Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I Passed!

I just found out on Monday that I passed my Special Topics exam. Woo hoo! This is such a relief. I only wish I felt like celebrating....I'm still getting over strep throat, a sinus infection, ear infection, and a ruptured eardrum. If I were back on the farm, they'd just take me out back behind the barn and shoot me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Well, the exam has finally caught up to me. I woke up sick today: sore throat, fever, aches, feel like crap in general.

On a positive note, I'm getting my new Metal Halide lights today for my reef tank. I bought them off of another ReefMonkey member, so I got a really good deal on them. They're so damned expensive, so I was fortunate to find a set I could afford. I have to take apart my Compact Flourescent fixture so I can add the lights to my canopy. I also have to modify my wood canopy to make it higher to accomodate the lights. I'm not very handy, so this should be an adventure. As long as I can get the hardware store to cut and square the wood for me, I think I can do the rest.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Gotta Wait

Well, I ran into the chair of my exam committee today, and they hope to have it graded by the end of the week. Argh, that really sucks. I had hoped I would have gotten the results either today or tomorrow. Here's the thing...I was promoted from TA to Associate Lecturer, but in order for this to happen, I have to pass the exam. I'm already teaching a course that only a Lecturer can teach, so if I don't pass, I'm out of a job and funding for the semester. Not fun.

Must think happy thoughts, must think happy thoughts.

No Rest for the Wicked.

Well, the spring semester starts today. I'm still in denial, but after spending all of yesterday and last night writing a 7 page syllabus, preparing handouts, etc., it's finally starting to sink in. I'm kinda excited about teaching a new course this term....this will be the first time I get to teach an upper-level undergrad course totally on my own. I'm also nervous as hell, I have no freakin' clue as to the purpose of this class. It's an intermediate culture and literature class. We're reading the Hunchback of Notre Dame (Notre Dame de Paris), yet we're watching commercials later on in the semester. It will probably be a while before I get to teach my own medieval lit class.

I should find out the results from my Special Topics exam soon. I'm crossing my fingers, because I'm really anxious to get working on my dissertation. Ok, truth be told, I'm just ready to get done with grad school cause I'm sick as hell of being poor.

For those who don't know me (as I'm sure denizens of hot, available men are logging in just to read my blog), I'll give my background:

I'm Les, I'm 31, and I'm a graduate student working on my Ph.D. in French Literature. I've specialized in medieval and 16th Century Literature, but my thesis will be on medieval Arthurian Literature, particularly the 13th Century Merlin romances. I always wanted to be a medievalist, but then I fell in love with 16th Century love poetry--yes, I know, how cliché! However, the Grail started calling my name again, so I'm embarking on my own quest.

I'm originally from a small town in Indiana (Monticello), population around 5,000 in the winter, and 10,000 in the summer. It's a lake community with a small amusement park, so it's always flooded with tourists (usually from Chicago) in the summer. I spent my summers at the end of high school and throughout my undergrad working retail and learning to kiss ass.

Undergrad was done at Manchester College, in North Manchester, IN, population 3,000. I moved from Smallsville to Shitsplatz, USA. I double-majored in French and English, and I spent my junior year in Nancy, France. Despite what people say about the French, etc., I pay them no attention. I love the country, respect the people, and appreciate its culture. I find it funny that most who hate the French have 1) never been there, 2) if they've been there, they were only passing through on a short visit, or 3) don't speak the language. The same people who are annoyed at the snobby Parisians are the same ones who bitch about the "foreigners" in this country who don't speak English.

In 1996, I got my BA from Manchester and I started graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis. I was in the MA/PhD program, but I was miserable. I left school after the first year, but stayed in St. Louis with my boyfriend for two more years while working. There, I learned the value of a Master's Degree in the liberal arts: I worked in a restaurant as a host for $6.00 an hour. I learned many valuable lessons and what it means to struggle. I grew up poor, but it was always my parents who struggled, not me. Now I can appreciate the sacrifices they had to make. I also learned humility. Degrees or education don't make you a valuable person, or any better than anyone else. While working the suck-ass restaurant job, I met my friend Margaret, a 60-something English woman who married a GI ten years or so after WWI when the Americans were still in Britain. I'm thankful I was temporarily bannished from the Halls of Ivy as I never met a more genuine, beautiful person, and I'm grateful that I got to know her.

