Thursday, April 29, 2004

Given my silence over the last few days, you may have had visions of me doing one of the following:

- frolicking on a warm, sunny beach somewhere
- engaging in a wild and crazy party
- imbibing copious amounts of alcohol
- sleeping hours on end

Unfortunately I cannot say that any of these reflect reality. Successfully defending your dissertation does not allow you to step away from life. So I am back engaging in the droll responsibilities of teaching, grading, and preparing for a job interview. Moreover, there is a second defense in this household that needs to take place. Perhaps there will be some celebrating after that one. There was a nice bottle of prosecco waiting for me in my department mailbox that is now chilling in the fridge.

I do believe that cork will pop tomorrow.

So stop reading this and go wish Sara the best (even if you have already done so, go do it again!).

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I see the news has gotten out. In a month I will receive a piece of paper that will attest that I am a doctor.

The defense if over and all went well. More details later...

Thanks again for the words of encouragement!

Monday, April 26, 2004

Eleven hours to go...

I am tense and nervous even though I know I should not be.

I am also so unmotivated. I am just so burnt out.

Not much else in my head right now.

Not that there ever was.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The countdown to the defense continues.

I am really in a funk. I hope my state of mind clears up once this is all done. The defense is strange, there is little you can do to prepare for it. You go in and you are supposed to talk for two hours about this thing that has consumed the past God-knows how many years of your life.

Actually, you give a short introduction, then they ask you questions about it.

I have been trying to read through the whole dissertation today. It is SO long. Maybe too long. There are things in chapter one I would like to take out now, others I should have re-read before writing the conclusion. I was working on that chapter a year ago. It is kind of strange seeing it again from this side...followed by all those other chapters.

Ok, I won't get all introspective here. I don't know how much I will be around. Maybe a lot, if I need to keep my mind off things. Or maybe not at all. Dunno.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

If at first you don't succeed,
then sky-diving is definitely not for you.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Parking woes.

Parking is difficult around the university. Too many cars in a concentrated space. Moreover narrow streets mean that on some streets, parking is only allowed on one side of the street.

Given the shortage of parking, I don't understand why parking is allowed on the side of the street with all the fire hydrants. It would make more sense to allow parking on the other side so that every block would have an extra parking spot.

On a similar rant...if there is two parking spots between two driveways, why do people park in the middle so that only one car fits?

Yes, I am cranky today.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

It's official. I am traveling for 10 and a half hours to interview in Washington state. I will be there for one day before coming all the way back. That's a really long way to go.

I also need to go to Mexico in June. But more on that later. It's a REALLY long story.

I need to take a trip that is relaxing. A beach somewhere would be nice...

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The Department got its draft of my dissertation today. Now it is a semi-public document for anyone there can look at it and even read it (although I would be surprised if anyone actually did). I still need to write my acknowledgements and an appendix. But I am taking tonight off. I will get to that tomorrow.

Tomorrow I need to meet with Dr. Advisor to find out just exactly what goes on in a dissertation defense. I need to find out what will be expected of me and what happens if I suddenly run out of the room (and if it makes a difference whether I am crying or not). The only faculty member I am worried about is Dr. Advisor. The other professors are not the trouble-making kind. Or at least I don't think they are. Hmmm....maybe I should think this through some more.

Nah, no need to get worked up about this.

But Dr. Advisor does ask tough questions. He owes me though. As Eric mentioned in his comments to the last post, he has asked me to pick someone up from the bus station a few hours after my defense. The person to be picked up is probably the most renown historian who works on Italy. At least he will be flying into Boston from Italy and then taking a bus to Providence, so maybe he won't notice my stuppor. I told Dr. Advisor that I did not know what shape I would be in, but he reassured me that I would be ok. This is of little consolation because this man does not sleep and can read books in one sitting. So his expectations of other are always much too demanding.

Nonetheless, I feel equally intimidated about trying to keep an intelligent conversation with a great scholar after my defense as I am with the defense itself.

Back to matters of my other life...

I need to focus back on the course I am teaching. If anyone thinks that one can write, edit, and defend a dissertation and still be a good teacher, they are wrong. There are only so many places your brain can be at once.

I also got a call today that I am going to be interviewed for a postdoctoral position at a small liberal arts college. The problem? The college is in Walla Walla, Washington. Not necessarily the most convenient location. This is a problem because they want me to go there for a one day interview, but it takes about eleven hours to get there from here. It is also not good because it is eleven hours from Boston where Sara will be next year.

