Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Need a Book

In Need of a Book

This may sound like an odd question, but does anyone reading this know if their library has a circulating copy of the Codex Laureshamensis? Oh -- that would be in the US or Canada, 'cos I need to do whatever I can to help our librarian get it for me on ILL. Yet another thing I should have xeroxed when I had the chance.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Leones : simiae : : Aeneas : Dido

Leones : simiae : : Aeneas : Dido

Lots of us are back to school or almost back. Or back to being service providers for our students? New Kid nails that one pretty well, but the comments at Dr. Crazy's are well worth the read. I don't know that this is as much of a problem in Europe; it never seemed to be one when I was in Germany, but the education pages at the Guardian make me think it's a likely to be a trend in the UK at least. At any rate, teaching is on my mind. It's on GZombie's mind, too -- he's hosting a carnival on teaching on 1 September!

So I've been thinking a lot about Vergil lately. I'm now wondering how I might be able to include it in this quarter's Ancient/Medieval survey without pulling something equally good from the reading list. The class is M-F for ten weeks, so students have a very hard time keeping up with the reading. But that's another story. So why teach Book IV? Roman values. Different types of pietas and how they were reflected. Good gender double-standards, although I'm not altogether sure it's just a gender thing -- Dido is, after all, a Carthaginian -- does that make her a barbarian in the eyes of Troy/Rome? Does it matter?

But then, what do I throw out? Antigone? Nope -- it goes too well with the Aristotle and Xenophon and gives me an excuse to avoid Plato. Germania? They hate it anyway. Sallust on Catiline? The Gracchi? Not ... the Res Gestae!?! Which leads me to why I don't think I'll be completely satisfied teaching at a two-year school forever. I would someday like to ask students to discuss the relationship of the Aeneid to the Res Gestae in context. First year students can't do that. Actually, maybe I can leave out the Tacitus ... But that really means little or nothing on the Empire. Feh -- you try teaching Ur to the Black Death in 10 weeks and make it meaningful! I suppose, if I hadn't made them buy Einhard, I could dump that ... NOT! Although, come to think of it, next quarter, I may dump Einhard and find something else just to get out of that rut.

Why I'm worrying about this at all is the real question. Most of the time, I'm so busy teaching people to read and write effectively that I almost feel that I'm not teaching in my field(s). When my students don't do well, it's not so much that they haven't mastered any content or themes -- it's because their communication and study skills are so bad that they are unable to master the content to see the themes.

Normally, this is my favourite time of year. The beginning of the academic year has been my New Year for as long as I can remember. I know things will be fine when we start up -- despite the fact that I have only a few clues as to how to teach the Second World War. I know that my students will be in a class that will deserve university transfer credit (which will be a big shock to them). I know that I will have to work very hard to help them get to the level that they can pass. And I will do it well, because I'm very good at my job.

But this year, the dichotomy between teaching at the lower level and trying to keep my head at the higher level that will get me a job that allows me to teach things like ... content! or ... themes! or ... historiographic arguments (besides the "f-word")! is really starting to worry me. Even though I know I would be happy at a CC in many ways, and would certainly take a TT job at one, I really miss being able to bounce ideas off colleagues. Except in the summers, it's very hard to talk about writing or research, because it's suspect. People who do such things 'don't care about their students' and 'aren't serious about teaching'. I would argue that people who don't are subject to brain atrophy and spells of depression. But maybe that's just me.

In the conference/professional metaphor EvieB came up with after last year's Kazoo, it's clear that, for the Romans, Aeneas would be a Lion, while Dido is a Monkey. But she used to be a Lion, too. So did I.

advice welcomed

PS -- Going on a short blogging (but probably not commenting) hiatus till I get through at least a couple more books and get my syllabi done.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Riddles of Tiruncula

The Riddles of Tiruncula

I let myself do this as rewards between stints of reading. It took me almost 4 days, so I feel not so bad, and one of the questions really made me think a lot about my teaching, so I'm glad I did this ;-) Also, I've been very down about my ability to actually write a friggin' paper after such a long time -- that's not exactly right; I know I can write a paper, I'm just at the "but it's going to be absolute shite and someone will say so" stage. (How's that for rationalization?)

  1. Are the people you study real to you? As real as favorite fictional characters? Do you picture them? Do you dream about them? (That's one question.)

    Yes, they are real, but not in the sense I think you mean. I do think of them as real people, because they were. And some seem more real than others. Oddly, it's the ones we know less about that often feel more human. Since much of my research is based on land transactions, I see family relationships, titles, places where people have political power, and the kinds of property that they held or owned. Those things seem in some ways more tangible to me than what the annalists write. On the other hand, it is very hard to NOT see the people in Gregory or Einhard or the Astronomer as real -- they are, and the descriptions are often vivid. Note that I am not including Notker. Because, you know, I think we can't trust him all that much. Oh -- and for some reason, Romans seem far more real to me -- I think it's the sources.

    I don't really know if they are more or less real than fictional characters. Many fictional characters are very real to me. I confess that I have spent years wanting to believe that Middle Earth really was/is a forgotten Terran epoch, for example. And if I had any talent and were not so aware that I am Bad With The Time I Have, I'd probably be much more into fan fiction (although not Tolkein). But for the real people, though, there is a line I can't really cross -- I think it has something to do with respecting that they were real people. It's one of the reasons I detest psychohistory: how dare we impart motivations and internal conflicts and obsessions to people who cannot defend themselves?

