Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007 in Review

An annual tradition since 2003:

1). What did you do in 2007 that you'd never done before?
Lived in University Land (and in a new state, and on the east coast,etc.), visited the sites of City A and City B, experienced a REAL autumn complete with colorful leaves, took classes towards a Ph.D., had an office, taught a college class for an entire semester...2007 brought a lot of changes.

2) Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? So my mantra for 2007 was "Stronger and Smarter," and I was going to try to be more in the moment and less worried about the future, especially the parts of it I can't possibly control. I think I did pretty well with the whole "Stronger and Smarter" thing. Interestingly, it worked out in a more literal sense than I meant it to, since I'm a little bit stronger physically than I was in 2006, and after this semester I definitely feel smarter, too. I was also better about not letting guy-related problems get to me and not doing stupid things with guys I don't really care about, which is what I really intended when I said "Stronger and Smarter in 2007." So I think I did alright with that. As for being more in the moment and less worried about the future, well, now that I'm in a Ph.D. program, I can assume that unless I screw up somehow or something enormously life-changing happens outside of my control, I'm going to be working on this whole Ph.D. thing for at least the next four years. Since I have a plan I'm not worrying about the immediate future as much as I was at this time last year. With that said, trying to be more in the moment and worrying less about the future is probably going to be a lifelong struggle for me.
As for resolutions for 2008? I want to make cooking more a resolution again. I know I've tried it in years past, but it has never really stuck. So in 2008, I will cook more often. The grocery store is right across the street, I need to stop being so lazy. My other resolution is to start more conversations with interesting-looking people, both male and female, instead of always waiting for them to start chatting with me first. I need to improve my networking skills. And if I meet an interesting guy in the process, all the better.

3) Did anyone close to you give birth? No.

4) Did anyone close to you die?
Every year I hate answering this question, it feels like tempting fate. Right now everyone is healthy [knock on wood].

5) What countries did you visit? I went to Mexico one night over the summer with my sister, her boyfriend at the time, and my brother. We went with my brother since he can actually drink there. That hardly counts, though, since I never got more than a mile from the U.S. border. I did visit a lot of states, though! I made it to ten different states this year.

6) What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
Having a definite dissertation topic would be nice. And I'm definitely ready for another relationship now. If it's still not time for that to happen for me I'm okay with that, but it would be fun to take another shot at the whole dating seriously thing, especially since I'm finally at a point where there won't be anyone else on my mind to screw things up. I'm finally really, honestly open for someone new to come along. Before, I wanted someone new to come along to snap me out of caring about Phil. The whole "best way to get over somebody is to get under somebody else" thing. Even in college when I was happily dating other people, I was still comparing them to Phil. But now I would actually be able to give a completely fair shot to someone new, without comparing him to exes or occasionally wishing he was someone else. So yeah. I actually worry that dating will make my life more complicated and confusing and not better. I have my home and my routine and my single life and I like it. But like I said, it could be fun to have a boyfriend again for a while.

7) What date from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Celebrating Cinco de Mayo at the beach with Maddi and my two other good friends from my MA program. From the moment we woke up that morning we were laughing, and the day was non-stop fun. Playing with hermit crabs in souvenir shops, watching R's horrified face as he encountered his first plate of crawfish, spiking Sonic drinks with rum and drinking them on the beach, hitting the clubs and dancing all night, almost getting thrown out of our hotel room for laughing too loudly at three in the morning, wading into the ocean in the middle of the night and taking drunken pictures in the empty lifeguard don't get days like that very often, where it's honestly nothing but laughter and fun times all day long.
The afternoon I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge is a very fond memory as well, as is the night Maddi and I traipsed around the Lower East Side in the snow and found the best wine bar ever.

8) What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I suppose technically it was earning my MA. I say "technically" because I still feel like even though having a masters degree is a big thing in and of itself, for me it was just a step I had to get through to get to the Ph.D., which is the ultimate goal. Really, I think my biggest achievement was moving halfway across the country and adjusting as quickly as I did, although I don't know how much of that was actually something that I made happen and how much of it was just pure luck.

9) What was your biggest failure? I don't feel like I had any major failures this year. There were things I could have done better, of course, but isn't that always the case? I don't have any major regrets when it comes to 2007.

10) Did you suffer illness or injury? Hmmmm...I guess not, since nothing is coming to mind.

11) What was the best thing you bought? Probably my plane ticket to New York for spring break.

12) Whose behavior merited celebration?
Well, we literally celebrated when my sister graduated from college in general I'm always pretty proud of my family and friends, and this year was no exception.

13) Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? I was appalled by some news stories I heard throughout the year, but nobody I know personally was particularly appalling or depressing this year, thank goodness.

14) Where did most of your money go? Rent. My rent doubled when I moved to University Land. Ugh! I can't wait for the day when 90% of my salary is no longer going toward rent.

15) What did you get really, really, really excited about? I was actually really, really excited to move to University Land and start school, even though that excitement was tempered by nerves. Ooh, I was really excited about the Justin Timberlake concert. Going to New York with Maddi for spring break was also really exciting. On that note, I'm still really excited about the fact that I can go to City A any day I feel like it and that visiting New York City can now be a day trip.

16) What song will always remind you of 2007? Ha, everything by T. Pain

17) Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier. I mean, I'm generally a pretty happy person, but I've been feeling extra good ever since I moved to University Land. Everything just seems "right" at the moment, like much of what has happened so far in my life was to get me to where I am right now. I feel like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, and while I've felt like that sometimes before, I've never felt it as strongly as I do right now. And who knows how long that feeling will actually last, so I'm thoroughly enjoying it while I can.
ii. thinner or fatter? Pretty much exactly the same. At least I am maintaining!
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer. Student stipends don't go very far.

