Sunday, August 22, 2010

And so it begins... again.

The MLA job search list doesn't come out for almost another month, and already Brownie has found a position for NEXT August to apply for.  Meaning that any possible sense of "yes, we could actually settle in and stay in this city" is already obliterated.  I figure this is probably not all bad, in that it's good to remember that we very well could be moving again in 50-ish weeks, but it's also like &^%%%*OKIGDKF_)%^&FUCKING%T^Y&DAMMIT NOT AGAIN. 

And so we begin another year of Brownie sending applications off to the void of department application committees, whence they will never be heard from again.  Ever.  A few years ago, I was pointed by a good friend in the direction of a blog whose author was going through a rhet/comp job search and posting the rejection letters with commentary.  The blog was awesome (and even more amusing to me was that the blogwriter had decided not to apply for the opening at the school I was doing my Ph.D. work at because the Humanities Center website was WAYYYY to hippydippy to bother with).  Meanwhile, last year, I don't think Brownie got enough rejections from schools that he could have done a blog mocking them - he wouldn't have had more than about 15 entries despite the 70-odd applications he sent out.

So, if you somehow trip over this blog and you're a member of an academic search committee:  PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF CEILING CAT SEND OUT REJECTION LETTERS IN A TIMELY MANNER.  Many, many lives are depending on the knowledge contained in those letters.  It's much nicer to know for sure that one has been rejected than to sit around and wonder.

The above-yelled advice goes for anyone else who is in the position to reject someone from a job:  please just send out a rejection letter/email/note/whatever.  In the 20-ish applications I've submitted for jobs, I've gotten exactly one rejection.  Everything else (so far, anyway) has been abject silence, which makes me feel less worthy of respect than even a rejection would.

My personal job search boils down to a giant quandary (which I'm about to explain poorly - my apologies).  As of now, I'm unemployed.  I started a beer blog (which I'm not linking to from here because there's a fairly limited number of people that need to know who the author of *this* blog is, given the amount of whining I do here).  I'm hoping that I'll eventually be able to use that to start freelancing the occasional beer article.  In the meantime, I would like an office-y sort of job with a vaguely respectable paycheck.  However, I have no idea how long it will take me to find one.  So I run into a problem:  there's a chance we could be moving halfway across the bleeding country again next year if Brownie gets a job somewhere.  Which would mean I would have to quit any job I were to get.*  So I'm not sure how long I want to spend trying to get a "real" job before I decide to put that on hold pending it looks like we will be moving.  Meanwhile, I applied to Borders, but I've heard nothing yet even from them.  I suppose Starbucks is next.  Or a liquor store. 

My dissertation is still a douchebag, and my relationship with it is still strained.

The good thing:  having nothing else to do, I've been plowing away at novel attempt number 2.  There hasn't been tons of writing, but there's been a ton of worldbuilding and storyboarding and at least 2 chapters worth of writing.  I'm playing around with point of view stuff right now and having a blast with it.  I think the fact that I can at least spend my nearly limitless amounts of free time working on writing has been what's kept me from going nuts during this umemployment phase of life.  I feel like I'm doing something productive, even if it ends up being only to amuse myself.  I will publish a novel SOMEDAY.  It may not be this one (it sure as hell won't be the last one - that was a disaster!), but it will happen.  Dammit. :D

Good thing #2:  I'm wearing BPAL Sundew today and it smells GORGEOUS.

* Brownie says that if I were to get a kick ass job and love it, that we'd stay no matter what happens on the academic search for him.  I think it's sweet of him, but a long shot - I really haven't the foggiest fucking idea what to do with myself, job-wise, so I think it's unlikely that we'd be staying because of me.  Not impossible, but definitely unlikely.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Moving in something under 33 hours

So things are batshit now and have been for a while.  I'd apologize for the lack of posting, but I haven't really been in the headspace for it.  Anyway, the academic job search thing turned out not the way we'd initially wanted it, so Brownie and I are moving in with my parents in a few days.  As my parents live six states away from where Brownie and I currently are, this has been something of an undertaking.

