I don’t need your judgment, Turbo Tax.

I decided I was so jazzed about having to stay sober for the Oscars that I was just going to go all out and make today and awesome day and do my taxes! And file my FAFSA! Because I may not have a job next year so I sure as hell had better have some student loans available!


This is not, in fact, as industrious as it may seem. I use the baby return forms for people with no discernible assets and I even use Turbo Tax because I got fed up with the online forms that refused to download. Whatever, I don’t have time for you, IRS.gov.

But this morning I noticed that Turbo Tax was getting a little judgy. Like, during the little “collecting personal information” part:

Based on the information you’ve provided, we think you should file as SINGLE.

Yeah. I guess.

Just to confirm, you have elected to file as SINGLE.


This means that you are not now, nor were you ever married during 2010.

No, I was not.

In fact, you probably didn’t even date that much and will most likely end up alone.

Wait, what?

You were alone for all of 2010, correct? This is the IRS. You can’t lie.

You don’t have a “happy and very very busy with graduate school” return?



What is your date of birth?


Hmm. Based on the information you’ve provided you’d be an old maid in the Regency Era.

Can we move on?

Fine. Do you (just you, because you don’t have a husband) have any offshore accounts?


Do you (just you) own six homes (not seven)?


Do you (just you) own seven homes?

Still  no.

Did you give money to a Nigerian prince?


Are you a Nigerian prince?


Would you like to marry a Nigerian prince? Because you’re single and filing as such?

No. Really. I’M GOOD THANKS.

Okay. We’ve calculated your final return. Please review before submitting.

“You [make a paltry sum of money], you [live with your parents so you can’t even claim the huge amount of tuition YOU paid as a deduction], you [have no dependents because no one wants to knock you up].”

Yeah. That’s about right.

Congratulations! You will be receiving a refund of [about three cents]! Would you like that in a gift card?

Can it be to H&M?


Then just direct deposit, please.

All right! It will deposited to your (just yours, not your non-existent husband’s) account. Thank you for using Turbo Tax!

Oh, shut up.

Okay. I may a teensy bit sensitive.


This past weekend we had a massive snow/ice storm that destroyed Southeastern Wisconsin and killed babies and stranded kittens in trees and yet somehow still wasn’t as bad as Snowpocalypse or a continued debate about the budget bill.

At least according to the newscasts that went something like this: “Today protesters broke through a one-inch thick sheet of ice covering their homes to return to the Capitol for Day 829 of the protests…”

(I swear. It’s becoming like the hostage crisis.)

Anyway, our power kept flashing on and off. Which was mildly annoying because, uh, I’m trying to write a response paper here please so if we could just keep the power on for more than a min…DAMMIT.

It stopped being annoying and became a little bit terrifying when the power outages were preceded by flashes of blinding neon blue light that surrounded our house. And then it went totally dark. Because that’s not disturbing at all.

(Alien invasion and the apocalypse were quickly considered and discarded because I think aliens even want to avoid Madison this week and I’m not a fundamentalist Christian.)

It became downright terrifying when we realized that the flash of neon blue light was coming from huge sparks from the wires RIGHT OUTSIDE THE HOUSE and, you know, SPARKS ELECTRICITY HOUSE NOT GOOD.

So we called the power company and they started working on it but what with the union thing going on, I was not content to just assume everything was going to be fine. I figured this house was going down in a blaze and I should probably be prepared. So everyone else gathered an appropriate number of things like socks and coats and things you can’t replace just in case.

I gathered a weekender (Very Bradley, natch) bag that included the following:

– My German dictionary. Because I hate German and even though it was only $8 it galled me to think about having to buy another one.

– Witness to Hope. Because if you’re a refugee somewhere I can’t imagine anything better than 1000 pages that you need to read anyway.

– My folder that contains my notes for my paper this semester. BECAUSE YOU DO NOT WANT TO DEAL WITH ME IF I HAVE TO READ MORE ABOUT HOW PAUL VI WAS MISUNDERSTOOD.