    I do picture some of them, and usually only the ones for whom we have lots of detail. So I have ideas about Fredegund and Brunehild, and Charlemagne, and St. Boniface, and tons of the Anglo-Norman crowd (especially some of the folk in Orderic Vitalis), but not so much for the people who get one or two mentions. It has never occured to me to think about what Gebhart, comes in the Lahngau (IIRC), looked like, although he has his fingers in many pies. Nor do I picture Sturm, who really did a lot of the grunt work in St. Boniface's foundations.

    I don't dream about them except in the abstract work anxiety way!

  2. What do want your students to know is the most important difference between the early medieval world and the high/late MA?
    What a difficult question, especially as I don't buy the "Discovery of the individual" argument. I'm also quite worried, because this is a perfect doctoral comp. question and the kind of question I dread getting from a search committee. Moreover, the answer is going to be totally inadequate for all you other medievalists, and y'all are going to think that I'm an idiot!

    That said, it's all about periodization, innit? Where does Early stop? Indeed, where does Early start? and High/late? I have to say that I have been so busy debunking popular ideas of the Dark Ages, feudalism and medieval religion for so long, I have probably been remiss in addressing the question adequately, for them or for myself. I think there is also the tyranny of the textbook at work -- the quarter textbook splits tend to allow one to end at the 12th c. and then to start up with the next section as Early Modern, so that sometimes that waning of the MA thing becomes very convenient. Excuses aside, though, it is a different world. (have I protected myself enough?)

    One of the main differences is that we really can begin to think of Europe and the roots of European nations in the High Middle ages. I don't think we can say that of the Early MA. There really are nation-states by the 14th c., and I think we see much of that in the 13th. Despite the fact that there are real reagional/provincial identities, we still see allegiance mor and more to a ruler of a place, rather than (ostensibly) the ruler of a people.

    Another big difference might be the increased overall heterogeneity (is that a word?) of the Church in the west and its existence as a more coherent political unit. The papacy and Church administration/hierarchy are very different in nature, composition, and authority than they were in the 8th or 9th c., for example. Where this gets a bit sticky is the Late MA, where challenges to that structure and authority are very real and arguably much like what one sees under the Carolingians and Ottonians, although I would use that as an example of how things that can look similar are often not.

    Towns are another major difference, although I think it's important to point out that periodization can also make this different. Towns don't just go away in Late Antiquity and show up again in the 13th c. Smaller? yes. Administered in different ways? Certainly. And some do go away, while new ones grow up. But I think it's pretty fair to say that in most cases urban society is far less complex in the Early MA than it is in the Later MA. And as much as I hate to say the words 'the rise of the middle class,' There is something to it. A greater differentiation of labor and increase in social mobility are pretty hard to argue against. I do have a hard time with this one, though, because it really is in some ways very easy to conflate with urban life in the 15th & 16th centuries -- but that may just help to demonstrate that what defines Early Modern may be quite arbitrary.

    Finally (in the sense that I am trying not to go on FOREVER), I would want them to see that knowledge and scholarship are different. OK -- probably not if we go with a theme of synthesis of Christianity with pagan beliefs -- that we can see throughout. The pagans change, though. Scholarship in the Early MA (and here I am really generalizing and focusing on Western Europe, because so much is clearly Not True for the Byzantine Empire and the Dar al-Islam -- at least not in the same way) focuses on defining, preserving, and extending Christian orthodoxy. Synthesis is something that exists mostly to coopt new converts. Arguably, it's also there to work hand in hand with rulers to help them to extend their own power and control. By the High MA, conversion is hardly an issue, although orthodoxy is still a problem. But I think it's fair to say that the questions scholars in the 12th and 13th centuries are asking about God and man's relationship to God are immensely different. Not to mention that Aristotle guy and the 'new' focus on synthesizing pagan philosophy with Christian. Once Plato comes into the mix again, I honestly am not sure if we're looking at Early modern or Medieval. Oh -- and apropos of the urban thing, students do need to see that a greater access to education helps to change soci0-economic-political dynamics in the towns.

    I was going to say something about the Crusades, but honestly, I have to think about them.

    There's probably tons more, but you only asked for one thing. There is never just one thing, unfortunately ;-)

  3. Were you raised with any religious practice? If so or if not, how did that effect your development as a medievalist?
    Nope. My family are basically unchurched; going to church is something both sides of my family tend to do to get ahead in society. My mother, who raised us, is hugely against organized religion. Despite this, and her absolute inability to relate to or behave according to any Christian precepts, she drummed a couple of them into us -- doing unto others and turning the other cheek, as it happens. Not surprisingly, those are also the qualities that best translate into allowing others to indulge in bullying behaviour. Fortunately, I think that they are also the two that translate best across religious bounds and which give a person the most inner strength and resilience. But I think my ideas of social, moral, and ethical responsibilities are to a much larger extent formed and framed by my having read a lot of sf and fantasy and Classics. The basic precepts are how I attempt to live my life, but the others really shape my outlook on how the world works and how to make sense of it and find balance.

    But in an important way, being a Medievalist seems to have affected my religious life, in that I converted to Catholocism in grad school. I have since lapsed, for a great number of reasons, none of which is a lack of general belief in (a) higher power(s). But the particular choice was probably due in large part to the field and the reading I was doing at the time. I think that all of it does help me to relate to my students the place of religious belief in the MA, which was something I had not intended.

