap! Unplug the computers! I went and found some candles to give us some light---it wasn't dark out yet, but it was nearing dusk. A minute or so later there was another loud bang and flash of light, this time coming from the back of the house. Very freaky.

Soon enough the lights and the rest of the electricity was restored, but then we noticed that the storm had caused some real damage. Right in front of our house some huge tree branches fell on top of two parked cars. It was quite the scene. The firemen came and taped off an enormous section of our street. People came by to take pics and stare. (I did these things from my window.) Here's what I saw:This is where the branches came from (taken this morning from my window):
The woman who owns the green car came and took it away this morning. Well, a tow-truck came and got it. Which left the car with the most tree matter on it. And then men with a "Fargo"-esque wood-chipper machine came and did away with the branches. Funny (to me) how this car doesn't appear to be damaged at all. Another tow-truck came and took it away.

Back to Toronto.

When the plane landed at Pearson Monday afternoon a huge grin was to be seen upon my face. Home! Toronto! Yay!

Sunday afternoon I went off on my own in New York. I took the subway over to the Met, sampled some of it, walked around Central Park and then down Fifth Ave., and eventually made my way back to Brooklyn for dinner and hanging out with DN and JA. Good day. Although I saw almost nothing in New York and didn't really finish my research, I'm happy with how things went. It was great to hang out with DN---he's better than a museum or art gallery any day. And this way I have an excuse to go back to the city. I should go with my mom or something. That'd be fun.

Here are a couple shots of the park. It was a gorgeous day, and lots of people were out. Dogs and children and locals and tourists.Early Monday morning I packed up and headed off to JFK airport for my flight back to Toronto. On the AirTrain, one stop from the airport, I realized that I was going to the wrong airport!! Crap! I stupidly assumed that I was flying out of the same airport I flew into. But no. So after pondering what I should do, I decided to take a cab to LaGuardia and hope for the best. Good thing I was at the first airport 2 hours ahead of my flight, so I got to the second one with plenty of time to spare. Plus, LaGuardia is small, so it was really quick going through everything. On the cab ride over I even got to see---from the Van Wyck Expressway---parts of the city I hadn't seen: the flying saucers and that big globe thing from the old world's fair at Flushing Meadows, and Shea Stadium. All's well that ends well, but hopefully I've learned my lesson. Never assume and always double-check that you're going to the right airport!

The flight itself was uneventful and on the same little regional jet that I flew over on. (Less than 40 seats.) I was clever (and lucky) and picked a single seat, to avoid having to sit beside someone who would take up all my space, like what happened on the way over. The plane flew right over Manhattan and so I got to see the island and some of the other boroughs from the air. It was awesome. The big buildings and Central Park really stand out, as does the brown ickyness that is the East River. And then as we approached Pearson I got a fantastic view of the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara, and pretty much the whole of Toronto. Amazing stuff, and maybe even makes me feel a little better about having paid too much (in my mind) for the flight.

New York is great but it's really a shame that the city is so polluted. My nose was stuffed up the entire time I was there, and one day back in Toronto and everything's all cleared up. Washington Heights (in northern Manhattan) and DN's neighbourhood in Brooklyn both smelled like dirt, and I'm sure this is the smell of pollution. It was kinda gross. (Central Park didn't have this smell.) After nearly two years in the city, DN still loves it, but is tired of all the people, the noise, and the pollution.

Until I get my act together and do a real posting.

This is what you get. From Terminal C at LaGuardia airport.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

An historian in the big city.

My most memorable days in the cities I've visited on research trips this year are the days I spent walking around. I am a fan of art galleries and museums, but they just can't beat people- and place-watching. And so that's what I did yesterday with DN and JA in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

But first, let me back up. On Friday I finished up my research at the library. I didn't get to see everything and may have to come back, but I'm happy with what I got accomplished. For lunch I met up with a Columbia grad student who is writing her dissertation on the American Red Cross. (She's good friends with the woman with whom I stayed Sunday-Thursday.) We ate Middle Eastern sandwiches in a park near the university. It was great to talk with someone who knows about the organization.

At the end of the day I started chatting with another of the researchers as we both left the library. Turns out he's also friends with the woman I was staying with! Small world.