18) What do you wish you'd done more of? Read more novels, watched more movies, visited City A more often.

19) What do you wish you'd done less of? Dicked around on the internet, as usual. The internet is the biggest time suck in the world, isn't it?

20) How did you spend Christmas?
The usual way. I'm in my hometown, we went to my grandparents' house on Christmas Eve and had fondue and opened presents, and then on Christmas day we ate cinnamon rolls, opened more presents, walked the dogs on the golf course,and then my grandparents came over to our house for Christmas dinner. This year, we also celebrated my sister's birthday on Christmas since we were out of town on her actual birthday. It made for a really interesting Christmas dinner since we had my sister's usual birthday dinner, steak and lobster (yes, that's her birthday dinner. I should point out that mine used to be enchiladas and my brother's was spaghetti. And my siblings say I'm "the favorite". Haha.) But we combined her usual birthday dinner with a more traditional dinner of ham and sweet potatoes and broccoli casserole. Nice. It was a good Christmas. Every year now I'm just happy that the seven of us are still together for another year.

21) How will you spend New Years? I'm not sure yet. I'm going to spend New Year's Eve in the city where I did my MA program, so I'm hoping to hang out with Maddi and maybe some of my other friends from there. I'm sure we'll most likely just end up at our favorite bars in the town square boozing it up. That's what I hope, anyway. I don't need to do anything fancy, I'm just excited to see a few of the people I haven't seen in six months.

22) Did you fall in love in 2007? Nope.

23) How many one-night stands? None. It was pretty freakin' boring year in the sex department, to be honest. On the bright side, I was worried for a while that 2007 was going to be the Year of No Sex. Luckily that didn't end up being the case. It has been the Year of Very Little Sex, though. 2008 won't have to work very hard to beat 2007 in that department.

24) What was your favorite TV program? Flight of the Conchords. My brother and I were loving that show this summer. I can't wait for them to do another season.

25) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Nah, I don't hate anyone. I don't even really dislike anyone. I just find a few people mildly annoying at times.

26) What was the best book you read? Sadly, I haven't read many books this year. Or rather, I have read a TON of books, but they have all been school-related, and while some of them were interesting, to talk about pretty much any of them would definitely give away what I study. I need to start reading more novels again, but lately by the time I settle down before bed to do pleasure reading, the most my brain wants to deal with is magazines. By far the best pleasure reading I did this year was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I hated having to go to work for the few days I was reading it because it meant having to put the book down.

27) What was your greatest musical discovery? Spring Awakening. I saw the show in New York in March and fell in love with the music and then listened to the CD pretty constantly for a few months. I also spent a disproportionate amount of time listening to Timbaland collaborations; don't ask me why.

28) What did you want and get? I wanted to get into a Ph.D. program, and, much to my surprise, it actually happened.

29) What did you want and not get? I keep hoping that someone will show up and say, "Congratulations! I'm paying all your bills from now on so you can live a life of leisure!" But so far that hasn't happened yet.

30) What was your favorite film of this year? Sweeney Todd!

31) What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 25 (which I still can't really believe). I celebrated the weekend before my birthday by visiting Kiki in New York. It was very fun. On my actual birthday I was in class for most of the day and writing my midterm whenever I wasn't in class, so my actual birthday was kind of a bust. That's what happens when your birthday falls on a Monday. I did go out for drinks that night with Stacy, though, and we had a good time.

32) What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Nothing that I can make happen using just my own will.

33) How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007? My fashion concept is pretty much the same as it has been for the past 3 or 4 years: A mix of designer jeans, semi-trendy shirts from $5 Crazy Clothes and the like, cashmere from Bloomingdale's, all kinds of form-fitting suit jackets worn with jeans and boots [this is generally what I teach in] and shirts and skirts I buy off the clearance rack at Target for $2.00. I'll let you guess which parts of the wardrobe I purchase myself and which are gifts/hand-me-downs from Mom. The only real difference is that my wardrobe now includes more sweaters, jackets, and scarves. Oh, and I also actually get dressed most days now rather than trekking around town in my workout clothes, so I no longer look like a candidate for What Not to Wear.

34) What kept you sane? My hound dog and my cat (as always; they give me perspective); Kiki; and the three girls who entered this Ph.D. program with me in August, because they are going through pretty much exactly what I'm going through, so I never feel bad venting to them.

35) Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Remember when I went to the Justin Timberlake concert and then had ridiculous sex dreams for like, three days afterwards? Yeah. But it's only the stage persona, I don't really care for him when he's not performing. Other than that, I'm attracted to pretty much any celebrity with the right sort of British accent, male or female. I'm dead serious about that Alan Rickman hotline I suggested last week.

36) What political issue stirred you the most? All I know is I'm already completely and utterly sick of hearing about the 2008 presidential election and it's not even 2008 yet.

37) Whom did you miss?
Maddi. I keep trying to convince her to move up here now that she's finished with her MA, too.

38) Who was the best new person you met? All of my fellow PhDers in University Land. While there are some people I click with better than others, I like pretty much everyone I've met so far. They're smart, articulate, funny people.

39) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007.
I learned that I can move to a place where I literally know no one and I'll be just fine. Although I don't know how valuable it necessarily is to keep proving that I can be independent and do things on my own, since I've pretty much already known that for years now and I probably need more help with the opposite lessons (teamwork, trust, reliance on others,etc.) But in 2007 I learned that I do a lot of worrying about nothing, and if I just trust my instincts things will actually work out alright.

40) Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"That’s it, I’m all better now
Spit up the last of what made me hurt
I feel light as a feather now
At last I finally know my worth

Thought I’d never learn to be alone
Open all the windows wide
Turn the ringer off the phone
Light my orange candles every night

And I’m wishing on a new moon
Something better’s coming
It’s coming soon….
I feel it coming, I feel it coming, I feel it coming

I close my eyes up on the high, high dive
Stretch my arms up to the sky
Endless water is deep below
But somewhere in the air I’ll learn to fly

I’m wishing on a new moon
Something better’s coming
It’s coming soon
I feel it coming, I feel it coming, I feel it coming

It’s so easy to complain
But it’ll make you insane
That same routine
The impulse to be mean
But the grass is oh so green
After winter rain

I feel it coming, I feel it coming, I feel it coming."-Sara Melson

Where was I?

Do you know what day of the week it is right now? I sure don't. I know the date, but I honestly don't know what day it is anymore. I could look it up, but who cares, really? It's sort of nice not to have to know for a while.

I just got back tonight from my family's whirlwind trip to California. On the plane ride home, I realized that not only am I going to have been in eight states in a two-week period by the time I get home (if you count the states I drive through on my way to New Jersey and back), I'm also going to spend significant time in every time zone in the continental U.S. within ten days. That's kind of ridiculous. But hey, I'm having fun!

My Christmas was great. I hope yours was, too, if you celebrate Christmas. It sort of went by really quickly again, but it was good. After watching A Muppet Christmas Carol every year with my dad (some years the rest of the family joins us, but for sure Dad and I always watch it at least once every year in the days leading up to Christmas) I finally read A Christmas Carol on Christmas night this year. It was enjoyable, actually, but I couldn't stop laughing at myself when I realized that although A Muppet Christmas Carol features the Marley brothers, Jacob and Robert Marley, in the actual story there's only a Jacob Marley. Now I feel like an idiot for never realizing that Robert Marley is a total joke (Robert Marley, aka "Bob" Marley...over ten years of watching the movie annually and somehow the entire family missed that?!)
So yeah, other than that my Christmas was exactly the same as it is every year, which was actually a good thing. I had fun with my family, and I got way too many gifts and ate way too much food. Most of my gifts were clothes, and the last thing I really need is even more clothes, but it's cute stuff and I'm happy to have it. My mom is good at picking out clothes. Oh, and I almost forgot this until right now, but this was my favorite conversation concerning a Christmas gift:
Grandpa: If Grandma and I got tickets to the Ring Cycle in 2009, would you be interested?
Me: Of course I would! You know that. But you need to take [my sister], she's the huge opera girl.
Grandpa: You would both go.
Me: Well, in that case, yeah! I'd love to go. I studied a lot of Wagner, remember? It'd be really cool to see the staging. Plus I've never been to Seattle. Why, are you thinking of getting tickets?
Grandpa: You're going. We made a donation and have four seats guaranteed. August 2009.
Me: Wow! That's great! Really?
Grandpa: Yes. [Talks for a while about the event, which he and Grandma have already been to several times] You might have babies by then, though.
Me: Nope. There is absolutely no way a baby is coming out of my body before August of 2009.
Grandpa: [very matter-of-fact] There's also a chance I'll be dead by then, but your grandma will go.
Me: There's a chance any of us could be dead by then. Please stop predicting your own death.
Grandpa: I could have lung cancer.
Mom: The doctors said you DON'T have lung cancer.
[P.S.-Grandpa has been predicting his death ever since he had to have hip surgery 10 years ago. Other things that were predicted to cause his death: the surgery to replace the other hip, two minor heart procedures, his diabetes diagnosis, this recent lung scare...the guy isn't in the best shape ever, that's true, but we have no real reason to believe he's about to shuffle off his mortal coil. Yet he's constantly reminding us, "I could be dead soon!"]
Grandpa: So are you happy?
Me: Yes, that sounds amazing.
Grandpa: Good. That's your Christmas present for NEXT year.

So I already know my Christmas present for next year. Ha. And I have to try to keep August of 2009 open, which is pretty insane when you think about it. Other than weddings, what gets planned more than a year and a half in advance?! And frankly, I don't even know that I believe weddings should be planned a year and a half in advance. But yeah. Ring of the Nibelungen in Seattle in August 2009! If I don't die or get knocked up first, of course.

And now from opera to football. The trip to California to watch my siblings' school play in the bowl game was so much fun. I mostly just went because I wanted to go to California (and also because I wasn't actually given a choice in the matter, although I probably would have chosen to go anyway). Surprisingly, the football game was actually very, very fun. See, I only enjoy watching football when it's a high scoring game. I know pretty much nothing about actual football rules. Well, I know enough to more or less follow what's going on. You don't grow up in my family without learning something about football just by sheer osmosis. But I don't know all the rules. Every single time there's a flag on the play I have to ask my brother or father, "What was that for?" because I just don't pay that much attention. All the strategy and defensive junk means absolutely nothing to me. So basically, I like it when there is a lot of scoring because when the team scores there are usually cannon shots and fireworks and everyone sings the fight song if it's a college game, and if all that excitement happens every half hour or so, I'm having fun. Especially when the team I'm rooting for is winning. And especially when I'm sort of drunk. So between three margaritas and the fact that we trounced the other team, I had a great time at the game last night!
The rest of the trip was fun, too, especially the night before the game when fans of both teams were wandering around downtown barhopping and talking trash to each other. Mom and I couldn't stop laughing at all the dumb things guys were saying to each other. My dad was getting into it in a joking way, since talking a big game the night before is all part of the fun, apparently, and at one point he was surrounded by a group of fans for the other team, and a few minutes later he returned to our side of the bar and he announced, beaming, "In just five minutes I had convinced them that not only are they going to lose tomorrow, but that their entire state is not nearly as good as ours! They didn't even try to fight with me! I would say something and they'd say, 'Yeah, you're right about that, actually.' I need to find someone who really wants to argue with me!"
I was going to try to explain why it was so funny, but it's probably only funny to my mother and me because we just don't really get the whole football thing. So, for instance, when we walked by a whole bar full of the "enemy" and they all just sort of roared at us when they noticed our school colors, Mom and I almost fell into the street we were laughing so hard. Which was probably not the intended reaction. It really was fun, though. I'm glad I got to go.

