Okay, I know what you’re thinking.  But this is the only pop culture reference I could think of with “relax” in it, so get your mind out of the gutter.  This is not that kind of blog.

This blog is about my journeys in graduate school, and if I can go through a rough period and come out with advice and life experience for others, then I’ve accomplished something.  If I can articulate my triumphs, setbacks, and activities to my friends back in America, then this blog is doing its job.


The Valley

It’s now May and all of those conferences and engagements are over.  I’m back in York after a trip to the States and back to work.  I confess that it took me a really long time to get back into work mode.  You may have heard of the Thesis Whisperer.  (And if you are a student and haven’t heard of her, well, go to her page.  She’s worthy of the title “sage” when it comes to doling out advice about research writing and living.)  A few days ago, she posted on “The Valley of Shit“.  When I came back from the States, I was definitely in the Valley.  I suddenly realised that the listless, “meh” feelings I was having (and am still having to a lesser extent) came from me being intensely homesick.  I didn’t feel homesick last year.  Perhaps everything was new.  Perhaps classes and having others in my course kept me from feeling it too much.  Perhaps seeing my parents suddenly seeming older over Christmas flipped some daughterly switch.  Whatever the reason was, the fact was that I was slogging through my work–when I did work–feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere.  Feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere made me not want to work.  And on and on it went.  Yup, I was knee-deep in the Valley of Shit and didn’t know how to propel myself forward.  I was stressed and couldn’t force myself to really and truly relax.


The Plan

I finally just cried about it.  One big, huge, wailing ball of bawling mess.  I cleaned myself up and made a decision to make a schedule for myself in which I would make time for me.  I’m not talking necessarily about films, making tea, or writing letters; I do all that anyway.  My new mission was to work an allotted amount of hours per day and make absolutely sure that I got home before 9 pm and fit in workouts many times a week.  I would burn off the worry in the form of dedicated exercise (and free exercise thus far–YouTube has an impressive selection of full-length Tae Bo workouts that I can adapt for my bad knees).  After that exercise, I would actually sleep for 7-8 hours a night, which means not getting to bed at my nightowl-preferred 2 AM.

Since I was born, I’ve had health problems that affected my physical abilities and weight.  With all of this worry and anxiety about home, my parents, and my work, I felt like now was the time to really focus on making my mind and body healthy.  I’m still in the early weeks, but I want to make healthy living a priority.  This means waking up early, going to the workroom for at least 8 hours on a work day while munching on homemade lunches and snacks, getting home to exercise in the evenings, and then enjoying a healthy, fresh dinner.  I’ve never been one for “student” food, but I didn’t really keep fresh vegetables in the house, either.  That’s changed.  My favourite meal is now at least half a bag of greens (and by “greens,” I mean real greens that have nutritional value–not iceberg lettuce), a whole pepper or a bunch of tomatoes, a bit of smoked salmon, some goat cheese, and vinaigrette dressing I make from scratch.  Delicious!  Instead of snacking on whatever happens to look good on the day, I bring a lentil salad from M&S, some fresh fruit, yoghurt, and low fat cheese, and I make up my own mix of dried fruit and nuts for that 4 o’clock snack craving.


The Hard Stuff Still to Come

Of course, with improvements to my diet and workout schedule, I’ve had to make sacrifices elsewhere.  My bank account is less than happy with me.  I can’t be as flexible with my time in the evenings.  I have to, have to get to bed at a certain time.  Lack of funding and sleep always brings its own challenges, and I’m learning now how to overcome these new trials.  I have seen that perhaps my friends won’t be understanding when I can’t get cocktails or play the hostess.  This isn’t just about one night of fun.  This is a badly-needed life overhaul.  I need to make sure I have enough time to properly relax.  I need to do what many doctoral students have advised: make this thesis a job rather than a monster constantly hanging over my head.

