year in review

The year in review is a common enough trope and although I’m not really using it to structure this post, I figured it was as good a title as any.  I have forgotten for the past two years to write what was meant to be my annual Thanksgiving post, so maybe I can shoehorn some of that into a y-i-r post instead.  Below, some thoughts on 2008 in its waning days.  I’ll try to have 12 points, not chronologically, necessarily, but at least one point for every month.  In the vain hopes of yet creating my own meme (although 5 Sad Songs did find some purchase in my limited blogosphere) I’ll tag a few folks: Lacey, Ellen D, Derek R, JP Walter, Derek M, the Drs. Rice, Mark B.  Umm . . . that’s it.

  1. I am, needless to say perhaps, pleased by the Obama win.  I am not scandalized by the Rick Warren announcement.  I want Obama to do great, but realize there’s a number of different challenges ahead of him and I hope that I and his other supporters prove to be more than just bandwagoners.  What this translates into in practical terms, I dunno.
  2. Last Christmas season I was very sure that it would be the last holiday for my kitty Schnickelfritz.  He’s still with us (well, Xmas is a few days away so knock on wood) and appears to be in decent health for a cat of 17 years.  He likes a brand of treat made by Whiskas calls Temptations.
  3. So, perhaps predictably, I found myself heartbroken early this year.  I mean, moreso than usual and with actual cause.  I behaved rudely in response but I think I have made appropriate moves toward reconciliation with the person in question.  I’ve only seen said person once since the fit hit the shan, and it doesn’t look like we will have an opportunity to meet over the holiday break, alas.  So, back to the drawing board on that front.
  4. I was in a particularly black mood over my birthday this year.  In part, because of item 3 above–I had had sugarplum dreams of spending at least part of my bday with Person, but since things didn’t happen the way I’d hoped with P, no such plans materialized.  At least, that’s the best I can figure out why I was so upset about my bday.  30 is coming up all too soon (2010) but I don’t feel like it was some kind of preemptive age anxiety attack.  Age, after all, ain’t nothing but a number.  Neverthless, I’m sure 30 will be the cause of much despair, wailing, gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, etc., because at present there are no prospects for me to have fulfilled certain essential life goals by the time I hit 3-0.  So, you know, my continued sense of myself as a failure seems to be a likely bet for an ongoing thing.
  5. Well, despite said sense of iminent and absolute fail, things are going well in a professional sense, I suppose.  I’ve been accepted to two conferences for next year, my M.A. should be complete at the end of this semester (just waiting on one more grade being posted), I was asked to serve on the appointments committee, and my 3010 syllabus may be the basis for the dept’s standard syllabus soon.  All in all, not too bad.  This, of course, amidst the fact that with the M.A. I feel I am essentially committing myself with no hope of backing out to a life in academia.  Not that I would back out, per se, but this semester has felt particularly rough so thoughts of dropping out, etc, have been common.  This isn’t a plea for pity or anything (I know, I know, I always say that), just a note that I have found my attention distracted throughout this semester and I feel like I didn’t make optimal contributions in my seminars, and I know that neither of the projects submitted for said classes were examples of my best work.  For those of you already a bit more establish in the field, is there something like a”Year-3″ slump or something in the grad school lore?  I’d feel a lot better knowing I wasn’t alone in this.
  6. Okay, okay, I admit.  While Heath was amazing and deserving of every inch of the Oscar he seems a fairly solid bet to win, The Dark Knight didn’t really live up to my expectations.  There’s a lot of great stuff to recommend about it: Heath, yes, but all the performances were good, it’s well edited, directed, designed, and photographed.  But my god what a lazy, careless, sloppy script.  There are plotholes you could not just drive the Tumbler through, you could make it do loop-the-loops.  I’ll own this one, Lacey.  Did the flick give me some great Batman/Joker scenes?  Sure, but it completely duffed on Harvey Dent/Two-Face–so, what Two-Face’s criminal career is all of, like, six hours long?  Wtf?  The last, say, 10-15 minutes of the film are an embarrassment, frankly.
  7. Fecking insomnia.
  8. I just saw it a few hours ago, and I feel pretty confident no film will be as pleasing, romantic, funny, exciting, etc, etc as Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.  Here’s a promise to all of my readers.  If you see the flick and don’t at least like the film, if you aren’t moved in any way whatsoever, I will refund your ticket price up to $8.  Honest to god.  That is how confident I am in this picure’s greatness.  See it.
  9. It would have been a great film to see with Person above, but, ay me.  For a while earlier this year, I thought there was going to be hope of another person, but it didn’t play out.  No harm.  Said New Person has already seen Slumdog Millionaire and loved it.  It is for things like that I thought this person could be the new person.  Ay me.
  10. Music wise, I haven’t heard much that really excited me this year.  Well, to be fair, I haven’t heard much that was brand new to me that I got excited about.  New discs from Coldplay and Radiohead wwere both good, but I’ve liked both bands for a long while now.  I think the only really new thing that dropped this year that I liked was the Vampire Weekend disc (self-titled).  I occasionally worry about my tastes metastasizing as I creep closer to 30.  Are Coldplay and Radiohead the only things I like now?  Will I never again read about some new gang in Blender or Rolling Stoneor Mojo or Spin (God it’s been a long time since I read Spin) and fall in love with a new sound?
  11. I really liked my summer students and got along very well with them.  In fact, one of them has joined my 3010 in the winter.  For whatever reason, my fall students and I just never really bonded the same way.  I’m skeptical, as some readers know, of the image of the teacher as some kind of hero in his students’ lives, so I’m not saying I expect to have that kind of dramaturgical relationship with my students.  That’s to say that I don’t expect any of my students to recite “O Captain, My Captain!” in my honor at the end of the semester.  On the other hand, though, I do like teaching a lot more when I feel like I have some idea that my students are more than automata being made to do my bidding.  I should note, of course, that the fault on this count in entirely mine–I didn’t make the effort, I guess, to connect with them in ways that I have in the past perhaps.  In fact, I’ll add this semester’s teaching to the sense of total fail mentioned above in item 4.  I wouldn’t say I let my students down, exactly, but I will say that they didn’t get my best, either.  Sorry guys.
  12. I was saddened when a friend and colleague decided to discontinue his blog.  Not that I’m pissing on him, though.  It has more to do with the fact that, although I get a kick out of having my own little private office on Maccabbees 10th, I feel isolated from my peers and fellow GTAs now.  (The ironic part is that said colleague is only, essentially, down the hall from me.)  I know grad school is not really meant to be an extended social event, but I hadn’t realized until this semester how important the social aspect of it had come to be for me.  Already I feel like people I’ve come to rely on for that sociality are soon (well sooner than me at any rate) going to be into their QEs and ABDs and I will like as not rarely see them.  Sad.  I’m now one of the “experienced” GTAs in the dept (well, more experienced than some, not as much as others) and I feel like I should be doing more to help welcome new GTAs to the dept, since I was so dependent on the camaraderie just to survive my first year and not either (a) drop out or (b) my own quietus make (with a bare bodkin).  Not that I want to force any unwated bonding or anything on people, but I feel like I should “pay it forward,” if you’ll forgive the triteness of the phrase.
  13. One to grow on: I used iMovie for the first time this year and really liked it.  If I can get more time playing around with it, I’d really like to use it for presentations or something rather than PowerPoint.


