Thursday, December 27, 2007

Holiday and Festivals

It's been a busy couple days. Though I do not celebrate these holidays with family, it frees me up to be with my friends. I'm very thankful for that. Last Saturday, as many of you already know since you were there, I attended a holiday concert of rockabilly and surf music. A freakin' bargain at five bucks. Many thanks to Deb for putting it all together and convincing me to come all the way across Connecticut. And a shout out to Ninth Wave for a fantastic set! Jason James also rocked the Zen Bar late into the night (sorta Zenish, I guess).

Christmas Eve, I worked and worked. It used to be that when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I worked at a bookstore in the mall (most of my paycheck went to books) and I would always take heavy hours during the holiday. This was not only to give people some time off, but it was also a lot of fun because people are just nuts. Some are in a great mood, smiling and laughing as they make their purchases and hurry off home. Others are just wild-eyed with panic and fatigue. The entire gamut of emotions were on display.

But this Eve, I was driving back from Ashford down twisty Route 89. There was a full moon out that night and it hung large through the tree branches -- you know how sometimes the moon can look bigger than it usually does. As I rolled through the curves, the moon swung back and forth, first to the left and then to the right. It was lovely and calm, like a poem waiting to be written.

After a quick dinner, I ate sugar cookies and watched Rudolph with my neighbor. Reminiscing about how these shows traumatized us ensued (the abominable snow person, as Kate would attest later in holiday was scary!). I also noted that everybody, especially Santa, were complete assholes. And we couldn't figure out what was wrong with the little dolly on the Island of Misfit Toys (and what the heck is King Moonracer's backstory??)

Christmas day I drove up to New York to visit Kate and Gene and Kate's brother, Robert. For some reason I thought the roads would be fairly clear but I think it was full of people escaping from their families and finding no perch to land upon. Certainly with all the weaving in and out of traffic, a number of them were full of Christmas "cheer."

I finally made it to New York (gosh it's great that I know Kate's directions were going to be perfect -- you can always rely on her for that). I entered a house from a novel. Three floors, packed with plants (pokey lemon trees on the landings), paintings from floor to ceiling, and elaborate chandeliers. I was reminded of Sir John Soane's museum in London where he had bequeathed his house/museum (this was Britain in the 19th century, at the height of its imperial power) only if it was kept the way it was. So, there it is, a relic itself.

It was fantastic to see everybody. Just like old times. Gene was frosting cookies in the shapes of superheros (and one villain -- I wonder if he ever saw that Robert and I had amputated the Green Goblin's legs?). We watched Stardust, which was one I had been waiting to see. Then we drank, ate chocolate and had a wonderful Christmas Goose (and mashed potatoes, and chestnut stuffing, and green beans). I never had goose before and it was yummy. Then we watched Rudolph (again for me) and then a Junky's Christmas. We tried to watch the Simpson's movie but even Kate was falling asleep.

The bed was hard, but I loved it -- slept like a rock (ha ha ). In the morning, I woke up to quiche and bacon and coffee. I could get used to being waiting upon like this! But I had to be off -- back to Connecticut. Merry holidays everybody!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fun with Research

In my long list of very cool publishers, let me add Vertical Inc., who puts out quality, classic manga. They are responsible for the Buddha series by Osamu Tezuka and a lot of the "godfather" of manga's works. I asked one of the editors today if they were thinking of putting out the title Human Metamorphsis which is a funky, freaky title, and he said they were definitely interested. I hope it occurs because of all the Tezuka stuff I saw at the big exhibit last summer, that's one I would like to see. Ms. Hunt wants to see his chibi Crime and Punishment which would be all angsty and cute. It's Super-Deformed Raskolnikov!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Stardate December 19...The Story So Far.

I sit all day in front a computer and now I sit all night in front of my computer. How can this be right? So, what's your excuse?? Am also watching my favorite holiday special, South Park's Christmas Critter special.

Well, to sum up the week since I survived my harrowing drive home (and now the fun of ice!). On Friday night, had a real ZOMBIE at Aloha Alochohula. You know it started to work when you felt the need to nosh on brains. I didn't drink too much because I had to get up and help lead services Saturday morning. What I like the most about the people at this synagogue is just how helpful everybody is. So, we are standing up there and, despite a cheat sheet, we sometimes don't know what is supposed to happen next. So, ask the audience and they help out. It takes a village.....

Saturday afternoon was game "night" with goodies and gossip! I'm sure J-zone heard more than enough about hair products than he ever cared to.

Saturday night and Sunday, I spent all the time finishing my students' research papers. There were some low points (and a few high ones). At least I didn't completely despair that I was the worst teacher on the face of the earth. On Monday, another instructor and I worked on placement for next semester. I allowed some of my students to come talk to me about their papers and placement (just one more teaching chance! "Wait! I have to tell you how World War II ends. We won!!! USA! USA! USA!") I was there until eight and had to talk two students "off the ledge."

Monday night, I called to with a very, very happy birthday to Miss Kate! Happy b-day!

