Sunday Lowdown #208


Hahaha, there was more gym drama! This week I arrived at the right place in dry clothes only to see a sign on the door stating that the gym is now closed between 2:00PM and 6:00PM, and guess when I want to be in there? 3:00PM. I’ve never been one of those people who ask forgiveness later instead of asking permission now kind of people, until someone started messing with my gym hours. I just went on in only to discover a whole two people working out. I had been advised that perhaps all the fitness areas were closed for those four hours to allow the teams to practice, but holy moly, they have their own dedicated fitness center! Let us lil non-athletic people in! I think I’m going to have to change exercise machines, though, as the bicycle seat is affecting my seat. Perhaps a recumbent bike, I’m not sure. I just know I loathe anything that makes me do a bopping motion.

I’ve gotten into the groove of things with school. It took a hot minute, as my cohort all know the drill from the past three semesters, and as such there was some information I was missing that is well known to them. For instance, when I watch a one-minute video with two people signing a conversation, it behooves me to spend a lot of time rewatching the clip, mimicking it, analyzing it, etc. so that in class I can improve from there.

I also set a routine for re-reading all the notes for every chapter we’ve read in my interpreting book before class on Thursdays so I perform better on quizzes. We’ve read something like twelve lengthy chapters, and the professor expects us to know all of it, whether she expounds on a chapter in class or not. I agree with this method; as professionals, we can’t cram info for a quiz and forget it. It has to be second nature. Thus, repetition is my friend.

I did my linguistics quiz and got 80%, which I learned was one of the higher grades in the class. The professor said our C-average results were the highest he’s seen in recent memory. I had one stupid error: when asked to write the word “cows” in the International Phonetic Alphabet, I forgot it was plural. The other error completely stumped me; it was a question about allophones, which we did not cover in depth, and part of what we did cover he said we didn’t need to know, but then we did need to know?? I’m going to look for some extra texts on the subject, because allophones shall surely return during midterms and finals.

Also for linguistics, I need to analyze the phonemes of a spoken language that is not English, so I emailed someone from admissions at my former college whom I met at a picnic. I thought he was Irish at first, from his accent, but learned his speaks Pennsylvania Dutch, I believe. So, we have a lunch interview set up so I can talk to him.

The class is now moving into the formation of words, which I find more interesting. For instance, friends, did you know that when British and Australian people (as they are the most likely culprits) add a “y” or “ie” sound to the end of a word, that is a hypocorism? Look at you go with your “relly” and “telly” and “breaky”! If you say “ute,” I believe that is a clipping of “utilitarian vehicle.” Huzzah, and thanks for being readily-available examples!

I did do something not related to school — I attended another online event with Charis Books. This time, it was Aubrey Gordon in conversation with Hanne Blank. *insert massive fangirling* It was an insightful, interesting conversation, and not only did I learn more about fat activism, I also realized how much more interesting it is to hear authors talk to and ask each other questions instead of a straight reading. In fact, I’m starting to feel a little funny about how bizarre author readings are, but I’ll keep those thoughts out of this post for fear of running on.

What I learned from Gordon and Blank: what stood out most is that Gordon firmly stands against judging any fat person for taking action to survive in a fatphobic world. For instance, some fat activists turn against anyone who gets gastric bypass surgery. But, Gordon says, why are do people turn their anger toward the person trying to survive and not against the society that cornered the individual so that they felt they must undergo a dangerous, life-altering surgery? You can now watch Gordon’s and Blank’s conversation on YouTube.


Lauren Acampora’s novel The Paper Wasp didn’t leave much to talk about with either you or Biscuit and Lou @ Lou Lou Reads, with whom I read the novel. I think Bill @ The Australian Legend may have hit it on the head when he asked if people would ever learn that workshop novels from MFA programs don’t tend to leave a great taste in the mouths of readers. As the product of an MFA program, I still agree with him. There is something about a novel trying to be innovative and still leaving no lasting impression, no strong feeling to which we can relate. Isn’t it enough to take a classic plots, e.g. man vs. nature and make them new again, as writers have been doing for thousands of years? No two people will tell the tale of man vs. nature the same way, which is why we can celebrate both Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild in completely different ways.


Yes, you probably read it in high school, but have you read “The Lottery” since? And what about the other short stories in Shirley Jackson’s collection? I’ve reviewed a collection with seven stories, so be sure to share your experiences with the mistress of horror in the comments on Wednesday!


Books Bought Since January 2023: 0

I’m rethinking this just a little. Whenever I attend a Charis event, they don’t charge a thing, but they do ask that folks buy the book to help the store and the author. I’m thinking it’s only fair to buy a book in lieu of a ticket when I’m not suffering financially. Perhaps I’ll keep a tally of “book tickets” just to see how it goes.



  1. Oh I LOVE word-formation. I did my English Language project on it at university – in those days, involving cutting bits out of teenage girls’ magazines and literally pasting them onto sheets of paper! I am still obsessed with the -gate formation, which of course took the “gate” out of Watergate – which does NOT of course mean “scandal” and applies it liberally to all sorts of things. I still watch out for examples now.