  4. How is your bedroom furnished?

    Bed that desperately needs a nice headboard -- I'd like something mission-y I think. Gorgeous coral-coloured duvet and shams, with a very nice cotton sateen bedskirt in a paisley pattern -- the same coral, with a darker rust, gold, and a kind of olive green -- very subtle. Mismatched bedtables with matching wooden lamps. The dresser (only one at the moment, b/c I live with a colleague and there isn't much space) is from Ikea and blue. I was not thinking of this when I bought the lovely new linens. I may have to fix that. No pictures except for my roommates movie poster for the Polish-language version of Mississippi Burning, which is really gloomy, but this is a temporary living situation. Roommate's really gorgeous teak bookcase, with lots of my books (not to mention a big stack belonging to Flagship U) and a mini-stereo. Brian the stuffed tiger. Stackable wire crates with pale green bins to hide things in. My Wallace and Gromit alarm clock. Several boxes of papers, etc., and a couple things that really should be in the storage unit, but I've been too lazy to move them. Oh -- and usually two snowshoe cats.

  5. Describe your dream house in as much detail as suits your procrastination needs.

    There is no one dream house. But really, there are only two. One is a terraced or semi-detached house in a funky neighborhood in a decent-sized city. Preferably brick and/or Victorian. Preferably near a park (on a square with a park would be nice). Within walking distance to shops, restaurants, and pubs, and near efficient public transport. Also not too far from work. If in a continental city, probably in the altstadt (or local equivalent). If in the US or UK, there are way too many neighborhoods to decide from -- I can think of at least 5 neighborhoods I'd love to live in in this town -- someplace big, like London or New York or San Francisco or Atlanta? Also lots. Not LA.

    If not in a city, then a Craftsman or Victorian (unless not in the US, in which case anything cottage-y and snug) in a small town, near the downtown area/shopping district and within loud shouting distance of the neighbors.

    Either way, two bedrooms and an office with built-in bookshelves or two bedrooms but one of them big enough to be an office with a fold-out bed. Really thick and well-insulated walls. An attic or basement for storage. One full, and 1/2 to 3/4 second bath. Central, energy-efficient heat, a small garden (big enough for flowers and a few veg, not so big that it's a pain to maintain), washer and dryer, but also a clothesline, dishwasher, big-ass AGA or other restaurant-quality gas stove with two independently controlled ovens in a kitchen big enough for a big butcher-block island and a comfortable eating/hanging-out area. And a nice pantry with a temperature-controlled wine cabinet. Glass-fronted china cupboards and generally lots of cupboard space and counter space so that I can have a nice selection of appliances without the place being cluttered. Good natural lighting. An overall impression of comfort and order, neither spartan nor cluttered (highly unlikely, if you know me). Wood and tile floors, with really nice rugs. High-speed internet access. A garage. Living room with comfy chairs. Good flow for parties, although I expect we'll all hang in the kitchen -- and somewhere there should be a nicely stocked liquor cabinet and small beer fridge. Close enough to my friends that I can hang out with them and we can still get home easily and safely without mixing alcohol and the driving of motor vehicles. Please note that the alcohol thing may seem exaggerated, but really I'm only talking about what's necessary for entertaining, and there seems to be this thing about getting academics, especially the medieval kind, that involves some imbibing ... Oh -- and some sort of ingenious cubby areas where I can put cat dishes and litter box without their being a nuisance. And a fire/burglar alarm and maybe even hard-to-notice but really efficient sprinklers, because I worry about the kitties. And even though I would like the house to be nice and old, I want all the electrics, etc., brand new, with the latest in unobtrusive green technology (solar panels, etc.).

Oh -- and I saw a good T-shirt the other night. The Happy Bunny, and the caption, "Boys lie, and they kinda smell." Although this is clearly not true for many of my friends, it sums up my mood these days. Grrr.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Quick Entry

A Quick Entry

I am behind ...

  • on scholarly activity

  • On my syllabi

  • on blogging about teaching apropos of reflections on final exams (mostly for GZombie's carnival)

  • on blogging about periodization for Rebecca's edition of Carnivalesque Button

  • on learning how to live the life of a single female academic

  • on laundry

  • on Tiruncula's really hard meme questions

So please bear with me, as a (I hope) good friend is wont to say ...

but today I went to the new school, where I saw my office-to-be a second time, met the librarians who will make my life lovely, and picked up the books about which I complain below. Here's what I e-mailed a friend about it on Monday, when I made the first visit:

I did a test commute to the new college this morning (at 6:30, mind you -- YUCK!) and it took just over an hour. Filled out miscellaneous paperwork, and introduced myself to the division (social sciences -- History is not part of the Humanities, it seems -- probably a good thing, since Humanities divisions are filled with their heads full of literary theory who have ended up teaching mostly composition and are normally bitchy about it) secretary. She showed me around -- the building is decidedly 1960s -- stucco-pebble exterior with some really nice glass brick (nice in that they are not the normal type -- I'll have to take a picture) inserts for light.

The offices are on two storeys, and open onto an atrium-y area filled with palm trees and other tropical plants -- I guess the height of the building and size of the courtyard keep the temperature a bit warmer? And there are fake pink flamingoes in the plants, which appeals to the kitschy part of me. My office, shared, but my share is much larger than my old single office, is on the second storey and, like all the offices, has a huge sliding glass door that provides natural light and a view of the aforementioned palm trees (Sorry -- occasionally the California girl in me comes out -- the fact that I'll be teaching in a place where I can smell salt AND see palm trees AND still be in a place with most of the seasons thrills me).

The secretary is really nice and seems rather efficient. My desk copies had STILL not arrived, and she gave me the code to dial out and call OUP to bitch at them. I was not as nasty as they deserved, but told them if the book hadn't arrived by Thursday, I'd be ordering from someone else. Maybe AJP Taylor? (what I'd order, not who I'd order from). Bastards. The so-called rush order (from 9 August) is apparently on its way, but to the college, NOT to my house. They are shipping a second copy.

Today, I went into the Student Union -- amazingly gorgeous.

Must go home now and work. Possibly less blogging for a day or so.

And to our friend whose shit seems to have really hit the fan, I'm thinking really good thoughts for you -- let me know if I can do anything.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Need Code!

Code Needed!

If you know the code do I can break up an entry and add a "read more" link, could you please post it below? Thanks!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Sad Medievalist Humor

Sad Medievalist Humor

Given the tone of the rest of the book, I doubt this was intentional, but it still made me smile:

"[Charles] Martel did not simply hammer out this system through brute force"

What, another sad medievalist? moi?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I Don't Wanna Grade

I don't want to grade, so I'm meme-ing again

Also, my car is dead and in the shop ...

This is a neat meme. I saw it at Pilgrim/Heretic's place, but I just noticed that New Kid just did it after getting it from Bright Star. So, here are the questions P/H asked me, and my answers. Leave me a comment if you want me to ask you questions, and I will!

  1. Did you ever consider a career other than academia? If so, what?
    The first thing I remember wanting to be was a flamenco dancer. It was actually not atypical for little girls in my hometown. But as an adult? The only serious consideration was a Michelin-starred chef/restauranteuse

  2. What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you in the classroom?
    I don't think I've ever had anything truly strange happen. Some strange students ... oh, wait! I walked in one day, and there on the podium (which, like most podia, was slanted) was a latté, dripping gently. I made a comment about someone leaving a drink, and the stoner student now known forever as Freak Boy said, "I brought it for you." It was the beginning of a long and stalk-y relationship.

  3. If you could relive one year of your life (without changing anything), what year would you choose and why?
    1968 -- maybe. My parents were not yet divorced, I got to hear Bobby Kennedy speak (not that I remember much), my grandfather took me and my mother on a trip to the Caribbean and then driving from Miami to SoCal (which I remember clearly) by way of Hemisfair in Texas, and I danced in the big town parade AND the night show AND in the Nutcracker. So, like, it's a year where I can't remember any bad things.

  4. If you could trade real-life places with another blogger for a week, whom would you choose, and why?
    Hmmm. Probably Tiruncula because she is (AFAIK) like me, single, female, and a medievalist. Unlike me, she seems very together, successful in the way I secretly wish I could be, but don't really think I'm cut out for, and her Latin rocks! Or Sharon for most of the same reasons. I excluded all y'all married people. Everybody I read has a fantastic SO, and I wouldn't want to be too jealous!

  5. Why is it that medievalists seem to have so much more fun (particularly in groups) than other historians?
    Becaue we are more fun? Seriously, I'm not sure. There are some real bastards out there, but I wonder if part of it is that there are relatively few of us in any given department and our skill sets are often really different -- so much so that our colleagues tend to look at us as if we're aliens. To some people the idea of doing almost all of one's research in other languages is offputting or incredible. Plus, like all Europeanists, we get to go abroad. And the Middle Ages are just fun. But mostly I think it has to do with self-selecting geekdom. Medievalists are kind of the sf nerds of academe, and I think most of us are more willing to give each other's nerdiness a break. Oh -- and most of the medievalists I know enjoy good quality alcohol in generous amounts and are generally interested in sex. That doesn't necessarily hurt a party.

    But then again, I could be wrong...

It's Rebecca's Fault!

It's Rebecca's Fault!

Yeah, 'cos I never procrastinate ... But this is pretty cool:

You're Catch-22!

by Joseph Heller

Incredibly witty and funny, you have a taste for irony in all that you
see. It seems that life has put you in perpetually untenable situations, and your sense
of humor is all that gets you through them. These experiences have also made you an
ardent pacifist, though you present your message with tongue sewn into cheek. You
could coin a phrase that replaces the word "paradox" for millions of

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Who'd have thought? I feel like I should go back and do it again, though, because I was divided on one question ...

Aha! If I choose "just the facts" I get this:

You're A Theory of Justice!

by John Rawls

In the beginning, you lived in a town. The town had many problems!
Rather than moving, you decided to come up with the idea for the best town ever. Going
all the way back to the original position, you created the idea for the best town ever!
Lo and behold, the best town ever looked almost identical to the town you lived in. You
decided to stay in the town. Now you resent people mistaking your refined thought
experiments for "the wall of stupidity" in high school debate

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

And if I feel old, I'm:

You're The Guns of August!

by Barbara Tuchman

Though you're interested in war, what you really want to know is what
causes war. You're out to expose imperialism, militarism, and nationalism for what they
really are. Nevertheless, you're always living in the past and have a hard time dealing
with what's going on today. You're also far more focused on Europe than anywhere else in
the world. A fitting motto for you might be "Guns do kill, but so can

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

and, proof that one gets what one deserves, if one lies:

You're The Mists of Avalon!

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

You're obsessed with Camelot in all its forms, from Arthurian legend
to the Kennedy administration. Your favorite movie from childhood was "The Sword in
the Stone". But more than tales of wizardry and Cuban missiles, you've focused on
women. You know that they truly hold all the power. You always wished you could meet
Jackie Kennedy.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

About that last one? No effing way. It is a Bad Book. Gaaaack.

Monday, August 15, 2005

History Carnival 14

History Carnival!!

History Carnival #14 is up at Philobiblion. Read and learn! Read and be amused! Read and Procrastinate!