Most of the undertaking is ready to go, at least - 95% of our shit is on a truck in the parking lot right now, rather than in our apartment.  All we have to do tomorrow is turn in the cable box/modem, get our tv and mattress on the truck, eat dinner/say goodbye to Brownie's parents, and then go to sleep.  So that's tomorrow and it'll be sad and hard to say goodbye to his parents knowing that we won't see them next week as per usual.  But for tonight, I'm sad about my bartenders.

Almost exactly two years ago, Brownie and I discovered the bestest little pub in the universe roughly a town over from where we've been living.  By the end of the first visit, we'd discovered that they had a good beer selection, knowledgeable bartenders, and at least one bartender that was willing to shoot the shit for a few minutes when he wasn't busy with something else.  Within three visits, we knew a few names and had discovered that the on tap beer selection changed frequently.  Within a month, we were firmly regulars. 

Two years later, we've just said goodbye to a whole bunch of friends and it hurts.  I remember this feeling from when I moved 1200 miles away from home the first time - saying goodbye to everyone hurt like hell, and every time I've seen them after that has been slightly off, as though knowing that we're spending time together more because we were friends than because we're still active parts of each others' lives.  I guess I'm assuming now that this will happen again, that even with the advent of facebook and whatnot, I'll never be as close to my friends there as I have been.  And this is all natural and whatever, and I've got some really amazingly fantastic friends that I'll be going home to as Brownie and I relocate this weekend.  And this all reminds me that if next year's job search *is* successful and we end up moving *again* that I'm likely to find friends wherever we go that I will in turn miss if/when we leave them.

But right now I'm sad, and I was half in tears while we were hanging out at the bar tonight, and I'm half in tears now and very, very surprised to find just how much it hurts to leave everyone there.  And tomorrow night will be my last night in town, and Saturday night will be spent in a faraway plains state with two very freaked out kitties, and Sunday night will be spent at my parents in yet another, even farther away plains state.  And life will move on and maybe someday I'll become gainfully employed and someday even farther away than that, maybe I'll manage to publish a novel.  But not right now.  Right now I will pet my cat, and I will mope, and I will hope my friends have a good evening.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Recipe time: Spicy Fruity Shrimp

I've got a bunch of recipes that have come about from me futzing about in the kitchen trying to figure out how to use stuff up.  I'll post them from time to time.  The thing with me and cooking is that I tend not to measure anything exactly unless I'm baking or brewing - the upshot is that the measurements here are best guesses of approximately how much I've dumped into something, and the times are less likely to be times than they are "it'll look roughly like x when it's ready."

So here goes:  Spicy Fruity Shrimp on Quinoa

Note:  I've been making this with Pineapple-Habanero Salsa that Brownie and I pick up from a local salsa guy at pretty much every major festival in the area.  The stuff is sweet and hot as all hell.  As far as I can tell, however, pretty much any fruity salsa will work.  The trick is to go a level or  two hotter than you normally would (i.e., I'd normally never go near anything with habaneros in it), because there's some dairy in the sauce that brings the heat level down a bit closer to tolerable.  If you can't find any superhot fruity salsa, get some not-so-hot fruity salsa and throw in a chopped jalapeno or habanero (seed it first) or a few drops of hot sauce.

You'll need:
- 1lb raw shrimp
- approximately 1 1/2 cups of hot, fruity salsa of some kind or another (and maybe a chili or two to heat things up if the salsa isn't already sufficiently hot)
- approximately 1 cup of pineapple (or mango, depending on what you can get ahold of)(peach might be awesome, too)
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1 cup quinoa (make sure to rinse the holy hell out of this:  quinoa naturally produces a chemical on its surface that acts as a near-preternaturally-effective laxative.  Rinsing (even just with water) will knock this right off, and the quinoa will be awesome.)
- 2 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth or water)
- 1/3 cup cream cheese (heavy cream will work too, but I didn't have it once and threw in the cream cheese and ended up liking it better that way)

Peel and devein the shrimp.  Toss the veins because they're nasty.  Take the shrimp shells and throw them into a pot with the chicken broth.  Let this simmer for about five minutes - the shells will turn pink and the broth will take their flavor.  Once the shells have gone pink and everything smells nice and pretty, strain the broth to get rid of the shrimp shells (which can now be tossed).  Set aside (and rinse the pot, because you'll need it again in a few minutes).  Meanwhile, toss the raw shrimp in with the salsa and toss it around until the shrimp is covered.

