Dry Picnics

Is it true that one can’t drink alcohol at a picnic?? I can’t drink right now because alcohol is worse than cyanide for cholecystitis but if it weren’t for that, we would have taken some drinks to our first picnic of the season yesterday.

A Local Fellow

There’s this local fellow called Rob. Working class. Got injured on a construction job, then the 2008 crisis hit, and there were no more jobs even for uninjured workers.

So he started spending a lot of the time at the gym. First, to recover from the injury, but also because there was nothing much else to do. In spite of having a naturally very slight frame, he got quite ripped. People started coming up to him for advice. He developed a following, became a personal trainer.

Then he became part owner of the gym, got married, and started a health-food restaurant.

I’ve seen this whole story develop almost from the start.


Google Playstore gives me free copies of academic books that I can’t borrow from the entire system of Illinois public universities. Of course, I’d rather read these books on paper but our library is a joke and the entire state is failing on staying updated on new acquisitions.

My 2017 book, for instance, has been purchased by only two of these libraries and, shockingly, my school’s library is not one of them. When I suggested to our head of acquisitions that it would be nice to have the book in our library, she reacted with the kind of outrage people usually reserve for much more offensive propositions. My students are very interested in the book and ask about it all the time. Some of them are now buying it with their own money, which I’m begging them not to do because it’s very expensive. (It’s not the price that prevents our library from buying the book. They were as opposed to buying my first book that cost $20.)

Here, by the way, is an excerpt from a review of my recent book on the Choice website that serves librarians:

“This is not an easy read but is well worth the effort. Impeccable research and an elegant prose style greatly facilitate understanding a particular example of how liquid capital fostered economic insecurity, eroded the welfare state, and is leading to explosive inequality that in Spain demands being met with unrelenting resistance both in politics and literature. This book is invaluable for those interested in contemporary Spanish politics and literature. Summing up: Highly recommended.”

So it’s not like I’m expecting the college library to buy some below-par material the school will never see checked out.

Online Persona

While walking in a forest, I met a colleague. No, really. We have many beautiful wooded areas with walking trails around here. The colleague and I had never met before but he identified me because of my university T-shirt.

We chatted for a while before the colleague asked me my name. When he heard ite blanched.

“YOU are Clarissa??” he asked. “I always read your messages on the faculty discussion board and I assumed. . . erm. . . I never would have guessed. . . Hah!”

Based on the tone of my messages, I’m sure he assumed I’m a fire-spewing dragon and was stunned by the difference between the writing voice and the actual human being.

There are opposite cases, too. I know somebody whose online persona is so sweet and kind that it would put a busload of charitable nuns to shame. But in reality, she’s a very hard-core and professionally ruthless person.