I then headed north to Washington Heights to pack up my stuff, snap a few pics of the local cats, and then head over to the Prospect Park area of Brooklyn to move in with DN for the last few nights of my trip. The subway ride across town took a long, long time, but it was easy to do. Once I got there dinner was almost ready, so he and his gorgeous g/f JA and I ate a yummy vegan dinner. After eating our fill we watched "Donnie Darko"---good!---and ate vegan chocolate cake. SO GOOD.

Saturday afternoon after breakfast/lunch the three of us walked to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm. After a week of rain and cold, it seemed like everyone else in the city was glad for spring too---it was crowded everywhere outside! We spent a couple hours in the gardens, strolling around and generally having a good time. JA taught me how to do a cartwheel. Once we'd had our fill of nature it was time to go into town and see the East Village. We crammed into a busy subway car and endured the long ride in. A TV actress walked passed us on St. Mark's Place, a street with a bunch of counter-culture (or whatever) shops on it. We waited while JA picked out a stud for her ear hole.

A bit later we walked by an enormous used book store that my former NY host/housemate had told me about, and so of course I made us go in. I quickly found the Russian history section, and came away with 3 books to add to my dissertation collection. Yay! We tried to take a peek into some churches on Fifth Ave., but there were too many weddings happening so we only got a quick look at one once the ceremony ended and the bagpiper left. The afternoon ended with us sitting on a bench in the dog park at Washington Square Park at the end of Fifth Avenue. Dogs are awesome. This was definitely the best part of the day!

JA cooked us a great meal for dinner back in Brooklyn and she and DN marvelled at my appetite. Those of us in our late twenties were totally wiped out by now and had no intention of heading back into the city to party with DN's friends. So the three of us watched "Velvet Goldmine" instead. Much better, I say.

It is now late Sunday morning. I was woken up again this morning by music coming from upstairs. It should seriously be illegal to play loud music at 9am on a weekend. Geez. That, and one of DN's roommates got up early and made a bunch of noise in the kitchen. Did the dishwasher really have to be emptied at 8am? Annoying.

This city is cool (obviously), but it's crowded and polluted. I'm having a good time, but it will be good to go home tomorrow. I'll have to come back and do more touristy things. The city's not going anywhere, though, so there's no rush. My next trip will take me to Israel!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Just another day at work.

This morning I had an 11am appointment at the New-York Historical Society's Print Room. The society is in a lovely building on Central Park West (at 77th) right near the American Museum of Natural History. I was late running out the door (of course) but made good time so was hardly late at all. I looked at a bunch of photographs and took my own photographs of an interesting little collection. At this archives researchers pay $15 a day to take digital pictures, which I was happy to do.

I finished my work there just shy of 1:30pm and then headed back to the subway to go to Columbia. As soon as I got on the subway I wondered whether it was the right one, and upon getting off at my stop, sure enough I realized it wasn't! It's the same street as the one I wanted, but several blocks west (in Harlem). But I soon figured out where I was and walked over to Columbia through Morningside Park. I'm getting pretty good at this single historian in the big city thing.

The archivist at Columbia let me take a few more pics today, which was nice of her. Especially since it saved me a bunch of time. (I've been reading a diary, handwritten in pencil, which is proving to be a great source for me, but it took a LONG time to read through it all.) I've only got a day of research left, which I really don't think is enough time to go through everything I wanted to see, but such is life. I can always come back to the city for a couple days another year. No biggie.

Tonight I'm chilling at home. Tomorrow after the library closes I'll head back here and pack my things to move in with DN for a few nights.

Living the NY student life.

The subway performers in this city are just excellent. Too bad I'm always in such a rush! But tonight I was waiting for the A train at the 42nd St/Times Square station and moved down the platform to better hear Steve play his trumpet and keyboard, and sing oldies. I even gave him a dollar. (Not much, but better than nothing.)

Anyways, that was tonight. This morning my alarm didn't go off---I'd switched AM for PM and I woke up on my own Monday and Tuesday, so didn't notice until today---and by the time I roused myself out of bed it was 11am! Goodness. So I missed 4 hours of precious library time. Sigh. These things happen. I did manage to get in a few hours work and then walked around campus for a bit. I decided to get a quick street-stand dinner. I bought a lamb gyro and fries from the guy on Amsterdam outside St. Luke's Hospital and took it back to a bench outside the journalism building at Columbia to eat. So good. Mmmm, street meat. By then it was 6pm so I dashed off to the subway so I could meet DN for drinks with him and a couple of his grad school friends. I got a bit confused but managed to get myself to the right place and using that wonderful invention that is the cellphone, met up with DN on 14th St.