Tuesday I had lunch with a special guest in from the West Coast -- Ms. Bertoni. She was visiting family in New York and had to drive her father to Brainard airport to pick up a two-seater plane he had bought. As proper ladies who lunch, we went to Rein's Deli in Vernon (ok, as two Jewish ladies who lunch). She and Lisa are doing extremely well and it was great to see her. Rachel is changing jobs, and it sounds like a great opportunity. After that and on Wednesday, busy, busy, busy (WHY did I start another job this week??)

Netflix viewings: Twin Peaks, season two (besides the clothing and hairstyles, holds up pretty well); an anime series that even my neighbor likes (there is an anime for everybody)-- Mushishi; and finally saw Stranger than Fiction which was worth it just for Emma Thompson and Maggie Gyllenhal.

Oh, and forgot to say that I talked to Ms. Hunt (check out her awesome webcomic listed to the right. She's got a new artist who I really like).

*whew* that ought to hold y'all for a while.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Seven Stages of Driving in Snow

Shock and disbelief: This can't be happening. The weather people said it wouldn't start being bad until one. Why is it snowing at 10? I've got to hurry up and get out of here.

Denial: Oh, I've given myself plenty of time to get home. This should be fine. I made sure I went to bathroom before I left. I have cigarettes and plenty of music. Maybe I can even stop and pick up something on my way home. This will be fine. I just know it.

Bargaining: To whatever superior being is up there, I will do anything you say if that big hill on Route 32 is clear and I can make it up it. Please, please, please.

Guilt: If I die on my mother's birthday (December 13) she will never forgive me.

Anger: Why the freak can't I see out my windshield! Why is the ice freezing on the wipers and now I have only a small spot I can see out of! Why are these people driving so fast! Why are they even on the road? Where's the &*%* snowplow guy??? Why didn't I leave earlier?

Depression: I'll never make it home. I will die in Franklin, CT.

Acceptance and hope: I only have control over my car. I do not control the weather. I do not control the other drivers. I will just aim for that little spot of road I can see that was left by previous drivers. At the next stoplight, I will get out and clear my windshield. I will make it home. You can do it, Wendy. Good girl.

So, it took me three hours to make it home. I left at 11:30. Stuck in traffic at the on-ramp onto 395 and sat there for forty minutes while I watched the snow pile up, knowing it would only get worse once I hit 32. I made it into my door at 2:30. The only time I got really, really stuck (not just fishtailing) was trying to get into my spot. The only car I almost hit was my neighbor's car. Fortunately, a new neighbor who was out shoveling brought some sand over and we cleared the light, fluffy snow. I made it! I'm home!!! I survived!!! I'm sure I'm not the only person who experienced this so I'm hoping everybody else made it safe and sound.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fun with Grading/Saving the Writing Soul

The title is a misnomer since the last thing I want to do is talk about grading. There is just far too much of it this time of year. I was hurriedly finishing one set of exams just so I can be prepared for the research papers tomorrow. I just know that some of them will break my heart. It makes me feel like that with one more week or one more session or one five minute discussion, I could save their writing soul. But I'm preaching to the choir, right? I do have some literature that I could pass out.

Speaking of writing, I helped my niece write her paper on Macbeth last week. Of course "help" is relative since all I did was ask her helpful, guiding questions. I related this story to my students, and they were outraged. "couldn't you just tell her the answer!" they cried. Alas, no. Still, I was heartened that my niece did seem to understand the play. We take solace from where we can find it.

Yet another point about writing -- I had my interview with the DH editor, who has been in the business for a long time and was quite a talker. The discussion did descend, at times, into fan talk, and I definitely got the picture that he was used to speaking to fan culture (for instance, I had read some of these quotes before -- gasp! not like we don't repeat ourselves, yes?). I think I got some good stuff and some good directions for the essay. Although I started with a disclaimer ("I'm just simple manga farmer from the sticks"), my prep for the interview helped. He seemed a bit abashed that I knew of some of the manga magazines that he had worked on and that had not lasted very long. He was also extremely helpful in explaining some misconceptions I had about the business. Now, I really need to research.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Flying Squirrels Part Deux: the colony fights back

Okay, so this story is old but I figured I needed something amusing to write about. Last Friday, I helped out my friend and we were walking around the house when she kept noticing things out of place. Like "that bucket has been turned over," "that lamp has been unplugged," and "I remember I neatly piled the stack of papers." This quickly turned into several thoughts "ghosts" or a "break-in" (yes, we went for the less plausible one first). Shrugging, we turned to the work at hand when I noticed movement a few feet away. Out popped a little squirrel from under a chair. Not wanting to freak out my friend, I just said to her in a firm voice "here, you need to come with me" and we left the room, closing the door behind us.

A wee flying squirrel had returned to the scene of the crime. I ducked back in the room to get my purse, coat, and her cell phone. On my second foray, despite all the noises I made, it was scrambling across the table toward me. I quickly shut the door and started to laugh. My friend tells me after the fact that the squirrel wrangler (well, the trapper) had told her that this particular breed are very sociable, nosy creatures. They walk toward sound instead of away from it.