Next, heat a drizzle of oil in a large-ish saute pan, and throw in the onion and bell pepper.  Let them cook panuntil softened, stirring as necessary.  When the onion/pepper mix is about ready, heat another drizzle of oil (about a tablespoon) in the pot from earlier.  Toss the quinoa in the oil and let it toast for a minute or two in the heated oil (this makes it slightly nuttier).  Then throw in the onion/pepper mixture and the shrimpy broth from earlier (some cumin might be awesome as well, if you're so inclined).  Plop a lid on the pot to cover it most of the way and let it go for about 15-20 minutes.  If, at the end of 20 minutes, the liquid isn't gone, pop the lid off, stir, and let it go until the liquid is pretty much gone.  Let it sit for a minute or two when it's all cooked.

Meanwhile, dump the shrimp/salsa mixture and the pineapple (or whatever fruit)(and any chili you might be adding) into the saute pan and cook until the shrimp has turned a pretty shade of pink, stirring and flipping the shrimp as necessary to accomplish this task.  Meanwhile, the liquid level in the pan is going to increase some - when the shrimp is mostly done, crank the heat up and boil off some of the excess liquid until there's only roughly 3/4-1 cup of liquid left.  At that point, turn the heat down, throw the cream cheese into the shrimp mixture and stir until the cream cheese has melted into the sauce.  Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings if necessary.

When everything's ready, plop some quinoa on the plate and spoon some shrimp, fruit and sauce over the top.  Enjoy. 

Boozy pairings:  a Reisling works well with this, as does a fairly citrus-tinged IPA (Bridgeport would be a great example).

The leftovers store and reheat beautifully.  This recipe makes somewhere in the 3-4 servings range, depending on how hungry you are.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Waiting Game

I had this dream this morning that I woke up from going AAAAAAAAAA.  In the dream, Brownie comes in from a run, flops on the couch with a glass of water, and answers his phone.  On the phone is Department Head from BFE University, the one we've been waiting to hear from.  The phone call is to tell Brownie that he has indeed gotten the position.  Brownie accepts.  Brownie is then given a selection of happy, bouncing, roughly 9 month old babies to choose from, because apparently in the unconscious recesses of my brain job = noisy, crying, pooping pile of responsibility that will occasionally coo.

At least it was different from the other dreams I've been having for the past week - those have all been tornado dreams.

I think I've gone a bit nuts.

The thing that bugs me with the dream I had this morning was that it was all and entirely about Brownie.  I was just a passive observer.  I suppose this is how most of my life feels at the moment - everything is on hold until we find out if he's gotten this bloody job and we can start planning the move, I can start applying for jobs, etc.  I keep hoping U of BFE will call this minute, or this minute, or this, just so that we *know* finally.  So that I can know for sure if my upcoming year involves finding a new job and career path, or if it involves being able to spend as much time as possible writing in an attempt to turn writing into a paycheck.  For now, however, we wait.

And in waiting, all I've managed to do today is some arm weights, take a shower, eat some hummus, scribble this out, wait for beer o'clock.

So I'll end with a highlight of the week (and leave the trip to NYC for anniversary number two for a later post):  after writing the post immediate prior to this, I hopped on facebook and looked up the one person I had managed to stay in contact with for a few years after Carleton.  I found her.  It's really, really awesome to be catching up with her.  So YAY! for that - that's been fantastic.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Rusted Root of my memory

My iTunes Genius threw Rusted Root's "Send Me on My Way" onto a playlist that I had it generated based on Cursive's "the Recluse" (the latter being descriptive of both my physical being and my state of mind lately).  I haven't heard "Send Me on My Way" in a few months (it's buried on some playlist on my iPod, so it does pop into my consciousness occasionally).  It's one of those songs, though, that has an extremely strong memory association, one that pops briefly into mind every time I hear it.  The strange thing (to me, anyway) is that the associated memory isn't one that has any strong emotional pull or any real significance in my life at all.

