Hermits Rock

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Today I am as focused as a student with a phone in his pocket. Open a book, open a blog, write a sentence, wash a dish, vacuum a rug, bury a hatchet, sharpen a knife: every minute my mind reaches for something else, returns to a previous task, collects a memory, projects a future. I’d like to carry on an extended conversation about pacifism, or to talk over a president’s layover in Afghanistan, or to discuss any of a myriad of things, but I’m not much good for any of today.

While running yesterday I heard singing a black-capped chickadee and at least two cardinals, and someone is calling now: whom I cannot place an American robin (there are moments when it is difficult to associate sense with memory; this was one of them: who was I to believe the robins would be back in Iowa by March 1? Not until I saw one this afternoon did I believe it. Other migrants too are haunting us, which I cannot yet name). Speaking of sounds heard, New Trier slams a lot of doors, and her dog enjoys barking at night. Moving to smells, her boyfriend visits on the weekends and exhales cheap tobacco into the heat registers. It’s not the first time I’ve had scents waft from below, however. When I first moved to Iowa City, I lived above a pizza parlor, one of the best in town. My window was above the exhaust hood from the ovens, so every night by 5 o’clock, when my stomach turned to supper, my mind turned to Pagliai’s. The apartment building was managed by a fat man who wore tiny cutoff shorts and a tanktop in the summer, the better to sweat in, I suppose. Gary’s parents lived in a large apartment downstairs; his father, a meticulous keeper, would mow a twelve-by-twelve patch of grass for an hour every week. From my window one windy day, I watched him chase an eddy-tossed scrap of paper for fifteen minutes. It would land on the grass in a moment, and he would make his slow way toward it only to watch the wind pick it up and deliver it into a shrub a few feet away. Around and around he chased the paper, and eventually, he caught it. The whole reminds me of a line from “The Dream of the Unified Field,” ripped savagely from its referent: “I watch the head explode then recollect, explode, recollect.

At some point in reading The Historian, I realized that Dracula functions for the novel’s heroes as an excuse for them not to finish their dissertations, or anyway, their current books. It’s as if Dracula lies in libraries, waiting for that perfect moment when an academic has just finished comps and is looking toward the prospectus; then, maliciously he, or some character I do not yet know, plops an antique, mysterious book in their carrels. Oh, the horror! The poor souls cannot help themselves, for scholar is as scholar does: each, intrigued, abandons his current research and sets off on an increasingly dangerous quest for vampirical evidence, which, inveitably, they find. It’s an inventive, sweetly innocent plot device that, along with a multilayered schema of delayed storytelling, works. Kostova’s romanticization of academic labor makes me smile, especially because it reminds me of the hilarious farce that is the classroom in The Da Vinci Code. I do intend a full review when I finish, but already I can say, this novel’s good reading.

Sadly, Octavia Butler died last week, consequence of a fall.



i like the birdsongs… how’s that for lame comment?

i think we may all have comment exhaustion…except JH, who seems to be going strong on the pacifism blog.

is the knife you need to sharpen like poppa’s sword? and that will be the last time i reference that story?

or, is it the knife of your witty repartee?

More like the knife of your witty repartee. :)

I’m exhausted. I just spent two hours straight acting the trained writing monkey, as part of a continuing job application saga, that, perhaps, I’ll be able to tell about soon… Anyway, this was me:

And this is me now: courtesy of Bombay Sapphire, g&t, here I come.

Aaaaahhhh. Much better. Probably because K made it much stronger than I would have…

Back to bird sounds, that Cornell Lab of Ornithology site is super cool. I wish I knew what the other birds I saw today were. I wasn’t at all expecting so many migratories to be shuttling through yet. Two weeks, perhaps, but not yet.

i shoulda said touché, but my rapier is a little dulled

Phone interview #2 in 45 mins, with the same people I interviewed last week! (They say it’s a continuation of that int, but I’m treating it like #2. I deserve it after playing their monkey.)

I’m glad someone sees it as “going strong” rather than being an endless fount of tedium. I’ve got articles to read and write, so I’m going into self-imposed comment exhaustion as well. Starting…now.

Ugh. Everything’s so… in the air, now. At the same time after they ask, “Is there anything we could do to help your partner look for a job?” they say, “It may be two weeks before we make a decision.” Are they being honest in claiming there’s a lot to do before they make an offer, or are they stalling to reconsider, perhaps to interview someone else? Would they have stalled because today I showed I am less versed in their issues than I would like to be?

