Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I had a long talk with my body tonight...

I haven't been around here for a while. Mostly because I spend most of my life in a frantic race to complete a series of tasks so that I can get this thing they call the PhD that I've spent many years and more money than I would care to admit trying to get. In some ways, I feel like a nerdy real-life gamer. I live for the next quest so I can finally "level up!"

I paused my work tonight, however, to blog. Well -- not really blog but bitch. Yes, folks -- this is catharsis. I'm here to rant. To rave. To wail, and perhaps gnash my teeth just a little bit. Why?, you ask with breath that is bated.

Because I'm SICK.

OK -- I'm not just sick. I've been sick for approximately ten-thousand years. And by ten-thousand years, I mean a month. Which is still ridiculously long if you ask me.

Graduate students (and indeed college instructors of all shapes and sizes) are used to getting sick at inopportune times. Mainly because we work so intimately with germ factories (students). I get a double whammy because Joe works retail. The man has a constitution of an ox and rarely gets sick himself, but he's kind enough to allow any passing plague to hop a ride on the S.S. Kimbro, and as soon as it docks here in Queen Creek, that little feller sniffs the air, finds my scent, and says, "Ah -- there's a bonny immune-deprived lass!"

But I digress.

I had a nasty case of strep throat upon returning from a trip to TN for Joe's b-day in mid-October. I knew it was strep because the sore throat, fever, chills, and headache were accompanied by my sniveling about how I couldn't f-ing believe that after all this time I had strep again. I went to the doctor, got my trusty antibiotics, and after a few more days of sniveling, I felt significantly better. Ten days of antibiotics ran their course, and two days later -- something came back. Something wicked. Something diabolical. Something disgusting and phlegm-caked that set up residence in my throat. For a few weeks, I lived on a diet of Chloraseptic lozenges, acetaminophen, and decongestants. I snorted, snotted, and sniveled my way through many days and nights. Eventually I had to add Tums to my diet because Chloraseptic, acetaminophen, and decongestants are evidently not the breakfast of champions. Not to mention the fact that in order to live without snotting all over myself, this combination of pharmaceuticals made it difficult to do brilliant scholarship on the coalescence of anti-Catholic rhetoric and mercantile ideology in seventeenth-century England. It made it difficult to do anything besides stare at a wall or the vapor trails coming off of my own hand. It made it difficult not to watch hour after hour of Sister Wives. (In my humble opinion, this is the best way to watch Sister Wives, actually.)

"Maybe it's a sinus infection," I thought. "I'll take decongestants until I get rid of whatever's living in my face." Things felt better for a while -- then it came back. I could sense it had grown weaker, but it was still annoying. It's harvest time here in Arizona -- perhaps I'd developed adult-onset allergies. I decided to add lortadine to the mix just for funsies. I was determined not to sit in the crowded waiting room of the student health center on my nearly 70-thousand student campus one more time this semester. For all I knew, I would hear those dreaded words -- "It's just a cold. You'll just have to let it run it's course."

Here's the problem with that. For the grad student, the "course" of the common cold at the end of a frantic fall semester with a full class load and two teaching assignments is not standard. It's like comparing playing the back nine with the whole damn eighteen-holer. Most people's colds are happy just to play those links right next to the club house, then shuffle off to the bar for a few Michelob Ultras before they head back to the office for the rest of the day. This demon-cold, this beast from another dimension that filled my face with every conceivable texture and color of phlegm, was the equivalent of four rheumatic old men playing so slowly that they frequently (and politely) stopped to allow other ailments to play through. A scenario:

My Demon-Cold: Oh, you look like you're in quite a rush today, 24-hour Stomach Virus. Why don't you just go ahead and tee up ahead of us. We're not going anywhere any time soon.

24-hour Stomach Virus: Why thanks, gentlemen. I don't mind if I do!



Migraine: Hey, folks. I've got someone else to plague later today. Do you mind if I just squeeze through here?

My Demon-Cold: Not at all!

Me: *whimper*

Add profuse sweating, vomiting, and other disgusting things to the snotting, sneezing, and sniveling that were already dominating my life.

Luckily, the gastrointestinal and cranial pyrotechnics were short-lived. The lortadine seems to be doing the trick, although I sense that my sinuses aren't too happy if I lay off the decongestant for too long. I felt fantastic today -- by comparison, that is. So imagine my dismay as I sat on the couch this evening, reading a fantastic novel for one of my classes, feeling the phlegm-beast creep back in at the back of my throat. That familiar twinge of discomfort that says, "Hey -- do you mind if I just hang out here for a few more days or a MONTH and make your life wretched?"

