The week that was…

And what a week it was.

Monday-Saturday was spent in Orange City, Florida, with my grandparents and uncle. As I wrote in my last blog, this was only my 2nd vacation this century, so I was suuuuuper looking forward to it. And it was just what the doctor ordered (after years with no health care, I finally have some, so these days I can afford the doctor’s orders. This is a pleasant change from my non-health care days, when my only options were after-hours clinics who charged $100 to take my temperature or ERs who charged $400 a pop. Without health care, you end up having to approach your health like the Mountain Climber game on The Price Is Right: you don’t want to see a doctor too early in your illness, ‘cuz then they’ll say “It’s a virus; rest and drink fluids,” and you don’t want to wait too long, ‘cuz then it’s something serious and you end up in the ER paying $400 plus additional expenses.

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Major Attack on Academic Freedom in Michigan

This scares me.

ACADEME BLOG

In the Michigan Senate, the Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee included in its budget proposal a penalty against any public college or university that teaches a labor-related course or offers a labor-studies program.

Michigan State University has been considering an agreement to adopt a portion of programming from the National Labor College. A spokesperson for the university said in testimony before the subcommittee: “’We do also provide training for other groups, business groups, others on the other side of the aisle for how to work with unions on the management side. We also teach de-certification of unions as well.’”

Apparently the state senators found that testimony insufficiently reassuring,

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Faith as a Foundation of Professoring

A blog I wrote for the SBU Writing & Rhetoric blog about professor anxieties & the joys and benefits of teaching off the seat of one’s pants…

RhetComp @ Stony Brook

Matthew Miranda

 As a second-year professor, I’ve found some of my first-year anxieties were year-one specific.

I’ve come to realize no matter how eager and willing I am to make myself available for each and every one of the living breathing miracles in my classes, no matter how sincerely I stress there’s no reason they can’t all get an A, and that the surest way to an A is to focus on the process of writing rather than the product, they enjoy a significantly greater agency in our mutualistic relationship than I do.

I’ve come to realize that my students enjoy the right to self-determination, just as I did when I was in their shoes (even if some of them can’t imagine that I did not in fact spontaneously generate in the classroom the day the semester started, and that my life actually exists beyond class lessons and office hours)…

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Real time Monday night 7:43 p.m.

The crazy neighbors have topped themselves. I didn’t think they could, but last night they did. I read once that while many people respond to logic and others to emotion, there is a slice of humanity that’s turned on by probability. Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile…the (alleged?) moon landing…the first time Michael Jackson moonwalked…a Democrat-controlled White House, House, and Senate still somehow unable to push through public-option universal health care…all had to happen, eventually. But that didn’t mean your temporal ass would be around to witness.


(the magic happens at 3:38)

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My review of Jacob Appel’s The Biology of Luck

 

“In ‘Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,’Jorge Luis Borges describes one of the ironies of language on Tlon, a fictional world turned real: “The fact that no one believes in the reality of nouns paradoxically causes their number to be unending.” Jacob M. Appel’s new novel, The Biology of Luck, follows the lives of characters and characters who imagine characters, none of whom change. Yet this spotlights other dynamics in the story. And while the main characters are essentially themselves throughout, this in no way diminishes the joy of reading this wonderful work.”

Read the rest of the review at: http://prickofthespindle.com/reviews/8.1/appel/appel.html

Why Phil Jackson? by Matthew Miranda

I’m not sure I want Phil Jackson to come back to the Knicks.

 Crazy, right? How could anyone who follows the New York Dipsy Doodles say such a thing? Phil Jackson won 2 titles playing for the Knicks and 11 more as coach of the Bulls and Lakers. The man trademarked #winning 20 years ago, long before Charlie Sheen did, back when Sheen was still someone we laughed with, rather than at.

Rumor has it Phil is “leaning toward” signing on with NY in an as-yet-undefined front office role. It doesn’t sound like he’d coach the team. Some stories suggest he’d work under Steve Mills; some say he’d work over him. Some say he’d be president of basketball operations, a la Pat Riley in Miami; some say he’d be like the Vice-President in the Senate, and pretty much just cast the deciding vote in case of a tie. Continue reading

Real time: Monday afternoon lesson planning & physical violence

Had to call the cops today. The couple downstairs had one of their big blow-out fights that turn physical and then some. I was trying to develop my lesson plans for 4 classes tomorrow. But it’s hard to focus on rhetorical devices and structuring peer review when you hear a man yelling “Stop it! Stop it” over and over and a woman yelling “Call the police!” and “I can’t breathe!”

What do you do? I’m the only other person home, so I know they’ll know I’m the one who called the police. I know within a few hours of the cops coming by, they’ll get back together again and bond over hating me. I don’t want to have anything to do with their lives. Even more so, I don’t want to be complicit in her possible death.

Color me old-fashioned. But when a woman screams that she can’t breathe and would someone call the cops…I call the cops.

The landlord texted me a few minutes ago. The landlord always seems willing to believe these people’s stories. I understand: there are 2 of them, so they pay double what I do, so their word is literally twice as valuable. But dude. Come on.
They told the landlord there was no fight, that the girl was just having an asthma attack. Last time the cops came before this time, the man told them there’d been no fight, that the girl was just drunk and clumsy and had bumped into things.
I heard her, distinctly, say “Get off me,” then “Call the police,” then “I can’t breathe.” That is not what an asthma attack sounds like.

It’s an hour and a half since the police came. The girl’s gone now, but she’ll be back before long. The man is still downstairs. I’ve made zero progress on my lesson plans for tomorrow, because violence and abuse and circular self-destruction are squeakier wheels than “How is Alison Bechdel using metaphor in Fun Home?” and “Can you connect how Marjane Satrapi made you feel in Persepolis with why you suppose she did what she did?” and I only have so much oil to go around.

It’s 3:00. I have to leave my apartment in order to get work done. I’m so tired. In my bones tired. When I spoke with the 911 operator, what I gave off aura-wise was not anxiety, or fear, or concern. It was exhaustion. I’m fucking tired of not being able to work at home because the idiots beneath me don’t know how to act beyond hurting one another and coming back for more. I’m fucking tired of feeling like I’ve wandered into someone else’s punishment in Hades. Sisyphus would be tired of these people and their shit.

It’s 3:00 and my brain is light years away from professor mode. More like pie a la mode. My brain is a syrupy bowl of melted ice cream.

This week I begin looking for my 5th address in 9 months.

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Palliative care hits home… hard.

A sad & beautiful piece on caring for a dying friend.

I like argyle.

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It’s Sunday night, 1am, and Toby has finally settled down. He has two different types of cancer, end stage, and is rapidly declining. It’s sad really that his appetite is fantastic, always has been, but after he eats he’s uncomfortable, nausea and pain for hours. He can’t find a comfortable position. We try all sorts of things. It’s never the same. His regimen of medications is extensive. His prescription diet is not cheap. I’ve been averaging five hours of sleep, interrupted, for a month now. I’m used to operating on little sleep. Insomnia has been an issue for me for years. But stressors push me off balance. And this- caring for my terminal pet- is most definitely a stressor. I’m not complaining, mind you. But the fact is that caring for a terminally ill pet is a lot of work. And it can be hard. As a house call veterinarian who sees…

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Real time 9:30 Sunday night

9:24. I’m going to start working on my new short story at 9:30.

The downstairs kicking-and-screamers started arguing one minute ago. She just walked out of the apartment. He just stormed after her. If she does not leave, this will get physical. Quickly. If she does leave, it will get physical when she comes home in the middle of the night. Continue reading