Sunday, November 30, 2008


We celebrated Thanksgiving with five Americans, three Brits, a Canadian, and an Italian. Everyone brought their best Thanksgiving day dish and hence the food was amazing!! I think the addition of wine was instrumental as well. I had two classes that day so Zach had to make almost all of our food. He did an awesome job and the pear, blue cheese, walnut salad was the talk of the table, while the squash pie (in the absence of pumpkins) only slightly overshadowed by an apple-cranberry cobbler. The British contribution to our feast was really funny. Misunderstanding the nature of Thanksgiving (having heard about it mostly through Friends episodes), they brought frozen vegetable medley, hamburger buns, and paper plates, as well as over-enthusiasm for Allen Rickman and Xena Warrior Princess. 

What were Zach and I thankful for on Thursday? Receptive new friends and fellow ex-pats. 
Being the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we have two weeks of class left. On December 13th, Zach and I are flying to Spain! We'll be celebrating our three year anniversary a bit early with sunshine. We're then going to dip down into Morocco for our first visit to northern Africa. 

As far as literature goes this semester, I highly recommend Tsitsi Dangaremga's Nervous Conditions and as far as films, the Inuit-made and cast film Atanarjuat, on which I will be writing my master's thesis. I also met my first Bollywood film (if you don't count Fire) in the amazing Rang de Basanti. I foresee a guilty addiction to Bollywood in my future. 

Finally, Zach and I are trying to figure out how to avoid homelessness as of June 15th. We'll not yet be done with our dissertations, but will be able to write them from abroad. Should we stay here another year, work and travel and enjoy being non-professionals just once more? Should we pick a city we love and move there? Denver? Portland? Seattle? Phoenix? Boston? And what types of jobs should we look for? Alternate teaching licenses? Libraries? Administration? I think we need a fortune cookie this time around. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

my student life

I need a little help. I'm attempting to write my papers for the semester and I want them to be stupendous. But I'm a little rusty in the paper writing component to graduate work. In fact, that's the one part about school I never liked! Ask me to read 5 novels in a week and I will come through that dazed and unstable but having read every page. Ask me to read a book of criticism and I'll wander the streets looking for appropriate caloric accompaniments, ideal lighting, and perfect lounging cushions. 

I'm writing something like an extensive review of the intersections of trauma studies and postcolonial narrative studies for my theory class. I think this requires me to read some trauma theory but I can't get past the introductions! 

My goal is to finish the not-assessed essays by next Thursday, which is Thanksgiving for the homeland.  Perhaps I need to accept my calling, that of quirky, nerdy high school English teacher. 

As Thanksgiving hasn't made it over here yet, the German Christmas market is in Leeds city centre. They have strings of sausages and other meaty cylinders, hanging pretzels, and wooden children's toys. I must go back this weekend! In December a similar market will crowd the beautiful molding streets of York. 

I've decided to try the Friends' Church this Sunday. I've been keen on Quakers ever since I learned my high school freshmen English teacher was a lapsed Friend. Recalling how the guys nicknamed her Kermit, I'm afraid to think of what my students will dub me! 

I must go find a softer cushion, another cup of coffee, and some inspiration.  

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Autumn is in the air and on the ground.

Early sunsets and late mornings have got me down the past two weeks. Also, the sedentary nature of graduate school and the isolation of reading four to six hours per day. Today, mid afternoon, I left the apartment in hopes of gathering up some of the yellow sheets of leaves clouding the streets. I walked left instead of right from the curb, followed the crumbling brick buildings into "little London." I walked past a community center, a boarded up, rubbage-in-the-yard, day care center that could have been an abandoned church, and blocks on blocks of ten story public housing buildings. The clouds were low in the sky, the streets were wet, my hands in my pockets.