Archive for the books are bliss Category

Protected: an open letter to students of the world.

Posted in books are bliss, etcetera, teaching on July 24, 2009 by drbolte

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38.

Posted in bff, books are bliss, bridal diaries, etcetera, going quietly mad, i love my life, me, teaching, the engaged life, wish i may wish i might on July 1, 2009 by drbolte

i have a friend who used to be a roommate (hi friend!) who just moved to begin a grand adventure in a faraway state.  she just packed up her car and went. i am incredibly proud of her chutzpah.  i am not going to write about chutzpah, but i bring up this friend because her most recent blog post had the most magnificent title: “the days are long but the months will be short.”

(her titles are always wonderful and deep. unlike mine.  but that’s okay.)

i love that title because that, in short, encapsulates my life.

i have suddenly woken up with the very real, very visceral realization that i am getting married in 38 days.. i have less than six weeks left.  you know, the six week mark where you’re supposed to start all of those bridal makeover plans, where you stop drinking caffeine (done…like 15 years ago), start eating vegetables and fruits in rich abundance (i’m now in love with spinach salad, fyi…why is it so good?), and start exercising your face off (me and the gym are now friends again. i missed it.  i really did.).

this is the time when all the stuff you’ve put off because it was just too far away to do actually needs to get done.

this is also the time when i have started teaching. i really like my class. a bunch of people dropped, so i only have 26 students, but they’re intelligent and insightful and have much to say about jane austen already. i usually find that austen either creates not much conversation or a strictly reactionary discussion about plot and character. that’s not the case with these students.  they are making really rich connections between cultural expectations and character development, discussing thematic elements, and demonstrating a great deal of independent thought.

i really like them. i think they’re a different kind of class.

(it strikes me that i may be a better teacher than i was, but that’s neither here nor there.)

but this class requires me to make use of every moment of my time effectively.  for the past few days, i have been coming home and taking a quick nap after class, aiming to keep my goal of getting eight hours of sleep each day. if i can’t get it at night, i try to catch up during the day.

i just can’t do it.  there isn’t enough time, it seems, to do all my preparations for class (which includes about 100 pages of reading a day), to go to the gym for about an hour (which i won’t give up. i refuse.), to come home and prepare dinner, to spend time with the bff, and to get the other things done that need to get done. it just…i need like six hours more a day.

i literally and sincerely have no idea how everything will get done. i really don’t.  the bff, bless him, has made it his goal this week to make my life easier. he has told me that i need to give him tasks to do and he will do them.  so, i did. and really, the way i feel is that all of the important stuff has been done. the rest is just a series (a long series, to be sure) of little things that need to be done in order to ensure that things turn out the way that we imagined. but if things are different than we expected? oh well.

(i say this now. but i still really want things to be done and get done and all to be as we imagined.  but i’m trying to be chill.)

my mind is just crammed, but not coherently crammed.  if it were an actual to-do list in any sort of cohesive order, i think it would be easier. instead, it’s really just a big puddle of things that need to get done, often with an accompanying sense of urgency which doesn’t make much sense.

for example, i feel REALLY impressed that i need to get rid of all of my extra books, like, yesterday. that makes no chronological sense.  but there you go. it’s fairly indicative of where my head is at.

so i go about my days, which seem long and packed with running here and there and trying to finish everything that needs to be done each day.

and i look up and clap my hand over my mouth and realize that in one month, i will be moving into our new apartment. and one week after that, we will be married.

it will fly by.  it really already has.

i only hope i can make the most of each of those packed days.  i’m sure trying.

the five things that i don’t like about teaching in summer. and their upsides.

Posted in books are bliss, drama drama drama, me, teaching, the joys of living in Florida, will work for food on June 29, 2009 by drbolte

1. the blinding, pit-soaking heat.

i’m really sorry if that’s too much information, but it’s the honest truth. i have to mop myself up before going to class. and that’s just with a 7 or so minute walk across campus. at 11 a.m.  i love florida summers, she says to herself.

upside: it’s training me (and my sweat glands) for august 8th, when i’ll be all decked out in satin and crinoline and hairspray, taking pictures.  at 11 a.m.

2. the blank stares of students on the first day of classes, when they stare at you as if you have the answers to all of life’s problems. or at least like they’re a tiny bit afraid of what you’ll do to them.

upside: when they laugh for the first time? it’s like a zing of success. i love watching them visibly relax when they realize that i am not in fact satan.

