March 22, 2004

Nice Work!

Congratulations to Rana! She's been offered an internship at the Smithsonian.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 07:34 PM | Comments (2)

March 19, 2004

Professor Plum, in the Library, with the Candlestick

Well, we don't disagree too strongly, other than perhaps you gotta stop calling people 'Professor'-- I feel like a murder suspect in 'Clue.'

-- Timothy Burke to Matthew Yglesias, comments to "We All Agree!"

It's been years since I've played Clue. I used to love that game.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 07:29 PM | Comments (7)

March 09, 2004

New and Improved Austen Poll

Because I left out Colonel Brandon in the one just below.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 08:46 PM | Comments (7)

Poll: Your Favourite Austen Hero

These characters aren't really heroes, are they? (which I think is precisely Austen's point). But for the purposes of the poll, "hero" will do, though perhaps I should have said "your favourite male protagonist in an Austen novel," or "your favourite male character who marries an Austen heroine."

Since this polling software only allows for five possible responses, I left out Edward Ferrars on the -- admittedly arbitrary and possibly mistaken -- assumption that nobody would choose such a dull and forgettable character. If you want to register a vote for Mr Ferrars, you'll have to 'fess up in the comments section.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 04:28 PM | Comments (16)

February 13, 2004

OpenOffice?

Does anyone use this? Is it as good as people say it is?

I want to be able to save documents in MS Word format, but without having to use MS Word (which I hate with a passion). WordPerfect is slowly dying, so I'm looking for alternatives (but nothing too cutting-edge: I have neither the interest nor the capacity to aspire to join the ranks of the software avant-garde).

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 04:14 PM | Comments (18)

January 09, 2004

Nice Work

Some days she's a raven, other days a frog, and nowadays she is gainfully employed. Congratulations to Rana, who has just received a job offer from the place where she's been temping. Go Rana!

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 07:57 PM | Comments (4)

January 05, 2004

A New Kind of Iatrogenesis?

Ever since I installed Norton Systemworks, I've been having problems with my computer. Performance slows down, applications freeze, and at least a few times each day it seems as though the whole thing is about to crash and burn. Perhaps I don't have enough RAM to be running continuous scans of my machine? But in any case, I am losing faith in these doctors (the DiskDoctor, the WinDoctor, the doctor who performs the One-Button Checkup): I begin to suspect their cure is worse than the disease.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:57 PM | Comments (16)

December 27, 2003

Eat, Drink and Be Snarky

Via Blue: Zagat's outtakes. Just between you and me and the blogosphere, I don't always find the Zagat Survey a reliable guide. Perhaps they should stop censoring comments such as the following:

The city hasn't seen this much cheese since the Three Tenors played Dodger Stadium.

Eat the crayons. They taste like the calamari.

Heart-stopping food in a life-taking neighborhood.

My Russian mother makes better French food.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 09:44 PM | Comments (5)

December 22, 2003

Happy Holidays!

yuletide (Custom).jpg"You must understand, good People, that the manner of celebrating this great Course of Holydays is vastly different now to what it was in former Days: There was once upon a time Hospitality in the Land; an English Gentleman at the opening of the great Day, had all his Tenants and Neighbours enter'd his Hall by Day-break, the Strong-Beer was broach'd, and the Black-Jacks went plentifully with Toast, Sugar, Nutmegs, and good Cheshire Cheese; the Rooms were embower'd with Holly, Ivy, Cypress, Bays, Laurel, and Missleto, and a bouncing Christmas Log in the Chimney glowing like the Cheeks of a Country Milk-maid; then was the Pewter as bright as Clarinda, and every bit of Brass as polished as the most refined Gentleman; the Servants were then running here and there, with merry Hearts and jolly Countenances; every one was busy welcoming of Guests, and look'd as smug as new-lick'd Puppies; the Lasses were as blithe and buxom as the Maids in good Queen Bess's Days, when they eat Sir-Loans of Roast Beef for Breakfast; Peg would scuttle about to make a Toast for John, while Tom ran harum scarum to draw a Jug of Ale for Margery: Gaffer Spriggins was bid thrice welcome by the Squire, and the Gooddy Goose did not fail of a smacking Buss from his Worship, while his Son and Heir did the Honours of the House; In a word, the Spirit of Generosity ran thro' the whole House."

-- Dick Merryman, Christmas Entertainments (London, 1740)

Christmas: to paraphrase "Dick Merryman," it's not what it never used to be.

Still, even in this our age of world-weary cynicism and post-ironic detachment, there is room for a bit of cheer and maybe even a bit of magic. A toast to you and yours! May you have a lovely holiday.

See you after Boxing Day.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 07:30 PM | Comments (10)

December 17, 2003

'Tis the Season

Ah, Christmas in New York. What says "festive" like stoned Canadians living in a truck in upper Manhattan?

But I want their happy memories of Christmas to be orchestrated our way. It must involve our stories of Santa coming in through the fire escape and buying the tree at 181st Street from the stoned Canadians who live in their truck all December (Laura, Apt 11D)
But don't even get me started on the trickier aspects of negotiating the holidays with not one but two sets of parents who are now grandparents (and with the Canadian set living not in a truck on 181st Street but in, well, Canada). 'Tis the season to be jolly well stressed out.
Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 09:49 PM | Comments (2)

December 16, 2003

D'oh!

It has come to my attention that some of the readers of this weblog are diehard Simpsons fans (see comments to "Books Not Read"). Yeah. My husband is a bit of a fanatic, I think that's why I married him. Or maybe it's why he married me, because I'm a bit of a fanatic too. Our two-year old son is also a fan ("Mommy, we watch the Simpsons?"), if not quite, or not yet, a fanatic. But please don't tell my mother, because she thinks Bart Simpson is too "bold" and "cheeky." Well, yes. But Mum, that's just the point. If the family that prays together stays together, the family that watches the Simpsons together is the family that laughs together in the face of the utter disintegration of western civilization as we have known it. Please pass the popcorn.

So never mind books not read, what about episodes not seen? I have yet to see the episode where Maggie attends the Ayn Rand daycare and the kids use some sort of communitarian strategy to make an escape. I really want to see that one.

Now, I could do the cultural studies thing and ask you to critically interrogate the multiple meanings behind "Homer Simpson's Eyes and the Culture of Late Nostalgia" (Jerry Herron, Representations 43 [1993]: 1-26). Or I could just say what I'm about to say, which is, "Hey, here's an entry where you register your favourite Simpsons line."

I'll start things off with one of my all-time favourites, from "Lisa's Date with Density:"

Lisa Simpson, coming to the realization that she has a crush on Nelson Muntz: "He's not like anybody I've ever met. He's like a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a vest."

And I'll add just one more, from "The Simpsons Spinoff Showcase":

Ralph Wiggum: "Look, big daddy, it's regular daddy."
Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:39 PM | Comments (62)

Books Not Read

As 2003 draws to a close, itís time for me to reflect on all of the great books I did not read this year. This has been a particularly good year for not reading books. I would go so far as to say that there are more books I did not read this year than in any year in the recent past. Although a significant part of my job consists in sitting somewhere and reading something, I have still managed to find the time not to read a very wide range of material from many different fields.

-- Kieran Healy, Books I Did Not Read this Year

Kieran Healy offers a list of his "ten favorite nonfiction books" that he did not read this year, carefully arranged in the order in which he did not read them. "It is a nice question," he notes in connection with Robert Skidelsky's John Maynard Keynes: Fighting for Freedom, 1937-1946 (a "superb three-volume study [which] will likely be displaced by an abridged one-volume edition due out soon, which will be shorter and therefore easier to not read"), "whether shorter books are easier or harder to not read than longer books."

In the comments to Kieran's entry, Katherine offers a "not quite read" list, which I think raises another nice question: how much of a book can you have read while still being allowed to boast of not having read it? I'd say that if you perused the table of contents, read the acknowledgements and perhaps even took a glance at the preface, you're still on solid ground. A quick peek at the index might also be permissible. Once you have at least briefly skimmed the first chapter, however, you will have to concede that you have "looked at" the book, which is not quite the same thing as having read it, but not quite the same thing as not having read it, either.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:37 AM | Comments (10)

December 14, 2003

What Colour Are You?

Via ambivalent imbroglio, there's nothing like a silly internet quiz when you should be doing something else that you don't even want to think about doing. And I have to say, I'm rather impressed by the result. Not sure about the written description, but the colour itself is remarkably close to the background colour for this blog:

you are cadetblue
#5F9EA0

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is lower than average - You don't stress out over things and don't understand people who do. Finishing projects may sometimes be a challenge, but you schedule time as you see fit and the important things all happen in the end, even if not everyone sees your grand master plan.

Your outlook on life can be bright or dark, depending on the situation. You are flexible and see things objectively.
the spacefem.com html color quiz

Just as an aside: no matter how desperate I get for procrastination material, I categorically refuse to take the Which Wife of Henry VIII Are You? quiz. I am unwilling to entertain the possibility that I might have anything of significance in common with any of them.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 04:07 PM | Comments (21)

December 13, 2003

Guilty Pleasure: The Sopranos

Many writers, for the sake of following nature, so mingle good and bad qualities in their principal personages, that they are both equally conspicuous; and as we accompany them through their adventures with delight, and are led by degrees to interest ourselves in their favour, we lose the abhorrence of their faults, because they do not hinder our pleasure, or, perhaps, regard them with some kindness for being united with so much merit.