My work itself is still trying.  I have my upgrade coming up at the beginning of July.  This is a formal meeting among my supervisor, my TAP (Thesis Advisory Panel) member, and another member of the department’s faculty to evaluate my progress and formally upgrade me to official PhD status (or technically “confirm my enrolment” as a PhD student).  From what I hear, it’s not a terrifying process on the day.  I submit 10,000 words to the three faculty members and will make sure that I prepare documents outlining my entire research project, showing a list of activities and lectures, and generally making me look good and productive.  Usually, this process isn’t until some time in the second year.  However…  Here’s the clincher: in order to teach next year, I must have upgraded.  This means I have to have upgraded before the beginning of autumn term, and this in turn means before the end of summer term.  While the meeting itself may not be stressful, the preparation is.  I have a sizeable chuck of that 10,000 words to write and a lot, a lot, a lot to read in order to write.  I have to edit the last section I submitted because not only does it need fleshing out, but it also needs all the footnotes.  I have to present good work to the upgrade committee, and that means more time in the workroom.

If I can suggest anything to others, it’s to write, cry, talk about things bothering you.  Stay connected to your friends and family; I know the support from my favourite people has helped me to continue with my programme here in the UK.  Make a budget and stick to it.  I don’t just mean a monetary budget here.  Schedule your life and budget the time you have for everything: breaks, work, television, preparation in the morning, everything.  There’s a reason my mom encouraged me to set out my clothes the night before, used an egg timer to ensure I was brushing my teeth enough, and always had a mammoth calendar on the fridge: scheduling works.  Plus, if you make a schedule, chances are you’ll remember the lectures you want to see and the lunch dates you have.  A great tool is Pomodoro, which is available as a Mac app and on Chrome.  You can set this little tomato for a set amount of work time which is followed by break time.  It also keeps track of each “Pomodoro” (set of work + break time) you complete, rewarding you with a longer break after several sets.

So what does all this scheduling, worrying, and upgrading mean for me and my road to overcoming my unintended sojourn through The Valley of Shit?  It means putting myself first, and that may mean putting socialising further down on my life list than I’d like.  Don’t worry–this should just  be until the big day in July, and my true friends should understand that I really can’t go out.  I don’t have the money, the time, or the energy to stay out until midnight.  It’s not because I don’t want to, but because I have to get over this hump and through the Valley.  I think I’ll be a better, more relaxed person when I climb out.


Dear You,

You know who you are.  You’re the person I fell in love with as a friend last year.  We share the same love of certain sci-fi television shows, study old Roman things, and have the same birthday.  We were friends immediately, and I trusted you to protect that relationship.  I knew very quickly that you liked me as more than a friend.  You asked me for coffee but didn’t ask our other female friends.  You asked me what I was looking for in a boyfriend, and all I could think of to reply with was “glasses” (a true statement an a subtle attempt to edge you away from me as a potential partner).  I loved you as a friend, but knew that a relationship wouldn’t work for me–in the same way I know I will never be romantically involved with my best guy friends from college.  In many ways you remind me of the first guy whom I fell in love with as a partner and whose eccentricities doomed our relationship.  He treated me badly in the end, and I couldn’t let that happen to us.

However.  You asked me out right before Easter break.  Because I love you as a friend, I said “yes” with the caveat that I didn’t feel the same way.  Easter came and went with me in the States, and I returned to England.  You never brought up the date again, but we spent time together like nothing had been said.

Then things began to unravel.  You came into my room without knocking.  In a serious manner you ordered me not to say something–not a request or a joke.  I can’t hide my feelings, and as you quickly gleaned that situation caused me to smolder with anger.  You order me?  Since when am I yours to command?  Since when do you have the permission to enter my room without knocking?  The situation bothered a college tutor so that I had to request action against you not be taken.

Then the end came.  You went to visit friends out of town and returned with a mind to avoid me.  Well, not just avoid.  Loathe.  After watching television together at our last meeting, you suddenly won’t speak to me in person and shoot seething, glaring stares in my direction.  I offered nothing but the open arms of a friend (and some select nerdy media) and you couldn’t even tell me in person that you wanted nothing to do with me.

My worst fears had been realized.  My life at the house became almost intolerable.  It was a good thing my dissertation was looming, as I could safely hide away in my room to avoid the tangible anger wafting towards me if we were in the same room.  I suppose you never told me you hated me, but the Looks of Doom and cruel avoidance or ignoring of any kindness on my part told me this was the case.  I’m not sure what exactly changed or what I did.  As a friend, I wouldn’t allow myself to lie to you and feign interest in a relationship.  I thought you deserved the truth.  I didn’t reject you outright, and you shouldn’t blame me if you never had the nerve to set a day for the date.

I’ve cried much too much over this, and despite you not speaking to me for over six months, I still am torn over it.  You hurt me almost more than that boy in college did.  At least he had the courage to tell me his looming graduation made him unfit for a relationship.  You couldn’t even let me know you had some issue with me.

I hate myself when I’m around you because all I can think of is rushing to anyone around you (especially women) and screaming, “Wait!  He’s not worthy of your attention!  He’s a terrible friend who will only be there when it suits him!  He knowingly hurts people and seems to revel in it!”  I hate thinking terrible thoughts, and despite this I would welcome a reconciliation.  Would I ever trust you again?  No.  Would I give almost anything to take our joint friends out of the position of mediators?  You bet.

I still think of the living hell you put me through those last months at Durham.  I felt guilty for coming into your building to use the kitchen.  I blamed myself for your drinking binges beginning before noon.  I know I shouldn’t, but I do.

I still don’t understand what happened, and you’ll probably never tell me.  I’m scared–well, utterly frightened–to see you the day I graduate.  You don’t graduate that day, so much of my being is barely being restrained from telling you to steer clear from graduation because it’s not a day belonging to you.  Part of me really hopes that college tutor or my father punch you in your face for all you’ve done.

Nothing will come out of this letter, but at least I can get out my frustration in one place.  It’s time for me to move on, and I’m desperately trying to despite the frequent Facebook statuses or comments mentioning or written by you.  At least there’s no more pretense of being friends.  You stopped being my friend the first time you shot me a nasty look and refused to speak to me.

And yes, you are a coward and a bastard.  In other awkward situations I’ve had the bravery to tell people how I feel and how I want the situation to proceed from my end.  You lack honor, and to me that’s the biggest reason we could never have a romantic relationship.  So, you see, my instincts we right.



Now that I’m settled in York (and perhaps have too much on my plate with auditing Old French and Latin, running two discussion groups/lecture series, constructing props for the Lords of Misrule production of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and sorting out shadowing next term), I can report that I do really love my program, supervisor, and peers.  On the personal front, I love my flatmate and our similar tastes in pumpkin foods, The Big Bang Theory, Merlin, heckling bad films, wandering around York’s streets, and unwinding after a long day with one of our many, many types of tea.

Despite my success at the undergraduate and master’s levels, I still sometimes feel like I’m out of my depth.  I don’t have the background many of my peers have (I think we touched on Cimabue in my art history survey class, read Beowulf in my World Literature I class, and heard about The Canterbury Tales in my Great Books of the Greek and Roman world course).  However, a visiting student who came to deliver a paper here at the Centre for Medieval Studies last night assures me that this is normal.  She said she felt throughout the entire process that she’d be “found out” and thrown out.  It’s sometimes an unsettling feeling, but it seems like it’s a normal one.

This omnipresent feeling leads me to something that has bugged me over the years that resurfaced after speaking with this Oxford-educated woman with a DPhil already in the bag.

In my junior year of college I was in my senior seminar class on ancient epic.  I had this professor for many classes in the two years we overlapped at Gustavus and had done well in previous classes.  The seminar was designed to be graduate school-like: three hours of class time (plus film viewings) one evening a week, one big research paper at the end, and lots of small papers every week and close reading.  Among the texts were the usual suspects (the Iliad, the Odyssey, The Aeneid) plus some texts new to us (Argonautica, Lucan’s Civil War).  I stressed like everyone, but didn’t complain in front of our professor, didn’t miss a class, and got things done on time.  We had oral midterm and final exams, too, and during my feedback for my final, the professor told me I did very well, and (as word-for-word as I can remember it) said “I don’t know if you just speak quickly or speak succinctly, but you covered in 15 minutes what others take 30 to say.”  I got an A on that final and in the class.

This long prelude is to illustrate the surprise I felt when he told me that he didn’t think I was suited for graduate school because I was “too anxious.”  ???  “Too anxious” still confuses me to this day.  What did that mean?  What behaviors or essays had convinced him of this?  I was too stunned and cowardly to ask at the time.

Works cited: dreamstime.com. NB: Not a picture for instruction. If you mutilate one of my writing tools, I may have to hunt you down.