During the summer in between junior and senior year of high school, I spent three weeks at a Summer Writing Camp at Carleton College.  Carleton is a microscopic, highly-regarded liberal arts college in Northfield, MN, a tiny town of about 15,000 roughly an hour southeast of the Twin Cities.  The writing camp was, despite years of whining, begging, pleading and arguing, my only summer camp experience.  We slept in rooms in the dorms, had a midnight "curfew" (meaning that the RAs walked by and did room checks every night to make sure we were back), spent a few hours most days in a combination of composition and literature type classes, quite a bit of time writing and critiquing each other's writing, and the rest of the time playing Ultimate Frisbee, listening to people play guitar, flirting, swimming, writing more, dancing, jumping through thunderstorm-created puddles, being eaten alive by the omnipresent bird-sized mosquitoes of Minnesota.  It was idyllic.  I gained a much better sense of how to construct an essay and how to brainstorm in a way that worked with my erratic thought patterns; my poetry remained (as it does to this day) a dismal mess.

And I had a boy breakthrough, as it were, thanks to crushing on this guy Joe-Lastnameforgotten.  It was the first time in my life that flirting actually seemed to work (successful flirting was not the breakthrough):  I managed to get to cuddle with him while hanging out by campfires and splash with him in the pool, and (exciting for a relatively inexperienced virgin) got a lengthy post-curfew backrub while out by a swingset, flopped in the grass and being eaten alive by bugs.  I only managed to avoid getting busted for getting in late because my roommate told the RA I was in the bathroom when she came by for the roomcheck.  Yet after the backrub incident, Joe backed way the hell off and stopped talking to me altogether.  In normal (i.e., back home) circumstances, I would have wondered and angsted and avoided confrontation like it was my job.  However, being that I was 500 miles away from home and knowing that if I made things awkward, I'd never see him again after that week, I cornered him and asked him what the hell his deal was.  And it worked:  he explained that the girl back home he'd had a thing for forever had let him know she wanted to try dating when he got back, so he'd cut the flirting with me when he'd heard from her.  So the breakthrough was this:  I figured out that it was a hell of a lot quicker to just ask a guy what the hell than it was to try and figure it out for myself, and that whatever answer I got from the guy was likely to be more accurate than anything I came up with on my own.

None of this, however, has anything to do with the "Send Me on My Way" memory.  The picture that comes into my head with absolute clarity nearly every time I hear that song is banal in the most everyday type of way:  I had just eaten lunch with some friends and was wandered by the post office in the Student Union on my way back to my room to get my stuff for an afternoon writing critique group.  Sitting at the post office desk was a guy with shaggy blond hair, baggy shorts, a ratty tshirt, and Birkenstocks (pretty much the Carleton uniform) - he had to be a work study student, leaning way back in his chair with a dog-eared copy of Neitzsche and talking to some girl that was leaning into a doorframe on the wall opposite where I was standing.  There were papers and boxes everywhere, posters of every imaginable band crammed  He had "Send Me on My Way" blasting on a boombox.  I got my mail (only a note from the camp telling everyone we'd be heading up to the Minneapolis Zoo that Saturday) and wandered off.  That's it.  Yet for some reason, that's what enters my head when I hear "Send Me on My Way."

I don't know.  Maybe I had concocted some idea that college would look like that - easy and relaxed with Rusted Root playing everywhere, long conversations about philosophy in between games of Ultimate.  Maybe it was just that I hadn't heard the song in a while and noticed it because I liked it.  It could be just that it was a particularly relaxed moment in a happy stretch of summer days.  But there it is:  "Send Me on My Way" reminds me of the post office in the student union at Carleton College.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I promise I'm not dead or anything

I've been out in the great Midwest the past couple of weeks, marrying off a friend (whose hellish wedding probably deserves a post), spending a weekend in Tulsa, hanging out with my brother and so on.  It's been a strange combination of hellaciously busy and completely bored while waiting for bridefriend to bother getting back to me, etc.