3. how hard it is to fill time in a 75 minute class. you can either plan for 50 minutes or you can plan for 90 minutes. i find it incredibly difficult, especially EVERY SINGLE DAY, to fill 75 minutes. i was rather surprised at how quickly i got through what i had planned for the first day. my syllabus schpeel? took like 4 minutes.  hello speed talker.

upside: i am not a clock watcher, so i go with the flow.  we’ll probably always get out a bit early. they’ll love me for that.

4. needy students with complicated questions. class hadn’t even started when i got an email from a student.  then i had two fairly complex issues to deal with straightaway after class ended.  yeesh.

upside: i am apparently approachable.  that’s not a bad thing.

5. the panic i genuinely feel when i start reading a novel and wonder how on earth i am going to find anything of substance to say. i have read jane austen’s persuasion probably at least six times, conservatively, at this point.  i know the novel backwards and forwards. i still find new and interesting things in it, but i am sometimes awash in panic that i am either going to come up with topics too mundane to suit the needs of a 3000 level literature class or too obscure to suit anyone but a phd teaching one of the novels in her dissertation.

i really do worry about this stuff.

upside: it makes me a better teacher, i suppose. and usually about the time that the panic starts to set in, the ideas start to trickle in. i’ve been scribbling them down on the title page in yellow highlighter the whole time i’ve been reading. i think it’s a hodge-podge of simplistic and profound.  i guess that’s pretty good.

at least i’m not depending on them to guide the class.  although they’re supposed to…

we’ll see how it goes.

i’m rather tired already.

well, hello, classroom. i’d forgotten all about you.

Posted in books are bliss, i love my life, teaching on June 26, 2009 by drbolte

with all the angst about job searches in the fall and all the different, but the same, angst about job searches in the spring and all of the part time teaching jobs that seem to keep falling out of the sky (or, i should say, the potential of multiple more part time teaching jobs that may in fact kill me but that i would still do anyways because hello MONEY and we could save some and that would be brilliant), you would think that preparing to teach on monday would not be nervewracking and slightly scary.

you would be, in fact, WRONG.

the classroom? haven’t set foot in one for an academic year.

there are lovely elements of being on fellowship. that’s one of them. and, in theory, it’s the perfect time to, you know, FINISH your dissertation but let’s not talk about that and instead talk about how i lost 40 pounds and found the love of my life instead.

still a pretty productive time, i’d say.

but i’m back to the thing i love to do most on monday. i’m teaching. and not just teaching, but teaching an upper-division novel course.  in six weeks.

let’s all say WHEW! in unison, shall we?

(i’ll wait. go ahead.)

i’m excited. oh, i’m EXCITED. but i’m also nervous. i find myself thinking about all kinds of things–what will i wear? should i worry about wearing professional or worry about not dying in my walk across campus in the death hot (and if today is any indication, it will feel like a tropical sauna)? how will i interact with my students? are my teaching skills rusty?

but strangely, at the same time as all of these thoughts about what to do comes a kind of oddly idiotic detachment. have i started reading the first novel? nope. did i intend to? heck yes. have i done my syllabus? yes. have i completely finished my first day’s lecture? nope. and, while i should be freaking out about it, i feel a strange sense of zen.

i’m not sure it’s zen, actually. i think it might be denial.

nevertheless, come what may…monday brings the teaching.  i’m kind of excited.

and i should kind of do some work.

and it descends…like something scary that descends.

Posted in books are bliss, drama drama drama, going quietly mad, Life, me, wish i may wish i might, you have to be a chick to understand on March 19, 2009 by drbolte

sometimes i really hate being a girl.

or maybe i just hate recognizing that once a month, like clockwork, i go irrational. completely, fruit-loopy, mood-swingy, irrational.

before, maybe i just did it and didn’t realize it.  now i recognize it, am completely self-aware, and yet seem to have little power to pull myself completely out of it.  so lately, i’ve just been trying to internalize it and minimize the collateral damage.

funny thing about that. it causes this whole internal drama that nobody really knows about. they think everything’s fine.  i feel insecure, crazy, and ready to lose my mind.

for about forty eight to sixty hours. then it blows over.

but in the meantime, it has the enveloping power of blindness. let me explain.  AMAZING things have happened in the last couple of days. all of them are answers to prayers.

perfect apartment found and applied for. check.

bff got two job interviews, both of which could be amazing and both of which he’ll be stellar at.  check.

i randomly sent my resume to a private school in the area and got an email back saying that they think i would be a perfect match for their school and while they may only have a part-time position open (three classes), they’d very much like to meet with me.  money? a job? people who want me and think i’m qualified? check.

and yet…i feel meh.  i cry about stupid crap that doesn’t matter, disappointments that are so ridiculously temporary. i worry about things that are stupid and irrational.  i beat myself up for not following through on my insane plan to get up after 4ish hours of sleep and go do megacardio at the gym at 7 a.m. i don’t cut myself any slack while at the same time i get selfish. i stop being grateful and start being greedy for what i want when i want it.