-- Samuel Johnson, The Rambler IV (31 March 1750)


Like many eighteenth-century critics, Johnson worried about the moral effects of the (still relatively new) form of fiction known as the novel. What he worried about was that the reality effects of the novel might undermine a deeper reality: that is, that moral truths were absolute, regardless of the story. These truths, Johnson suggested, might be more effectively conveyed through less realistic characters and plot devices than were found in the novel.

As Johnson saw it, an earlier tradition of romance had typically traced the incredible (or "wonderful") exploits of heroic characters who were obviously, and dramatically, far removed from common life in order to illustrate general moral principles that could then be applied by humbler folk to the more mundane situations of the everyday world. The novel, on the other hand, aimed at something rather different: "to bring about natural events by easy means, and to keep up curiosity without the help of wonder." It staked its claim on versimilitude (okay, if you've read any eighteenth-century fiction lately, you will realize that what passed for "natural" was highly stylized indeed -- then again, the same can obviously be said of 19th-century realism, which in many respects was much more "realistic" than eighteenth-century fiction: was it Lennard Davis who pointed out -- I'm pretty sure it was Davis but I'm too lazy to look it up -- that with an eighteenth-century novel, you don't get a precise account of, say, what the heroine looks like? you read that she is "handsome" or "a great beauty" but are left to fill in the blanks, whereas with a nineteenth-century novel you are told that she has blonde hair or brown, curly or straight -- of course he had a larger point, but I'm already digressing...). For Johnson, what was disturbing and potentially dangerous about the novel's ambition to faithfully reproduce the everyday transactions of common life was its depiction of characters "drawn from nature," warts, wrinkles and all (eg, mostly good but with some notable flaw of plot-turning significance; mostly bad but with some redeeming trait that could elicit the reader's sympathy). He wanted protagonists to be not "natural" but exemplary: clear and unambiguous emblems of vice and virtue.

Johnson's concern over the effects of fiction will undoubtedly strike many readers as a quaint relic from the museum of wrongheaded moralizing over doomed causes.

But now that I'm finally caught up on the Sopranos, I have to say that I think Johnson may have had a point. Yes, I know I'm a little behind the curve here: I have only very recently finished watching the most recent season. I plead motherhood as my excuse. And no, I'm not about to adopt the stance of the eighteenth-century anti-novelist, ranting against the evils of the circulating library and exhorting young women to avoid the seductive temptations of the novel, which will only inflame their passions and leave them prey to some vicious aristocratic rake (possibly Mick Jagger) who will bring about their ruin. Are you kidding?! How could I object to the circulating library when I'm running a weblog? Anyway, I love novels.

And I'm really looking forward to the next (and I think final?) season of the Sopranos. But I have to say I sometimes feel a bit uneasy watching the show, I sometimes experience something that might almost be described as qualms of conscience. Not enough to stop watching, to be sure, but just enough to write this blog entry. I find myself sympathizing with convicted felons and people who should be convicted as felons, and then I'll watch a scene depicting the most brutal violence and the most shocking lack of remorse or decency, and sure, I'm your basic bleeding heart liberal, and I realize that Tony Soprano learned all of this in his childhood and was born and bred up to the trade, but there's just too much blood on the floor.

It's not that I have lost my abhorrence of their faults, as Johnson put it. Far from it. But I do derive a great deal of delight and pleasure from the show, and I do sometimes wonder whether this is quite right.

Did I mention that I love Carmela? The struggles of conscience with the bargain she has struck, and the way the motives are so obviously mixed (wanting to be a good Catholic, which means not leaving your husband, but also wanting to continue to lead an affluent lifestyle even if it means, as that pyschiatrist told her, that she's a criminal accomplice). I think Edie Falco is wonderful.

Anyway, I've oversimplified my account of Johnson's concern over the novel. I think it's really a concern over the psychologized self. Which is to say, the self as enormously rich and complex, full of inner depths and layers of meaning, with some core of self-authorizing authenticity which you might be able to get at if only you could plumb those depths through psychoanalysis or a recovering-your- inner-child workshop or what have you. Okay, that's not quite fair. And of course I'm as committed to my psychologized self as the next self.

But I do want to insist that this sense of self is something relatively new. Look at the early modern witch trials, for example, and read the testimonies of people who believed themselves to be possessed. Nowadays, we psychologize: we turn inward and assume some deep mental or psychological trauma. But that's not what people did circa 1600: they turned not inward but outward: some evil agent (if not satan, then one of his minions) had come from without and launched a sort of invasion. The frame of reality was external, not internal, objective not subjective. Likewise, the understanding of morality in its origins and application. Its enforcement, for example. The standard narrative: whereas in the premodern world, the code is enforced from without, through violence or at least the threat of violence, in the modern world, the subject internalizes the code and more or less voluntarily agrees to regulate his or her own conduct accordingly (which some describe as another kind of "violence"). You don't have to be a Foucauldian to arrive at this understanding, by the way, you can read Charles Taylor, and in my opinion you should.

Part of the frisson of delight with the Sopranos: the protagonist is all about some older "feudal" code of honour and violence (or at least, a low-rent New Jersey imitation thereof), and yet he visits Dr. Melfi. In other words, the joke, and the interest, is that he has a pyschologized self, with an "inner child," or that version of self-history that we call childhood. Which makes it possible for us to sympathize, even as we recoil. Which is exactly what Johnson was worried about.

Don't get me wrong: I wouldn't trade my modern psychologized self for anything, and I'm glad we're no longer holding witch trials. But I do think it's a mixed blessing. We get a sense of some of the difficulties, I believe, when we come up against a certain type of criminal case. Someone has committed the most heinous of crimes, the most shocking act of brutality that would seem to place him beyond the reach of humanity. And then, almost inevitably, we learn that he never had a father and that his mother was a drug addict and a prostitute, and that he was neglected and abandoned, shunted about from one foster home to the next, unloved, untaught, unwanted. Yes, I'm pouring it on. We all know the story. And we all know -- because we all subscribe to the narrative of the psychologized self -- that it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that he would turn to be the kind of person who could commit such a crime. But then there's the crime, and how can that go unpunished? Where do we draw the line between a notion of responsibility that still relies on some version or other of an external framework, and our basically subjectivist understanding of the story that makes up our notion of the complex self? Because after all, and since we all subscribe to the narrative of the psychologized self, doesn't everyone -- you, me, and Tony Soprano -- have a story?

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 08:44 PM | Comments (8)

December 10, 2003

Best-Loved and Most-Hated Holiday Songs

"How about one of those most-hated Xmas song threads?" asks Zizka.

You ask, IA delivers. But as always, I reserve the right to edit and revise in accordance with my own tastes, preferences and arbitrary whims. So it's most-hated and best-loved. Feel free to snark, or to confess a shameful addiction to the most saccharine fare imaginable: you can always post anonymously...

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 01:52 PM | Comments (54)

December 09, 2003

The past is a (vaguely familiar but basically) foreign country

One's own past, that is. Or at least, that part of one's past that included the annual, eagerly awaited ritual of please-mum-can-we-stay-up-past-our-bedtime-to-watch-Rudolph?

What happens when your cherished memories of a yearly Christmas treat come face to face with the actual item of which you cherish the memories? I'm referring, of course, to the 1964 production of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, with Burl Ives as the singing snowman. Which I hadn't watched in years and years, though of course I could have had I wanted to, because it's been on the air every December since its initial broadcast.

What happens is that, when your husband says, ten minutes into the show, "wow, what a banal piece of crap," you are forced (however reluctantly, because you're still game, and you still cherish the memories) to concede that he may have a point. What happens is that, when, twenty minutes into the program, you begin to allow yourself to think, 'This dross really is embarrassingly unwatchable,' you begin to wonder about your six-, seven-, eight-year old self: 'What was I thinking?! And am I still the I who once thought so differently, who once found this not only entertaining but even wonderful and magical? What other, achingly familiar yet never to be recovered past world did I inhabit? And can I really be so old that I now have such a keen, which is to say painful, sense of then and now?' To amuse yourself, because you've committed to watching it and you're not yet willing to follow your impulse to simply walk away, you begin to speculate: is there a homoerotic subtext to this story about the misfit elf who wants to be a dentist? have the queer theory people done anything in this line? But it's no use. It just won't do. The show is altogether too flimsy, and simply not interesting enough, to bear the weight of any such speculation.

Meanwhile, the toddler on whose behalf you are watching the show (because this show was once something of a holiday "tradition" that you think you might want to reinvent -- good god! am I really saying that the watching of a television show might constitute a tradition? yes, I am. O brave new world, that has such people in it!)...meanwhile, said toddler has long since abandoned the screen in favour of his favourite dump truck. 'We're watching Rudolph,' you coax, but half-heartedly at best, because by now you can only admit that the child has a point. 'Wrong trousers?' he replies, in an English accent. These days this kid is all about Wallace and Gromit. With Finding Nemo as a close second. And let's face it: Rudolph in 1964 "animagic" is not exactly Pixar. Though it could have its own "vintage" charm, except that it doesn't.

