Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Interim Report

Sorry for the light posting, kids. We've had the darndest time even finding my typist lately, much less getting her to sit down and do a bit of work for America's favorite dog blog devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball. When finally we caught up with her yesterday, she was buck naked in a hot tub on the outskirts of her undisclosed location, gazing up at an azure sky and humming the refrain from a favorite old Nanci Griffith song:
It's funny how my world goes 'round without you --
You're the one thing I never thought I could live without.
Moose is inordinately fond of being buck naked in the great outdoors, and the idea of being in such a state on a Monday morning, when Goose was busy preparing for her busiest teaching day and big meetings of potentially significant import were being held on the campus of Queer the Turtle U, seems to have unhinged her a little. She swears the song came to her unbidden and had nothing to do with the beloved people and animals in her life, whom she would miss desperately were it not for the twice or thrice daily miracle of Skype. No, she insisted, Griffith's poignant meditation on time, distance, and letting go resonates for her right now in connection with the beatific state of detachment she has achieved vis-à-vis the professional stresses she talked about in this post a few weeks back. You're the one thing I never thought I could live without nicely captures the sense of surprise she has at feeling so utterly released from preoccupations and responsibilities that for seven years were all-consuming. It isn't that she no longer cares or worries. It's not as if she's abandoned her office or stopped answering phone calls from her dean. She took one such call yesterday morning, in fact, and weighed in on a matter of vital importance to her happy little program and her beloved, resource-starved university.

And one hour later, she was buck naked in a hot tub, her mind as free of care as her body was of clothing, with two pretty lines of song playing over and over and over again in her head.

"Fine," I said, when I was finally able to get her attention. "You are having a wonderful time. You are replenishing depleted energies and rearranging priorities. That's great, but I would like to point out that you are now more than halfway through your interlude in your undisclosed location. I think it's time for an accountability moment, Moose. My readers want to know what the heck you've been up to, other than spending an inordinate amount of time in your birthday suit. You are, after all, on sabbatical. You owe the taxpayers of Maryland an accounting of how you are spending your hard-earned, state-funded, furlough-reduced salary."

"Sure, Rox," she said languidly and with a certain lack of conviction. "But, you know, I'm working on several different projects out here. It might be hard to give an accounting of my progress on each one."

"Do your best, Moose. The taxpayers just want to know that you are conducting serious research."

Below are Moose's extremely brief reports on the state of her research so far. I dunno, kids, but I'm thinking we might need Goose or the Department of Scholarly and Creative Activity here in Roxie's World to do some editing before we pass these along to the salary committee for review. They seem a little, how shall we say, undercooked? Let us know what you think.

* * *
Interim Report on Sabbatical Activity,
by Moose on the Loose

The Sky Project: I think my sky pictures are showing definite signs of improvement. Heck, even my mistakes are weirdly beautiful! Plus, my careful observation of the evening sky from the ridiculously beautiful back yard of my undisclosed location offers compelling evidence that the sun and the earth may be in motion in relation to one another. Yes, it's true! When I first got here, the sun set well to the right of the four mountains I gaze out upon for approximately 45 minutes each evening. Now, the sun sets directly behind those mountains. Further study will have to be done to confirm my hunch, but I feel confident that these results will prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the earth moves around the sun -- or vice versa!

The Body Project:
This work of autoethnography has yielded several tantalizing insights to date. As with any qualitative analysis, one must be careful about generalizing on the basis of the results, but I am tremendously excited by the nature and trend of the evidence so far. Here are a few of the highlights:
  • You can live in a body for fifty years, but until it's been covered in hot oil, liberally sprinkled with salt, and vigorously rubbed by a highly trained specialist, you cannot be sure that you have discovered all your ticklish spots.
  • You can eat eggs fried in butter, chiles en ahogada, and huevos motulenos and still lose weight if you are willing to get up off your spreading a$$ and briskly walk three miles a day. Throw in a little yoga and an actual hike on the weekend, and you can even indulge in the occasional green chile cheeseburger and still wake up one happy morning to discover that your fat shorts are so baggy that you may need to invest in a belt in order to avoid public embarrassment.
  • You (assuming you are a woman of a certain age) will sweat less if you drink less alcohol. Period. No further study necessary, though we think it would be swell if the male-dominated scientific establishment would look into this fun fact of female physiology. Still, sisters in hormonal imbalance, I am here to tell you that if you cut back to a couple of drinks a week, you will significantly reduce (perhaps to zero!) the number of hot flashes you experience. Also, sleep disruptions and that fuzzy feeling in your brain that makes you think you've got Alzheimer's. Further, it pains me to break it to you, but eliminating red wine altogether may be the key to keeping you cool and restoring your powers of concentration. Have a beer or a margarita, girls, and see how the rest of your evening goes.

The Nature v. Nurture as a Determinant of Musical Taste Project:
This is a small, recently undertaken project, but the research so far strongly indicates a genetic role in the formation of musical taste. The evidence? Last weekend, at the end of a splendid hike, a long lost cousin of the Moosians who moved to the Southwest a decade or so ago began whistling "Top of the World" by, of course, the Carpenters as he was driving us out of the canyon. Now, he and I had just spent several companionable hours together taking in the beauties of autumn in the high desert and catching up on family news. There had been no talk of music, taste, or our respective positions on the exceedingly bad popular music of the early 1970s, but here was my long lost cousin spontaneously bursting into a song I probably couldn't get out of my head unless I chopped it off. "Wow," I said, "we must be related." So there you have it: Nature predisposed me to absorb "Top of the World" and "Billy Don't Be a Hero" and all the other crap that got lodged in my brain before I knew what was happening.

* * *

Geez, guys, what do you think? Is it curtains on Moose's academic career, or do you think we can whip this into something that will please the Turtle? I mean, some of this stuff actually does sound interesting and important, you know, but, I mean, she's an English prof. I'm not sure even the most forceful claims for interdisciplinarity will convince the powers-that-be that she should be holding forth on astronomy, endocrinology, and genetics -- but, really, it's high time someone tried to explain the wholly baffling allure of the Carpenters, don't you think? Wish us luck, kids. It's going to be a fascinating reporting season!

(Photo Credits: Moose on the Loose, here, 10/11/09)


  1. Clearly you have been to paradise . . . and finally you have been to you! You have been channeling me and my penchant for 1970s cheesy pop. Oh, and you finally know the way to Santa Fe!

  2. Hot tubs are a necessity of life. This is why I joined my Health Club. DC has got to get its hot tub act together.

  3. Who said anything about Santa Fe, darling, though you know you are always on Moose's mind, wherever she roams.

    Oh, by the way, Moose wants it understood that no fat phobia is intended or implied by her statement of results on the Body Project. Those of you who know Moose in the real world know that she has been hoping to break out of a cycle of relative inactivity and mostly stress-related, but deeply delicious, overeating for quite some time. She is happy to have made some progress on that score in the past few weeks, but it's her body and her issue. She makes no judgment on your body or anybody else's.

  4. @ Katie: Moose says DC has also got to get its act together on opportunities to be naked al fresco. That's a public option we really need to explore, don't you think?


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