We went into a bar called the King's Head Tavern where his friends were waiting. It's a small place, very friendly, and we had a good time chatting and laughing. I even had a cosmopolitan to celebrate being in the Big Apple. And since it was happy hour, the drink didn't break the bank. But then a band started to set up a few feet away from us, and soon enough 4 guys started playing and singing amazing jazz! They were shortly joined by a drummer, and then a female singer who was excellent. It was unexpected entertainment, and really awesome. It's kinda sad that I don't live here and can't come back to see them each week! The group was called Sly Blue, or so the bass player told us.

I suppose such cultural things are to be had in Toronto. Perhaps I should get more of a life?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Update on NY adventures.

Crazy days! Yesterday afternoon I went to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia's Butler Library. I'll be doing most of my NY research there, and it's a nice facility. In mid-afternoon the fire alarm went off. All us researchers packed up our laptops---the library told up to---and got our coats and things and walked down 5 flights of stairs to go stand outside for a while. Thankfully, it had stopped pouring with rain by this point. (And it hasn't poured since then, though it's still damp and occasionally rainy.) I took the opportunity to snap a few quick picks before the building reopened. They aren't any good, though, so I'll have to take more pics one day when I am feeling more arty.

The research room has funny Monday hours (noon to 7:45pm) and after it closed I was very ready for dinner. At first I planned on just grabbing something to eat near campus---and even asked a local where to go---but then I remembered DN! So I called him up (cell phones are rather nifty things, I must admit) and we agreed to meet up at some place called Union Square in an hour.

I made my way to said square no problem on the subway and with lots of time to spare. While waiting I saw a lot of people milling about and talking on cell phones, walking dogs, and meeting friends. And I also saw three large rats in the little park there. I wasn't looking for or even expecting to find rats, but there they were. Just like squirrels everywhere else, but less furry and a little smaller. (I saw another rat today on a subway track. Bizarre. But so, well, cliche or something.)

DN and I had dinner and then tea and dessert. We caught up and it was great to see him after nearly 2 years! Such a lovely, interesting person he is. We parted at the subway at 11:15pm. And then I didn't get home until . . . 12:30am! The subway took FOREVER to come and then, because it was late night, the train stopped at every station along the way. And since it had more than 130 blocks to travel, it just took a long time. Oy.

This morning I woke up early so I could get to the library near their 9am open time. The subway in is much quicker (and I also take a different line) so it's not so bad. I got to the library not too late and after waiting a bit for my boxes to arrive, I got to work. There's some good stuff for me there.

Not long after I'd gotten into my research, a woman walked into the reading room and said, "hello Jennifer." I looked up and saw MK and said, "hi." And then I did a double take and reiterated my greeting with much more surprise in my voice. MK!! She's my archives buddy from the US National Archives back in January. It was totally unexpected to run into her here in New York. But there you have it. Craziness. So of course we chatted for a few minutes and had to go have lunch together since it's what we did in Washington. I still can't get over seeing her today. But I guess these things do happen among historians. Yesterday I eavesdropped as two other researchers renewed their acquaintance after what must have been several years. Cool.

After the library closed just shy of 5pm today I headed down to Times Square for dinner at John's Pizzeria. The place was swarming with tourists and theatre goers---of the lowly type, not the fancy type---but it was a neat place. My historian-friend TW (with whom I presented last summer in Kansas) recommended it, so I had to go. I almost ate an entire "small" pizza, which wasn't particularly small. My belly full, I wandered just down the street, past a film crew shooting a woman singing opera outside one of the Broadway theatres, and joined the line up to get into the Broadhurst Theatre. I had a ticket to see "Les Miserables."

I was surprised by the smallness of the theatre. But my roommate here says that most of them are small. Huh. It made for a more intimate performance than I had expected. The show was pretty good, even awesome at times. I don't think theatre is really my thing, but I did enjoy it. Some of the singing was just amazing. I've read that this particular staging doesn't do justice to the musical, but it was really well done. Definitely worth the $60CDN I paid for my ticket, I think.

