Sorry. It’s quiet around here.

In a certain sort of way.  We feel very thrown off in part because Katherine’s returning to her October ways: she has stopped sleeping for more than a couple of hours at a stretch at night–and does not want to sleep by herself even when she does go back down.  In part because Sydney and I both have taken up a number of teaching duties that have kept us running; this past week, for example, I had nine hours of student conferences.  And, as usual, despite our best efforts, we’re having a hard time getting dissertation work done, simple as our switching-off schedule sounds (Is there a big black hole where dissertation time is supposed to be?  does it get swallowed up by Katherine feeding sessions?  cups of tea?  dish-washing?  I’m thinking about putting signs around town: “Lost: Dissertation time.  If you see it, please call.  I would describe it, but I haven’t seen it myself!”).

In all of that talking with my students, I noticed that at a number of points I would ask them to explain their paper’s argument, and they would wave their hand and offer a phrase like “social structures” or “justifications.”  That’s an argument?  The older I get the less likely I am to assume I know what chain of thoughts is supposed to follow from such a catch-word.  At the graduate-student level, you see the same thing when  someone waves a hand and says, “Like [insert theorist or philosopher] says.”  Yup.  Uh-hunh.  Maybe I’ve been married to Sydney for too long, or maybe I’m realizing that people rarely know how to fill in that hand-waving part, but I’m less comfortable now than I once was with assuming I know what on earth someone means by such a wink-nod way of talking.  And as I got older and bolder I am more likely to ask, flat-out, for more explanation.  And then I finally learn something.


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