Now I'm back home for a couple of nights, but then I'm driving across the state to hang out with Maddi and other friends for New Year's Eve. I'll try to do my end-of-the-year wrap up before I go. On that note, I'm posting this as-is because I'm suddenly way too tired to even re-read it. Sorry if it's full of typos.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Newspaper Fun

I like my hometown a lot. I really do. I didn't exactly love it when I was growing up, but I disliked it for the same reason that the vast majority of teenagers across America dislike their hometowns: if you've lived somewhere your entire life, it gets completely routine after a while, so you end up spending a lot of time moaning, "Why does our mall SUCK? Why is there nowhere fun to go on a Friday night? I don't want to go to the bowling alley AGAIN."
And then you grow up and realize that by the time they were eighteen years old, pretty much everyone was at least somewhat sick of their hometowns, and nowadays I honestly believe that I could have grown up in the most exciting city on earth and by the time I was eighteen I would have wanted to like, move to a cabin in the woods or something. The grass is always greener, and all that.
Now, however, I've spent a quarter of my life living somewhere other than the city where I grew up, and my appreciation for my hometown has increased ten-fold. I appreciate the food, I appreciate the scenery, I appreciate the people [This is a contribution from my parents' new kitten, whom they inexplicably named "Monstro", ala the whale in Pinocchio, even though he's tiny and orange and about as unwhalelike as possible: tgfrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgvvvvvv]. It helps that my hometown has also really improved since I was a teenager. It has grown a lot and gotten a ton of new stores and restaurants and the nightlife has improved exponentially as well, so it's not just a change of perspective on my part, it's really not as boring here as it used to be. I still don't know that I'll ever come back here and live full-time, partially because there's not much for me to do career-wise here, and partially because my parents don't act like they're going to retire here anyway. Still, I enjoy coming home.

One of my favorite things about my hometown is its shoddy journalism. I'm not kidding, I seriously look forward to going through the paper every morning when I'm home to find the funniest headline of the day. I don't think that this is the case just in my hometown,actually. I'm pretty sure most newspapers kind of suck these days, it's just that I notice it more when I'm home because my parents still subscribe to the newspaper. While I think there are some very bright and talented journalists out there (I know a couple of them personally and can vouch for their skills), the vast majority of newspaper writing today doesn't seem to have much thought behind it. I'm not saying all writing needs to have much thought behind it. Lord knows there's actually very little thought behind about 3/4ths of what I write. But, tell me that this isn't a bit ridiculous:

From today's local newspaper:
"Thousands Expected to Attend Church Tomorrow"
Why is this news? Tomorrow is Christmas, of course thousands are going to attend church tomorrow!

From the college newspaper:
A sidebar accompanies an article on studying for finals. At the top of the sidebar it says, "How to Avoid an All-Nighter". The first suggestion? "Go to bed early." What?! What does that suggestion even mean? Presumably you're only pulling an all-nighter because you have no choice because you have to get something done before tomorrow. Going to bed early won't exactly solve the problem of getting your work done. Also, OBVIOUSLY if you go to bed early, you are avoiding an all-nighter. And it's not like the suggestion said or even implied, "Go to bed early, sleep for a few hours, and then get up and finish your project." That would have made sense, sort of. As I read the suggestions, it seems like the sidebar should have actually been entitled, "How to Avoid Insomnia." Insomnia that causes you to be up all night and an all-nighter are not the same thing.

"Finally, here's my favorite, also from this morning's local paper:
76% of [City Residents] Believe in Santa Claus"
My sister and I died laughing when we read that this morning. Once she actually stopped laughing hard enough to read the article, it turned out that 76% of people believe in the idea of the spirit of Santa Claus and teach their children about Santa and all that. Which is actually very nice. I believe in the spirit of Santa, too. But the headline implies that 76% of people in town right now are waiting for a guy in a red suit with a bunch of reindeer to appear on the roof tonight and shimmy down the chimney. I cannot tell you how much mileage my family and I have already gotten out of that headline today. I love my hometown.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Time is Here

First, I'll share some pictures of holiday cheer. I took these on Wednesday night when Stacy and I went into the city to look at Christmas decorations. The pictures completely and utterly give away my location so I'm only going to leave them up for a couple of days, but they're so festive I can't resist posting them:
[Sorry, pictures are now deleted.]

Right now, though, I'm just enjoying being in my hometown. My brother beat me home, and my sister got into town just a few minutes ago with her enormous horse of a dog, who is now galloping around the backyard like a fool. I missed that goofy dog. I wish my hound could be here to see his "cousin". For the past couple of days I've been engaging in the usual family pastimes: eating out at all of the restaurants we kids miss when we're not in town, shopping at $5 Crazy Clothes (actually, that's only a me-and-Mom pastime), going to movies, teasing my brother, and drinking at Dad's bar (and everywhere else that one can legally drink, actually).