10 Responses to “year in review”

  1. Machina Memorialis » Year in Review Says:

    […] trying to start a year-in-review meme and tagged me, so here’s my accounting of the year. Based on what Mike wrote, the guidelines […]

  2. jargoncomputer Says:

    I think you should have linked-out “Tumbler.” Despite this missed move, I really enjoyed this post. This, of course, means that I read the WHOLE thing. kudos to you dear sir (aka King Kuppa).

  3. CW Says:

    The private office is a boon for working. But I agree with you that I see less folks than previously. Seems ironic – i expected to see more faces than I do, but I also attribute the (unwise) move of taking an extra seminar on top of an extra kid at home for the first time through an entire semester. But thanks for the props, and I hope we manage to see more of each other next term. As for the blog, it was time to let it go. I too often felt compelled to write there, even though as a genre it never felt comfortable to me. All the same, I learned a lot about writing, myself as a writer, in a context of resisting writing a genre that never really did fit my sense of self. Something had to transform, and it just seemed easier to transform the blog than myself!!

    But as for supporting new students – I totally agree with you, and if/when we have another SAGE meeting, we can talk about the planned orientation which, I forgot to mention, got an okay to proceed forth.

  4. Kim Lacey Says:

    Okay, either your blog is snowing or I’m going crazy. Either are highly plausible explanations, but I’d appreciate some clarification…

  5. ellen Says:

    Let’s see…in the last 4 months my life has completely fallen apart. I appreciate the nod, but I’m going to pass on a year in review. It’s just too depressing.

  6. mike Says:

    KL: Yes. The blog is snowing, through the magic of WordPress.

    ED: Understood.

    CW: Also understood, and I second your thoughts about seeing more of each other in 09. I take your point about the SAGE orientation, which I’ll be happy to work on with you, but here I was thinking more about on an interpersonal, one-on-one level.

    DR: Thanks for that. I guess I assume everyone shares my love of the Nolan Batman films. I shall not make that mistake again.

  7. ellen Says:

    Hey! It’s no Tim Burton film, but the Nolan Batman captures the darkness and grittiness that I feel like a Batman film should have. And it eschews spandex bodysuits.

    However, as I noted on my blog, Dark Night shouldn’t be a contender for the Best Picture award, nor should Heath Ledger be considered for a Best Actor nod. And the last half hour of the film should have been the beginning of the next picture, wherein Two Face could have really had a story of his own.

    And the snowy blog is only creepy because as the snow goes through the writing, the font becomes larger and darker and then fades out again. What is truly creepy is the random smiley in the margin.

  8. jargoncomputer Says:

    You are absolutely right. Challengers is, by far, the best New Pornographers album. I had my doubts with their later work, but this recent purchase really put it all back together

  9. newmediagirl Says:

    Yes year 3 sucked. That’s pretty much when I quit the first time. A couple years “off” made it all better. I think it would have gotten better anyway though.

    Come to think of it, this year sucks too. Although my teaching is going better than ever (every once in a while my students must think I’m completely off my rocker, because I stand back and go “Holy Crap! I just did something that one of my mentors would have done! SWEET!”) other than that I’ve spent much of the time angry, depressed, bitter, and wondering if I was doing half as well as I’d thought. I can’t count how many times I’ve nearly walked into our dear Grad director’s office and demanded to see my freaking reviews because the two sentence summary I received really didn’t give me any idea of my actual performance in the department. Sure my research is going fine, and I got into CCCC, but do people actually have any real respect for me or am I just secretly laughed at behind their backs (like I’ve heard faculty do about other grad students, nice). Maybe year 3 is the year of paranoia?

    I’m still waiting to hear if I get an easy out too. Sheesh. Freaking snow delaying freaking interviews…

  10. CW Says:

    Okay, so I have begun anew:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: