Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Sunday Waaaaaaaaaaaah

1. I do not celebrate Thanksgiving. If I could get out of celebrating Christmas, I would do that, too. Frankly, the old-school pagan harvest and solstice festivals do a bit more for me, because they appeal to my reptile brain. (Food = good, sleep when it is dark = good, cold = bad.)
*Full disclosure: I attend midnight Christmas mass in the Catholic parish where most of my relatives are buried. I think of this as respect of the ancestors and I like the trappings of the mass (Popery! Popery!).

2. I dislike the feeling that one is supposed to Be Grateful. Something about working in Starvistan makes me pretty damn grateful on a regular basis. I don't particularly need or want a Special Day of Grateful. Something about being a suicide survivor also makes me pretty damn grateful on a regular basis. I PARTICULARLY dislike people who act like I am UNGRATEFUL because I do not share their Day of Grateful with them.

For instance, our department has a wretched tradition of holding an "Orphan Thanksgiving" for those of us who do not travel during the holidays. It is politic to go -- we are small enough department that people know what you are doing. They also see you when you're sleeping, and they know when you're awake. I was really horrified when we had to go around the table and talk about what we were grateful for IN FRONT OF EVERYONE. Four people were thankful for tenure. As an adjunct who tries really hard not be bitter about being an adjunct, and as an adjunct who works pretty damn hard toward being tenure track, I had to excuse myself to go throw up the wassail punch I'd already consumed. I was asked to "share my thanks" on my return. I smiled and said "I am thankful that we don't pay the true cost of food in this country, because if we did, we'd be pretty screwed."

For second instance, my stupid nia class had to bring up this "gratitude" business and I was like "Okay, normally I can handle the hippy-dippy parts of this because it does make me feel physically better...but...right now? Not so much. Let's turn on the freaky music and dance and shut the hell up."

3. Tomorrow I face the hordes. That is the true source of waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

4. My textbook rep is calling me at home. No. I don't know how she got my number, but I am afraid.

5. My slumlord has decided that since "no one is here" in my apartment building, it's a good plan to turn our heat down. Normally I'm in the heat-down groove, because I'd rather have it be 65 than 75.'s 60 in my apartment right now. I have southern exposure and it is STILL sixty. I dug out my long undies and skullcap from Starvistan's brutal winter nights and am wearing whippet-y dog is actually buried UNDER all of the bedcovers with just the tip of her nose sticking out.


*ahem* Thank you.


  1. It helps me to recall that Christmas is actually a concatenation of a bajillion different pagan holidays, and that Thanksgiving serves as a really, really good reason NOT TO GRADE PAPERS.

    But I also hate the "going around the table and saying what you're thankful for," for similar reasons (since I have depression, I always feeling like saying, "I'm effing HERE, a**holes. That's enough for me!").

    And I tend to get stranded at college "orphan" dinners, too, unless I just lie about having somewhere else to go. The worst one was the year that the host asked us to go around the table and talk about the local and/or organic sourcing of the food that we had brought. I nearly said, "From a CAN, bought a local supermarket, m*****f******, because I don't have a car, don't have a garden, don't have the cash, and we live in Food Desert City, remember? Oh, you don't? Well, maybe you should be thankful for that."

    Now it is Sunday. I am panicking. I still have a pile of papers to grade and have made no progress on my own actual research (yes, shock, horror! I thought I might actually do some of my own work over break! Who do I think I am?!). Ah, the bitter, bitterness of it all.

  2. Back in the good ole days, I always volunteered to work holiday shifts so I had an excuse not to fly home to my wacko, bipolar Mom. Dad always seemed to be conveniently working too. The turkey was usually dry or we went to some cheesy buffet and I was only thankful when either Thanksgiving or Christmas was over. Holidays ALONE or working the quiet, graveyard hospital shift were heaven.
    And don't get me started on disappointing garage-sale Christmas gifts with missing pieces...

    @Blackdog Take yourself on a little trip next holiday and check into a hotel somewhere. Spend the day (or two or three) lying around in clean sheets watching t.v. and blogging. Heaven!