Thanks to the blogfriends!

Thanks to all my blogfriends!

You guys have been great lately. Thanks to all my friends IRL who don't blog, and to all of my blogfriends (not that the groups are mutually exclusive) for bearing with me.

Now that the immediate crisis has passed (although there may be a different kind looming -- who knows? It's been that kind of year ;-)), I'll try to return to the usual blog topics of things medieval and/or academic. Right now, there are a couple of really interesting (to me, at least) discussions going on at Scribblingwoman's on blogging in the classroom, and at WhatNow on outcomes and assessment. Both of these are near and dear to my heart, so I may weigh in here, too. After I catch up on the grading that the last weekend put off ...

Saturday, August 13, 2005

From Navel-gazing to Stargazing

From Navel-gazing to Stargazing or, the Mother of all Hangovers

Thanks to all my blogfriends for being such awesome blogfriends! Because you are, I thought I owed it to you to tell you how yesterday went. The short version: Survival happened. The long version:

I have a truly vicious hangover. Upset stomach, pounding headache, sensitivity to sounds ... the whole works. A freakishly bad comination of a Corona Light, some alco-pop thing, tequila (the good stuff, straight), tequila (in margarita form), Goldschläger (three or four swallows from a hip flask), a Guinness, and vinho verde. Volumes not as huge as it sounds, though. I was drinking out of one of those tiny 2 oz camping cups ... and over a period of 7 hours. But the last time I drank so stupidly, the Cranky One drove me home from a medievalist party and made me drink a glass of warm saltwater to help me purge my system as much as possible. He also dragged my sorry ass to mass the next day.

But back to how I got that way ...

Yesterday morning, just after I blogged (oh my doG, this young female person just walked by in a tiny bikini top and a jeans skirt resting at least two inches below the top of her pelvic girdle -- she can't be more than 15 -- AND this is a suburban mall, not the beach! WTF???), I left the internet cafe and went out to my car. It was about 11:40, and I had to be about 40 miles away at the county courthouse at 1:15 -- it's normally a 45 minute to an hour drive. Got in, turned the key, the engine turned once ... and stopped. I tried several more times, panicking. Went over the symptoms -- not the starter, because it was clearly turning. Not the battery (I don't think), because the ignition didn't show any sign of weakening -- I haven't checked the electrics, though. Popped open the hood and checked the battery connections and the distributor cap -- everything seemed to be in order.** By now, serious panic is setting in. Called ADH, who said something along the lines of it was my problem, reminding me of why this was all happening*

Called my friend and Americanist colleague, No-longer-intimidating-but-still-frighteningly-purposeful Woman. Said, "I'm Screwed." She said, "What happened?" I told her. 'Where are you??' Told her. "Where is that? How do I get there? I'm coming!" (You need to realize that Purposeful Woman speaks rapid-fire English. With Purpose.) "D'uh ... I'm not sure how to get here from your place ..." "I'll look it up! Don't worry!"

Twenty minutes later, she's telling me about how she had fallen asleep grading essays so it's really not a problem for her to do this. She drives like a slightly illegal speed demon, and gets us there exactly on time. The judge and clerk are late. I sit around with all the other almost ex-wives and we all check each other's paperwork. One husband shows up. One. I was third in line. The judge went over the paperwork, asked me to swear (not, interestingly, before God) to tell the truth, and asked me about 6 questions, after which he said he was convinced the marriage ws irretrievably broken (the only grounds in this state) and that we had made a fair division of property, and gave me back my name (which is still ADM to you guys!). I said, "that's it?" He said, "Yes, that's it." I said, "It's a bit anticlimactic, isn't it?" He said, "Yes, it is, but after everything you've gone through to get to this point, it's probably good to make it easy."

Wow. So I took Purposeful Woman out for a nice lunch, and by the time we got back, I was running late for meeting some other colleagues to go see the Perseids. I threw my stuff into the backpack I've not used since I got married (X-ADH is not a camper), fed the kitties, and was almost ready when they arrived to pick me up. We drove up to the mountains to a place with an odd name, and hiked in to Economist's usual campsite on the River. Hiked in for about half a mile, maybe, and set up camp in the dusk accompanied by mosquitos. Had the first beer on an empty stomach, couldn't find my water bottle in the dark ... So we all sat by the fire and watched the meteor shower (which would have been clearer without the fire, bui it was cold).

The sky was marvelous. The geographer and amateur astronomer and the geologist were there, and so we got some good commentary. Economist played his guitar. There were so many stars that I had a hard time picking out even the familiar constellations. I think it's the first time I ever really could recognize the visible part of the Milky Way -- just so many stars. It was funny, though. So huge, and yet I felt so very secure. I don't know if it was because the sky seemed very finite -- crazy, I know, but it really looked like a sphere, and not something that went on and on and on. But I also had pitched my tent in the most remote of the sites, and really thought I'd be bothered by being *that* alone. When it got down to it, though, there was just so much there -- the stars and the sound of the river rushing by and animals ... but despite the fact that one of my greatest dreads is that this is all there is, I tend to feel very comfortable with the idea that we are very small and transitory in terms of the material universe.

Not nearly enough meteors, though -- but the quality helped to make up for the quantity. So, much drinking, and singing, and up at around 8. Came home, showered, fed the cats, got a cab to a location where the car rental people would pick me up, and rented a car till Tuesday, by when I hope to have my little car towed and fixed. I hope.

Life just freakin' goes on, doesn't it? And that's a good thing ;-)

*in the almost 12 years we were together, X actually picked me up at the airport only once. Never took me. He said it was worth spending the money on cabs or airport parking because his time was worth more than that. Apparently worth more than my feelings, too.