Problem one is a real problem. Problem two will only be a problem if problem one goes well. So I will take one problem at a time.

So I will probably take on problem one sometime during the first week in May (which causes a load of other problems that I won't go into right now).

Needless to say, I will be busy the next few weeks. Stop by an pat me on the back, I need all the help I can get. And the help and encouragement I do get is always greatly appreciated. :-)
I have been lost in a world of formatting, printing, and organizing...

A world of suddenly driving Sara to Boston...

A world of wondering, of stressing, of...

It's almost 1:00 am and the printer is getting pretty hot.

Maybe it is time to call it quits and start back up early in the morning.

Thank you to all of you who have offered words of encouragement.

The defense is in a week! YIKES!

Friday, April 16, 2004

The Bitter-Sweet

I turned in a draft today (with a few missing parts).

Still to be completed:
- Bibliography
- Number pages consecutively
- Insert page numbers into table of contents
- List of Tables
- List of Illustrations
- Acknowledgements
- Appendix

I should be happy. I am not. I got a rejection letter from Wisconsin. I was almost certain I did not want the position, but I wanted the reassurance that I could get it.

So I have this big binder full of written pages. What is it good for? Why all that work?

As many you have remarked, I do need a break. Sometime soon. There are still a lot of little details to take care of.


Thursday, April 15, 2004

Finished - sorta...

...well, not really.

There is still much to do.

It will really never be done. There just comes a time when you need to let go.

This probably makes no sense to anyone.


Wednesday, April 14, 2004




Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Do you know that goofy distorted look you get when you look at your reflection on the back of a spoon?

Our neighbor when I was growing up in Mexico look liked that. He was a pretty ugly man.

I don't know why I thought of that today.

I must be working too much.

I had a horrible headache today. That is until Sara walked on my back. Those feet are magical, I tell ya.

The revisions are moving forward. I hate seeing the comments: "You need more analysis here." I have written 350 pages. I will just write down what people said and you do the f***ing analysis!

Yeah, I guess I am kinda cranky. I want to be done with this.

I am still missing a conclusion. If I don't have one, you think they would notice?

Monday, April 12, 2004

Tax Time

Why is the IRS Center for Rhode Island the same as those for southern states in Atlanta? Shouldn't it be in Andover, MA with all the other northeastern states?

And why is Tennessee's in Austin and Ohio's and Virginia's in Memphis?

Stupid IRS.
Sara has to turn in her draft tomorrow.

She is stressed.

[Understatement of the year]

I am trying to finish up as well.

I spent all evening getting the data for parliamentary election results in the province of Italy where I did my fieldwork. My advisor wants a chart in one of my chapters. I have spent hours searching for the data online, figuring out how the database works, downloading the results, and finally weeding out the little data that I need.


Hours and hours for a stupid little chart. But Dr. Advisor wants needs to be in there.

I still need to format it and insert it in the chapter. I will do that tomorrow because if I spend one more minute on Excel tonight, I am going to start screaming. And Sara doesn't need the distraction.

I am going to get ready for bed and I will continue this fun adventure in the morning.

Leave me a comment and tell me about all the wonderful things I am missing out in the real world.

Friday, April 09, 2004

The rush towards the defense continues.

Type, type, type...[Pause]...[Think]...type, type, type.

[Get up, wander around - I do my best thinking while pacing around, it must be that the good ideas settle down into my behind when I am sitting - get an idea, rush back to my desk]

Type, type, type.

That wasn't my whole day, though.

I had to teach a section this morning. Then I had the dreaded post-exam office hours.

Student: "I want to know why I got a bad grade!"
X: "You tell me. Why did you get a bad grade? Why did you write all the wrong answers?"

Some students came, but none were too confrontational.

Not only do we need to finish our drafts, defend them, etc. There is a mountain of bureaucratic stuff we need to get through before we are allowed to graduate. Ugh!

*I just re-read the line above about ideas...and before anyone says anything - NO, I don't have a big butt. That's because I don't have many good ideas. :-)

Well, I better get some rest before I start seeing dead squirrels walking dogs (see comments in previous post). By the way, that squirrel is still there. It is looking pretty bad. You would think someone would move the people who live in front of where it is. I certainly would not want a decomposing dead squirrel by my house.

Ah, speaking of squirrels...have a lookie...for once a sensible squirrel [NSFW] (embezzeled from Anne). I am also sick of the low carb craze. I have taken to eat more carbs just to be contrarian.