The subway back home was much quicker tonight. I've got a couple things I need to do before bed, but I'm looking forward to sleep! One of the cats is currently cuddled up on my suitcase. They are so crazy, those cats. They seem quite entertained by my royal blue bag. (Less entertained by me.)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Welcome to the big rain.

Ugh. It's wet, wet, wet here.

After a much-needed long sleep last night I woke up early and slowly---ever so slowly---started my day. The archives I'm visiting this today doesn't open until noon, so I took the opportunity time afforded me to hang out with the local cats, explore the local neighbourhood, and do a bit of grocery shopping. I'm staying in Washington Heights for the first part of my trip. This is an area of northern Manhattan full of recent immigrants, I'm told. It's feeling a bit New Yorkish to me, with lots of little corner stores and people milling about, but the rain is making things a bit difficult to appreciate. I'm going to spend the next half hour drying off as much as possible before heading out to the subway that will take me to Columbia's main campus (Morningside Heights).

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Safe and soaking.

Just wanted to let you all know that I've arrived in the Big Apple, a little damp, tired, and hungry, but otherwise no worse for wear. More later.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Complaining about students.

Tonight at dinner the scientists I was surrounded by---all good, intelligent, nice people, so I don't mean anything by describing them as scientists other than the fact of them being scientists---were complaining about their students. They can't write and they can't think very well either. And it sucks. And there's no way these kids could have gotten into university back when, etc. I can't speak for all university and school systems, of course, but I am not prepared to be as harsh as them on students. Yes, it's true that many students are lazy and presumptuous and annoying. But I think most of them are genuinely interested in learning and doing well.

I think it's important not to exaggerate the argument I'm going to make. But here it is. If students are coming to university unprepared, then of course we all should agitate to make high school education link up better with university standards and expectations. This is a long-term project; in the meantime there are students who are floundering. While it's fine to whine, we need to acknowledge our students' unpreparedness and make a commitment to teach them what we think they need to know. It's up to us. We are on the front-lines. (By "us" I mean university instructors as a group, including professors and TAs.)

One of the scientists tonight claimed that somewhere along the way---somewhere in his many years of undergraduate and graduate education---he learned to think critically. I believe him, of course. When pushed, though, he could only say that he "picked it up." It's unfair of me to pick on him, because the conversation was just another one of those Massey affairs that doesn't require that advance thought be put into arguments, but I'm going to anyway. It's not good enough to expect students to just "pick up" critical thinking, writing, and analytical skills. They very well might, but all instructors (teachers) must ponder how to go about actually teaching these skills and attitudes. One can't just be brilliant at the front of an auditorium of 18-year-olds and expect some of it to seep into students' minds. Yes, sometimes it will. But we need to think harder about pedagogy.

Many professors and TAs already do this, of course. I can only hope that more and more of us will do so in the future. Students aren't any stupider than they were in years past. They might have a less wide-ranging vocabulary; they certainly don't read as many full-length books. But they do read and watch and listen to a much broader array of things than I think students did in the past. And they have more extra-curricular responsibilities and distractions. Can't we just accept this---when we have to, not resignedly---and adjust our teaching and our expectations to match? It's hard, but it's crucial. These kids will be the leaders and the toilers of tomorrow. There's no point giving them Cs and alienating them from the intellectual-university culture. That's just stupid.

End of rant. It's nearly 3am so forgive me for logical inconsistencies, please! But do call me on them.

Congratulations to Dr. TC, PhD!

Excellent! I didn't understand a word save the "and," "but" and "in conclusion" parts, but you seemed quite impressive, Dr. TC.

Today I also took in EW's talk---very well done and quite interesting, I must say!---and ran errands in preparation for my leaving the country Sunday morning. EW and I lunched at Massey and then I was back there for dinner, wearing my gown for the last time this school year. (I had someone take a pic of me so I can send it to my dad, who will laugh and say it's very ridiculous and strange. Which of course it is, but it's a "thing.")

Back at home I had to rest for a bit and then it was back to grading. Sigh. Which explains why I have NOTHING interesting to say. Blech.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Book people.