Ah well. We will try again with the Grinch (no, not that abomination of a remake, but the original and genuine article). I remain optimistic. I'm thinking Boris Karloff must have aged better. But if this one falls through, I think I might well be devastated.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 11:15 PM | Comments (44)

December 04, 2003

Another Eye for the Straight Guy

They're filming Queer Eye for the Straight Guy around the corner...

...After I pick up Jonah from school, I'm going to check out the Fab Five. I have to talk to them about the good work they're doing, but they really have to stop putting straight guys in white denim.

-- Laura, Eyeing Queer Eye

Laura's right, of course. Guys, if you want to get dates with women, please do not wear white denim. And go easy on the hair care products.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:08 AM | Comments (19)

November 16, 2003

Which Founding Father Are You?

This has been around for months and months (and by the way, three months in calendrical time is equivalent to half an eon in blogtime). But I just re-discovered it through Ghost of a Flea, and it may be new to some readers. Anyway, I'm too spent (see previous entry) to write a post on the decline and fall of the university.

I come up as Hamilton. Does this mean "I shall hazard much" to lose my life in a duel? And will anyone volunteer to be my second?


Which Founding Father Are You?
Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 09:05 PM | Comments (24)

Why I Can't Sleep

My son was almost hit by a cab the other day.
Friday afternoon, 2:00, 86th and Lex.

Walking south on Lexington with my son in his stroller, just beginning to cross 86th on a green light with a walk signal. This cab seemed to come out of nowhere, turning right onto 86th. JMJ. I yelled "stop, stop" while moving rightward as fast as I could to get out of the way, "stop, stop" while moving fast, faster to get out his way but I can't move as fast as he is moving, doesn't he see us moving? "stop, stop" moving faster, faster, and at least eight or ten other pedestrians yelling "stop stop" while he keeps moving. And then he stopped.

All kinds of other pedestrians, seems to me it was mostly women, yelling at the driver and yelling at me, "Get his number! get his number!" Which I might not have done if they hadn't told me to. So I fumbled around in my bag and pulled out pen and scrap paper (a receipt from the post office) and quickly jotted it down while shaking in disbelief. And then I just stood immoblized on the sidewalk while a couple of women screamed bloody hell at the driver. "I know it's hard to drive a cab in New York City," one of them yelled, "but you just almost killed a baby."
Shouldn't I have yelled at him too? Wasn't that my duty as a mother? But I didn't yell, or say anything. Just wrote down the number, then gathered myself up, pulled myself together, made myself stop shaking, and took my son home, which I haven't left since.

I've filed a report (thanks to those women, I took down his number). And now I can't sleep.

I keep rewinding and replaying the tape, and then my body twitches in revolt as my mind persists in imagining the unimaginable.

It is frightening to think of, and I need to stop thinking of it. The utter fragility of a human life. My son's life. I can't sleep.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 05:04 PM | Comments (19)

October 30, 2003

Manuals of Guilt

My (admittedly partial) solution to the problem addressed by Laura in Gobs of Guilt (permalinks bloggered; scroll to Thursday, October 30, 2003) is to simply refuse to read the parenting books. I'm serious. I haven't looked at a parenting book in over a year (when I wrote this post, it had already been months and months). I've got enough to worry about without agreeing to discipline and punish myself over every last detail of my son's physical, emotional, intellectual, moral and psycho-sexual development.

And I have to say that I've been much more relaxed about the motherhood thing since I stopped reading the guilt manuals (I stopped reading them, by the way, when I got utterly fed up with their presumptive hostility toward mothers).

Still, even while consciously avoiding the parenting genre, it's hard to ignore the guilt-inducing messages that seem to come from everywhere. Laura is right: our mothers worried far less about this stuff. Our grandmothers worried less still. In grandmother's day, raising children was rather like raising livestock: you made sure they were fed and watered, kept them out of harm's way, and breathed a sigh of relief if they made it safe and sound to adulthood (okay, in great-grandmother's day, and yes, of course I'm hyperbolizing).

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 11:03 PM | Comments (11)

October 13, 2003

Pumpkin Patch

So many topics, so little energy.

I've got a backlog of topics to blog, some of them suggested by readers, who have been sending me great links and articles. But after a weekend with the grandparents, which included a visit to a pumpkin patch, a trip to FAO Schwartz and the cooking of a turkey dinner, I'm so worn out I can barely remember my own name (never mind my own blog pseudonym). Regular blogging will resume shortly.

In the meantime, if you're interested, continue to see some pumpkin patch photos (if this works properly, these will be thumbnails that you can click to enlarge).

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 08:48 PM | Comments (5)

September 09, 2003

POLL: Annoying Children's Television Characters

If I were a good mother, I wouldn't even know about any of the following, because my son wouldn't watch any television. Yeah, right. I'm on familiar terms with more of these characters than I'd care to mention.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:30 PM | Comments (12)

"B is for Botox"

One reason why I enjoy visiting Apt. 11D is that Laura makes me laugh out loud:

B is for... BOTOX. I'm really freaked out by the aged cast members of Sesame Street. Maria and Luis were around when we were kids. And Maria has had some serious work done on her face. The number of the day is .... 70.

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing about Maria. Have you seen the "Elmo Visits the Firehouse" video? Any more work on her face and she'll be unable to crack a smile.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 09:51 PM | Comments (1)

August 17, 2003

Emergency Preparedness

Canada used to have a government office called Emergency Preparedness Canada, which is now the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness/Bureau de la protection des infrastructures essentielles et de la protection civile. I don't know why, but that "emergency prepardedness" thing always struck me as funny. It sounds like such a parody of the bureaucratic impulse.

Nevertheless. The lesson learned from the blackout: we (meaning our little nuclear family of three) need to get our act together in the emergency preparedness department.

A battery-operated radio is a good start, but how about lots of extra batteries conveniently stored in a readily accessible area? Having to search through layers of junk piled (or rather, carelessly tossed at random to create something like piles) in a deep and dark utility cupboard -- and with a toddler who wants to help -- is not good emergency prepardedness. Anyway, our radio takes 6 batteries. This is not such a good idea: if one of the batteries dies, how are you going to know which one? you may not have time or you may not have enough light to check all possible configurations in order to isolate the dead battery. Wouldn't it better to have a radio that required only two, or maybe four, batteries?

We need a serious flashlight, not some some piece of junk that looks and acts like a children's toy. And of course more (readily accessible) batteries for the serious flashlight. And we should have more canned food on hand. Some of that UHT milk that you can store without refrigeration for up to 6 months might also be a good idea (yes, it sounds weird, and it probably is, but we're talking emergency here; which would you rather give your child: strange heat-treated milk or no milk at all?).

We have a bottle of acetaminophen and a bottle of ibuprofen in our medicine cabinet -- and the dates have expired on both bottles. Please. There is no excuse for this. We do have bandages and gauze and rubbing alcohol and antibacterial ointment (though not all in one place), and I think we may even have a pair of those small scissors that you're supposed to have in your first aid kit. Not that we have anything that could fairly be described as a first aid kit. And I couldn't tell you where those scissors are, which means that, for emergency purposes, we may not have a pair of those scissors. So we need to make up a first aid kit, with all essentials stored in one (again, readily accessible) container.

In fact, and fortunately enough, we didn't really need any of the above (a few minutes after losing power I quickly stored enough cold milk in a cooler pack so that my son could have milk that evening and the next morning; I did find 6 radio batteries in the deep, dark utility cupboard; and we didn't need painkillers). And we were without power for only 13 hours, which was an inconvience but not an emergency (though my husband was seriously inconvenienced: he had to walk home from work, it took him over 3 hours). But what if we had to go several days without power? or perhaps without water? As I was frantically searching for the cooler pack and the batteries and etc, I realized that we really were not organized in the emergency preparedness department. I'm not talking duct tape, here. Just a few commonsense preparations and precautions.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 12:22 AM | Comments (10)

August 10, 2003

I Was Early, the Train Was Late

Which meant I had to spend almost two hours waiting at New York's Penn Station. I couldn't actually leave the station: I didn't know when exactly the train might arrive, but I did know that my husband would be disembarking with a two-year old boy, a heavy suitcase, and an even heavier car seat (which car seat was rescued from our car, which car up and died this weekend, which is why they had to take the train...). Needless to say, I felt duty-bound to remain on hand to meet and greet the intrepid travellers.

So I browsed through 2 bookstores, 1 drugstore (here I focused on the dizzying array of hair care products -- my husband says I have a shampoo fetish, and he's absolutely right), 3 different (though identical) Hudson's News newsstands, and a couple of exceptionally tacky gift shops. I've always wondered: what is the point of these gift shops, located as they are in the grimy underground hell that is Penn Station? Does anyone ever actually enter these sad excuses for retail commerce? I now know the answer.

I bought a fruit salad from a deli. Half an hour later I bought a pretzel from a snackbar. And half an hour later still, I almost broke down and bought a Krispy Kreme donut. But those donuts don't look right to me: they're too round and puffy, they just don't meet my idea of what a donut should look like (later, much later, when we walked by that Krispy Kreme kiosk on our way out of the station, my son pointed to the donuts and said "Bagels!"). So I resisted the temptation to commit a breach of loyalty against Dunkin Donuts (actually, my first loyalty is to Tim Horton's, but I work with what's available).