    @Snugglebunny Rationalize, rationalize...I wouldn't have graded those papers correctly anyway because of my foul, resentful mood. It's better this way. And, of course, I do my best work under pressure. Any Thanksgiving research would have been for me!

  3. Snugglebunny - how I wish you had said that.

    Blackdog - tell your textbook rep that she must have been given this phone number in error, please let me give you my office number, thanks, I prefer to keep this number for personal matters. No I don't discuss professional questions at this phone number. If her name shows up on your call display this is all much easier of course.

  4. I hope you're joking about the book rep calling your home. Like MA said, politely tell your rep that you can't talk to her at that number. If she continues to call, report it to her supervisor. She'll get in trouble. That's a mean thing to do right before Christmas but screw her. She's just a book rep.

    I'm already getting coal this Christmas so there's no reason to be on good behavior.

  5. This post really hit home for me. From the first Thanksgiving flags until the Christmas lights are finally taken down, I sit and loathe my neighbors. I cannot walk into any store without being exhorted to celebrate this or that, be thankful, praise be to god, and BUY BUY BUY BUY!!!!!!!!

    It's fracken awful. And no one seems to understand why I hate it. What is there to like about it? You get a few days off, but everything is closed. I can't take days off research, so the days feel the same to me. Just add guilt to spend $500 visiting family with gifts and spending too much on food I'd rather not eat. Add familial disputes, consumerism, and fake patriotism and I no longer understand what the point is. This is misery.


    I dream of a day when an unknown uncle leaves me a million bucks and I can start traveling to far off places during this, the most horrible time of the year.

  6. Oh, and Bitchy Bear: You're right. My spaceheater is my best friend. Blackdog, they cost $20 or less at Walgreen's. You'll love it to death.

  7. P.S. wacko, bipolar Mom refuses all treatment and believes there is nothing wrong with HER. Mental illness runs in the family, but, of course, *I* don't have it either... I wouldn't even hurt a fly...

    Ditto your post.

    @Blackdog. Your post obviously resonates.

  8. All this gratitude discussion made me grateful I don't live in the US.

  9. Good God People. This is why other people hate academics.

    You don't have to believe in Jebub or Dogs or Druid Soltice Celebrations to appreciate some days off in the dark winter. Put on some Renaissance carols with lyrics in a dead language and enjoy analyzing the polyphony while staring at the stars and contemplating the meaning of life and how much prettier your cat is than other cats.

    Say "No thanks" politely and without judgment to people who like company, know that their celebration of tradition HAS NOTHING TO DO with your employment or financial status (or theirs for that matter-- for dog's sake read A Christmas Carrol-- Scrooge has tenure, his employee a lowly adjunct but who is happy? I ask you. Who is happy?)

    And if you can't stand to lose a SINGLE day of research (your choice of days-- it doesn't have to be Death-To-Native-Americans day, or Christians-conquer-the-world-day), you need to SERIOUSLY RETHINK your life.

    Signed, a lowly recent PhD and adjunct who enjoys twinkly lights, carols of a certain vintage, and a nice mug of hot cocoa with a Cinnamon stick and generic Irish Cream. She also enjoys turkey stuffing, seeing her nieces and nephews occasionally, and (sorry to be SO bourgeoisie) the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Well, parts of it anyway.

  10. Like Cleo, I'll admit to having enjoyed the holiday, which I was able to spend with some of the saner members of my family this year. But when that isn't possible, I'm absolutely with you on "orphan" dinners: given a choice of being with people whose main reason for inviting me is that they don't want me to be alone, and being alone, doing exactly what I want to do (which would actually include cooking myself a nice dinner that includes some of the tradition dishes -- the ones I enjoy), I'll take the latter every time (but usually cave to the former, because it makes those who are distressed on my behalf, because *they* wouldn't enjoy being alone, feel better; yes, I'm a self-accepting but not very assertive introvert).

    As far as the Sunday-night-after-the-holiday grading situation goes: yes, waaaaah! I have stacks to go before I sleep (or a very early alarm to face), and that's after having done at least a few essays (but not, clearly, enough) every day but Thursday.