**My guess at this point is the alternator (so I have to check to see if any of the electrics are working today) or the fuel pump. But I could be wrong.

Quick Update: After renting the car, etc., Professor Kinsey called to check in. She offered me the loan of her car till she comes back Tuesday night. YAY! Much money savings. SUCH a great roommate (although I would certainly do the same, but thanks!!!!). Then I went and did some work at the internet place, where I decided to check my poor little car. Which started right up. So my friend the Librarian offered to help me drive it home, where it now is. I will take it to the auto shop tomorrow. I have the best friends ever.

Friday, August 12, 2005

End of an Era

End of an Era or, Maudlin Navel-gazing

After I post this, I'm off to the courthouse where, in about 3 hours (give-or-take) I will stand up in front of a judge and be pronounced legally single and given back my own name. So the last couple of days I've been doing that thing we do sometimes -- imparting far too much meaning to pop music. Yesterday, listening to Mick Jagger singing "Angie" almost brought on a serious blubfest. Yuck.

So today I'm kinda sad. Friends have reminded me that this really is for all the right reasons, but it was also eleven years of two people's lives. So yes, I am better off (although a bit leery of joining the ranks of single female academics of a certain age). My life as I wanted to lead it is back on track, more or less -- more being that I'm once again acting like the person I want to be and becoming productive again, less because I'd hoped to have that and a partner at the same time. And that would never have happened had I remained married.

Still, I thought I'd share one of the good things today, while remembering that I've got all kinds of new baggage to take away from this. Along with the baggage, though, I do have some gifts to thank ADH for. There are some good memories, his wonderful family, a now lifelong love for football and a love-hate relationship with Arsenal. He introduced me to the books of Terry Pratchett and Nick Hornby. And then there is the music. Although ADH never wanted to hear me sing along (for no good reason -- I have a decent singing voice), he did introduce me to a lot of music that I had never really appreciated before: Led Zeppelin, Neal Young, Richard and Linda Thompson, Paul Weller (in various incarnations), less-obvious Van Morrison, Nick Drake before VW used him for a commercial, the Buckleys (Tim and Jeff), and Leonard Cohen. I think we can both take credit for Everything But The Girl, Massive Attack, and Portishead. So for today's poem, I give you a Jeff Buckley version of a Leonard Cohen song, in memory of the good things.

Well I heard there was a secret chord
that David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do ya?
Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah

Well your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
And She tied you to her kitchen chair
And She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah

Well Baby I've been here before
I´ve seen this room, and I've walked this floor,
You know, I used to live alone before I knew you
And I've seen your flag on the marble arch
And Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah

Well there was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show that to me do ya
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah

Maybe there is a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at somebody who outdrew ya
And it's not a cry that you can hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah
Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah

Tonight I'll go with friends to the mountains and watch the Perseid showers and gaze at the night skies. A shift in perspective sounds like a good idea.

*This is the version on Jeff Buckley's Grace. I'm not sure if it's the same version that k.d. lang and/or Rufus Wainwright do.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

All about meme

It's all about me(me)

or, how I avoided grading review papers this morning...

  1. What is your first name? One I've never really liked, but it has its roots in antiquity.
  2. Were you named after anyone? Not to my knowledge
  3. Do you wish on stars? I have done
  4. When did you last cry? Not recently enough, in terms of a blubfest. About beginning of May? And possibly this Friday.
  5. Do you like your handwriting? Only when I'm writing very carefully.
  6. What is your favorite lunch meat? I like veggie sandwiches best, but probably tuna, if that counts
  7. What is your most embarrassing CD? The Buffy Once More With Feeling soundtrack?
  8. If you were another person, would you be friends with you? Maybe, but I might get tired of how hard I try to be liked
  9. Do you have a journal? Kind of. I have a friend I don't talk to enough, so I sometimes write things for when we can get together
  10. Do you use sarcasm a lot? What is this sarcasm of which you speak?
  11. What are your nicknames? ADM, two masculinised versions of my first name, and (really) Sarge.
  12. Would you bungee jump? Is that a trick question? There is no "no" strong enough to answer that question
  13. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Sometimes
  14. Do you think that you are strong? Not as much as other people think I am. I think I'm just resilient.
  15. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Mocha almond fudge. No question.
  16. Shoe size? 39
  17. Red or pink? depends on what red and what pink. I'm an earth-tone type.
  18. What is your least favorite thing about yourself? a toss-up between procrastination and need for external validation
  19. Who do you miss most? My maternal grandmother.
  20. Do you want everyone you send this to, to send it back? No, but I'm enjoying reading it at other people's blogs
  21. What color pants and shoes are you wearing? Grey nightshirt and red toenails
  22. What are you listening to right now? When I started on this, Jeff Buckley's cover of Hallelujah, right now, The Beautiful South's Blue is the Colour and the roofers thumping around
  23. Last thing you ate? A small square of Rittersport dark chocolate with hazelnuts
  24. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Periwinkle Blue
  25. What is the weather like right now? Sun breaking through overcast, heading into high 70s
  26. Last person you talked to on the phone? Almost ex-ADH
  27. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex? It really depends on the person. Eyes and voice stand out, though
  28. Where did you find this meme? Some other medievalists' blogs
  29. Favorite drink? A good, peaty single malt
  30. Favorite sport? To do? running on trails To watch? Football (the real kind)
  31. Hair color? ever-darkening and greying blonde
  32. Eye color? Blue
  33. Do you wear contacts? generally, 'cos my glasses make my eyes look really small
  34. Favorite food? Fresh Bread
  35. Last movie you watched? War of the Worlds
  36. Favorite day of the year? The Vernal Equinox, because the days are finally going to get noticeably longer
  37. Scary movies or happy endings? Depends on my mood and my company
  38. Summer or Winter?
  39. Hugs OR Kisses? Depends on the kisser.
  40. What is your favorite dessert? creme brulee
  41. Who is most likely to do this meme? some other procrastinator
  42. Who is least likely to do this meme and comment? A good friend who has better things to do ... and does them!
  43. What books are you reading? Rosenwein and Little, Debating the MA; James, Science Fiction in the 20th c.; Semmler, Der Dynastiewechsel von 751; Middlemarch -- finished Miéville's Perdido Street Station yesterday.
  44. What's on your mouse pad? Don't have one at the moment
  45. What did you watch last night on TV? Don't have one
  46. Favorite smells? Baking, early morning garden, ocean
  47. Favorite sounds? A particular friend's voice, the ocean
  48. Rolling Stones or Beatles? Beatles!
  49. What's the furthest you've been from home? Salzburg?
  50. Do you have a special talent? So I've been told
  51. What is your ring tone? Something from Peer Gynt -- it's the only one I can hear in the car.