Enough was enough. I decided to take a shower and get ready for bed. While in the shower, I ended up having a little "discussion" with my body. It went something like this:

Me: OK -- listen up. Enough is enough. Put your f-ing WOMAN PANTS on. I've got a lot to do and less time to do it in, and you are dead weight right now. I don't care if your hands look all cool when they're vapor-trailed out. I've got things to accomplish.

Body: But I'm siiiiiiiiiiiiiick. *snivel*

Me: I don't care! If you don't pull your s**t together, I'm going to have to pummel you with a bag of oranges until you agree to stop being such a baby.

Body: But I don't feeeeeel goooooood. *whimper*

Me: Listen -- if you manage not to pull me down over the next three weeks, I can promise you wine. I can promise you chocolate. I'll let you sleep for three days straight and you won't have to wear anything but fleece pajamas. No makeup. No shoes. All the Sister Wives your tiny mind can stand!

Body: *sniffle* Well -- maybe. *physiological equivalent of crossing arms and pouting*

We seem to have reached a tentative agreement. I'm slightly phlegmy, but better off than I've been in a while. Here's hoping I don't have to defend a colloquium paper in a few weeks while hypnotized by the electric colors pulsating off of my own extremities. I sense my group of little old men are nearing the end of the course.

But they're going to be polite and let my period play through first.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

...Emerging from the Ashes.

Fitting title, no?

I suppose a better title would be "about to immolate," since we are once again headed into the heat of the year here in the Valley of the Sun. The winter was blissful, though -- no snow (which I honestly thought I would miss), and only three or four noticeably cold days. Joe is officially lamenting the end of sweater-vest weather for yet another year.

My first semester of PhD work ended well -- at least as well as I expected, and better in the case of my Shakespearean Fetishes course (oh, temporary bane of my existence). I am now once again in the fray, above the frenzy for just a moment to take a deep breath during spring break before plunging back into the mayhem of the final six-week push. My classes this semester are proving challenge, but extremely gratifying. I earnestly feel myself developing as a scholar. This semester afforded me the opportunity to meet with a very distinguished visiting scholar (W.B. Worthen, thank you very much), and I look forward to a shot at meeting Jean Howard when she visits in the fall. I presented at my first non-Idaho State/Utah State conference in February. I was the odd person out in my panel, since my presentation had nothing to do with Renaissance pirates, but my audience was patient and gracious despite an obvious lack of swashbuckling. I was even approached by a scholar from Princeton who found my work "interesting," and although our promises to get wine and discuss our research before the conference's end never came to fruition, it was nice to get an academic pat on the back.

I'm teaching two sections of English 102 this semester, which I assumed would be a piece of cake since I've taught two sections simultaneously before, but the combination of the early times, somewhat frequent early morning migraines, and a disturbing apathy displayed by my 9:00 AM class (ask them about all the lovely homework they had over spring break -- *tsk tsk*) has caused some extreme wear this time around. Perhaps I'm still somewhat "jet-lagged" after fall. I've applied for a much-coveted summer teaching position here at ASU, but Joe and I have been judiciously socking away money in case that doesn't happen, so that our summer fun will be fully funded anyway.

Speaking of Joe, the man has become a home-brewing machine! I bought him a home brewing kit for Christmas -- a gift which I assumed he would enjoy on a occasional basis, but I am delighted that he seems to like well enough to brew approximately once every two weeks. We've enjoyed some fine pale ales, an interpretation of 1554 (my favorite college beer), Rogue's Shakespeare Stout, and a variation of the same called Bottom's Dream, a molasses-spiked red ale inspired by Alabama football, and my very own raspberry-flavored heffeweissen for those toasty Tempe afternoons. Needless to say, there is always beer at Casa de Kimbro.

We've enjoyed a pretty steady stream of visitors since we've arrived here in Phoenix -- something we greatly appreciate since our schedules rarely coincide with one another to allow us to get away. We're hoping to make a pilgrimage back to the Gem State in late July/early August, and visit the Tennessee branch of the family sometime earlier in the summer. I imagine us as refugees of the heat...

Rest assured, blog readers, I am alive and well. Just insanely, but happily, busy.

More to come soon!