    Which means I should get back to it rather than reading CM, right? Au revoir.

  11. I am extremely glad not to live in a country where I have to be publically thankful! I am often thankful - for surviving another day, for the snuggliness of my duvet, for the antics of my cat or the occasional student who learns something. But having to be thankful on a particular day... yuck!

    Like Clio and Cassandra, I find ways to enjoy the season. I dont have a particularly seasonal depression - or rather, I tend not to be so badly depressed in winter, especially if there's snow to increase the light levels. Something to do with the positive encouragement to hunker down, stay in and draw the curtains... I like candlelight, I like taking a little time to listen to music and I like buying gifts for people I like. I admit it! I like Advent, and I like the 12 days (although the days that I spend with family are more of a trial than the ones I spend with my cat). But I like to do it all on my own introverted, misanthropic, depressive terms. Shopping on Amazon is a good start (there is no one on my list who does not like books. Yay for being a nerd with nerdy friends and family! Plus books are easy to wrap)!

  12. I never thought of being grateful as something I was "supposed" to do. I just like stopping to think about it because it makes me happy. And if something makes you happy, and doesn't hurt anyone or anything, you might as well do it.

    I was in the middle of a thanksgiving submission the other night when I was kept up by a little nagging back pain. There's a draft in there somewhere. It was going to be a top 10 list starting off on the funny side and moving toward the serious side, but just as I typed my first semi-serious reason to be thankful, the nagging back pain turned into passing a mother fucking kidney stone and four hours later when I could stand up again, I had lost the spirit.

    But I guess I'm grateful that I'm slightly less miserable than some of the other comiserates. Maybe that makes me a CM poser, but I hope I can stick around anyway, because I like it here.

  13. I'll comment on just one small but crucial part of this. I spent grad school living in a heatless slum, and while space heaters are nice, they jack up the electric bill. They're good for evenings, in other words, but when you're trying to sleep in a freezing apartment, I have a few magic words for you: electric blanket with automatic shut-off.

    I bought mine at Target for $23. Never used the space heaters at night again. It's like sleeping in a toaster.

  14. Even better than an electric blanket for sleeping -- a hot water bottle. About $9 at Walgreens, and makes a warm huggy friend under the covers on a frigid night. No electricity needed beyond running super hot tap water.

  15. I appreciate the sense of comraderie here.

    I should add that I come from a long line of holiday-haters. We are not all academics -- the Christmas Carol allusion brought to mind my uncle the butcher (no, really, he's a butcher) and the fact that he'd sell Scrooge that goose and then go home and drink himself silly. Then there's the relative who is a fire-arms dealer and who literally says NOTHING from about Nov 15 until sometime in February. Nothing.

    Add to this picture of holiday cheer my long history (age 10 forward) of working in a shop during the Christmas season and you have a recipe for disaster. Want to see naked avarice? Watch people in a store on the 24th of December who will literally say to you "Here! Take the money! I'll take whatever you've got!"

    Re: The hot water bottles...the dog and I each have two.

  16. Meh, what's with all the electricity hogs here? One holiday during grad school was spent in an extended blackout - extended enough that I took my food out of my fridge and placed it on the kitchen table, as my apartment was just as cold as the fridge normally was. If you pile on enough blankets and wear a toque with ear flaps, you don't need no stinkin' electricity, your own body and blankets with a tight weave will make you toasty warm. Plus, I found I slept better when the apartment was cold.

  17. Prof Poopiehead, I'd love to send you a photo of myself and my dog at work at the kitchen table yesterday...I was wearing my down sleeping bag.

  18. Blackdog, I found that a good pair of thermal underclothing (top and bottom) is worth the money paid, get it slightly oversized and wear a long-sleeve t-shirt and underwear under it so that it can be worn numerous days in a row before needing to be washed. I've taken a warm power unit from a computer peripheral and repositioned it below the desk for my feet to rest upon, and I also had well-timed cups of tea both as a beverage and as a means to warm my fingers, I didn't want to keep one hand at a time scrunched down in my crotch while working as it looked and felt kinda weird to do.


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