I found an interesting title at one of the two bookstores that I browsed: Pam, a biography of Pamela Lee Anderson which purports to offer an "inside look" at the "sexy life" of "the hottest woman in the world." I like that "sexy life" bit: she's so sexy, her very life is sexy. But wasn't there talk of domestic violence? I thought I read something somewhere about a restraining order? Sexy. While the store has a "Biography" section, I found Pam in "Fiction:" I'm not willing to say that the book was misfiled.

The romance of the rails is long since over. (Well, you knew that, of course, and I guess I knew it too.)

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:56 PM | Comments (21)

July 10, 2003

I'm Shocked and Appalled

by the amount of money someone was willing to pay for a Maisy birthday party set: tablecloth, party hats, loot bags, and the like. It's not available at any of the birthday party theme shops I've visited (online) in the past few days, I think it's a UK thing. But I found a set on eBay, and asked my husband to place a bid. I thought his bid was scandalously high: and now it turns out we've lost the auction! But I guess I can almost understand, since our son is crazy for Maisy.*

Guess we'll have to make do with colourful but non-themed balloons and streamers and party hats. I'm no Martha Stewart (hmm...and a good thing, too -- I guess that statement has a different resonance nowadays, doesn't it?), but I've got an idea for some mouse cupcakes that I think I can pull off.

*If you don't have a toddler, you may be wondering, Who the heck is Maisy? Maisy is an anthropomorphized mouse, basically female though more or less androgynous, and a huge hit with human toddlers of both sexes. I'm still trying to figure out the basis of her enormous appeal. One clue: bright, primary colors, but all is simple and low-key: nothing overcrowded or overpowering. And then there is the excitement of complete independence -- she seems to live in a house by herself, without any adult supervision that I can discover: she even gives herself a bath! -- but this boundless liberty is exercised within the confines of a jolly little world that is utterly safe and predictable. Oh, and she and her friends (a chicken, a squirrel, an elephant and a crocodile) have commandeered a train, which they ride up hill and down, and then back to the station. "Maisy? and the train?" are the first words uttered by my son every morning...

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 09:17 PM | Comments (9)

June 26, 2003

If You Like...(A Summer Reading List, to be Compiled by the Readers of this Blog)

Gentle Readers,

It's 95 degrees in the shade, and I simply cannot function. I am not a summer person: I'd rather walk five miles through a snowstorm (without hat or mitts, even!) than suffer through one afternoon of this enervating heat and humidity.

But the one thing I do like about summer is the "summer reading" concept. Inspired by Kieran Healy's Read Any Good Books Lately?, I'm soliciting recommendations. Here's the twist: you must recommend a title or author with reference to another title or author according to the following formula:

If you like X, then try Y.

Yeah, it's not particularly clever or original, but dammit, I just can't think properly in this heat.

Here are a couple to get things started:

If you like Jane Austen, then try Penelope Fitzgerald.

If you like Penelope Fitzgerald, then try Salley Vickers.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 05:36 PM | Comments (36)

June 22, 2003

A New Contest (Largely, if not Exclusively, of Interest to Female Readers, for Reasons that Should be Obvious)

Because this blog needs more fluff, I bring you:

The Bridesmaid House of Horrors Contest

All this talk of marriage has got me thinking about weddings. And when I think of weddings, I invariably think of bridesmaids. More specifically, I think (with varying degrees of shame and horror and amusement, depending on the mood I'm in) of bridesmaid dresses I have known and not loved, which is to say, of bridesmaid dresses I have actually (and un-f***ing-believably) worn. Are you with me? Yeah, you know it, baby.

Who among us hasn't had, at one point or another, to don some frightful figure-unflattering concotion of polyester satin with dyed-to-match pumps? From leg-o-mutton sleeves (Why I am Not a Libertarian, Reason #156: I think leg-o-mutton sleeves should be ILLEGAL, with violators prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law) to shiny teal green fabric (Women of the World, Unite! and realize that shiny teal flatters no one, and that matching teal green eyeshadow only turns things from very bad to even worse), the bridesmaid outfit reveals the true meaning of the term "Fashion Victim."

So 'fess up. I'm looking for detailed descriptions, and not only of the dresses, but also of the various and sundry accessories to the crime against fashion that we call "The Bridesmaid" (shoes, bags, hairpieces, floral arrangements, makeup and etc.) The worse, the better, and the ghastliest outfit wins.

The prize: No cash, but in addition to the glory: a wedding-related novelty item of my choosing.

The fine print: No purchase necessary to enter or win. Entries must be received by June 28, 2003. Contest is not open to employees of Invisible Adjunct and each of its respective affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising or promotional agencies, and the immediate family members of, and any persons domiciled with, such employees. Winning contestant must answer a skill-testing question. Winner will be notified by email and announced on this blog on July 1, 2003. Void where prohibited by law.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 08:55 PM | Comments (7)

May 31, 2003

Icons of Boyhood

Tinker, tailor,
Soldier, sailor,
Rich man, poor man,
Beggar-man, thief.


My boy wears blue, not pink. Oh, and other colors too, of course: red, green, white, yellow, grey, and even, on occasion, a sweatshirt that my mother got him in a pale shade of purple that comes dangerously close to "lavender" except that there's a tow truck on the front which says, unmistakably, "boy." But not pink, not ever.

Apparently things were different just 80 to 100 years ago. Historians of clothing and costume inform us that the blue for boys/pink for girls imperative is of fairly recent vintage:

An American newspaper in 1914 advised mothers, 'If you like the color note on the little one's garments, use pink for the boy and blue for the girl, if you are a follower of convention. [The Sunday Sentinal, March 29, 1914.] A woman's magazine in 1918 informed mothers, 'There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is pertier for the girl.' [Ladies Home Journal, June, 1918]

Indeed, as I understand it, until very recently there were no significant gendered differences in infant, and possibly also in toddler, clothing: both sexes wore more or less the same thing, and that apparel was more or less marked as feminine. The donning of knee-breeches or short trousers was a rite of passage, through which the boy symbolically left the world of women and children and started down the path to manhood. You see this in very old photographs: "But why is that little boy wearing a dress?" Because that's what boy babies wore back then. This lingers on in the convention of the "christening gown."

Baby clothes are now highly gendered, probably more so than ever before. Some people object to this early stereotyping, and no doubt with good reason. Hence a small movement toward more unisex clothing, though it is largely limited to the type of parents my husband calls "alternayuppies:" that is, people both of liberal, progressive persuasion and, not insignificantly, of ample material resources (we came across a lot of alternayuppies in our childbirth class, by the way, at the birthing center where I myself had the ultimate alternayuppie childbirth experience, which is to say, a completely "natural" and unmedicated birth). Unisex clothing tends to be expensive and hard to come by: you won't find much of it at your local Walmart or Target.

It occurs to me that this gendering of baby clothes is more complicated than appears at first glance. Yes, of course it's silly and abritrary (it used to be pink for boys, after all), and it helps strengthen and reinforce all kinds of stereotypes that I would like to see weakened if not entirely eliminated. Still: if we think about this in relation to an earlier symbolic sytem in which all children, male or female, were basically coded as "feminine" and belonged originally to a world of women and children until roughly half of them emerged/escaped from this world to join the world of men, well, things look a little more complex. This gendering of baby clothes might actually represent a step forward. Grant that it relies upon and indeeds helps create and reinforce a basic division between male and female. It says, in effect, that both sexes begin as infants and then gradually make their way toward adulthood. Which actually might represent a move away from the "women and children" motif, in which a feminized realm that has do with infancy and childhood exists in contradistinction to a masculine world of fully realized adulthood (the problem with tightly linking "women and children," of course, is that it tends to infantilize adult women).

Anyway, I wouldn't sign my name to the above paragraph, I really am just musing on my blog. Or maybe I'm trying to rationalize? I'm a feminist. And there's no way in hell I'm going to dress my boy in pink florals. I don't know anyone who does, actually. You know it's silly and arbitrary and problematic, but you don't put your boy in a pink dress. You just don't.

But enough about gender. Let's move to class. Though that's wrong, of course, because it's really gender and class:

Here is a one-piece sailor suit with a hand-embroidered sailboat on the collar. List price: $78.00. And another, of blue linen, hand washable only, with a list price of $80.00. A shortall and shirt set, with handsmocked rescue vehicles (an ambulance, a firetruck and a police car), which sells for $58.00. A black and white gingham seersucker set with handsmocked watermelon truck described as "totally boy!" (list price $72.00, and it's machine-washable). And a blue gingham seersucker outfit with smocked train -- "so cute and masculine at the same time" -- carries the more modest (though not exactly cheap) pricetag of $38.00.

Well hey, nothing says "masculine" like hand-smocking, right?

Of course not. And therein lies the appeal. These clothes are sweet, fussy and feminine -- handsmocked and handwashable (look, if there's a dad in this country who can care for this expensive clothing properly, I'd sure like to meet him) -- but their femininity (women and children) is rescued by such motifs as that of the masculine rescue vehicles.

These are beautiful clothes. And of course they represent the higher end of toddler boy apparel (though not the highest end: there are children's clothing shops in Manhattan selling outfits of linen, cashmere and silk that start at well over $100: here's an online version [no address, but the fax number is a 212 exchange], which sells cashmere jumpsuits for infants at $180.00; no details on fabric care, but I can assure you this little beauty is not machine-washable).