– My Kirsten doll. Shut up. I’m an adult.

– My Rebecca doll. I MEAN IT.

– A makeup bag. Because I know someone would probably kick me out of the caravan if I said, “Uh, hey…could we just stop at BareMinerals really quick?”

– A change of clothes. Because I always thought it was sad that refugees lost all their clothes.

– My UWM sweatshirt. Because those are expensive. And I want to be able to show my children and say, “Hey, remember when we had a UW system?”

– My hair straightener. Because I’m vain.

– My $23 conditioner. Ditto.

– My Ethnic 203 binder because even if I was living in a shelter somewhere I’d still have to go to work because I wouldn’t want people to think I was “sick”.

Interestingly, my computer and flash drive that contains ALL MY GRADING only made the second cut when I realized the house wasn’t actually on fire THAT SECOND.

Yeah. So. I’m pretty sure if I’m ever fleeing…well, anywhere, I’ll pretty much just be laughed at and waved out of the country.

Which actually might not be a bad thing. See, Mom? You have nothing to worry about with Spain.

I have yet to see Mr. Thornton.

Please-Don’t-Lynch-Me Preface: The following is based on my own opinions and does NOT mean that I think less of anyone who did or potentially will act differently. I know nothing about what will happen next week. I think Walker (for whom I did vote) screwed up royally. Seriously. REALLY BAD. C’mon Scott.

I’m really torn this week. There’s a part of me that wanted to major in political science and secretly longs to flee a revolution or something in Eastern Europe. Wearing adorable clothes and probably falling in love with a cute diplomat on the way. She’s fascinated by everything that’s going on. There’s also the part of me that signed a contract that meant more to her than anything else had until that point and has to go to work every day and she really doesn’t like confrontation and realizes that she’s five two and doesn’t know any burly men to accompany her to work.

And oh my gosh, you guys, how she DOESN’T LIKE CONFRONTATION.

That political science chick ends up reading the paper, but that’s kind of all the terrified TA lets her do.

But I think the terrified TA is getting better.

For instance, when I got a phone call a few days ago from an unlisted number and was asked how I was feeling I- well, first of all I may have been all, okay, unlisted number application going in now- stuttered and mumbled something about how well, I guess, if I’m really sick I won’t go in, I don’t know, I don’t know how I’m feeling, I’ve got to go, bye. And then ran to my mom and was all “OMG YOU WERE A TEACHER WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT SICK-OUTS???”

(Because I’m an adult like that.)

By the second phone call (on an ACTUAL unlisted number creepy) requesting the same thing, I was significantly more  composed and was able to put together and entire sentence WITH PUNCTUATION AND EVERYTHING about how it really didn’t matter how I felt, my students had an exam next week and I wasn’t going to cancel their classes.

AND even a second sentence when I was told that you know, some of the faculty have said that they’ll support us. Oh. Great. Fantastic. When I’m turned down from a PhD program because a post-it note on my record saying, “Hey? Remember that whole budget thing?” doesn’t explain a gaping hole in recommendations, I’ll try to get a letter from that professor down the hallway with whom I’ve never spoken.

(And then hung up and ran to my mom and was all, “THEY’RE STILL CALLING MAKE THEM GO AWAY MOMMY.”)

(Again with the adult.)

By the next morning I was feeling better. I had talked to several friends who were doing the same thing. I was wearing my don’t-screw-with-me heels.* A professor whom I really respect told me I was doing the right thing and that he was proud of me, and several of my students thanked me for coming in.

So I was even able to tell the person who came to MY OFFICE SERIOUSLY GUYS LEAVE ME THE FRICK ALONE face-to-face that I would not, in fact, be walking out, because I signed a contract saying that I wouldn’t. And while I totally support you, I’m only responsible for my own actions.

So I don’t know what will happen next week. I really hope nothing. I’m not thinking about it this weekend; there are happy things going on.