P.S.-I saw Sweeney Todd last night and it was awesome. Go see it. I'm super picky and I was like, "Johnny Depp singing, yeah right." But it was so enjoyable. Also, I have the world's biggest, most inappropriate crush on Alan Rickman, based solely on his speaking voice. I think he needs to set up a hotline so that anytime you're down, you can call and listen to a recording of Alan Rickman saying charming things in his delicious accent. Yum.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I probably should have warned you that I was going to drop off the face of the planet for a week. Sorry. Between giving finals and grading said finals (I realize that essays are the best way to assess whether or not the students can analyze and evaluate rather than just regurgitate information, but damn, do they SUCK to grade! Also, I wasted WAY too much time as an undregrad trying to craft quality essays while taking my finals. Wish I'd known then that the prof was just going to skim the pages looking for key words and phrases!)and finishing my horrendous thirty-page final exam and last-minute Christmas shopping and apartment-cleaning and other more fun stuff that I might elaborate on later once I have posted accompanying was a week that didn't allow any time for blogging, is what I'm saying.

But now after spending yesterday driving to New Jersey to drop off my pets with my relatives and approximately 11 hours in airports/on planes today, I'm in my hometown writing this from my bed. I figure I have approximately ten minutes until I keel over in exhaustion, which is just enough time to say:

1) I got word yesterday that I was accepted to do a job at a conference at the end of February. I was going to go to the conference anyway since several people from University Land are going so I'll have roommates. It's not one of the two really big nationwide conferences in my field, but it's probably the biggest of the regional ones and I've always heard that it's friendly and good for networking, and I figure the earlier I start schmoozing the better (even though I still hate, hate, hate that whole game). Plus I found out recently that a few friends from my MA program are going to be there, so I was partially planning to go just to see them as well. I didn't have a paper ready to submit for this conference, though, and I wasn't willing to do the whole write-an-abstract-and-then-write-the-actual-paper-later-if-your-abstract-gets-accepted thing because I didn't see how I could feasibly complete a paper between right now (when they're giving out notices of acceptance) and the end of February. Not with everything else I have to do. So I was just going to go even though I wasn't going to actually be doing anything at the conference. But then a call went out looking for people to do this job for an event that's part of the conference (sorry for being vague, but there's no way to explain it without giving away what I do since this is a job that only exists in my field). It was something I could do that didn't involve actually writing a paper, you just needed to send your CV and a paragraph explaining why you'd like the job. So I did that, not thinking I'd actually get the job. But I did! So it's a good thing all around, I think. Now I can better rationalize the expense of going to the conference since I have an actual job to do, and while it's not quite as good as adding another conference paper presentation to my CV, it IS still another line for the CV nevertheless, and any conference experience is good experience.
The only downside is that now that I have this job to do, I absolutely have to be at the conference from start to finish, which means missing my Thursday night class one week. Which means I can't possibly skip the same class two weeks later on the weekend that I have to go back to homestate for my college roommate's wedding, where I am a bridesmaid. I had warned her that this might happen and she said it's fine if I don't come down until Friday, that she and her fiancee aren't driving down to the ceremony site until Friday afternoon themselves. Still, it seems risky to not fly into town until a few hours before the rehearsal dinner when I'm a member of the wedding party. Oh well, what can you do? I'll make it all work out somehow. I usually do.

2) I'm getting my hair cut tomorrow, and I'm seriously considering chopping it substantially shorter. I have a round-ish face and hair that is pretty wavy most of the time and downright ringlet-y when it's humid, so I can't go TOO short without looking ridiculous. I'd get a super short haircut in a second if I thought I could actually pull it off with my hair type and facial features. I know I can't, so I'm not going to try. But I'm craving a change. Right now the longest part of my hair reaches the center of my shoulder blades. I know it's probably more flattering for me to have long hair like this, but it's driving me crazy! I've always been weird about hair. Loose strands of hair disgust me. Seriously, I will often literally gag if I pick something up and there's a piece of loose hair stuck to it, even when I know for a fact that it's my own hair. I'm just a weirdo about it. I can go months (sometimes a year or more, even) without the hair thing really registering as an issue, and then all of a sudden I wake up one morning and am just utterly disgusted with my hair. Not that I think it looks bad, not that it feels bad, it just suddenly grosses me out. And right now I'm definitely having a hair freak out period because I have been losing a ton of hair lately. I don't know if it's the fact that it's a new season or maybe my body thinks I'm stressed out (I don't feel horribly stressed, though; this grad school stuff has it's moments but I don't feel like my stress levels now are substantially higher than they have been at any other point in my life) or maybe I just need more iron in my diet or what, but for the past month or so my hair has been falling out at a disturbing rate. It's disgusting, I know. I don't even know why I'm telling you this. But I've been noticing more hair than usual in the shower and in my hairbrush, and every time I take off my jacket now I have to pick strands of my own hair off of it (shudder) and there was this really horrifying moment a couple of weeks ago when I was lying in bed one morning just sort of absentmindedly running my hands through my hair and I pulled out a literal clump of hair. And then I had to run to the bathroom because the experience almost made me throw up. That makes it sound more alarming than it is. (Actually, the most alarming thing is that MY OWN HAIR makes me want to throw up sometimes. I know it's weird, I wish I could get over the hair issue, it makes it really inconvenient to share a bathroom with anyone). While it was a clump of hair, it was like a small clump. Just to clarify, I don't think anything is actually wrong with me. I probably do need to just force myself to eat more red meat. I also read on the internet that sometimes just coincidentally a lot of your hair will somehow end up on the same growth cycle and more than usual will fall out for a month or two. Plus I have really thick hair so I would have to lose a huge amount of it before it actually became noticeable. So I'm not actually worried about it, it's just that it's grossing me out and I don't really want to spend the rest of the winter having to unravel stray hairs from my scarves, you know?
So the goal is to come up with something that's short enough that the strands of hair I lose aren't long enough to make me want to throw up, but long enough that it flatters my face. I'm worried that I'll regret it if I go short, but hey, it's just hair, it grows back. And by the time it grows back I'll probably be out of this latest my-hair-is-making-me-want-to-barf phase. Plus my 2008 beauty horoscope in Glamour told me, "Don't be afraid to go short!" when I was reading it on the plane earlier, so maybe that's a sign!
I guess I'll just see how I'm feeling tomorrow. I should definitely get some sleep so I don't make any rash decisions out of sheer exhaustion.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