What's interesting, I think, is that the parents who can afford to spend $80.00 on a linen sailor suit don't want their little tyke to grow up to be a sailor. Or a fireman, or a truck driver, or a police officer. No, they want Junior to go the best schools, in order to become a knowledge worker: a lawyer, or an investment banker, or a doctor, perhaps. But when it's portrait time, they dress the little guy in 100 percent cotton or linen, with handsmocked icons of masculinity: firemen, police officers and truck drivers.

These days, I know, we're not supposed to talk about class. And I sure hope my random musings on boys' clothing aren't interpreted as a form of "class warfare." But I find it very interesting that the gendering of "boy" in baby clothes is produced through an equation of masculinity with the kind of blue-collar jobs that middle and upper-middle class parents don't want their sons to grow up to.

The same is not true, it should be noted, of baby and toddler girl clothing. Here the motifs most often come from gardens: flowers, of course, overwhelmingly flowers, though to a lesser extent, butterflies and ladybugs (the caterpillar, by the way, is an interesting case: it's basically coded as masculine merging into unisex, while the butterfly is absolutely feminine: I defy you to find a piece of "boy" clothing with a butterfly as its motif). Women in the workforce: there is a popular image of the well-heeled professional career woman, but the fact is, of course, that women are concentrated in the service sector and in something that some people call the "pink collar" segment: low- to mid-level office work. You won't find a corresponding iconography on baby girls' clothing, nothing that says "waitress" or "support staff." Why is that? A leftover from the notion that while man does, woman just is?

So I can't help wondering if these icons of boyhood don't represent, in some new and strange way, an infantilization of working-class masculinity? The same parents who would dress their little boy in a fireman theme ("our little fireman! how adorable") would be horrified at the thought that Junior might actually grow up to be a fireman (my god! the best schools, from preschool on -- and here in New York they actually interview 2-year olds for preschools: no really, I happen to know a 2-year old who had an interview -- in order to get him into one the Ivies...to become a fireman?). Yes, I know we're not really supposed to talk about this stuff, we're all middle-class here and any mention of class is pretty much taboo. But I ask you: what the heck is going on with an $80.00 sailor suit?

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 12:03 PM | Comments (22)

May 16, 2003

And Now for Something Completely Different (And Of Interest to Parents Only): Toilet Training Learning

There's been too much doom and gloom on this blog of late. And in the grand scheme of things, what does it really matter? Well, it doesn't matter, obviously. At the end of the day, it's all bloody well irrelevant, isn't it? So let's talk about the stuff that really matters when it's 6 a.m. and you're thinking, "Oh hell, another diaper change?"

Toilet training. Er, uh, toilet learning.

My son is 22 months old. Is it too early? Or, god forbid, is it too late? (have we missed the boat? destined to diaper for the next decade or so?)

I can't keep track of the new theories. Oh, I guess I could. But I won't keep track of the new theories. Those books and websites make me nervous, make me think I'm coming up short as a mother. You're guilty until proved innocent, it seems to go. And you won't be proved innocent until you're six feet under and somebody recalls that you weren't so bad, after all, you once read Picture This ten times in a row and without skipping pages even though you had the flu and your head was aching.

So what's the story with toilet training? When to start and how to proceed?

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 02:30 AM | Comments (15)

May 14, 2003

Congratulations!

Congratulations to Jason of No Symbols Where None Intended, who is now the proud father of a bouncing baby boy. Jason reports that his wife and son "are recovering nicely after a long and difficult labor" and describes the new baby as "alarmingly cute."

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 01:04 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2003

Blogito Ergo Sum?

I've been thinking about how bizarrely self-conscious an activity is blogging.

Turbulent Velvet has a really interesting post in which he argues that blogging is like letter-writing, which he understands in earlier, indeed in 18th-century, terms:

"Letters inhabit a kind of middle ground between writing and orality. They are written, but they are formally dialogic in much the same way that speech is. Letters exist in the context of an ongoing correspondence--they proceed by turn-taking, they respond to previous mentions and 'calls,' and they anticipate responses, which means that any statement made in a letter may have to be elaborated or revised or rescinded across narrative time in dialogue with another person. Statements are never finished in letterwriting the way they are in a 'closed' form like an essay, which does not open itself formally to dialogue in the same raw way."

Like 18th-century epistolarity, T.V. suggests, blogging takes place somewhere between privacy and publicity. I like this because it allows me to think of blogging as a social form: not quite public but not fully private, either: somewhere in that intermediary social realm that falls in between.

So it's not keeping a private diary and then publishing one's innermost thoughts and musings on a website. Or it shouldn't be, if you want to have any readers. Aha! There is always the consciousness of readers, and of their responses, and then of one's own responses to their responses. Back and forth we go, from blog to blog, entry to comment, and back again.

And yet there's no getting away from the self-consciousness. I am sometimes amazed (occasionally even appalled) by my keeping a blog, it sometimes strikes me as altogether too self-indulgent an activity. The "I" that is all over these pages: who is this "I" and what am I doing? What a massively insignificant authorial intrusion into cyberspace. Full of sound and fury and signifying nothing or something or just what, exactly? Is this a feat of derring-do? Hell no, it's more an act of sheer folly.

Then, too, I sometimes worry that I'll start thinking in blogbytes.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 01:45 AM | Comments (8)

April 23, 2003

Parenthood and the Confrontation with Mortality

How long can I be a wall around my green property?
How long can my hands
Be a bandage to his hurt, and my words
Bright birds in the sky, consoling, consoling?
It is a terrible thing
To be so open: it is as if my heart
Put on a face and walked into the world.

-- Sylvia Plath, "Three Women"

"She is very clever, and has learn'd all her letters. She dances very prettily to her own shadow."

-- Jane, Duchess of Atholl, describing her 3-year old daughter in a letter to her sister, the Honourable Mary Graham (c. 1770s)


When the Duchess of Atholl lost her young daughter (lost her to who knows which of the many illnesses we now immunize our children against), she comforted herself with the thought of Heaven. The heavenly Father, she believed, had reached down and taken the child to His home because she was too bright, too pure, and too innocent for this world. Her sister encouraged her in the thought, and pointed out that the child would now be spared "much suffering," the suffering that was our lot in this our earthly home.

It is easy enough to smile with indulgence, or less kindly to sneer with contempt, at the credulity of past believers. And I am grateful enough, I suppose, to have been rescued from the idiocy of rural life. But when belief in God was just the air that people breathed, so too was a rate of infant and child mortality that we would now find unbelievable and just shocking.

And what other comfort could the Duchess have found? She had a child who "danced very prettily to her own shadow." The child danced; and then she fell ill. The child died.

It's been quite a while now since I have even looked at any of the parenting books. They lie heaped in a stack, collecting dust on a shelf in the bedroom.

A few months ago, on a Friday night (late January? early February?), 4 teenage boys, aged 16 and 17, stole an 8-foot dinghy and tried to row out to an island in Long Island Sound. Something horrible happened. Maybe someone rocked the boat, maybe the boat had a hole in it. Toward the end, one of the boys made a frantic 911 call from his cell phone and said the boat was filling with water. "My God, we're all going to die" were his last recorded words.

I am haunted by the picture of one of the fathers, taken on the day of his son's funeral and published in the local papers. How sad and crumpled he looks, how truly stricken with grief. What happened? Where is his boy? How could this happen? He is dull-eyed with pain and loss and bewilderment. He has been stricken.

It's crazy, of course, it's just silly and stupid, but when I read about it in the papers, I wished I could turn back the clock and let those boys have another chance: Please (oh please) don't do that stupid thing; just talk about doing it, joke about how much fun it would be to row out to Hart Island on a Friday night at midnight; and then think better of the idea, and go home safe and sound to your parents. And when I thought of the parents, in addition to something we can call sympathy, I felt a prickle of fear (This could happen to anyone. Will this happens to us?) and even a momentary and very guilty sense of relief (It wasn't us that this happened to. Well, not this time. And please, oh please, not ever).

I sometimes wonder what the parenting books have to do with this mixture of sympathy and fear and guilty relief and hopelessly stupidly wishing that the clock could be turned back so that the catastrophe would not happen. And not just books. In addition to the books, there are websites and videos and products galore: an entire industry built around parental anxiety. The parenting industry trades on the notion of parenting as a massive and highly specialized project, a goal-oriented endeavour with inputs and outputs and an intricate and extensive set of rules and regulations that range from the banal to the bizarre. It is not enough, for example, to feed your infant, you must devote yourself to the rather daunting task of "building a brighter brain." Play itself is a serious business, apparently involving, at last count, "5 main developmental play stages" (can you name them? I confess I cannot, I would need a crib sheet: bad mummy me). Through threats and promises, flattery, cajolery and downright bullying, the industry experts encourage you to micromanage not just the basic care and feeding of your child, but the whole range of emotional and intellectual and psycho-sexual developmental issues for which, they exhort you, you are uniquely responsible.