I know in my heart that he was wrong.  Perhaps I was wrong for graduate school in classics, his field and passion.  It was my passion and life as an undergraduate, and I lived and breathed the subject material.  Today, I’m working on the data for my first thesis chapter on the Aeneid and material culture as a kind of proto-romance and as inspiration for medieval authors.  I won’t argue that perhaps I didn’t see then that classics wasn’t my future and that perhaps I wasn’t quite passionate enough to slog through years of Greek study.  Perhaps because I didn’t go into Gustavus knowing I wanted to study classics he thought I wasn’t devoted enough.  Perhaps I was too wrapped up in taking classes in the field that he thought I was annoying and overly-ambitious.  Perhaps my frequent migraines and illnesses came off as simply skipping class for the heck of it.  Perhaps it was supposed to be a helpful comment.  (I have often wanted to believe this is the case, but remain doubtful.)  Medieval literature is a field that gets me excited and makes me happy like classics did because of many of the same things: the magic of classical characters, the beauty of intricate poetic forms, heroes and their quests, the power of religion and devotion, and cultural ideals behind the texts.  However, instead of Latin and Greek, I focus on English with smatterings of French and Latin.  (Learning about the Norman Conquest and the evolution of the English language might be my favorite academic moment in recent memory.)

The final question this situation raises for me is how much professors should provide advice to a gung-ho student.  I’m sure you’ve seen this video.  We’ve heard that jobs for academics are thin on the ground.  I know and I’m aware.  I’m going to graduate school because I’ll always wonder, “What if?”.  I won’t be able to get a job in the field of medieval literature without my advanced degrees, so because I’ve had some funding and have the ability to go to graduate school, why not?  I made this quite clear even as an undergraduate.  I appreciate honest feedback but with one caveat: if asked.  I don’t want honest feedback from a professor or lecturer with whom I don’t feel comfortable and perhaps don’t respect in the field as much as another who knows me well on a personal level.  With all of this in mind, how honest is too honest?  Should professors just tell students what they think in the manner they deem best?  If the student has said that s/he will go if able, even with the knowledge that a career may not develop in the way one would like?  It’s a touchy subject with the economy sliding, many shrinking humanities departments, the elimination of tenure-track positions, and the competition for funding, jobs, and prestige.

So, I go back to that professor and that comment.  The situation crops into the forefront of my mind more often than I’d like, and sometimes it makes me further question whether I belong here and deserve my place.  I have to remember that people who have been in the field for years chose to accept me into all the master’s and doctoral programs to which I applied.  I won a scholarship for my MA year and worked incredibly hard for my degree with distinction at Durham.  I must remember that I do belong here.  Perhaps I don’t have as much experience, but I’m behind other first-year PhDs by a few years, not a lifetime.  I have the privilege of being able to devote my time, work, and life to the Middle Ages, if only for the few years it takes to complete my thesis and program before the Real World comes calling.

On the tenth anniversary of one of the most shocking and terrible events in American history, I am trying to focus on the good that has come out of such tragedy.  Heroes rose amid the anger and grief, and for the first time that I can remember America was united.  Democrats, Republicans, caucasians, minorities, men, women, and children simply identified as “American” for a time after the attacks.  While I have cried today in remembrance of the horror and in sadness, I am focusing on this poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox called “Optimism”:

I’m no reformer; for I see more light
Than darkness in the world; mine eyes are quick
To catch the first dim radiance of the dawn,
And slow to note the cloud that threatens storm.
The fragrance and the beauty of the rose
Delight me so, slight thought I give its thorn;
And the sweet music of the lark’s clear song
Stays longer with me than the night hawk’s cry.
And e’en in this great throe of pain called Life,
I find a rapture linked with each despair,
Well worth the price of Anguish. I detect
More good than evil in humanity.
Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes,
And men grow better as the world grows old.

Works Cited: platial.typepad.com

I’ve spent an unusually large amount of time talking with friends about the perfect mate lately. One guy said that he wants a girl whose eyes suit her face, while the closest physical attribute I confessed to is a love of glasses.  Let’s face it: spring is in the air, and talk of love abounds.

So what DO I want in a mate? All those usual characteristics: smart, sense of humor, supportive, comforting and caring, trustworthy, understanding, loving. But that’s what everyone wants, right? What do I want?