One More Week

I turned in another final paper today. Now I just have one more final to finish and I'm done with the semester. True, it's another one of those thirty page essay things like the one that was making me crazy back at the beginning of November, but I have five full days to do it, so it should be a bit more manageable this time. Oh, and I also have to grade sixty final exams once my students finish taking them on Monday, but I think all the TAs are going to get together for a little grading party, so that shouldn't be too bad.

A bunch of us were supposed to go down to City A tonight to look at Christmas lights, but everyone ended up deciding not to go because it's rainy and half of the group felt like they had too much stuff to work on. The rain and cold is a pretty good excuse. It really wouldn't be the most pleasant night to spend time outside. But I always feel like saying you have too much work to do is sort of a cop out. We're Ph.D. students and once we're done with this we're going to be teaching and on the tenure clock (hopefully). We will always, always have too much work to do. Even during breaks I always know in the back of my mind that there's something I technically should be working on, and it's the same for everyone else. That's just the life we've chosen for ourselves. So occasionally I think it is fair and reasonable to say, "You know what, I just have way to much to do right now, sorry." That happens to all of us, and you have to know how to manage your time. But some people here are always moaning and groaning about how busy they are, and that makes me sad. Why choose this lifestyle if it really makes you feel like you can't ever take a break to enjoy yourself? I guess part of it is just priorities, too. I've always been aware of the fact that what I'm going to remember in years to come is not the grade I got on the paper but the time I spent with actual human beings. That was always my way of rationalizing in college when I wanted to go out rather than study, and I still operate pretty much the same way now. I really do think that's true, though. When I think about both college and my MA program, I don't remember much about grades I got or projects I did. I learned things, sure, but ultimately none of my favorite memories revolve around studying.* But I remember the dinners and parties and road trips and the nights we stayed until last call. So for me, when it comes down to it, I'm all about doing things that will make my life more fun and enjoyable and make me happy when I think about them in the future, so when opportunities for socializing come up I take them as often as possible, even if it means I have to be up all night finishing papers once in a while.
To be fair, though, I guess I should acknowledge that all my socializing has never actually hurt my work, and the minute it did I probably would become a lot more dedicated to work. Work IS my priority, I guess, at least at this point in my life.
Oh well. I figure we'll go check out the lights next week, and even if we can't get our acts together to go as a group, I'll go check it out by myself next week once I'm done with my final. It's not like you actually need anyone to help you look at Christmas trees, after all, and I don't want to miss it just because nobody else's schedule coordinates with mine.
In the meantime, I ended up having a Christmas-y night anyway. I made myself hot chocolate with chocolate mint Baileys leftover from the pizza and videogames (and alcohol) night Stacy, Nicole, Anna and I had on Monday, and then I wrapped up all the Christmas presents I bought for my family. And then tomorrow night I'm supposed to go to my cousin's Christmas get-together. We're having cocktails at her house and then going shopping in her neighbohrhood, where all the stores are staying open until midnight and offering an 8% discount at 8:00, a 9% discount at 9:00, etc., etc., etc. Should be fun. Yay for Christmas!

To change the subject entirely, earlier today I was watching old episodes of My So-Called Life on and thinking about how 90s fashion was really, really bad. Maybe not as bad as much of the 80s, but still really bad. All of the flannel and the vests and the denim shirts...what were we DOING in the first half of the decade? Of course, then through much of the late 90s I was wearing jeans big enough that I could slide them on and off without actually having to unbutton them, which wasn't really much better. Somehow I just don't see myself looking back with horror on anything I've been wearing this century, though. Everything I've been wearing since college just seems pretty and simple and basic, and I can't really imagine looking back on it and thinking "Oh my god, what was I THINKING?" Part of it is that I don't tend to follow some of the more questionable trends. If it's something I'm probably not going to be able to wear next year without it looking dated, then I'm not going to buy it. But I also think that some decades just have better clothes than others, and so far I think we've been lucking out in the twenty-first century. Our luck may be changing, though. Have you seen those new super high-waisted pants, for example? Who actually wants to wear jeans that come practically up to your boobs? There's nothing flattering about that.

Speaking of jeans (watch me segue!), Kiki just did a photo shoot for a new brand of jeans. My best friend is a model! Okay, okay, so she told me that I had to work a mention of it into my blog somehow, but even though I partially mentioned it here because she's threatening me on Facebook, it is true that I'm very proud of her. Plus she's far and away the cutest model of the bunch. I'd put the link to the website here, but I don't know if she wants everyone staring at her butt.

Alright, I'm gonna go eat some spaghetti and NOT work on my final.