Anyway, the actual news-not-news is that the university we've been waiting on to find out if Brownie has a job with them this upcoming year has told him they'll get back to him sometime next week.  This means two things:  1) after next week, we'll be able to make firm plans on where/when/how we'll move (FINALLY) and 2) next week, until they get back to Brownie, is going to be filled with him being anxious, not sleeping and so on.  I'm going to try and suggest he spend most of it cooking or something like that, because the anxiety can be really difficult to cope with (for both of us, honestly - his anxiety has a tendency to fill whatever space he's in) and I'm trying to come up with ways for him to be busy.

As for my preferences, to the degree I'm allowing myself to have any, I'm not sure.  On one hand, it'd be awesome if Brownie gets the job because that means we'll have at least one guaranteed income next year *phew*.  OTOH, the job is in a small PA town, meaning that it'll be really difficult for me to find a worthwhile job.  I don't relish the thought of sitting around endlessly jobhunting next year.  Brownie has told me that I can just stay home and write next year if I'd like, and I do relish the thought, but I need to have some sort of job that will allow me to get the hell out of the house sometimes or I'll go batshit insane -- a feeling compounded by the fact that if we end up in said small PA town, I wouldn't know anyone at all besides my husband.

Meanwhile, if we come to the Midwest (back home for me), it'd be much easier for me to find a job, and we've got a huge social network out here, and there's generally more to do.  I'd be much happier on a day-to-day basis.  However, if we move out here, Brownie won't be teaching anything in any kind of academic capacity unless something really strange happens and he manages not only to get into the adjunct pool at any of the local places, but also manages to get a course or three to teach. 

The problem is that being in academics, a year off can be nightmarish to explain on the job market.  He says he feels like if we move here, he'll be giving up on a long-fought-for, not-quite-achieved dream.  That's understandably difficult, and so while I'd be happier in the Midwest, I kinda hope we end up in PA so that he can have the change to do another round on the academic job market, since that's what he wants.  If that round doesn't work out, however, it's over.  Period.  My choice on that.  I can stand to go through this one more time, but after that I'd like to know that we're going to be able to settle down for a while and get around to starting a family and so on.  He's agreed.  The whole academic job search thing is too big a strain to repeat any more than that.

So that's that for the moment.  I hate the waiting, but I'm at least used to it by now.  I feel like that's all I've been doing for close to a year now.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

omg tvtropes WHY


I somehow just managed to waste something on the order of 6+ total hours today reading 

This is embarassing.  (Also I was warned, but that's irrelevant.  I really thought that when my brother told me not ever to go on that website ever because I would never read anything else again that he was kidding.  He wasn't kidding.)

My attempt at self-justification:
- it's an intelligent website: clever, funny, well-written and thoughtful
- it really is funny as hell (e.g., referring to a fantasy religion which bears a distinct resemblance to Christianity but which cannot use Jesus as its central figure due to being made up or whatnot as a Crystal Dragon Jesus)
- it covers all kinds of examples of particular tropes in action as it were
- it's one of the most hyperlink-happy sites I've ever seen, so that it's almost impossible to make it through an article without seeing 2-3 links worth clicking on (the Crystal Dragon Jesus article leads me to click on Dead Unicorn Trope, Power Crystal, and Messiah, among others).  The upshot is that by clicking on Dead Unicorn Trope, I then get another fun page with a clear description of the trope, plenty of examples, myriad hyperlinks, and an admonishment only to add an example if one is sure that it really an example - i.e., recognize the size of one's reference pool (Small Reference Pool then comes up, which was the next thing I clicked on)

Anyway, I'm way more click happy here than I've ever been on wikipedia (or really any wiki at all).  And I feel... not particularly thrilled with myself for it, even though it did make the Ritual Saturday Night SyFy Movie Fest with Brownie more entertaining ("look!  It's the First Girl!  She'll be the romantic interest...").

Tomorrow will have to include no tvtropes.  SRSLY.

It will, however, include Brownie's hooding ceremony.  So YAY for Brownie's hooding, and I should go to bed so that I'm functional enough to help railroad the 30-odd people that will be there for it tomorrow.