I think “types” are really silly. The guys with whom I’ve been serious haven’t been attractive in the physical sense to most people, I don’t think. They’ve attracted me with their shyness and intellect. Or, at least, at first that’s what did it. College ex #1 became overwhelmed with being erudite and “facetious,” which college ex #2 became overwhelmed in the workforce and we lost our common ground. I suppose that means two things: I need someone whose interests overlap enough with mine that we can communicate about a variety of things without needing to prove superiority. Also, I need someone who is as passionate about books and films as I am. They are my soul food, and if I can’t have a conversation about the Oscars or the latest Big Thing in literature (or the old Great Thing, like Shakespeare or Beowulf–at least on a basic level) I’d feel lost.

Works Cited: http://www.lpsb.org

I’ve come to the conclusion that while I have major qualities besides just common interests I’d like to mix and match in order to create the perfect guy, I can’t say for sure what he’s going to look like, what vocation he’ll follow, or what nationality/race he’ll be.  If I could think of a perfect guy, I suppose he would be an academic (or at least academically-inclined), Christian (I do want a church wedding, after all), and reasonably neat in appearance and living.  However, whichever guy I end up with, he’ll be perfect because of other things besides these.  Didn’t Keira Knightly say that her favorite onscreen kiss was neither with Johnny Depp nor Orlando Bloom, but with the less famous James McAvoy?  It all boils down to chemistry.  My other serious relationships fell into my lap, so to speak, and if I have faith, hopefully the one will do the same.  I can’t contemplate the perfect guy or think of qualities I’d like with which to build him simply because I can’t.  I can’t be a Dr. Frankenstein and assemble various attributes.  For now, faith and my love of my work must see me through.

And think not you can
Direct the course of love,
For love,
If it finds you worthy,
Directs your course.

-Khalil Gibran

But, really…  Glasses are a plus.

The several weeks I’ve been here have flown by, and already I’m feeling the pangs of home-/Minnesota-sickness. Not to say that Durham is in any way bad (except for maybe the darn hills which, as a wonderful taxi driver once said, “always go up”). Registration was more complicated than I think it needed to be, with students cutting into the queue, no prior computerized registration, and mixed up modules in various departments. Even though my English module is through the IMRS, the reading list was in the English department. Added to the chaos of trying to pin down my advisor with a “this is my career plan” conversation in mind were the many, many freshers (AKA freshman) signing up for classes and not having any idea where they were supposed to do or what they wanted, other than the free pizza coupons, of course.  I truly don’t believe I was that clueless when I was a freshman.  Naive?  Yes.  Clueless and obsessed with getting drunk?  No.

The one thing I’ve come to count on is the availability of my Belvedere blockmates with whom I can chat, joke, and relax.  We live at the top of one big f-ing hill (and Gusties, I no longer think our hill is that impressive.  I’m sorry.) which is immediately preceded by at least one other big hill.  I should get pictures, really.  Even though it’s literally a big pain in my already painful knee, the people here are amazing.  There are English, law, psychology, math, theology, and museum studies students, among others, and we all seem to really get along well.  In my American classes and dorms (as well as my Cambridge summer school) there has been that one person who seems to believe in making life as hard or awkward as possible, but that one seems to be lacking in this area of my college.  Maybe the trek up the hills scared him or her off?

I mentioned that I did, indeed, stand in line for registration, and I got the confirmation email today that it’s gone through.  What I’m left with is (officially) Research Methods, Issues in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, my dissertation, Narrative Transformations, and From Roland to Orlando.  Unofficially, I’m auditing paleography and perhaps an undergraduate Robin Hood class (yeah, bet you didn’t see that one coming).  The reading load looks daunting and the methods class seems long and tedious, but I have a feeling I’ll come out of this programme knowing what I really want to do and what my focus will be.  Plus, this methods class will help me to be a better writer and researcher, which can never be a bad thing.

P.S.  We had postgraduate matriculation today.  We’re now really, really and truly members of the university.  Exciting!

Oh, and next post hopefully will be a bit more organized and I’ll get to show off my new glasses I mentioned.

So, continuing a train of thought from my last post: Stupid Question Boy.