*Except for the night freshman year when Kiki and I were studying for a test together and I asked her to look up a term in her notes, but when she flipped to her "notes" for that day, all she had written was two lines of actual notes and then, "I'm ADD, ask *A* for notes," in really huge letters. That is one of my favorite memories, mostly because it's sort of our friendship in microcosm. We strike a very good balance, me and Kiki.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

While I'm Thinking About It...

So I was cleaning up some stuff on my blog dashboard today and I realized...people actually comment on some of my entries!
Once I write something I don't generally go back and look for comments on it, and I don't have anything set up to notify me when people do comment, so I was completely oblivious to the fact that a few people have actually left comments over the past six months. I even had a semi-mean anonymous comment on an entry a couple of months ago! My first troll! Yes! (Actually, my guess is that the comment is from someone I know and therefore it doesn't count as a real troll comment. And it wasn't a very astute comment at that, since it was telling me to "get over it" and the point of the entry in question was that I WAS over it, at least most of the time).
I don't have a ton of comments here, but since I tend to be a lurker myself I don't mind that most of my readers are lurkers as well. Here's the question, though: how does one respond to comments? Do you respond in another entry? In the comments section itself (who goes back and re-reads comment sections)? Go to the commenter's blog and leave a comment in their comment section? Just ignore it but hope everyone knows that you appreciate the comments? I don't know the etiquette.

But rest assured that if you have commented any time in the past six months, I appreciate it! And there are a few comments that I wish I had seen at the time because I would have liked to keep the dialogue going, but oh well. In the future, I'll be better at checking for comments on old entries.

Thanks for reading, guys! (Even you, anonymous punk. I don't think the blog experience would be complete without some anonymous punks.) I know I'm not always the most consistent updater and 3/4ths of what I say is probably not interesting to anyone but me, but thanks for humoring me.

P.S.-I've been mailing out my Christmas cards this weekend. If you send me an e-mail with your address, I'll send you a card featuring my hound dog looking like a frat boy in a collared shirt and my cat (surprisingly happily) sporting a scarf.
P.P.S.-My e-mail address is [first name]L[last name] No spaces, no punctuation, don't forget the L between the first and last name. Word.

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas!

I had the best day yesterday. About a million years ago (seriously, I hate to admit it, but it was last in 2006) my sister and brother gave me a gift certificate to get a massage at the spa at the Four Seasons. But I just never got around to using it. In the spring, the Four Seasons nearest me was undergoing renovations so the spa wasn't open. In the summer, I was living in a place that doesn't have a Four Seasons. Then I moved here and got busy and just sort of forgot about it until a couple of weeks ago when I suddenly remembered it and thought, "Yes! I'll use it just before finals!" I figured this weekend would be the perfect time. It's early enough in the finals process that I'm not completely bogged down in work yet (at which point taking hours off to go get a massage would just stress me out more than relax me because I'd be thinking about all the work waiting for me at home). At the same time, it's late enough in the semester that I definitely need someone to help me relax.
And oh my gosh, the massage was amaaaaaaaazing. The guy worked out so much tension, it was crazy. I had no idea how tense my back and legs were until I woke up this morning realizing I feel much, much better. He also did a lot of scalp and face stuff, and I absolutely love scalp massages but nobody ever knows how to do it right, so this was awesome. The masseuse kept expressing amazement over just how tight and tense my body was, and I felt like telling him, "You move across the country to a place where you don't know anybody and then start teaching college classes and working towards a PhD and try to make the best possible first impression on every single person you encounter for months and try not to carry any stress in YOUR shoulders, buddy." It's obviously really good for all of those kinks to get worked out, though. And if I could afford to, I would definitely be doing it twice a month as recommended. But as is, even if I go somewhere not as ritzy as the Four Seasons, massages still aren't exactly in my budget. I usually get massages only if someone else is paying for it as a gift. So it's a splurge, not part of my health routine. Wouldn't that be awesome if it could be, though? Anyway, the massage was great, and then I hung out in the steam room and the hot tub for a while. It made for a really relaxing afternoon.
As an added bonus, the hotel was decorated for Christmas and it was beautiful. There were about a dozen full size Christmas trees in the lobby, each one decorated by a different interior designer or art gallery. I could have sat there forever just enjoying the glow from all of the trees.
On the way home I drove a way I'd never been before, taking a bridge across the river and then driving along a parkway that cruised high up along the side of a hill. As I drove I was looking down on the valley with its gray, cold-looking river surrounded by bare, snow-covered trees, and the sun had just gone down so the whole world was sort of bluish gray and the snow was glowing somehow and on the ridge across the river were all of these huge, fancy houses, many of which had Christmas lights shining...It was like a children's book illustration of winter. It was perfect.
I love real seasons!

Anyway, all the relaxation yesterday combined with all the festivities on Thursday night (a friend just defended her thesis so about ten of us went bar-hopping around the college town to celebrate), I am so not in the mood to work. At all. Why is it always so, so difficult to get motivated at the end of the semester?


There's this meme floating around right now: List seven random facts about yourself that somehow relate to gender (perceptions of, your own gender issues, how you feel about other people's, etc.) Since no one ever tags me for these things (mostly because not many people actually know I blog and I primarily lurk and don't comment much on the blogs I read), I tagged myself for this one because I thought it was interesting.

1. I have never wished that I was a man. I do think that even now there are still certain advantages that men have over women. But I fundamentally like being a woman. I have an internal sense of power that is directly related to my sex. It would be too hard to articulate what I mean in just one blog entry, especially because the power is somewhat intangible, but I feel most powerful when I am at my most feminine (dress, high heels, makeup). I realize that for many people, this is contradictory.