and more procrastination from cheeky

You are Don Juan From "Don Juan De Marco."

Woobaby! You are Don Juan - dark and handsome, and the world's greatest lover. Some people find you to be a bit insane (or is that insanely sexy?). While you may not be playing with all 52 cards, don't let that get you down - you're a true romantic at heart.
Take The Johnny Depp Quiz!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Am I crazy

Am I crazy, or is my Latin gone?

Hello Latinists! So I'm reading a book for this paper. The book uses pretty much all of the same sources as my thesis, except more of them. Kind of like two people were working on very similar topics at the exact same time, but one of us was very fast. And I come across a description of a document, and think, 'hold on, that's in the handy database I have of all of these documents, let me look it up.' And what the author of this book has is different than what's in the database. So I check the document itself. It says, "In dei nomine ego Theotacar trado in eliminosam meam ad Tienenheimero marcu duo iugera ad sanctum Bonifatium qui in monasterio Fulda sacro requiescit corpore [....] [Place enacted, date, important witnesses] "Theotmar indignus subdiaconus hanc traditionis kartulam iussus scripsit"

My exact translation notwithstanding, I understood this to say that the guy handing over the land to St. B (a normal thing to do -- give to the saint, rather than to the institution) was named Theotacar, and the guy who wrote it all down was named Theotmar. High-powered scholar says that Theotmar was the donor. And I just realized that I was reading Latin A LOT when I created my database. So my present rustiness shouldn't come into it. At the risk of revealing myself to be a complete feckin' eejit, can anyone out there see how I got this wrong? Please be gentle.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Requiescat in Pace

Robin Cook, RIP

Apropos of the rare political post, I am saddened to learn (and a bit embarrassed that I learned it from Sharon, but we don't have TV or an internet connection at home) that Robin Cook has died. I've followed the various movements of the Labour Party since before the meltdown of the Major government, which happened when I lived in Germany and watched the news on Sky. I sometimes thought cook was a prat, but more often, and especially in terms of the war, thought he was one of the good ones. He was still quite young. How very sad.

Friday, August 05, 2005

carnivalesque 7

First Ancient/Medieval Carnival is up!

The Cranky Professor is hosting the first Ancient/Medieval Carnivalesque! Good fun to be had by all!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Why I love the early stuff

Why I love the early stuff

I've been scouring the web to help the Cranky Professor find articles for the first Ancient/Medieval edition of Carnivalesque. You know, there aren't nearly enough early folk. There are a bunch of medievalists, and some ancient people, but not so much in The World of Late Antiquity. To be fair, I'm also not a Late Antique person. I regularly attend the best of the Late Antique conferences, Shifting Frontiers, but there, I'm mostly a dabbler. Because I'm a Carolingianist, and we're so ... late!

But the Carolingians are still Franks, and the Franks start pretty damend early. You can't do Carolingians without the Merovingians. Merovingianists get to be Late Antique people. But I now wonder -- are the Carolingians really in their own category? One of the big themes in LA is the synthesis (or not) of Roman and Barbarian/Germanic culture. But it seems to me that many of our sources (Ok, up to about the 7th c., at least) are as much indicators of conscious differentiation as they are of synthesis. OK -- there are some things that I'm glossing over -- Christianity, the use of Latin, the survival of Roman institutions, at least (or often only) in name ... but still, I think that there's a lot to be said for the Carolingians as the end of Late Antiquity, if synthesis is one of the markers of the period. The Carolingians are arguably more public in their Christianity -- and it's more the right kind, since the Merovingians got their missionaries from Ireland as well as England. There's the whole 'revival of empire' thing, the Ottonian renovatio notwithstanding; Gerd Althoff makes some interesting points about that in his biography of Otto III. There's the fact that the Carolingians are in some ways far more like their predecessors than their successors -- although that just makes them the perfect transitional phase, I suppose.