Ok. I'll stop.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004


Time is running out for me to finish the necessary changes on my dissertation. But the distractions keep popping up.

I curse those distractions.

Today's main culprit was grading. I had a stack of short papers to grade. I have said it before, I will say it again: I hate grading.

I almost skipped yoga today. I really needed to go, though. I had not been for several weeks (Wisconsin trip, spring break, etc.). I don't like this class very much. It is run too much like an exercise class and its a bit too new-agey for my tastes.

I saw a dead squirrel today while walking the dog. It is amazing how he obsesses about them when they are alive. This dead one was right in front of him and he could have cared less. There is something about the way they move...

As much as I dislike the critters, I still felt bad for this one.

No word from Wisconsin yet. That's ok. I am not ready to deal with that just yet.

I was thinking...there are too many worthy charities out there. It is a good thing I don't have any money. I would have a hard time deciding which I would want to donate money to. Maybe I will make a list of the ones I like or feel indebted to.

But not tonight.

I might not be around tomorrow. It's Thursday. That means lecture, quick lunch, section, a different section, and then more grading (I need to do the papers for my Friday section). If I still awake after all that, then I need to write a little more of the ol' diss.

Nonetheless, I might still stop by and say hi.


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I have found a web radio station that I love:

Radio Paradise

It plays as an eclectic mix of music as my tastes.
You know you need some rest (and probably some psychiatric help) when...

Last night, after a particularly long and stressful day, Sara and I were spending some "us" time in our living room. We were sprawled out making small talk. I think we were talking about using the word Xoloitzquintle in Scrabble (tm). I said that you could score a lot of points because it had an x, a q, and a z. Sara said you could not use it because it wasn't an English word. We then went on to discuss the letter Q in the game and how it had the letter u attached to it since there are no words that had a Q without the u.

Yes, this is what brilliant minds talk about at midnight after long stressful days. Now you know.

I said you could do QANTAS, the Australian national airline.

Sara: No you can't.
X: Sure, why not?
S: Well, then, why don't you just throw the tiles up in the air and see what lands?
X: You could get a monkey...
S: Where?
X: [Giggles]
S: Wha...[giggles]
S & X: [Uncontrolable laughter]
X: [laughs until tears roll down his cheek and his stomach hurts]
X: [Giggles]...You could get it at the zoo...
More laughter...

Now neither of us really know why that was so funny...but we needed that laugh. And we needed to get some the very least.


...sleep does not guarantee that your state of mental health will be restored. I recently dreamt that I was going to teach. I had to give students back their exams, papers, and other assignments. I was late and in a hurry. To carry all the stuff I had to give back, I put it in a shopping cart. So I was wheeling this shopping cart across some kind of campus (it was not the campus of my university here). Someone had vomitted on the path to the building I was going to and I did not want to roll my shopping cart through the puddle of vomit. When I finally got to class, I was stressed and got all muddled up with all the things I had to give back. Something bad was about to happen and...

...the dog jumped on the bed and licked my face, waking me up.

Am I losing it? No. I lost it a long time ago.

Monday, April 05, 2004

As the two defense dates approach, the stress levels in the Xoloitzquintle household are rising pretty quickly. There is probably a reason why dissertations are not written concurrently within one household. Despite all the stress, worry, frustrations, etc., I think Sara and I are getting along pretty well. We just hide in our respective offices and emerge on occasion to gather nourishment, use the facilities, or wander aimlessly.

With school back in session, I have had to return to my teaching duties. I don't mind the teaching, in fact I really like it. It is the organizational nuissance that goes along with it that I don't care for. I had a stress dream about that last night, but I won't go into details about it now.

Today I saw someone whose last name is Guano. If my last name were bird shit, I would definitely change it.

Oso asked whether there are Xoloitzquintle tamales. I have never had one, nor have I ever heard of one.

I just looked it up in my trusty reference on indigenous food: Presencia de la Comida Prehispanica. The entry for this particular item is as follows (translated by yours truly for your convenience):

Canis domesticus
Canid family

"...and the small dogs that they raise to eat, castrated." - Hernan Cortez, 1520.

Xoloizcuintli comes from the Nauhatl xolotl (monster) and izcuintli (dog). According to mythology, Xolotl, the dog-god, leads the souls of the dead as they cross the Chignahuapan River so that they may arrive to paradise. This god is a form of the god Quetzalcoatl (or Venus) that crosses across the night sky.