But I do know that even a year later, I still feel the same way about that contract I signed and the opportunity I was given.

*Turns out the heels themselves screw with me pretty badly. I have to wear bandages for a week afterwards. I always forget that.

The Scarlet Letter

Dear Governor Walker,

Hey. It’s Kathleen. You probably don’t remember me, but I voted for you. And I put pictures of myself with newspapers celebrating your election on Facebook. And I think you’re kind of cute when I’m drunk.

(But only when I’m drunk.)

ANYWAY. I was totally in your corner. For serious. And I still am! Don’t get me wrong! I still feel that, in general, less government is a good thing and blah blah blah.

But here’s the thing. I work for a state university. And…you honestly couldn’t have held off on calling the frickin’ National Guard until you’d been in office longer and six weeks?

Again, I do understand (if not necessarily totally agree with) the point of your collective bargaining position. But your response to unions should not be “You guys are armed, right?”

I mean, this isn’t 1836 in Manchester.

Because now not only do I have to deal with having voted for you (which I’m not really ashamed about despite the fact that I’m pretty sure I’ll get stoned tomorrow) and feeling like I have to wear a big red R stitched to my chest for “Republican”, but I have to walk through a three hour protest in the middle of the plaza tomorrow.

So. Thanks for that.

Although I have had some wine tonight. So I’m feeling a little bit more in your favor.



I have to WORK here.

In an effort to consolidate my paper topics this semester and thus do the least amount of work possible…uh…I mean, really be able to delve into a subject that I find interesting (*big smile*), I’ve completely changed narrowed my independent study topic. Again. For good. Maybe. Probably. We’ll see.

(You know what, don’t judge me.)

Because I’m writing about the historiography of Vatican II (woefully and erroneously politicized and narrow- hey! There are countries outside of the US! I know, right?) for my actual class, I decided to write about the cult of personality surrounding John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II* and how that changed the papacy.

And for the most part, that’s worked out pretty well. John XXIII is kind of a rockstar and you can skate over his scrupulosity with a single sentence about how he was “conventionally pious.” John Paul II…no problem at all. I mean, if I find anything I don’t want to write about I can simply turn to the other metric ton of paper that has been filled with ramblings about his life in the last few years.

(Thank you, Mr. Weigel. Apparently 1000 pages wasn’t enough.)

But Paul VI is giving me a serious headache. Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of books about him. They’re just…all about Humanae Vitae.


Paul VI did a lot! Right? I mean, loads of stuff. Surely more than talk about sex? Right?

Because I don’t care that it’s weird and repressed, I’m not writing about Humanae Vitae. For a very simple reason- there is a list of phrases that I refuse to include in any academic paper and “married love” is right up there near the top.

I mean, I’m already Profanely-Emphatic-Student-Eval Girl. I’ll never be able to look at anyone in this department again if I add Writes-About-the-Unitive Properties-of-the-Sexual-Act-Within-Marriage to my title.

Not. Happening.

So! If someone could write a book that doesn’t mention that in like the next week that would be awesome because right now my chapter on Paul VI pretty much goes, ” He finished Vatican II. He went to the UN. He died. That’s it, story over; let’s talk about Poland some more, shall we?

*Sorry JPI. I can’t get to Rome right now.

Because when you think “German” you think “romance”, right?

I’m taking German this semester in a vain attempt to quell some of the nausea about PhD requirements that is so prevalent in my life that if I reacted like a normal person I would have lost ten pounds but I don’t I stress eat so it’s a damn good thing I work out because I can’t afford any new clothes in different sizes so I’d damn well better stay this size and ooh  is that a cookie?

(Do you ever think it’s weird that I start every post with some explanation of some ridiculous thing I’ve decided to do that has no basis in rational thought? “I’m taking global history this semester and so…”; “I’m writing a sixty-page paper all by myself on something having to do with modern Church history and so…”; “I’ve decided to screw it all and study the ceremonial dresses of the Yoruba people and so….” Only one of those is made up. True story.)