But this is why I like this early stuff (and at least we can all agree that the Carolingians are indeed Early Medieval, if not Late Antique): it's the fact that we really can make no assumptions about what words mean. The Latin's in real flux. It's because people are moving into places (or are already in places) that the Romans couldn't quite get to, and they often react the same way -- although the Romans might have been less unpleasant in their dealings with non-Roman neighbors than the various Germanic (pax Walter Goffart) people were in dealing with their non-Christian neighbors. That's a big might, BTW. We often don't know who people are, although we are getting to know more and more. But there's so much to argue about. Are these people who live in Thuringia actual, ethnic Thuringians? Better -- are those Bavarians really Bavarians (which brings up all kinds of fun ties to whether Bavarians are perhaps related to Celts), when the dukes of Bavaria in the 8th c. look a lot like Franks? How did these kings who were supposedly very Christian justify their multiple concubines? Why wouldn't Charlemagne really let his daughters marry? Oh -- and then there are the duelling missionaries. No, they don't really duel, but there are great cases backstabbing and badmouthing of other perfectly decent types to carve out larger areas for missionary activity. Don't believe me? Look at the career of St. Boniface. The man evangelised some areas based on the "well, they're Christian, but the guy who was here before did a crap job" theory. Got him support from the pope and the Carolingian military, though.

And have I mentioned the murders? The intrigue? The intermarriage? The totally cool names like Fredegund and Brunehilt? Sigibert? Chilperic? Theodelinde? Otacar? Otswind? Williswind/swintha? Not to mention the creative orthography? Children imprisoning their parents? Fratricide? Women that cut deals with their husbands to pop out a couple kids in exchange for running a convent, if they survive?

And, of course, the fact that most of the sources are edited? I know it's random, but I'm having A Day. But it's good someties to remember that what we do, we often do because it's cool and geeky and because we, or at least I, love the fact that there is so much to argue about -- every question a hydra, every answer a target for someone else.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Rare Political Statement

In which I make a rare political statement

I don't do a lot of political blogging. Part of it is because I would rather not be super-public about my beliefs till I have tenure -- not that they are particularly noteworthy. But it's like blogging about my sex life or even too many details about my personal life. I just prefer a bit of separation between the public, private, and really public.

Having said that, I do want to point you to today's Cliopatria, where Oscar Chamberlain tells us about the death by torture of an Iraqi general. The points that stand out for me are these:
Generals are clearly subject to the Geneva Convention. Generals don’t “fall through the cracks” and then get beat up by accident by out of control guards. While he might have had information that would have helped locate some resistance units, this was no “ticking bomb case. “ Instead this was standard operating procedure.


There was a system in place that did this. Our political and military leaders ordered the creation of this system. We the taxpayers paid for it. There is no reason to assume that this is not still going on and that we are not still paying for such actions.

To the extent that a US citizen knows this and does not try to stop it, he or she is an accomplice to it. There is blood on millions of hands. Our hands.

I've said relatively little about the war. I do believe we went in under false pretences. I'm not happy that we're spending appalling amounts of money on the war, but have been asked to make no sacrifices (the lives of soldiers don't work into this for me -- it's their jobs and their choice -- the morality is another issue).

When a country decides to go to war, it should hurt, because war is a serious business. Every citizen should be aware of the costs -- especially if he or she has no loved one at risk. And yes, part of why I believe this has to do with the fact that I think too many of us are cavalier about going to war. It makes me ill to hear that there is not enough money for adequate care for returning vets -- some of these people are in my classes. They suffer from PTSD. They've seen horrible things, they've had to do horrible things, and that's a far greater cost that most of us will never know.

The money/tax issue pisses me off, but the moral issue is the one that really upsets me. When the war started, there were protests about sending our people to die. I'm not a great Christian, but I like to think I'm a pretty moral person. Much of that morality is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, although I accept anything that promotes a greater good. For me, the question is not one of sending people to die, although that is truly horrible. The greater issue is that of sending people to kill. Because killing is wrong. Yes, it's justifiable in some cases, but it still is wrong. And as citizens, we are asking our fellows, often people quite young, people we don't really consider old enough to be responsible parents, to take on that enormous burden.

In the case of torture -- and people are being tortured -- to death, sometimes -- how much more of a burden will those people feel? I do not understand how anyone can justify it. I don't wish to exaggerate or draw ridiculous comparisons that will confuse the situation. But from a purely human sense, torture is torture is torture. It damages the victim and the torturer. This must be especially true in a Christian context -- and like it or no, USAmerican society exists in a Judeo-Christian context, for the most part. It's not a new issue -- a couple of years ago, I heard a wonderful paper by Gillian Clark, an Augustine scholar, on Augustine's justification of torture. There's a reason we should care. We should care on moral grounds (and I can't think offhand of any religion that supports torture, pax to the atheists among us, whose beliefs I've included). We should also care on civic grounds. We should care on human grounds. Oscar is right. We are responsible -- we, as a society, sent them there.* We are, to a certain extent, our brothers' keepers.

*and for those people who wish to remind me that we did not strike the first blow, I'll just suggest reading the Sermon on the Mount again -- you know, the part where we're supposed to turn the other cheek?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Emergency Book Recommendation??

Emergency Book Recommendation??

It appears I will be teaching a freshman-sophomore WW II class in the fall. Help! Does anyone have a good textbook recommendation? All I know at this point is that I want to make sure we really cover social history as well as military. At which, by the way, I am not so good. So a foundation in WW I and Versailles, the Depression, the rise of new Nationalist regimes; the Spanish Civil Warl; Europe, North Africa, and the Pacific; the Holocaust; the War Effort at Home -- US and the war economy, internment camps, segregation in the military, Britain and the relocation of children to the countryside, resistance movements, etc.; post-war purges and the Heimatvertriebene (is that the word? I forget), end with the Marshall plan. I guess.

Anybody with experience, I could use suggestions ... Thanks!