The xoloizcuintli is a large bald dog. Its skin is smooth and soft...

Sahgun (who chronicled the Spanish conquest) mentions three types of dogs, among which we find the xoloizcuintli. These dogs "did not have a single hair so that at night they had to cover them as they slept..." He adds that there are other "dogs that they call tlalchichi that are short and round and they are good to eat." It appears that the tlalchichi was the same type of dog that was bred and castrated so that it would not grow.

Antonio of Ciudad Real commented in 1584: "...the Indians bred a type of dog of the earth, smooth and without any hair, which used to be their food, and they still eat them although they prefer beef." However, Clavijero, in 1778 speaks of them in the past tense when he writes: "Mexicans ate techichi meat, as did the Spanish, which was tasty and nutritious." He attributes their extinction to the fact that the Spanish took them as provisions on their ships on their trip back to Spain. The dog ceased being food a long time ago, but we did not want to fail to mention it because it was a very important food.


So there you have it. Everything you ever wanted to know about this ugly and hairless little dog.

No recipie for tamales, though. Sorry, Oso.

Now, I have heard of people eating you better be careful...

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Crap. It's already 10:08 pm.


Saturday, April 03, 2004

Spent most of today grading exams. I hate grading. Some of the grading was straight forward: multiple choice, short answer, etc. There were essays too, though. Some of that grading is so arbitrary...

I am just happy that I am giving out the grades instead of receiving them. Some of the students are not going to be happy with their grades and they are certainly going to come and complain. Fortunately, those that got low essay grades also got low multiple choice scores too.

I will bring in brownies or cookies when I hand back the exams. Sweeten the experience up a little.

In other words, bribe them into complacency.

So much more to do, but my brain is done for today.

And we lose an hour tonight. Rats! I need that hour. Can I keep it and give it back sometime after graduation?

I do like having more daylight, but it also makes me relax and before I know it, it is really late.

Actually, I will be happy just to see the sun again. It has been a while...

A friend just heard that she got a grant to do fieldwork in Normandy. That's great news because she really has a good project and deserved to get funding to do it. But it is even better because Sara and I can now start planning out trip to go visit her. I love the cider there...mmmmm....

Yes, it all comes back to food with me.

Hmmm...maybe I will go get a snack....

Friday, April 02, 2004

Seems to be a slow day in the Blogoland.

Few new posts. Even less comments.

People seem to be having strange dreams. A few have been writing about them. Freud would be proud.

In Italy they claim that the change in seasons affects your mood. They say spring makes you tired.

I could blame spring, but I think getting up early and driving Sara to Boston and coming right back is the more obvious reason.

Or maybe my body is on stike.

Whatever...I am off to bed.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Spring, they say, arrived sometime at the end of the last month. The weather right now is much more like winter than spring, however. Although it is raining (a lot) instead of snowing, so I guess that is an improvement (or is it? I do like the snow better than the rain). Nevertheless, this week is spring break for us. That means that I don't have to go to lecture or teach. I do have a HUGE stack of exams to grade, as well as some short papers. Not to mention a certain dissertation that is sitting there waiting to be revised and finished. Hmmm....

But since it is spring, today I engaged in one of those seasonal rituals that people speak about: Spring Cleaning. No, my office is still a mess, our apartment is very schmutzig, our car needs some help, and the dog still needs a bath. The cleaning was within myself.

This morning I finally got a massage that was long overdue. It did wonders to cleanse out the tension that has taken root in my muscles and in my being. It will definitely take some additional sessions to work it all out, but it was a start.

This afternoon I got a very needed dental cleaning. It had been three years since I had ventured to the dentist's office. Not because I am afraid of the dentist, rather because I have not had enough money and time to get myself there. I do take care of my teeth and fortunately I have a good set of teeth that have held up well.

So now I have a less tense body and a clean mouth. Yay for cleansing....

In other news...

My mind was so at peace today that I was even able to tackle our taxes without stressing out too much and now that is more or less taken care of.

The car got its service on Monday, so it is feeling better as well (although that 30K service took a big chunk out of the bank account).

I set my defense date: the big day is April 27. Yes, that day is coming up very quickly. I should be more worried that I currently am. Don't worry (no pun intended, sorry), I will make up for it in the coming days and weeks.

I baked cookies last night. Now I know why I don't do that more often. They are too good and I am tempted (so is Sara) to eat them all. We have been good....(so far).

Ok, I am off to goof off a little....