They also asked, “Who’s your congressman?” I blanked, then I gave the wrong Jim—Nussle (who’s running for gov and is IA's 1st district congressman) instead of Jim Leach. Damn.

¡¡¡¡It’s all so confusing!!!!

you should’ve said GOD

and then busted out in a stiring rendition of,

He’s the Lily of the Valley,
the bright and Morning Star,
he’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

quickly followed by Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott, just so that they he’s not just a lover but political as well.

dude… you need another GnT!

at least this way next time you can say… i don’t know, but i’m drunk.

anyway, for what it’s worth, happy thoughts and positive chakra sent your way :)

good luck.

just in case, is there anything that they can do to help MB’s partner look for a job? :)

If by that last it means that MB’s partner will be out of a job in a few months, then…


And, thanks for the wishes.

I wish I knew to trust these interviewers. I really, really want to. It has all been positive; they have been enthusiastic, and they moved very quickly from the point of our first contact to now, checking references, etc. As fast as they’ve moved already, though, what’s with the 2 weeks? why couldn’t they work up an offer between today and, say, Tuesday? Why 2 weeks?

It makes it worse that the last time somebody delayed a decision, it meant that I wasn’t in fact in the running for the job. My contact said, “It’ll be a few weeks, we have two other people to interview next week, and we’re also busy, so give us a while.” I had felt fairly confident in the interview, but then I didn’t hear anything, and I didn’t hear anything, and I still haven’t heard anything. It was all a sham game: they weren’t going to contact me one way or another, and the promises they made were from the outset empty.

So, even though these particular individuals with whom I interviewed seem nice enough, and even though they seem on the up-and-up, I don’t feel like I can trust them because of what happened before. i have no good perspective at all….

we will know for sure in 2-3 weeks.

i meant to mean that we will know for sure in 2-3 weeks whether or not mb and i will be in for trading roles—but i guess we will also know whether or not greg and kl will be doing something new, too.

Ugh. I’m beginning to hate that timeframe, 2-3 weeks.

Now, kl has a 2-3 week timeframe too, for an interview she had today!

ok, so this is stupid, but why did they ask who your congress(wo?)man was? is this a gov’t job or what? or are they just checking to see if you are paying attention to life in general?

no gov’t job, but activist (of sorts). to check if I pay attention, I think. we were trying to dissect it a minute ago. a) I answered “Nussle” quickly, without thinking; b) it’s a transferrence of “Jims,” and they’re Jims in adjacent districts, which is at least understandable. on the other hand, did they already know my congressperson: ie, did they look it up beforehand to see if I’d get it right? If so, would they just cross off “leach” and tsk, tsk, and not look up nussle to see if the mistake was understandable? finally, is it a good idea to alert them that i in fact realized my mistake after the fact, or should i simply let it go, at least until (if) they make a job offer?

I don’t know about whether to let them know, although you could do it casually enough in the email thank-you for the interview, right?

That’s been proposed, but then again, what they (maybe) don’t know won’t hurt them is the other line we’re considering.

But you raise another thought. e-mail thank you? Is that formal enough, accepted practice?

don’t know…it’s standard in academe (even after a two day campus interview) but i don’t know about the real world

OK. I did some looking, and an e-mail is acceptable. And, since all of my contact with them has been via e-mail, I decided this was indeed the better route, for consistency’s sake…

ok, back to your pacifism reference.

the longer that discussion goes on, the more i realize that, indeed, i am a heretic.

all these arguments about whether god contradicted himself etc.

gawd! who are we to say… not just because god’s ways aren’t ours, as isaiah reminds us… but because these are all too human texts with political and ideological purposes that are at cross-hairs; that, in the best of instances, try to enunciate a flawed and human understanding of who god is and in the worst manipulate religion for the advancement of a socio-political agenda that wasn’t very civilized, to say the least; the reading and overdetermining and allegorizing this or that passage to try and portray a consistent picture of god… despite employing a schizophrenic hermeneutic.

but, please don’t ask me to articulate a consistent hermeneutic…”i’ve gotta write a paper on a mexican nun. :)”

Well, what you say is why I blanched that one of the “core beliefs” was “The Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God.” First, I wouldn’t say that; second, if I did say it, I would want to define inspired and inerrant very carefully, and myself.

Don’t I get any props for my smelt-jumping Kierkegaard?

(I know, I know, he’s a lot out of context, but still… he’s cute, right?)

yes, i laughed and laughed and laughed at the smelt-jumping kierkegaard. this was truly funny.