Monday, March 28, 2005

doing the zoo

First off, let me say that I am happy to be working for the Toledo Zoo. I am happy that me and my wife will not have to starve this summer. I also think that this will be a much better job than doing the security guard thing I've talked about, and it should be more fun than going back to the pizza making thingie.

I have quickly found out what makes a good zoo employee, and it's first off, showing up for work. My first week, I work two days. My second week, I'm up to four.

It's really nice working with customers again. I did this for my 9+ years at Little Caesar's Pizza, and I always enjoyed it. Plus here, I get the benefit of watching parents deal with their screaming kids. I already had one return a toy that her daugher "pocketed." The look on her face was classic.

On the down side, I have to stand on concrete the whole time I'm there, which has made me aware that I need to patronize Dr. Scholls. My feet ached like hell after a full day shift. I told this to my wife, who responded with "you mean, they make you stand all day?"...which is interesting, because her job also makes her stand the whole time. For some reason, I pointed out the irony instead of just taking whatever sympathy I could get.

I have been, no lie, instructed to play with a yo-yo when I'm not busy. Apparently, it's in the hope that kids will see me play with the yo-yo and then bug their parents for one. So far, it does work, but the majority of parents tell their kids "no" and drag them away as fast as they can.

We have a cd player, but apparently there are only three approved cds. First, a Beach Boys greatest hits disk, then the soundtrack to some Disney film (with Phil Collens singing a tune, no less), and finally, kiddie music (sample lyric: "you take the peanut butter and you squish it, you squish it, then you take the grapes and you squish 'em, you squish 'em"...I know, sheer poetry). I asked if I could burn a Beatles disk, but I was told that for some reason, the zoo doesn't like the Beatles. Apparently, someone also got in trouble for playing (no lie) Huey Louis & the News.

Anyway, I've been leaning towards the Beach Boys on the grounds that the other two really reek, but that backfired on me...when I got home last night, I was hearing Brian Wilson & co. in my head all evening. I'm sure that by the end of the semester, I'll rip the throat out of anyone who dares play "Kokomo."

Just keep me away from karyoke, for the love of God.

Another Davis! Just what the world needs...

Last night, my compadre Jim had another son, Sean Patrick Davis. Best wishes to all, but Jim, did you really need to spread your legacy any further?

five weeks of hell.

So, what could only be described as my "busy season" is underway. In addition to my class at Bowling Green and my class at University of Toledo, I have also started (today, actually) a class at Terra Community College. Also, my zoo gig has really kicked in (a blog entry on that one is coming up).

Which means that untill my UT and BG classes end on May 1, I will pretty much be working every day. Five weeks of solid work. Wee.

I would say that this would have a tremendous impact on my personal life, but let us be a result of my budget and other people's grad school freak-outs, I don't really have one. But I am missing a few key things, such as:

  1. PBS on saturday mornings. I will now never know how the newest project on This Old House ends. Will they finish in time? I will also miss the "What Is It?" segment of Ask This Old House Actually, I still think there's a book in all of this, namely, how did blue collar employment become popular entertainment? And what are the ramifications, anyway?
  2. my continuing quest to figure out what the big deal is with the CSI: franchise, and why people like it...previously chronicled in this space.
  3. sleeping to any reasonable hour. Under no circumstance should anyone be forced to be up before's criminal.
  4. decompression time of any sort. I can tell right now that for the next few weeks, I will be dreaming about teaching Zoo animals sociology.

I will miss all these things. It will be a struggle to get through the hellspot, but I hope I can make it. Mainly, however, I hope my wife recognizes me.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

reclaiming heritage

Tonight, I became a little more southern than I was before. Home cooking did it: my first attempt at chicken-fried steak, mashed 'taters, cream gravy.

Although I'm from Jacksonville FL, I have lived in Ohio for the last seven years. I find myself becoming more southern the longer I'm away from the south, which is interesting. Two summers ago, I started doing sweet tea...which, strangely enough, I never really got into when living in the south. Never cooked the chicken-fried steak, either.

I suppose that there's some ultimate lesson about how the very proximity to a place blinds you to its charms. Or, to say it like a country song, you don't know what you got untill it's gone. And I would desperately love to theorize this postmortem memory growth. The only problem is that I am still too full and bloated to do so.

Now, if I can only find someone in this bleak, wintery hellhole who can do legitimate barbecue, I'll be happy...but that's a rant for another day.

Monday, March 21, 2005

think happy thoughts

There's so much more I could write here. And before you think this is going to be one of those "I will really try to post more" entries that every blog in existance has, please let me explain first.

There are several areas I would like to explore in more depth. First, I teach, and as a result, I always have a lot to say on that subject. However, I really am bad at talking in generics and suppositions, and it would be ethically wrong to name student names. Teaching is something I take really seriously, and I respect my students too much to embarrass them online.

Secondly, I would also like to talk more about my research. However, I would first like to do more research. I always seem to get caught up in my teaching work or other meaningless crap. Perhaps you will see more of me exploring why I avoid the work I really want to do. That would be unique: a blog as an avoidance technique.