Today, after laundry and grocery shopping, I got to sit in on the panel discussion with the judges of this year's Man Booker International Prize. A bunch of us Masseyites got to go, for no other reason than the College hosted the judges for the three days they were in town whittling down their long list of authors to a short list of 15 worthies. Two of the three Canadians on the short list of 15 were in the audience (Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje, though not Alice Munro), as was historian Michael Bliss and other Toronto fancy types and literature people. The discussion was generally interesting, and SM---who is rather taller than I thought he was---kept me entertained as we waited for the thing to start.

The reception afterward was in the Massey common room, and so of course I had to go to that. I chatted with some of my favourites, including CG. (That guy gets more interesting by the day, I think.) M2.0 was all excited about getting Ondaatje and another author in the room to autograph copies of their books. A glass and a half of wine later I managed to tear myself away so I could go home and put away my laundry. After a very late dinner FN and I watched "The Painted Veil," which was good, fine. It was then after 2am! Which means I didn't grade anything today yet. Crap! I think perhaps I should do one or two before bed.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Why is it still winter?

Sigh. But no doubt my upcoming trip will herald the beginning of spring so I will return to flowers and short skirts (on other people). I've been pretty good today, despite my very late rise from the land o' sleep. Marked 8 papers so far! And I must say that the vast majority of them were really quite good, which is excellent, but not good for the grade average, which is inching up to 73. But whatever.

After the eight I decided to do something less taxing and photographed an entire book. It was published in 1928 and comes via inter-library loan, so it's good to have it, lest I not be able to get it again. Since I was photographing a printed source, I decided to run the optical character recognition function in Adobe Acrobat to see what happens. I'm impressed with the results! It even recognized a word that was on two lines, separated by a hyphen. Wow. Now if only all my sources were in clear, dark, straight print . . . . Technology is the shit. (Reason #3,639,782,619.)

So, yeah, winter. What the hell? Maybe it's always like this in April, and I just forget. But it's getting old.

Tomorrow I'm going to do laundry and learn something about fiction. I'll tell you about it afterwards.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The end is in sight.

Yes, I'm still grading. But, I handed in most of the essays today, and only have 22 more to grade. That's only, like, 20 more hours of work! Excellent.

In other news, I emerged from my house Tuesday morning to go to my reading group. And that was good. One of my friends from York is handing in her completed dissertation in a few days, which is awesome! And what is even more awesome is that I'll get to read it in short order.

After the reading group meeting---thankfully close to home this time, in the department---I met up with FPW and took him to lunch at Massey. Much fun was had by all, especially by me. (Really, since when do I not have fun at a Massey lunch?) Most of the crew was there: PB, CG, LG, SM, M2.0, handsome guy, and the first and second coolest guys at the college. Plus others of more or less interest. (That sounds mean, but I don't mean it to be mean. You know what I mean?)

And then it was back to the department to set up the weekly grad student coffee social. Some of the good historians were about there too. After heading back northeast to drop off the essays, gossip with the prof, and talk with a postdoc whom I happened across at the Munk Centre, I was back in the department partaking in more hanging out. (That means you, CB, MK, MS, PM, DR, EW, AT, et al.) I had vague plans of attending a job talk, but all my chatting meant I missed the start time so didn't go. And I had vague plans of grading a couple more papers before lecture at 5pm, but I was feeling pretty haggard, so I nixed that idea.

I hung around after lecture and walked back most of the way home with the prof, who is not on my committee, but is one of my faves here for sure. Once home, FN whipped up yummy food. And I found the recipe for it online, so I'm feeling slightly proud of myself. ;-)

The bad news at the moment is that I went to bed early---tired!---but then woke up after a few hours. So, basically, I had a long nap. Which is not what I wanted, and which is annoying because it throws my sleeping patterns off kilter once again. Ah well.

LATER (because it made me smile) . . . From an MSN conversation, 3:40am:

JP says:
luck wishes you well
CLM says:
wishes it you too.

And to you!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tired. And still grading.

But the good news is I'm no longer nocturnal!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

It continues. (And so does my despair.)

I've just spent nearly an hour and a half marking one paper. The paper was much too long and mostly not relevant to the course, but I can tell that the student put a lot of effort into the thing so I read it carefully and made lots of comments. But what can I do, really, when a student in third year---and one who I think is in political science or something similar---just doesn't get what the course is all about. And the course has been on since September, so it's not like students haven't had ample opportunity to figure out what's up with it. Beyond that, though, I remain perplexed that students who seem intelligent enough don't quite understand what the point of an essay is. You need to explain the statements you make. Tell me why something is relevant to your discussion, and how it is. Provide historical examples to back up your points.