I was doing my German Ubungssätze (Homework. And yes, I do capitalize all Nouns in English now. Because that’s normal) and came across a description of the three different words for “you”- “du”, “ihr”, and “Sie”. “Du” is the familiar term that you use to those close to you, and the others are…well, scary and German. I guess “du” is as well; but I think we can agree it’s the prettiest of the three.

And it occurred to me once again how many adorable moments English speakers have missed out on by only having one term for “you”. I mean honestly. It’s just always “you”. Whether you’ve just met the person or have been friends for fifty years; you could be on a first date or have three children- there’s no time when you decide you’re close enough to someone else to start using the familiar.

We just have the Facebook conversation where we get to figure out exactly how many people in our lives we want knowing that we occasionally make out with you.

That’s nowhere near as adorable.

Not that I would ever get used to using the familiar form…I’ve worked with people for years and I still use formal titles. Honestly. It just makes me feel better.

Also, there’s no occasion for drunkenly letting the “du” slip. Which…awkward amiright?

So I guess it’s not totally a bad thing.

I’m taking this global history thing seriously.

I’m in a global history colloquium this semester, which I’ve figured out means three hours of whining about how we’re not allowed to opine on times and places about which we really know nothing because other historians who do know lots of things about that specific time and place will get mad at us. Or at least they would if most academics were capable of having an actual human conversation in which they LOOK AT SOMEONE’S FACE SERIOUSLY GUYS I’VE BEEN HERE THREE YEARS IS THERE SOMETHING ON MY NOSE OR WHAT? I PROMISE I’M NOT POSSESSING OF HELEN OF TROY BEAUTY HERE OR ANYTHING. Gah.




I don’t do Eastern European history. Frankly, I dislike any language that looks like cuneiform and I am incapable of keeping all the different spellings of  “Alexander” straight. Seriously. X or K. PICK ONE.

So I feel a little icky about having an opinion on Russian politics (well, really icky about this in particular, but we’ll get to that in a minute), but I’m going to get through it. Because I have a very important opinion.

It’s not totally out of line. I had myself convinced that I was Russian for awhile. Yeah, I don’t know either. I mean, it kind of made sense because when my family was there, Russian controlled part of Poland. You know, like they did for…most of history. I kind of ignored the fact that my family wasn’t really in that part so much but rather in Germany’s part because I was already German and that just wasn’t terribly exciting and I had a crush on the Ukrainian president and I’m sorry, that was a really long grammatically incorrect sentence filled with all sorts of personal revelations that you probably didn’t need to know. I apologize.

ANYWAY PART THE SECOND. My very important opinion on Russian politics is…

Vladimir Putin, please put your damn shirt back on.

Because it’s really getting creepy now.

This article, by the esteemed journalist Naomi Campbell (I’m sure you’ve heard of her groundbreaking phone interview work), is just a cornucopia of creepy, really.

First, I picture them lounging and asking questions in between making out. Because it’s quite apparent that Naomi wants Vlad. Like, bad.

And I don’t know why. Because Vladimir Putin is quite possibly the least attractive person in the world. And trust, this lady is not doth protesting too much. I have no compunction about admitting my interest in Eastern European world leaders (see above.)

No. He’s just…well, KGB. And that would be in all caps except it already is because it’s an acronym.

I mean, he’s really into weird fitnessy stuff. What happens if you gain a few pounds and he doesn’t feel like he really likes you that much? HE KILLS YOU.



But worse than that is the last page when he talks about the students who posed in lingerie for him. Those brave students! Who stood up for democracy! And freedom! And Mother Russia! Not like those stupid ones who were protesting my distaste for freedom of speech and also they’re kind of unattractive did you see the nose on that one in March? they’re just cray-cray.

And people say the Cold War is over.

Hmmm. I wonder if I can write my historiographical essay on how Vladimir Putin is a creepy, power-hungry  misogynist.