Primarily, however, I have a WHOLE bunch to say about my ongoing quest to find an academic job. Unfortunately, however, this is the one area that I don't really feel I can talk about without falling into "the world is a bleak, doomed landscape which has me stranded, beaten, and crucified" mindset...and last time I started thinking like that, it took me several months and an antidepressant prescription to return to normal. But I'm also not sure if not talking about all this stuff helps or hurts me, ultimately...and that's my main dillemma here.

You see, to this point I have been on the academic job market for three years. I have sent over four hundred applications out in that timespan. I have had about seven phone interviews and two campus interviews. As of yet, however, I have no real job and am stuck with the prospects of diminished part time teaching again. Combine this with the inability to pay off credit cards (including that ever-vital food credit card) and you begin to see my issues.

I have heard all the standard advice. I have been told that it takes an average of five years to find a tenure-track academic job. How come everyone I went to doctoral school has one by this point and I do not? I have been told that I might have to cool my heals at a temporary job, at a community college, or somewhere else I really do not want to stay. Okay, fine, but I can't even get those jobs. I have been told that I need to develop connections, but there have already been numerous occasions where I knew people on the hiring committee, and I still couldn't get a phone interview.

I have seen people without dissertations get jobs. I have seen people apply to only a handful of places and get jobs. I have seen a few people with diminished social graces and limited classroom skills get tenure. I have seen the black wombat of Satan on the horizon, fangs glistening with ichor, bearing down for one last bite...

(sorry...scratch that last one)

I have seen some of the rudest behavior in the world on the job market. Rejection notices which announce how proud the college is to hire this wonderful candidate, only to (in the second paragraph, no less) say "needless to say, we are no longer considering you." I have seen correspondence on the back of index cards. I have seen one sentence rejection letters. Last week, I got rejected from a job that had already rejected me a month prior! I have had literally hundreds of colleges to cheap to even send a rejection letter.

I have passed around my application material to everyone I can think and gotten mostly "looks good" feedback. They tell me my letters of recommendation look good. My vita looks damn good for someone who's had to do as much part-time work as have I. Really, this would be so
much easier if someone would authoritatively come out and say, "Sorry, Dr. DuBose, but you are woefully inadequate for this line of work and should go back to working in pizza...and quit bothering us"

So I tend not to think about the academic job hunt too much, and my desire to write about it (and I really do want to write all the ups and downs...doing this blog has been a great emotional release in many areas). I guess what I've been doing falls under the "think happy
thoughts to drive those bad thoughts away" category. Maybe by not writing about job related stuff, I'm trying to brainwash myself to not dwell on how everything will end up circling in a black pit of despair.

One day last week, while walking home from my class, I started to wonder what life would be like if I never got a full time job, if I had to put odds and ends together for the next fifteen years...if I could never afford a decent car...if I had to rent for the rest of my life...if I had to keep charging groceries. Who would stay by my side? Who would abandon me like some have already? Most importantly, how long would it take before I finally believed, with every mote of my existance, that I really was a failure, an imposter, and really had no business trying to be a professional teacher and thinker...could I go back to meaningless work without completely cracking?

Now I wonder if such bleak thoughts should be staved off by thinking happy thoughts, or if they are the result of avoiding them...

Watch this space for details.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


(adapted from a listserv post of mine)

After receiving a birthday gift of money for scotch from my mother in law (who, by the way, rocks the house), I went up to the liquor store yesterday afternoon to pick up a bottle. Scotch is something I could really get into if I had the time and cash. I never was a fan untill one time I was at my folk's place and started to hit my mother's bottle in the evenings. Something clicked

So I was at the store and totally baffled by the selection. I know very little about scotch...and the only stuff I've actually owned was a bottle of Glenfiddich I got for Christmas two years ago (one would assume to keep me away from her bottle).

So, after consulting with the store owner. He was a nice guy, but he admitted he didn't really know too much about scotch. Of course, his suggestions inevitably were out of my price range. Luckily, though, he did have a book on single malt scotches in the display area. After consulting, I ended up with (1) a bottle of Aberlour 10 yr. old and (2) a bottle of rum...still had enough money left over for a happy meal!

I cracked open the bottle last night (corked...nice!) to celebrate my new job as seasonal help at the Toledo Zoo. It's good stuff, and quite different than Glenfiddich, my only single malt reference. It's less peaty. The label on its tube claims it has "a mixture of spice--cinnamon and nutmeg--and autumn fruit overtones," and as much as I usually don't understand snob language, this hits it pretty close.
Mild smokiness and a bit of sweetness. I drink on the rocks, and the melted ice mellows it out nicely.

The owner of the store did suggest one brand, by the way, but as it ran for $241, I thought I'd pass. One of these days...


I saw black. Swirling colors, blending, changing, layers upon layers, but in the end, it's always black...or so it seemed.

Life often turns to black, sometimes quick, sometimes slowly, but always first through subtle shadings and blends of blue and purple...and these are the colors that dominate...the colors that haunt...the colors that skewer themselves into the recesses of my vision when I look. Yes, they are the colors of bruises, the colors of wounds, the colors of pain, the colors of sharp, brutal impact. They are the colors I saw when I looked at my bruised left pinky toe's nail.