I talked with him earlier this week when I got out of my first class early and could pounce on him before class.  I wanted to be private about it, and not draw attention to him or the fact that I was calling him out.  After tedious tangents and interruptions all term, I felt it was time to ask for a bit of peace and quiet for the last week or so.  Hopefully, everything’s going to work out.  He seemed amenable to my feelings, though a bit, erm, muddled in his understanding of how courtesy towards one’s peers and a lecture class work.  He said, “I don’t want to be the moron in the back of the class that never talks” (I’ll leave you to figure out what was racing through my mind when he said that).  In addition to that, some other gems from the past weeks of class:

Prof: “What do you want me to call you?”  SQB: “I go by ‘Chris’ and put ‘Christopher’ on my papers.”  Prof: “But what do you want me to call you?”  SQB: “‘Jesus!'”

After a much rambling about nothing in particular during discussion of Dante.  Prof: “Did you read The Inferno?!”

With a date, including B.C. and c., on the board.  SQB: “So, what is that?  Like, I know B.C., but what’s the ‘c.’?  And why are they going backwards?”  All of us in the front row: “It’s ‘circa!'”  SQB: “But why is it backwards?”  Prof: “It’s B.C., so the dates go from bigger to smaller…”

Yes, this is the kind of stuff I deal with in history class on a daily basis.  Some people don’t understand B.C., I know, but for a person who constantly interrupts to talk about how often he’s read Aristotle, (you know, a guy from the B.C. era?) it’s a bit much.  Interrupting in class, not just of me but of other students and especially the professor, is one of my pet peeves.

I just wish I could also tell my instructor from my lit class that interrupting others is rude, too.  Before I’ve made my point, she’ll interrupt to “correct” and not even listen to what I’m saying.  She’s also insisted something rooted in the text is wrong.  In The Miller’s Tale, the carpenter, John, insists that the Flood is “Nowel’s Flood.”  I pointed this out, saying that it goes towards his characterization as a foolish man.  She hadn’t picked up on this before and said something along the lines of “well, here’s an instance of different manuscripts saying different things.”  Another former classmate in my Chaucer class backed me up, but she never admitted to being wrong.  The instructor never said anything like, “Oh, I never noticed that” or “Oh, I understand what you’re saying.”  She also spelled “Absolon” (which is the way I’ve seen it written in every text) as “Absolom” the entire period and encouraged us to say “Asparagus” instead of the proper “Averagus.”  GAH!

It reminds me of what I will make a point of never doing as a professor or teacher or lecturer in the future.

I wrote a letter writing manifesto earlier, and all this class insanity brings me to…

My Future Teaching Manifesto:

  • I will instruct my students to raise their hands before speaking to avoid interruption during the class.
  • I will acknowledge and look into anyone’s observation(s) and feeling(s) about a text.
  • I will refer to the text as my main source and defer to that at all times.
  • I will spell things correctly.
  • I will be a champion for peer editing and multiple drafts.
  • I will make outlines before lecture/class with important dates, characters, etc. so I don’t misinform students.
  • I will be as accessible via office hours and e-mail as possible.
  • I will get exams and essays back as quickly as possible, within a week.
  • I will evaluate students on an individual basis instead of on work in a group.
  • I will not tolerate texting or use of a mobile phone.
  • I will get to know students on a first name basis, and try to understand them as individuals.
  • I will encourage actively using the text and finding textual evidence to support any conclusions in papers and in class.

    I think this all comes from the respect I have for a text as a text and for those who analyze and know what they’re doing.  Literature is so amazing, and to hear it not appreciated, its characters debased, and things I’ve learned from professors who have been in the field longer than I’ve been alive burns me to the very core.

    I hope that ends the ranting I’ve been doing primarily in my head for the past 24 hours because of the evaluation of the group website for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, for which I apparently used too many sources and went too in depth in my textual analysis for the poetics section.  I will endeavor to make the things that irk me here into better conduct later, and to fine tune how I think a class should be: no interruptions and yet conducive to learning and rooted in the text.

    This coming week is the end of A term, and then I go into a guided reading for medieval England and a class on Shakespeare after 1603.  The time to move back to Oklahoma is rapidly drawing closer, as is my deadline to get my butt to the UK.  I’ll keep you posted on how A term ends, how B term begins, and what camera I end up choosing (more on that later).

    For now, I will *facepalm* in the privacy of my own apartment and wait out the rest of term.  I think all will turn out well, and after next Wednesday, I won’t have to deal with either SQB or this lit instructor again.  I will think happy thoughts and be in a better, more amicable mood!