By the end of third year I would have hoped that students enrolled in arts-type degrees would get this. But some of them don't. And then there are the hopeless cases: students who still just can't write and who really don't understand what a paragraph is. Hasn't anyone ever sat them down and told them that a paragraph is a string of sentences containing an argument with accompanying proof of said argument? And that paragraphs put together are the arguments (with evidence) that prove the thesis of the essay? It's such a simple thing! I know it's not easy to write an essay, but it's not hard to grasp the basics. Too often it seems students haven't learned/internalized---for whatever reason(s)---what an essay is all about.

Considering so many of them don't even bother to read the assignment instructions carefully, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. Despair. And what do these people do once they get their U of T degrees? Presumably a significant number of them end up in positions where they do have to write at least occasionally. And perhaps even think---gasp!---critically and analyze things. I don't want to sound all I'm-better-than-them, but seriously: it worries me. No wonder my mom, who is retired from government bureaucracy, doing a master's degree in sociology (I know, I know), and getting A's on her essays, had so much trouble respecting some of her superiors. They must have been C students who graduated and never looked back. Sad. Depressing.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Hanging with the old crowd.

For Easter Friday FN and I went to a dinner party at the condo of our excellent friends JDS and TC. We brought home-made sweet potato casserole . . . mmm. The party was pretty fun, though it was filled with people I used to hang out with a lot, but who(m?) I don't see much (of?) anymore. [Grammar problems. Let's blame grading undergrad papers.] And there's a reason I don't see these people anymore. They are fine, but not for me. I asked one guy how he was doing and he told me he didn't want to "talk shop." (He's another historian.) Ok, but then we have nothing to talk about. Thus ended my attempt at conversation. Whatever. It was nice to see most of the people there, so good. And now I can go back to not hanging out with those other people.

The other news from today is that I've decided to go to a conference in Washington in June. This is the same conference I presented at last year in Kansas, but this year I'm just going to watch. I think it will be great fun. And it will be good for me to remind some people of my existence. I may need them to hire me in a couple years! There's a good-sized contingent of U of Ters going, including one of my supervisors. HD and two other women from my department are presenting papers, and another of our friends will be there too. I wonder what the old-school diplomatic historians will make of such a large group of women!

But now I really must grade papers. Sigh.

3:55am P.S. And WTF is with airline prices this summer? They are significantly more expeez (to quyote EC and JC) then just a few weeks ago, and much higher than last year. Goodness gracious. I don't think I'm being stupid about searching for good prices: they are just really high.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

You're keeping me awake.

You don't mean to, but it's true.

I think I know why I sometimes have such terrible trouble falling asleep. Take yesterday, for example. Ok, technically, it was today. I was in bed at 3am, tired, and looking forward to waking up before the afternoon. But I lay there for hours---it must have been around 6am when I fell asleep. The problem is that I talked to and did too many things yesterday, and my brain kept thinking about them! Not thinking anything important or interesting, but just thinking. I couldn't make it stop. So today I decided to stay from Massey and my other friends and just chill at home.

And now I must return to grading.

UPDATE, 5:10am: Wow. Shitty essays today. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

4:15am and pouring rain.

I shun joining the world. I rage against the machine. I follow the Sinatra Doctrine (to do it "my way"). Conformity is for chumps. I will grade, but I will do so in the wee hours. Because I cannot deal with being tired. It makes me unhappy and walk into things. And so I will nap at 9:30pm if I need to, and go to bed again at 6am if it strikes my fancy. And that's just how it's gonna be right now.

In other news, I have a place to stay in NYC. A little further out than ideal, but still technically in Manhattan and with a local grad student, which is excellent. Also much cheaper than any other arrangement other than free accommodation. And, my host has two cats. Apart from the times when I stayed with my parents, then, all my research trips have included cats. And all my trips have seen me rent a room in a house or apartment. I seriously can't recommend this way enough. I will stay in the cat apartment the first few nights of my trip while I conduct research and then spend the weekend with DN. Should be fun. I hope!

I've just marked a string of three A papers. I think, actually, that many of the students really did learn something this year. It's making me all optimistic about the future of humanity. How nice. ;-)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A bit of a reprieve.