As parents, we are to understand our task as a kind of quest for perfection. Perfect Parenting is the title of one manual (and no, this one is not collecting dust on my bookshelf: even before I had become intimately familiar with this genre, I knew enough to draw the line at anything that would dare to give itself such a title). We are to adopt and to internalize an unrealizable ideal of perfection. (I yelled at my kid this morning: will she end up in therapy?; I gave him a jar of Gerber's instead of homemade organic: is he destined for Type II diabetes?). Martyrdom is an an obvious subtext to this literature (so glaringly obvious that it is hardly subtextual, it is just barely hidden), and so too is a thinly veiled kind of narcisissm: the suggestion that we can redo and thus relive our own childhoods, make it all better this time, make it just perfect, make things turn out right.

Critics of the genre point out that this literature pretends to offer reassurance while serving up an unhealthy dose of anxiety. I can only agree. But I'm wondering whether this anxiety isn't actually the point? What if he dies? Well, of course he will die, we all die, that is our human condition. But what if he dies before me, dies before his time? Unthinkable. And yet it could happen. An illness, a car crash, a crazy teenage prank...The parenting books say, Do this, that and the other, and you are in control.

But it doesn't matter what they say. Sometimes it just does not matter. Things happen. It doesn't matter how good a parent you are, how conscientious, how loving, how much you care. Horrible things can and do happen, and to me or to you or to anyone. 16-year olds will sometimes do stupid things, and sometimes even fatally stupid things, despite the breastfeeding and the Montessori and the cultural enrichment. We are not in control. Look, you can be the best parent imaginable, but you are not in control. So maybe the point is to dwell obssessively on all manner of small detail in order to distract oneself from the thoughts that lurk, from the awful thoughts that lie hidden in the dark recesses of the brain? To think of the small stuff in the hope of fending off the big catastrophe? the thing that might happen, the thing that you hardly dare imagine might happen? If I worry about baby food, he won't get meningitis. If I focus on vocabuary acquistion, he won't be hit by a car.

I'm not the first person to note the basic religiosity of the parenting books, the way they seem meant to serve as manuals of devotion. The parenting guru as high priest of a new cult of child perfection, the parents as eager, desperately and confusedly eager, acolytes. But I wonder if it doesn't cut deeper than we care to realize? I wonder whether, for all their obssessive focus on the minutiae, these books have something to do with something much larger, the something awful and terrfiying that we do know but do not want to know? A way of coping, in other words, with parenthood as a confrontation with mortality -- and as strange a way, in its way, as the thought of a heavenly Father who would reach down and take a child to His home.

We who are middle-class westerners are so lucky! so much luckier than we often realize. We worry about play stages, vocabulary acquisition, psycho-sexual development. These worries are luxuries. These worries are the function of an unprecedented level of affluence that we can even afford to take for granted. And the odds are very much in our favour. If you bring a child into this our earthly home, the world of the middle-class westerner, the odds are very much in your favour that you will live to see that child grow to adulthood. We have immunizations, vitamin-D enriched milk, indoor plumbing, a surplus of food. We can worry about developmentally appropriate playthings because we don't (no, not once, not ever, if we are middle-class westerners) have to worry about food. We have modern medicine. (Yes, modern medicine: please spare me your critique, at least for the moment, I have read the critiques, and I will go halfway, but no more than halfway: my son had surgery at 6 months old for something potentially life-threatening, it might have taken the life of a child of the Duchess of Atholl, she might have been thinking of her child in heaven where I sit on the couch with my son reading Go Dog Go). We are so much better off than was the Duchess of Atholl: a nobody in the middle-class west of today is so much better off than was a duchess in the eighteenth century.

Unless the thing happens. Unless and until the awful, unthinkable catastrophe happens. In which case, I suspect (and I hope I never need to know, I hope this will always be nothing more -- please, oh please, may this never be anything more -- than a suspicion), we are not better but rather a good deal worse off than was the Duchess of Atholl. The Duchess could find comfort in the thought of heaven. But where would be comfort for the parents of those 4 boys?

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 08:25 PM | Comments (4)

April 04, 2003

Movable Type for Dummies?

I'm a newbie, a blunderer, an ignoramus, call me what you will. I don't mind admitting that what I need is a dummies guide for Movable Type. I'm sure the documentation is very thorough, but it presupposes a basic understanding of the basics, and a basic understanding is what I do not have. Some of it flies right over my head.

I've only just discovered, for example, that the "date posted" at the bottom of a blog entry is in fact its permalink. We're talking basics here, a basic knowledge of which I lack.

Ignorance breeds fear. I want to make some changes, but I'm afraid to tinker for fear of messing things up. If something goes awry, I will automatically assume that I've done something awful and irrevocable.

Categories, for example. It looks easy and straightforward, but this apparent simplicity makes me nervous. There is a Categories button under "Manage" in the main menu. I see how I can enter up to 5 categories. But is that all there is to it? Or is that just an initial step, before going into the templates to do something more? And are there any perils and pitfalls of which I should be aware?

Trackback I still don't quite get, even after having read Mena and Ben Trott's new Beginners Guide to Trackback (yeah, I know, it's kind of sad, isn't it?). Liz Lawley posted something useful the other day, but I'm still not sure I understand. I've now turned on the autodiscovery, so I suppose I can leave things at that.

Three columns instead of two. I've seen this on many blogs and I really like it. But then I've come across comments suggesting that three columns can cause problems? Again, I don't know enough about any of this to understand how or why this might be problematic, though I assume it has something to do with floating/alignment issues?

Backing up one's blog content. Is there a best way to do this, and if so, what is it?

Well, sooner or later I suppose I will figure this stuff out. But I welcome any hints or suggestions...

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 02:20 PM | Comments (12)

April 03, 2003

Childhood Memory/Childhood as Memory

Not only the individual advances from infancy to manhood, but the species itself from rudeness to civilization.

-- Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cheries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

-- William Butler Yeats, The Stolen Child


Where is childhood?

The other day I saw a CN (Canadian National Rail) freight train on the Hell Gate Bridge. I wasn't expecting to see it, though indeed there's no reason why it should have surprised me. But it did surprise me, and it stopped me in my tracks. All of a sudden I was transported back to childhood...wheat fields, prairies, blue skies, vast empty spaces, loneliness ... the sight of a CN freight train that I didn't expect to see somehow unleashed a flood of memories, or of those bits and fragments that we call memory.

But transported how, and to where? I don't know wheat fields, prairies, vast open spaces. That was not my childhood. Well, not directly, at any rate.

We Canadians do not have a history. Oh, sure, Canada has a history, and there are of course many histories of Canada. But Canadians do not have a national history, a grand narrative the meaning of which is revealed through the unfolding of significant events in accordance with a unifying theme which gives them their meaning. We just don't. We make fun of Americans' historical mythology, and partly we are right, but partly we are just jealous. Anyway: want to stir up the patriotism that lies dormant in the Canadian soul? Forget history (Laura Secord? that's a box of chocolates; Confederation? hit the snooze button; the Statute of Westminster? well, there is something impressive about the move from colony to nation without bloodshed, yes, it is a blessing to live in uninteresting times, but it hardly makes for compelling narrative). No, if you want to call forth Canadian patriotism, history won't do. Instead you must turn to geography. A mari usque ad mare is our official motto. In geography we find our mythos.

The sight of that CN freight train called forth memories of something already once removed. Memories not of a direct experience of prairies, wheat fields and vastness, but of the invocation of prairies, wheat fields, vastness, and freight trains running from sea to sea as the essence of Canada. The grade four geography textbook, the childhood experience of watching countless CN freight trains go by, and thinking of the pictures in that textbook, and imagining the vastness, and somehow feeling both small and insignificant and also part of something large and lonely and magnificent.

I often wonder what my son will remember of his early years, and how he will remember it. I take it as a given that he has, or will have, "that within which passeth show." Though some people tell me differently: "A boy? Well boys are easier to handle: they're more transparent." I am just a little bit irked by this, it sounds like saying boys are just a little bit stupid. Not my boy, I think.

How complex is the modern self! We have inward depths and multiple layers; we possess a rich interiority. It doesn't matter whether or not we really "have" this self, whether or not there really is this "self" that we can have. If we think we have it, then we do. It's not a question of whether or not this sense of self is accurate or true. This sense of self is very obviously a culturally and historically specific construction (quite simply, people have not always and everywhere conceived of themselves as having inward depths that they could plumb), but the fact is, we either are or else we do possess the sense of ourselves that has been constructed along these lines, and I doubt very much that we could deconstruct this construction of self, and in any case, I, for one, would not be much interested in trying.

This has all been brilliantly and beautifully explicated by Charles Taylor in his Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity. But what Taylor doesn't deal with is our idea of childhood, and our notion of the child as the source of the adult self. This is the subject of Carolyn Steedman's Strange Dislocations: Childhood and the Idea of Human Interiority, which argues that the adult's interior self is perceived as the product of its own unique and personal history, the internalization of childhood memory as that which is "lost and gone." We all, or at least most of us, believe this, and not only those of us who pay our devotions to the secular religion that is psychotherapy. We think we can excavate this memory, and that the further we dig, the closer we come to the truth about ourselves that lies buried in childhood. I don't think we really can recover this truer, more authentic, and prelapsarian self, which is one reason, I suppose, why I find the idea of nurturing one's "inner child" so cheap and tawdry: it is both a shortcut and a dead end.