I eventually got a decent-paying job doing French-speaking technical support. Now, I was about as computer illiterate as they come. My undergrad computer network ran off of DOS, so I couldn't even turn on a Windows machine, let alone get on the internet to find some porn. Fortunately, they were willing to train me. In time, I felt like I was heading in the right direction, but not on the right path. I realized that what was wrong with me in grad school was my choice of study. My true interests were in French studies.

So, I contacted the French Department at Notre Dame about their grad program. I'd been accepted there once before, but I turned them down to go to Wash-U (Wash-Out U as I call it). I'd figured that they'd just tell me to go bugger myself, but that wasn't the case at all. I contacted them in late May/early June, and they said that they would try to find me a slot for the following fall semester. I wasn't counting on anything till the fall of the following year! Grad school applications are usually done in the December/January before the fall semester. The gods smiled kindly upon me that summer, because I was able to start classes at Notre Dame in the fall of '99, and I had a nice funded position. Notre Dame didn't have a PhD program in French lit, so I graduated in May of 2001 with my second MA--this one in French. Oh yeah, while at Notre Dame, I wrapped up the loose ends at Wash-Out U, and received my MA in English from them in 2000.

I'd applied to several PhD programs, and I ended up moving to Madison, WI in the fall of 2001 to start coursework towards my PhD. In the fall of 2002, I went to Aix-en-Provence for a year where I taught English at the university. Hands down, that was probably the best year of my life, and not a day goes buy when I don't think of the place where I felt like I was already home.
I came back to Madison in the Fall of 2003, and I've been here ever since. I took my first round of PhD exams in January of 2005. I was supposed to take my last exam in August of 2005, but three herniated disks, and one back surgery in the summer to repair a completely blown out disk that was crushing my psiatic nerve changed those plans. I had to push back the exam one semester

Blah, blah, blah. That's really the boring part of me. I know we define ourselves by our careers, but there is so much more to who I am than what stack of degrees I may hold or what initials I can sign after my last name. What matters most is how we treat those who are important in our lives. I'm blessed with many wonderful, funny, and smart friends from all different backgrounds, and I appreciate each one for their uniqueness and the spark that they add to my own. Now, don't get me started on love. Yes, I may be book-smart, but I'm so dumb when it comes to love. I seem to fail miserably at that (and making a good bread dough). I've had some "close-calls," but I've yet to find the man with whom I hope to spend the rest of my life.

So, in the meantime, I have my friends, family, and Singe, my cat. Christ, I've turned into one of those queers I've spent my lifetime making fun of. "Hi, I'm gay, let me talk to you about my cat." Well, I have two passions in my life: Singe the psycho flame-point Siamese and my 55 gallon saltwater reef tank. I've had my current tank since 2001, but I've kept saltwater fish before. Singe came into my life last spring when I wasn't mobile and couldn't get around. I craved contact with another human being, so I went to the Humane Society to check out a cat whose picture I saw online. When I saw him and looked into his big blue eyes, I knew I had to bring him home. And that's exactly what I did. It wasn't until I signed the paperwork that I realized he was a damn Siamese. No offense against the breed-lovers, but these cats are all freakin' nuts! I had no idea that Siamese came in flame-points. After shitting my pants, I decided to still adopt him, after all, he was on Kitty Death Row at the shelter. One more week, and it would have been blue-juice for him! So, I crossed myself, sprinkled some holy water around the apartment, and brought the spawn of Satan home with me. The shelter had a 30-day return policy, and the cats know it! So, for the first month, I had the sweetest, most loving cat I'd ever encountered in my entire life. He'd greet me at home like a dog, and meow constantly until he could sit in my lap for hours on end. However, on day 31, his "warranty" was up, and his true schizophrenic nature came out. He's a carnivore, he likes meat...especially mine. I tried everything, from play therapy, aversion therapy, to threatening to get his punk-ass declawed. I've had some degree of success with time-outs in the bathroom, door closed and lights off. In all fairness, he does fairly well now, but I think it has more to do with the fact that I've learned to recognize the signs of his impending mental breakdown. He occasionally bites with no warning, for which he receives his "punishment." However, my neighbor Hillary always cackles with glee when he goes into stealth mode and jumps out from behind a chair to attack any appendage hanging over the side of my chaise where I have my posh ass positioned like a courtisan holding court.

Ok, that's enough of my ramblings for this morning. Just wanted to give you a taste of the Lester. (No, my real name is Leslie, but that's another entry).

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Welcome, I've decided to create my own blog. Life is hectic for the next week and a half, but I will post more.