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A Mini-Vacation in Minneapolis

Just back at my AirBNB in Black River Falls, WI, after a four-hour round trip to Minneapolis and back. Saw the city for the first time, and watched my dear friend in his play.

I don’t like to review performances of people I actually know, but for the most part, it was awesome. From the moment he stepped out on stage, I was like….”this guy.” My friend. The other cast members were quite talented as well. There were some interesting staging choices, killer rapping, and overall, a powerful yet touching story. I realize that this is probably the least descriptive review ever, but I wanted to write something about this play without giving away too much information about it; I guess I’m weird like that, and I probably need to go and see more shows where I don’t know anyone in the cast.

Up at 8 tomorrow morning and out by 830 in order to make it back home on time. Wish me luck y’all.

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Flip the Script Friday: Sidney Howard, Madam Will You Walk?

I can’t believe I’ve only posted 8 times this month. It’s been a busy one for me. At the moment, I’m at an Airbnb in beautiful Black River Falls, WI (more on that later), but I’m about to take a long bath, drink some wine, and read some plays.

 

Another tale from 13 Plays of Ghosts and the Supernatural. This time, it’s Madam, Will You Walk? by Sidney Howard, better known as the writer of the original screenplay for Gone With the Wind.

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Oh, Passover…

About 48 hours to go, and although I haven’t quite hit the signs of “too much Passover” yet, I’m getting there.

Literally, I’m thinking about food 24/7, waking up in the night hungry, and pounding down the matzah just wishing I had some hummus. And I can’t even remember the last time I ate hummus.

Anyway, I should probably go and get some reading done for fun in this brief break between writing deadlines.

Keep the faith, celebrate your freedom, and chag same’ach, y’all

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Things We Shouldn’t Care About, But We Do Anyway

  1. What random people think of us on the Internet.
  2. The Kardashians.
  3. BPAs.
  4. The word “organic”
  5. The fact that the seasons change in many parts of the world.
  6. Having useless things like a bag of 5000 plastic forks in the house, but only when you don’t need them.
  7. The existence of bugs in the world.
  8. College sports.
  9. Our sodium intake.
  10. Going back to check to see if the door to the house or car is locked, when, of course it is.
  11. Making lists and wondering whether you’ll actually have enough energy or inspiration to write something of good quality on the blog.
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You’re Never Quite Ready

That’s what my mom says about Passover.

It’s just the weirdest thing, Passover. So, the Jews left Egypt without giving time for their bread to rise. In their honor, we spend 8 days every spring on a modified version of the Atkins diet. No bread, nothing with leavening. Basically, every food worth eating. For some reason, someone decided that rice, corn, and beans – vegetable which undergo the great sin of expanding in water – are a no go as well. This wouldn’t be a huge problem for me, except lately I’m been filling up on comfort foods, living off of sushi, PB&J and tuna sandwiches.

So…what do you do to prepare?

Do you…

…abstain from carbs to train yourself?

…eat normally?

…enjoy as many carbs as you can because this time tomorrow you will be craving them?

I’m all for the third option.

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To Whom It May Concern

I got through today’s normal load of classes and dance classes, but at least I’m commitment free until Monday. Wahoo!

I forgot to mention that the other day, I went to the library’s bi-annual used book sale, and against my better judgment, purchased about 10 books. The first one to catch my eye was entitled Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher. Once I started reading it, I literally could not put it down; I think I was 150 pages in before I realized my latter was getting cold.

Dear Committee Members is an epistolary novel detailing the life of a frustrated, overworked college professor. Jason Fitger teaches creative writing at Payne University, a fictional college in the Midwest. He seems to attract students – and other people, later in the novel – who are in need of recommendation letters. He doesn’t hold back, giving his absolute honest opinion of everyone despite the application or his relationship with the person. Through these letters, we learn not only about the ridiculousness of the letter of recommendation (or as it’s called, the LOR), and how little Payne University cares about its English department (to the point where he needs a hazmat suit to go to his office), but about the less snarky and more serious side of Jason. We learn about his strange relationships with his ex-wife, Janet; his true thoughts on his co-workers; and the demons with whom he’s been living since his flash-in-the-pan success as a graduate writing student. Although the book is mostly lighthearted and funny, it takes an unexpected, dark turn in the final few pages that alters Jason’s outlook on the world, forever.

I related to this book in so many ways. Like Jason, I am in an underfunded humanities department in a Midwestern university. Even though my office is not a biohazardous area – I actually kind of like it – I am sure that there are graduate students who do less and have it way better. It is frustrating, however, that in none of the classrooms in which I teach do I have a smart board, or a way to show a video without needing to lug a projector around and waste 5 minutes of class time setting it up and praying that it works. I have not been in very many academic buildings, but it does seem like the ones which house the humanities are, in a word, neglected. The rooms in Vilas have TVs with VHS input, for crying out loud, and today  as I was setting up to teach my 1:20 class, in comes a building inspector to identify and document a small leak in the ceiling. And it’s not even on the top floor of the building. Science labs and athletic facilities, however, get tons of funding poured into them, with the money coming from tuition and who knows where, since we seem to be in an eternal hiring freeze.

Jason also deals with the flurry of emotions and stresses that seem inhabit just about every university discipline. Everyone I know in the university workplace is overworked, underpaid, and treated like the end of a loaf of bread that no one eats and either ends up in the garbage or in the back of a cupboard growing old and moldy. It’s a rare moment when people are joking around, and usually it’s to distract from the stress of an upcoming deadline or a massive, soul-crushing workload that makes you wonder why you’re in this line of work in the first place. It’s just like – while we’re here, trying to make ends meet, slaving away over funding forms and project proposals, and trying to navigate the politics of the higher-ups, college presidents are out shopping for their new lakefront homes and football coaches are appearing on radio shows and getting massive endorsement deals. Now you tell me, who deserves to get paid more? And yet, in almost every state in the USA, the highest paid state employee falls into either the category of university president or collegiate athletic coach.

Also, like Jason, I seem to get called upon for recommendation letters quite a lot. Every time I mention the subject to another grad student, they say that they never get requests. I guess either I’m popular, available, or a pushover; you take your pick. And I have not been afraid to write some really honest ones. At one point, when I was recommending a student for a program in Israel, I deleted an entire paragraph and just wrote something like: “Listen. I’ve been on an Israel program, and even though Jaclyn Rosenberger (name changed) isn’t an A+ student, she’s no trouble at all. From what I know of her, she is a sweet and genuine person, and not a crack addict. She is well-behaved, polite, and would probably be easy to live/work with. Bottom line, she would not cause you or your program any problems because I can’t see her fucking shit up, so just let her into your program and let’s be done with it.”

I wonder if she ever got in.

This book review is brought to you by all the recycling I’m too lazy to take out but will save the environment…eventually.