(that’s never a good sign, by the way.)

and for all the attempts to shake myself out it–and i am good at it most times–i find myself having to do it over and over and over again. it’s exhausting. i’m very tired.

i’m ready for the crazy to leave again.  but until then, i may find a little patch of sunny grass, a blanket, and a book and stay there for a while.

if you’re reading the signs, the arrows point to AWESOME.

Posted in bff, books are bliss, disney princesses got nothin' on me, etcetera, faith is action, forward my mail, i am not a gym rat, i love my life, me, superheckyes, teaching on March 6, 2009 by drbolte

so, not like i’m around here that much anyways (sorry! sort of! i really do want to write more! i promise!), but i’ll be off during spring break.  going to orlando tonight, then to miami for a wedding with the bff’s family, then to north carolina for some snow excursions (possibly tubing, possibly just enjoying the mountains…we’ll see…we’ll only be there for a day, so there’s not much time for me to try to learn to snowboard and not suck at it) and meeting my family and doing some other fun things, then back to florida for a bff family gettogether at their hunting/fishing property up north. i may or may not get the chance to drive/ride on a four-wheeler this weekend.  that’s exciting.

ANYWAYS.

i have been praying steadily for lots of confidence, peace, and assurance lately.  i need to not be nervous this weekend–i need to just be myself.  that’s hard when you feel like a fat blob, which is how i’ve been feeling lately, and like a giant failure.  so this week, i’ve been working at being confident.  let me tell you what’s happened thus far.

  • on wednesday, i went looking for shoes for the wedding outfit (i think i originally thought about getting some dressy flipflops because of my toe but BEHOLD i can wear certain shoes! hooray!) and i found these. you can’t tell me those aren’t awesome.  and the best part? they actually DON’T HURT.  and they’re sassy, tall, but don’t make me taller than the bff.  YES.
  • i went to old navy on that same day to take advantage of the $19 jean sale.  i went in there thinking that i would be buying one size, but then they were way too big.  i tried on the next size down and originally thought that they were too small.  but then i sat down…and they didn’t ride down (which on me is the surest sign that something is WAY too small…doesn’t contain my butt) and then i looked at my butt in the mirror. and sweet heck if it didn’t look GOOD.  heaven bless some snug-fitting jeans.  i think maybe it’s been so long since pants have actually fit well on me that i’m not sure what it looks like anymore.  oh, and i found a cami for $5 that i’d been looking for/needing and a pink shirt that’s ADORABLE and looks amazing with the jeans.  on the clearance rack.
  • i finished the draft of the dorothy wordsworth chapter. it’s short, but it’s done and i’m glad.  when i sent it to the director? sweet woman that she is congratulated me on finishing before spring break and didn’t once mention that i had set an original deadline of A MONTH AND A HALF AGO.  i love that woman.
  • remember the job in Jax? the commute four days a week for a decent amount of money?  guess who just got offered a job to teach a British novel course during summer b HERE in g’ville?  yep. that’s right.  i get to teach it.  and i don’t have to commute.  and i will probably get paid more.  and, given the crazy that will be going on this summer, it is the hugest blessing ever.
  • i kicked the gym’s trash this morning. got up at 7:30.  got there.  crossramped. ran for about 8 minutes on my foot.  could probably have gone longer but i had tons to do this morning to get ready to go.  burned 600 calories.  got outside and got a parking ticket but didn’t even care very much because today? i needed to feel like i could conquer the world.

i think it’s going to be an amazing week.

back into the swing of things.

Posted in books are bliss, forward my mail, going quietly mad, perfect brightness of hope, will work for food on November 5, 2008 by drbolte

“Nothing contributes so much to tranquilizing the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.”–Mary Wollstonecraft.

one can only hope.

amidst the fits and starts, plagues and conferences, i am having reentry problems into my life. my focus has been split between job applications and letters and all manner of nonsense that took my focus away from the dissertation. now that i have this big and grand goal, it is taking me more time than i’d like to readjust and refocus.

my aim is to do so this week, mainly by knocking out the vast majority of these job applications. gosh, i will be glad to be done with them, come what may.

(and please, please, please…let interviews come.)

i need a steady purpose.  i really, really do.

yeah, steadiness wouldn’t suck. bring on the steady.