Monday evening I went to a reception and discussion for the latest book of one of my committee members. How excellent. I even drank 2 glasses of wine to celebrate. All my favourite profs were there (supervisor love continues), and---this is the best part---I got an extension on my marking! I am grading all late papers and the prof I'm working for decided that the late submissions won't be given back to students until late April. So, yay! Although I do still need to get cracking on marking, because I want to have it done before I leave for NYC in less than 2 weeks.

At the moment I'm in this bad sleeping cycle. My sleeping hours are split between the morning and the late evening, with me awake in the afternoon/evening and then again in the wee hours. I'm having a hard time getting out of this, (a) because I don't like being tired, but (b) also because I have no willpower to force me to stay awake when I'm tired. It's a problem. It's also a problem rather unique to being a student, I think. Most days there's really nothing pushing me to get up by a certain hour. And so I don't. Complain.

I'm now catching up on my filing in hopes of getting my desk back to some semblance of order so I can grade without too many distractions. For some unknown reason, FN and I spent A LOT of money on food last month. Almost $200 each, not including restaurant excursions. I guess this isn't a huge amount, but we'd been spending rather less than this in previous months. The cost of grocery snobbery, perhaps ;-).

Wish me luck on gathering up the willpower to get myself out of bed at a decent hour.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Fun times not working (again).

This morning I met up with LG and CG for dim sum in Chinatown. CG hadn't been before, so he definitely needed to be introduced to the "thing" that is dim sum. And according to LG, dim sum is "deemed" to be vegetarian, meaning he can eat it. The food was alright; the company pretty good---I think I like LG more than ever, platonically-speaking; but the rain sucked and made be rather wet. Ah well. It stopped soon enough.

After our meal CG and I left LG and headed off to Queen West for a bit of browsing. I showed off one of my supervisor's books (the one I'm finishing up right now) at the downtown Chapters store. And . . . turns out he has supervisor love too! Us grad students are so awesome in our nerdiness, eh?

Anyways, the main event of the day was a classical music concert at the Glenn Gould Studio. (The 12th Annual Schubertiad, described here.) The music was good, if not mind-blowing. I must say I rather enjoyed it, though. Definitely something to do again. Especially when I can get a free ticket!

After the long concert I left the Masseyites to their own devices and ran shopping errands on Bloor St. FN wants to go organic, so we are slowly seeing to that, and discovering various organic grocery stores in the neighbourhood. There are at least 3, which I suppose it unsurprising. And although the food is more expensive, I must say it can make for a nicer shopping experience than a trip to the local Dominion. (Not that Dominion is being purged entirely from the list of stores to visit, but still.) AG: I returned the video today. If there's a fine let me know and I'll pay it!!

For dinner FN and I dined on Sarah's falafels---mmmm---and then I took a, ahem, 5-hour nap. But it's because I was going on 3 hours sleep from the night before. All of which means tonight I'm up and determined to finish The Penguin History of Canada before the discussion of it tomorrow evening!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

I heart Massey.

[The title is in honour of CG, who used a similar phrase in an e-mail to me yesterday. It made me smile.]

Friday after the meeting AB and I went for lunch at Massey, and then I descended to the basement library to grade papers. I was pretty good, managing to get through 6 of them in 5 hours, including a couple breaks for sanity's sake. I dragged LG with me to dinner (also at Massey) and then it was off to see "The Rocky Horror Show" for me.

The show was well done, but of course the plot of the play is kinda ridiculous. Still, it was a good time and a semi-lively crowd made it better. Afterwards a clump of us meandered home through the streets of Toronto back to the college. And there we gathered, chatting and laughing outside. It was fun! The coolest guy at Massey was there; and I told M2.0 that we should be friends. SM and PB and I then went for a 1am dinner. Because by this point we were all pretty hungry. (It's what happens when you have dinner at 6:30pm.) I really have a good time with some of the Massey boys some days. They should hang out with me more often, methinks.

Today was fairly relaxing but I really must grade. Or read my prof's book. And then I must wake up much too early to have dim sum with LG and CG.

A few minutes later . . . Oh, and I just finished watching "Stranger than Fiction" with FN. Apparently it was so uninspiring that I promptly forgot all about it. It's not bad; it's just nothing special, I don't think.