As often is the case, the pain came in the middle of celebration, of raucous hedonism, of unbridled joy. There was the joyous cacaphony of gathered friends, the warmth of the summer's sun warming the gathering place, the allure of summer evening dew in the air. The sounds were soon to fade, as usually is the case when that harsh mistress who goes under the subtle guise of Miller High Life is involved. The summer sun was soon to recede and fade, giving way instead to the biting wind and snowy sponge that is an Ohio winter. And the dew was soon to turn into a vicious, biting damp that would penetrate your flip-flop and aggrevate the subtly burning athelete's foot subtly brewing within the toes.

The act itself was inconsequential, merely a gentle stubbing. There was pain, yes, there is always pain, but it was soon blotted out by the festivities of the evening. There were friends to talk to, hot dogs to be eaten, beers to be consumed, subsequent hangovers to be suffered, and the hope, the joyous hope that soon, the good times would continue, while the pain would fade.

The pain did indeed fade, but the bruising instead came upon the scene. The pinky toe's nail started to turn yellow, almost jaundiced. The yellow darkened as the blood began to flow, then later harden. Soon, darkness overcame the pinky toe nail, which sat as a dark speck on the end of the foot. The pain turned into a bruise, which itself turned into a dark reminder that the day of celebration, of hedonism, of warmth had passed, and that as new growth occurred, the blood-stained nail would be there to remind all of the death of those former could not bring them back, anymore than one could un-bruise the pinky toe's nail.

As the blood cells coagulated, bound together in the form of a bruise-ridden mass, other relationships broke apart. The sun disappeared into a grey, snow-ridden haze. The warmth was blown away by arctic blasts. The friends dispersed, some to other parts of the country, some across the oceans to distant shores, some deep into the recesses of their own depression and angst-filled minds.

Yet bruised pinky toe nails cannot last forever...sooner or later, new growth will inevitably push out the scars of yesteryear. And indeed, as time passed, it eventually became time to sever the remains of the bruised nail. I stood over the nail, clippers in hand, ready to cut. But I could not do so, not right away. As the nail was about to be restored to unblemished health, I felt I would be accursed if I let the moment go without an appropriate memorial.

The losses of the last year had to be addressed. To my departed are missed, you will never be cut away...unlike the bruise, part of you will stay with me forever, whether you now abide across the oceans or simply in the neurotic reaches of your over-stressed skulls. Bruises fade...but you will not.

Yes, it's true that the pinky toe nail is now snipped. The bruised nail surface now resides in the trash bin. But new growth has taken its place. New growth will always occur. A new summer will soon dawn. New warmth will come. New dew will settle. New friends will be discovered. And a new nail, already growing strong, healthy, and clear, will continue to guide and guard the pinky toe.

Because black is not forever, not even in the case of bruised pinky toes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

another reason that _Apocalypse Now_ is relevant

The name of the scent of the deodorant I recently bought is "Victory." I guess I now know what napalm smells like in the am...

Friday, March 11, 2005


One of the realities of my existance (brought mostly on by my wonderful employment situation) is that I have only basic cable. This causes me to do weird things, horrible things, terrible things, things I would not ordinarily consider.

This semester, for instance, I am at home for lunch, so I've been watching The Red Green Show while I eat my sandwich (we get CBC on basic cable). But about two weeks ago, I turn it on, and women's curling is on instead.

I wasn't going to watch....I didn't really want to watch...but there was nothing else on, and I really couldn't see concentrating 100% on a hot ham and would've been a waste of mental power. So I put curling on, and as it was a tournament, I got curling for an entire week.

Now, forgive me if this offends or makes me look more like a pig than I actually am, but I found the whole experience of watching women's curling to be terribly...erotic. There were some mighty attractive curlers there (even the ones whose hair was straight, HA HA HA HA HA...sorry)...I think either the Ontario or the Manitoba team had the most babes. And then they started to play, and they started to yell...."Woah!!!!" ....."Harderrrr!!!!!!!" ....."Yeasssss!!!!!!" ....."Curl!!!!!!!!!" Tell me, it's not a stretch to get turned on by this, is it?

So then my wife came home one day and asked me what I was watching. Then she said (no lie) "All that yelling sounds like you're watching a porn." God, I love my wife. Maybe I need to ask her to start carrying around a broom....

But I digress. The tournament ended, and I thought my life would continue as it had before. Alas, this week, CBC started broadcasting a MEN's curling tournament. Even Lori admits there is nothing erotic about it.

And yet I continue to watch...because (gasp!) I have become interested in the sport! I have started to think about strategy. I know most of the rules. And, heaven forbid, I have thought about curling myself.

Somebody please broadcast a swamp racing competition, quick!!!!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

work (part-time), or, the search is over

I have officially been hired as a merchandise worker at the Toledo Zoo! Wooohoooo! It actually pays $1.50 less than the security gig, but...hell, I'm gonna be working at a zoo...definitely among the cooler gigs I've ever least, it beats selling water or killing rats.

I orient this Friday...more details as they become available.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

true love

Although I told her not to get me anything, my wife surprised me with The Band's Greatest Hits. I'm a lucky fella