We think of childhood in terms that are at once developmental and historical. At its most simplistic, the child as our future, as a repository of our hopes and dreams, or, more social-scientifically, as a kind of "human resource" (ghastly term) to be carefully studied, managed, and marshalled in support of some socially useful goal or another. But more often, I believe, we think of childhood in terms of time past. And not in terms of a past time that can be represented as a series of discrete events which we then connect in accordance with a grand narrative, but in terms of time past as the unfathomable depths of our being: when it comes to the history of self that we apprehend through the memory of childhood, we are all historians of the annales school, committed to a notion of the longue duree. We long for a past which we would, but cannot, retrieve and recover. And of course we romanticize the pre-modern self as the self that we ourselves once had in the past that we call childhood. We think of this self as simple, not complex: as a self with integrity (wholeness) instead of a self made up of those layers and divisions that hide "that within which passeth show."

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 02:46 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2003

The Comfort and the Terror

What is it that makes History? Well, bodies.
And Art? -- a body that has lost its head.

...And secondly, dear Mary, let me stress:
there's nothing, barring Art, sublunar creatures
can use to comprehend your gorgeous features.
Leave History to Good Queen Bess.

-- Joseph Brodsky, Twenty Sonnets to Mary Queen of Scots


As a child, I was deeply attracted to the old-style Catholicism, bits and pieces of which I picked up from old catechisms found in the basement, from elderly female relatives with their mass cards and their rosaries (the beads made of wood, hand-carved and polished into a dull sheen by years of devotion), and from who knows how many other vestiges that I could faintly trace out from my cosy little enclave in a dreary little lower middle class Canadian suburb.

I grew up in a Catholic household, with a mother whose recommended response to any type of "suffering" (a scraped knee, the daily dose of cod liver oil) was to "offer it up to the souls in Purgatory." My parents had a crucifix over their bedroom door, which suggested (and this of course was the point) that the marriage bed was, among other things, a sacred space: if sex was a damp, dark secret, it was also a mystery. Blood, sweat, tears, my father's dirty socks, my mother's silver-plated hairbrush, the crown of thorns: an intimation of something vast and terrifying, but also intimate and comforting: the sacralization of everyday life.

Then, too, we had Mary our Mother, who would plead our cause in any case whatsover, and a whole host of saints various and sundry who could be relied upon to intercede for more specialized purposes: St Jude for desperate causes, St Anthony for misplaced belongings ("Something is lost and cannot be found/Please, St Anthony, help look around"). The saints were distant figures and not quite real, and yet they were ever-present at some other layer just above or beyond our everday reality. We spoke of them with familiarity, shortening their names to affectionate diminutives ("Does she go to St. Mike's?" "No, she's a student at St. Pat's"). I attended Catholic school from the tender age of four (St John the Apostle, or, as we called it, and no disrespect intended, St. J. the A.), where we learned that unbaptized babies must go to limbo and where our first-grade teacher warned us that we must always think of the Holy Family: Mary and the baby Jesus, oh and Joseph, too (poor man, always a bit of an afterthought, and cuckolded by the Holy Spirit! he earned his sainthood, surely). I recall distress upon the sudden realization shortly afterwards (an hour? a day? a week?) that I had not been thinking of the Holy Family, they had slipped my mind altogether. "But I can't always be thinking of them," I silently argued: the germ of scepticism?

So I suppose I got the full treatment, such as it was in the post-Vatican II age in which I was born and raised. Ah! but there's the rub. Even as a child I was dimly aware that the Church was not what it had once been, and somehow realized that the full treatment was only a treatment by halves.

Anyway, at the same time (and in conflict with the romance of pre-Vatican II Catholicism), I was a budding feminist. I sang "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" at the top of my lungs in the schoolyard. "Oh, you're not going to grow up to be one of those women's libbers, are you?" my mother worried. I gave her a hard time if, for example, she automatically referred to an unknown doctor as a "he" ("women can be doctors, too, you know, Mum!"). And then there was the Brady Bunch, and denim jackets, and K-tel record albums, and, in short, everything else that made up life as I knew it. Juvenilia: when I was maybe 14, maybe 15 years old, I wrote an essay on "the Protestantization of the Roman Catholic Church," by which I meant, I suppose, the accomodation of the Church to the modern, liberal, secular world to which I clearly belonged. Oh, I was passionate, bristling with purpose, an angry adolescent with a devotion to Mary (but also a subscription to Seventeen magazine). Even *I* knew it was a bit of a put-on. It was a last-ditch effort to salvage my faith from something I had suspected and feared for years: namely, that Catholicism just didn't fit into the main contours of my reality.

Two cheers for Enlightenment.

Last weekend I read Paul Berman's report from the ideological trenches, "The Philosopher of Islamic Terror," on the writings of Sayyid Qutb. I have been thinking of it ever since. Berman wants us to take Qutb seriously as a thinker who is "not shallow" but "deep," and whose "'In the Shade of the Qur'an' is, in its fashion, a masterwork." I think Berman is onto something.

In his "In the Shade of the Qur'an," Berman reports, Qutb wrote that

"all over the world, humans had reached a moment of unbearable crisis. The human race had lost touch with human nature. Man's inspiration, intelligence and morality were degenerating. Sexual relations were deteriorating 'to a level lower than the beasts.' Man was miserable, anxious and skeptical, sinking into idiocy, insanity and crime. People were turning, in their unhappiness, to drugs, alcohol and existentialism. Qutb admired economic productivity and scientific knowledge. But he did not think that wealth and science were rescuing the human race. He figured that, on the contrary, the richest countries were the unhappiest of all. And what was the cause of this unhappiness -- this wretched split between man's truest nature and modern life?"

As Berman reminds us, "a great many cultural critics in Europe and America asked this question in the middle years of the 20th century." And -- if we can let Heidegger stand in for "a great many cultural critics" -- they came up with an explanation not so different from that of the philosopher of Islamic terror: "a great many of them, following Nietzsche and other philosophers, pointed to the origins of Western civilization in ancient Greece, where man was said to have made his fatal error. This error was philosophical. It consisted of placing an arrogant and deluded faith in the power of human reason -- an arrogant faith that, after many centuries, had created in modern times a tyranny of technology over life."

Qutb offered a way out, and a solution: the "renovation of Islam and of civilization all over the world," the founding of "a new state, based on the Koran" and according to a reinstatement of "shariah, the Muslim code, as the legal code for all of society." As relayed by Berman, Qutb's ideas are deeply creepy and they are chilling. They would seem to involve a complete erasure of the boundaries between public and private, and between religious and secular. The sacralization of everyday life, with both its comforts and its terrors.

We should be frightened, Berman insists. But rather than dismiss these ideas, we should take them on, answer them, and refute them:

"But who will speak of the sacred and the secular, of the physical world and the spiritual world? Who will defend liberal ideas against the enemies of liberal ideas? Who will defend liberal principles in spite of liberal society's every failure?...
...Armies are in motion, but are the philosophers and religious leaders, the liberal thinkers, likewise in motion? There is something to worry about here, an aspect of the war that liberal society seems to have trouble understanding -- one more worry, on top of all the others, and possibly the greatest worry of all."

While I don't claim to have an understanding, I think I might have an inkling.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:50 PM | Comments (3)

March 19, 2003

The Only Emperor is the Emperor of Ice Cream

Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
-- Wallace Stevens

I am very new to blogging. Indeed, about three months ago, I actually had to ask someone, "What is a blog?" I had a vague notion that it was some sort of online diary or journal, but beyond that, I was so absolutely clueless that I didn't even realize that blog was a shortened version of weblog. Three weeks ago, I didn't know an anchor tag from a hole in the ground. Yes, I have been online for several years, and I have participated in several listserves and discussion boards. In terms of access to new technologies: why, I've been fully wired and web-ready for years. But until recently, it had never occurred to me that I might learn to do just a little bit more than type, point and click. It literally had never crossed my mind that I might get myself a book on xhtml and try to muddle through the basics.

Well, I'm a bit of a Luddite, I suppose. Though perhaps this is just another way of saying that I'm an ignoramus? I stand in awe of those who know code. I stand outside and wonder, as though contemplating from afar and through a glass darkly the inner workings of some vast mysterium from which I am by definition excluded. But by definition of what, exactly? Partly, of course, by self-definition: I do words, not numbers, English grammar not standards-compliant code. I settled on this self-definition by about the age of 6 or 7, and old habits of course die hard. And I'm sure I will always be a bit of techno-blunderer, though I do now know the meaning of anchor tag.

So I am new to blogging -- late to the party as usual, "always a bridesmaid never a bride" as the saying goes (I've been both, by the way, and it's more fun being a bridesmaid, despite those ghastly polyester dresses). And I am just finding my way through the blogoshere, and at the moment, I am so impressed by what's out there! Yes, there is a good deal of nuttiness and more than a little of nastiness. But there is also something very different indeed: some really sharp stuff by any number of smart and interesting and engaged people. I'm sure they all know code; I stand in awe before them. Myself, I am still trying to figure out how I want to blog and what it is I want to blog about.

I had originally intended to devote this space to a discussion of issues faced by academics, and especially by those of us who occupy that strange space on the margins, where we are in but not of, or perhaps of but not quite in, the academy. There are now some 400,000 of us, and our ranks continue to swell. And yet we remain oddly isolated and alone, and for the most part I think it is fair to say that we lack a shared space in which to discuss the issues and problems that characterize life as an adjunct faculty member.