So, I took off since there was nothing else I could do. The wrangler showed up. My friend called me later to say that the critter had been easily captured. In fact, the wrangler walked up to it on the second floor and it climbed into his gloves -- I'm not kidding. He theorized that it had been left over from the previous invasions and since they had sealed up the house so well, the poor thing couldn't find its way out. When we arrived, it was like "thank God, maybe these people can give me directions! Why are they shutting the door? Why are they laughing at me?" All of the curtains on the windows had been slightly parted as the squirrel stared out to the nature it couldn't get to. I have named it "Emily Dickinson."

I also like to imagine the rest of the colony coming up with plans to spring their family member.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Horse to Bet On

Can I just say that the people at Dark Horse Comics are the best? I'm writing an essay for a book on manga in the U.S., and I put out an inquiry to DH on Monday. Within minutes, I get a response from the PR dept and then today I wrote to an editor there who phoned me within minutes of receiving my e-mail. I was terrified that he wanted to conduct the interview then and there, but thankfully we set up one for next Monday. I would have done it this week, but I'm meeting with students all day, everyday until then (why do I even assign a research paper when Wikipedia is around?). So, I'm super psyched.

Also received good news that my abstract was accepted to K'zoo next year. Looks like two trips in the Spring -- on to PCA in San Fran and then the great state of Michigan in May. Woohoo. I'm hoping a wombat will be my roommate? (There's the title of my memoirs!)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Mad Rush....

See, this is what I was afraid of while writing a blog. I spend half my time apologizing for not writing. Yes, yes, I know. Fifty lashes with a wet noodle and now I am done with that.

I had a nice trip to Turkey Atlanta. The Logan airport was eerily sedate when I arrived there Wednesday morning. I walked right through security (lucky, they didn't see me!). The flight was also easy with the only empty seat on the plane between me and the guy on the exit row. Nice snooze time (how I envy the QOE's ability to sleep anywhere. My mother can do that too. How do you do it??) My mother picked me up at the busiest airport in the world, complaining about all the amateurs who only go there once a year. We got all our fighting done in the car ride home and were able to sublimate any feelings with food. She baked a coconut cake and an apple pie. Tons of homemade dressing and she went on a challah baking binge after taking a class (loaves of challah, challah rolls, she even made cinnamon rolls out of challah). Then on Friday we had birthday cake for my sister. I am still full.

My sister and her kids came over for Thanksgiving and afterwards we played some cards (and fought some more -- apparently neither my sister nor my niece know how to bid correctly). Then, since there was a "thanks for the movies" marathon on some channel (TCM? AMC?) we watched Rear Window and then Psycho, classic holiday fare, nu? My mother had actually seen all of Hitchcock's movies in the theatre and she was cleaning up and trying to get out of the room before the shower scene. I can only imagine what it had been like to see that for the first time in 1960. I also don't know why after watching Rear Window that I am always surprised how wonderfully sick Hitchcock is. It's like watching Freud on screen.

Friday, the kids stayed over and we had the aforementioned birthday and then went to the movies. Everybody wanted to see something different but I bullied everybody into seeing something I thought everybody would enjoy -- the Bee Movie.

It was okay.

Too bad the kids had already seen Beowulf with my sister (who did not enjoy it at all), but my nephew could not wrap his mind around the fact that Beowulf was a long poem. He didn't believe me. Guess what he's getting for Christmas??? (he's thirteen now and TALLER than me? My poor niece is the shortest one in the family, still holding out hope at seventeen that she will have a growth spurt -- poor dear).

Saturday, I went out with friends to Dave and Busters and even though it was crazy busy with people sick of their own families, we managed to have a good time. How can you not with a well-stocked bar in the middle of an arcade? (There's one in Providence, I believe; anyone up for a road trip?)

I returned Monday night into a warm, foggy night in Boston. Thank goodness that I had an aisle seat because it was one of those flights where you don't see the ground until you've touched down. I finally made it home to kitty snuggling. Pumpkin was so happy to see me that she nearly rolled off the couch. I had to catch her.

Then the mad dash of school. Just work, work, work. You know how it is when the students look like they are barely hanging on and need to talk? Well, that's what I have been doing instead of blogging.

This past Friday night, I led services at the synagogue. Our rabbi has been on sabbatical and the lunatics are running the insane asylum. QOE and Johnny 10x showed up (thanks!!!) and we went out for a nightcap afterwards. Faye showed up and brought a person I hadn't seen in a long time -- what a nice surprise. Things went smoothly. I only skipped one part of the service by accident (you know, the eucharist -- no, really, some other small part which bummed me because I had practiced it that day). And I gave a sermon -- pretty neat, right? And it was all academic and stuff since my medieval training led me to look at the "original." And students look at me like I'm crazy when I ask them to write five pages. Hey, I just wrote a couple pages on ONE word -- gosh I'm cool.

The title of this blog is very correct since I, indeed, have written this in a mad rush.