  2. My equivalent of your gym is road workers leaving their 40 kph signs up and going home.
    I think I got two mentions today – MFA program(me)s and utes. Though, in Australia ute is short for utility (and presumably for utility vehicle).
    Your classes sound great. It always annoyed me when courses didn’t expect enough from me. You don’t go to school just to be entertained.


    • Wait, why do truckers put up 40 kph signs? Is that meant to tell you to slow down because they’re parked along the road?

      You did get a couple of mention! I think meant “utility” because of course, all working vehicles would be utilitarian. Heh.

      At school, I feel both challenged and like it is do-able. I’m still going to therapy, and thanks to the program we’re working through, I also know when to stop working on a project or studying for a test. “It is what it is,” although an annoying phrase at times, is helpful to me.


  3. Sometimes I wish I had gone on to do my MFA and then sometimes I read novels that are clear products of MFAs and am glad I didn’t!

    Your gym saga sounds frustrating! Good for you for persevering. Peter has been working out at the local gym this month and it made me realize that I’ve always been too intimidated to go to an actual gym.


    • I will say that doing an MFA, for some folks, really changes their style. They become homogenous with their peers, especially when you get demanding viewpoints, different levels of political correctness, asking why you chose A when one person would clearly have done B, etc. I think that’s why MFA novels are so identifiable.

      Heh, I read that as Peter has been working at the local gym this month, and I thought, “Boy, times are tough for teachers everywhere!” Are you not able to go together? Or as a family? I know there are some family gyms out there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a good point. There isn’t always a lot of room for personal creativity in groups like that.

        Peter’s been working out at the gym at our local Rec centre. They have a deal that when one adult gets a pass, your kids can get an annual pass for a really reduced rate. That gets them into the pool and the arena so it’s a nice deal. Peter’s primarily going to lift weights and I’m not super keen so he goes early in the mornings while I’m home with the girls. Then on the weekends we all go to the pool together.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad that you’re getting a firm idea of how to handle your classes. It has to make you feel more confident. I’m typing all of this very awkwardly as Ridley is laying on my stomach in the way. (I just sent you a pic.) My microeconomics class continues to mostly be the exact same chapters and literature as macroeconomics. I refuse to reread the same things and just go by my notes that I still have. I’m about to meet up on zoom with my lab group but I would really just like to do all the work and let people copy me instead of dealing with them. :3


    • Here’s a fun reminder of how anxiety works: now that I’m getting a groove for school, I worry that I shouldn’t have a groove because real life is unpredictable, and shouldn’t I just subject myself to “exposure therapy” in a way?

      Are your macro- and micro-econ teachers the same person, or different? Why in the world are you reading the same stuff for both?? Aaaaack.

      Also, group work is terrible because I feel like we’re not encouraged to come up with a game plan and expectations first. Everyone basically states they either want an A or suck at group stuff and don’t expect much. Why did no one teach us to divvy up the work or set deadlines, etc.?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Macro and Micro are both the same professor. Both courses are required for my degree. How has no one else noticed that the material is almost exactly the same?? Even the discussion board subjects are the same. I plan on saying something about it in my end of class survey they ask us to take. You know, after I’ve passed, and the prof can’t give me a bad grade. D:

        No one showed up to the zoom meeting. So, I answered everything and assigned the other two people their portions. Thankfully, they completed it, and we were able to turn it in on time.

        Anxiety about anxiety is no effin’ joke.


        • There seriously has to be oversight about what each professor is doing. Seriously, I blame tenure. You get these folks who think they are irreplaceable (and tenure often means they are) and then they do whatever they want and chalk up student concerns to students being lazy, or of “softer stuff” than back in the old days. When I was an undergrad (uh, the first time), there was a professor who taught a class that you HAD to have to graduate, and he was the only one who taught it. Thus, students couldn’t choose someone else and show the school this guy was a problem. We just shuffled through like sheep.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s funny about the gym, but good on you for going in anyway. If the two people working out can’t share the place, that’s just plain wrong. If you are bouncing on the bike seat it could be the seat height is wrong, or you need to lower your cadence (use a harder gear) and/or engage your core muscles. I hope you don’t need to give up the bike, I say selfishly 🙂

    Glad to hear you are getting into the swing of things with school! Congrats on the quiz results!


  6. Well done for persevering at the gym! As to your choice of gym machine – my favourite is always the rower, though I have not actually used a rowing machine for years. After I broke my ankle I couldn’t use one for a very long time although I probably could now. I hope they stop mucking around and you are able to get settled into a routine soon!


    • That same sign is still up, but I just keep going in. Bill’s comment about the other trucker’s leaving up their 40 kph sign and then leaving made me think I’m doing the right thing.

      Can a person row for 50 minutes, or would you just fall over dead from exhaustion?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Love love love the title ‘get your elbow off the horn’!!! Sounds like the gym continues to be a place of adventure. If I saw other people exercising, I would definitely have joined them. I think my husband’s ‘ask for forgiveness later’ attitude is rubbing off on me 🙂


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