To be sure, there is a dawning realization -- on the part of many full-time faculty and, more importantly, on the part of those various professional organizations and associations that can give a voice to our concerns -- that the trend toward adjunct teaching staff is indeed a serious problem, and not only for those who occupy adjunct positions but also for the future of the academic professions as a whole. And there is a growing literature (essays, editorials, position papers and the like) that addresses itself to the problem of de-professionalization. There is a good deal of information out there, which I diligently seek out and avidly devour.

But much as I welcome the position paper, I am also searching for something else entirely. What I want, what I would like to see, is a space that is somewhere between the level of the personal and the level of policy (I don't and won't call it the political, for reasons about which I will blog at some other time). I have yet to find this space ("Adjunct Nation" is a start, I suppose, but it is overall too cheerful, too decidedly "can-do" in its stance, to answer my -- perhaps unanswerable -- expectations). And so this blog is my small, my very small, attempt at carving out a space that I otherwise do not find. And who the hell am I? three weeks ago I didn't know an anchor tag from my own bellybutton (now where did bellybutton come from? ah! my 20-month old son is currenlty obsessed by bellybuttons, before long it will be dinosaurs, and before I know it he will be off to college, and who exactly will be teaching him?... )

Anyway, I don't want this space to be just another me-zine, all about me and what I ate for breakfast and what are my complaints: Poor me, I don't get paid enough; Pity me, I lack an office; but damn! my husband makes a mean panckake, and so on. At the same time, I certainly do have some complaints and I would very much like to express them. As I've said elsewhere, the adjunct faculty member is a blot on the copybook, an embarrassment to the profession to which he or she (at least marginally) belongs. And we who are adjuncts internalize this sense of shame and embarrassment, which is one of the reasons, I believe, that we are so reluctant to speak out. So ok, it's my page, and I can say what I like, even if I myself am the only reader, addressing myself, Frances Burney-style, to "Nobody." Though in truth, I would like to attract, among other readers, a half dozen or so of those 400,000 adjuncts out there (many of whom, I've little doubt, have yet to hear about blogging: don't underestimate the backwardness of humanities academics!). So I want to be able to get some things off my chest, but don't want this blog to be a narrowly focused and inward-turning me-zine.

And I am also struggling to find (or perhaps in some small way to help create, though even that is probably too grandiose a scheme) a space that falls somewhere between the "adjunct as entrepreneur" model which I reject outright, and the "adjunct as activist" model which I haven't yet addressed and about which I have some serious reservations. Don't get me wrong: there's a reason why I include workplace: the journal for academic labor on my blogroll. I think this journal is a must-read for every adjunct, and indeed for anyone and everyone who is concerned about the future of higher education in this country. But to say this is not to offer a blanket endorsement of its analyses, tactics and strategies. At some point in the near future, I want to take a critical look at Marc Bousquet's call for "a dictatorship of the flexible" (for whose work I grateful, but about which I am ambivalent; and no, I don't think he is being entirely tongue-in-cheek about this "dictatorship:" again, of which more anon).

So this was my original intention, and for the moment this remains my intention.

But today? Well, today I am inclined to think, What the f*** does any of this matter? And for obvious reasons. Let be be finale of seem, the only emperor is the emperor of ice cream.

Because much as I am passionately committed to all of the above, at this moment it seems silly -- nay, it seems worse than silly, it seems positively wrong -- for me to focus on my paltry little concerns when we are about to drop bombs on some city and Jesus (descending into me-zine mode, because it's my space and I can addres myself to Nobody), I look at my wee son who is truly the light of my life, and there is probably nothing I would not do for him (I resist the cult of domesticity that dies hard in America, sure, but would I give up my life to save the life of my son? I surely would, you want to believe it, baybee, I would do so without hesitation). And Edmund Burke was right about our "little platoons," he surely was right about this. At some level, I have to care more about my own child: a child requires so much of time and energy and investment (physical, emotional, financial and so on) that none of us would be here, I am sure, if parents didn't care first and foremost for their own children. But though my own child must come first for me, it would be morally immature, it would be morally wrong, of me to think that my child really does matter more than anyone else's.

And so I think of 20-month old children in Baghdad, and gee, I wish I had a tenure-track position in the academy, but for f***'s sake, in the grand scheme of things, my failure to obtain such a position in the field of academic history just does not matter. Clio doesn't care, and why the hell should she? It is as nothing compared to the possibility (probability?) that someone else's 20-month old child -- who does, who must, matter as much as my own child -- will die a horrid and gruesome death for reasons which, at this point, are really beyond my ken. At some point in the future, I mean to take on the "graduate students [unemployed and underemployed Ph.Ds.?] are among the blessed of the earth" which sometimes makes me angry, which sometimes makes me feel luminous with anger. But tonight I cannot be angered by that which does not really matter. Tonight I must acknowledge that I and mine are indeed among the blessed of the earth, through no virtue of our own, mind you, through a mere accident of birth, of space and time and geography. And I must humbly bow down before the awful truth that the only emperor is the emperor of ice cream.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 04:49 PM | Comments (7)

March 12, 2003

Minding the Gap

I think I crossed a line this morning, and crossed over to the other side. Now, I have been walking on and around this line for some time, and for the past few years I suppose I have been somewhat uneasily perched with one foot on either side. But this morning I decisively crossed that line, and am now faced with the realization that I have reached a point from which there is no return.

I'm talking about the "generation gap," if I may use such a quaint and perhaps archaic (c. 1970?) term. The existence and extent of which gap between me and my students became absolutely and undeniably clear to me this morning as I pondered the fact that three of my female students were wearing what looked to me like sleepwear and underwear.

Well, it's a 9 a.m. class, and today I gave the midterm exam (which gave me plenty of opportunity to observe my students' early morning sartorial splendour), and everyone was a little bit nutty because of the exam and the fact that after the exam we would all be free for the spring break (yippee!), and then, too, the students live in residence halls just a building or two away. So under the circumstances, coming to class in one's pyjamas is, if a bit unusual, not entirely unheard of.

So Student 1's apparel didn't really force upon me the realization of a gap. "Are those the kind of jammie bottoms that I myself like to wear in the privacy of my own home?" I wondered, as I noticed that Student 1 was wearing a pair of plaid flannel pants/bottoms that looked a lot like my own pyjama bottoms. They could be just a pair of extremely casual (and no doubt extremely comfy) trousers, to be sure. But when I noticed her feet, I saw what were unmistakably a pair of suede slippers. No question about it, Student 1 had come to class in her pyamas.

With Students 2 and 3, however, I was not (and am not) entirely convinced that they were wearing something other than street clothes to class. Student 2 was wearing a pair of jammie-bottom-looking striped flannel trousers (or, perhaps, actual jammie bottoms). With a woolen sweater on top (what the J. Crew catalog calls "the boyfriend sweater"), a chenille scarf around her neck, and a rose-printed silk scarf around her head (9 a.m. exam, no time to shower, having a bad hair day, etc.). But she was also wearing something else: on top of the jammie-bottom like bottoms, she was sporting what looked to me like a women's slip. Silky (probably silk, actually, these students have disposable income), with lace trim, in a pale seafoam green colour (though seaform probably isn't the right term, it probably has one of those J. Crew-like names: pool or foam or lake or what have you: some name that evokes water but with only a subtle hint at the actual colour). Student 3 was not wearing jammies. She had on a pair of jeans and sweater. But over the jeans, she had the same type of slip-like thing that looked to me like, well, like a women's undergarment, the kind we call a slip. Hers was a nice shade of pale beige (champagne? no that's too dated, probably considered cheesy now, so perhaps mushroom or cappucino).

Well, here's the thing: I was struck by the sheer fabulousness of these young women's outfits, I truly was. And at the same time, what they were wearing seemed incoherent: that is, it just didn't make sense to me. "Are those pyjama bottoms on Student 1?" "Is Student 2 wearing a slip? Gee, that looks a lot like a slip...Is it an actual slip that she bought in the lingerie department, or is it some new sort of overskirt designed to look like a slip but to be worn on the outside?" And "Is that another slip, or slip-like thingy on Student 3?" And "Is this what they're wearning now?" and "Oh dear lord, I sound like my mother!" And I had a real admiration for their early morning style: they are young and a little bit funky, and they can pull if off beautifully. But also, a wistful sense of loss as I realized that I am now very far removed from what it is that these young women are wearing to class. Not that I hadn't realized this before, but this morning it hit me with a peculiar force: my students belong to a younger generation and I of course belong to another, and older, one.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2003

The Invisible Adjunct's Anonymity

For reasons both personal and professional, the Invisible Adjunct prefers to remain in the condition of anonymity and invisibility that characterizes adjunct teaching in the post-everything academy. Just call it the Stockholm Syndrome: as a psychological defence mechanism, the Invisible Adjunct has begun to identify with and, more importantly, to cooperate with her captors (uh, employers) in the erasure of her very identity. Unless she can marshall the resources to make a bold and daring escape (the Invisible Adjunct now realizes that it is beyond futile to hope for a third-party rescue operation), she will no longer be capable of asserting an independent and fully visible individuality. Upon receipt of a solid offer for full-time, tenure-track employment, however, all would be forgotten and the Invisible Adjunct would happily reveal her identity.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 02:12 AM | Comments (0)