2. With that said, I think that the feminine power I feel is directly related to sexuality. When I think about moments in my life that have made me feel absolutely confident, strong, and powerful, the majority of those moments took place in the bedroom or during flirtations and negotiations that eventually led to the bedroom. I acknowledge that in the past I have used sex to increase my feelings of power (occasionally deliberately, but usually it's only a side effect of more pure and sincere intentions). While I would never be comfortable "sleeping my way to the top", so to speak, I admit that I have flirted or even occasionally led a man on because it was going to allow me to get something that I wanted. I have always thought of it like this: I'm a woman, and if a man is stupid enough to let me take advantage of him just because he thinks I might eventually sleep with him, then when I take every single thing I want from him and never give him anything in return, that's his problem and not mine. I do realize that many people believe that using flirtation to get ahead is as bad as actually having sex. It's the exact same thing, just on a smaller scale, and it should be frowned upon, period. I disagree, but I respect that opinion. The thing is, as I get older, I question the act of using sex for power. There's no doubt that one of the things I find appealing about sex is that it does make me feel powerful, but what does that say about society? (And about me? P.S.-feeling powerful does not equal, like, dominatrix. The sense of power has nothing to do with who is actually the more dominant player in the bedroom on any given night.) Obviously I don't believe that a woman can get anywhere substantial on looks alone. You don't get to be the CEO just by being hot and sexy. While I think looks can help you in life to a point, there comes a time when the woman who is getting by solely on her body just can't go any further. But how far can we get on brains alone? Brain power being equal (and high), can the 350 pound woman with the acne gain as much success in life (careerwise, wealthwise, respectwise) as the leggy blonde with C-cup breasts? There used to be this idea that a woman who was too pretty would never be respected, but I don't think that's true. In fact, I think these days it's the opposite, at least in my life experience thus far. This is getting off-topic so I'll stop, but yeah. Lots to think about here in terms of what makes women feel powerful, how our looks affect our chances for success more than looks do for men, etc.

3. When I was little, I named all of my stuffed animals and created individual personalities for them. I decided that the majority of my animals were boys. I occasionally gave one a girl's name, usually when it was a bunny in a dress or something so clearly meant to be a female that I couldn't make it a boy, but I favored my boy stuffed animals. My sister's stuffed animals were predominantly "boys" as well, as were my brother's. To this day, I mostly anthropomorphize inanimate objects as male. It would be interesting to find out if children are more likely to make their childhood toys male or female, and if how they assign gender to stuffed animals has anything to do with their own sex and gender. Anecdotally, I know that my best friend Kiki's beloved childhood animal is a girl rabbit, and I remember another girlfriend in college had a favorite childhood toy that she decided was a boy, even though it is clearly a female clown. Obviously, my very small sample doesn't show any clear trends. Ha.

4. I went to Wal-mart last weekend with Nicole and Anna. We were doing some Christmas shopping for Anna's son so we spent a lot of time in the kids' toys and clothing sections and I wanted to smack every woman who was buying Bratz dolls or toy makeup for six-year-olds or Disney princess dress up outfits or play kitchens or basically anything marketed to girls. I've been trying to figure out why it bothered me so much ever since. I know I had some very gendered toys when I was a kid: My Little Ponies immediately come to mind, and we had one of those play kitchens, and I played a lot with paper dolls from American Girl magazines, etc., etc. We also played house a lot, although my brother played house with me as eagerly as my sister did and I actually think that it's good for kids to play house provided that boys are encouraged to feed the baby dolls and do the pretend laundry as well. But mostly I remember playing gender-neutral games: farm, school, restaurant, factory (my sister always wanted to play either "factory" or "orphanage". Don't ask, she grew up to be pretty normal regardless), lots of board games, lots of bike riding or setting up obstacle courses in the backyard. At Wal-mart, I was looking for gender-neutral toys and games, and I saw a grand total of about three things that were being marketed equally to both boys and girls. Even the toys that were gender-neutral when I was a kid now have some sort of character marketing them as either "for boys" or "for girls." This scares me, and seems like a big step backward. I'd love to say, "It doesn't matter, just let your kids play with what they want to play with. The boys can play with the girls' stuff and the girls can play with the boys' stuff, so who cares how they market it?" This is how I feel, personally, and I like to think that when I have kids my son will be able to wear the pink Dora the Explorer sandals if he feels like it and my daughter can collect Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But I also know that there are way too many parents in the world who are not comfortable letting their sons into the princess dresses aisle and their daughters into the toy car aisle so yeah, it IS a problem how these toys and clothes are being marketed since not all parents are willing or able to explain to their children that these boundaries between boys' stuff and girls' stuff are not natural or good.

5. The other day I had to fill out my course evaluations for the semester. There were a few negative comments I felt compelled to make about one of my courses, but since I like and respect the professor overall, it was really important to me that she not be able to tell that I was the one that had made the comments. The thing is, there are only 8 people in the class, and all of us have written approximately fifty to sixty pages for the professor over the course of the semester. She has had ample opportunity to get a sense of our writing style. If she cares enough (and who knows if she actually does), I think it would be relatively easy for her to go through her evaluations and match them up to the writer just based on writing style. So when I was writing my evaluation, I tried really hard to write it in a more "male" way than I normally do. I mentioned this to Straight Mate, who was also filling out his evaluation at the time, and he thinks I'm weird for believing that there are "male" and "female" ways of writing. But of course there are! For example: Normally in a course evaluation, I would hedge my response by saying something like, "I feel that at times the course was disorganized." So to masculinize it, I wrote, "The course was often disorganized." Academic writing on the whole is generally considered "male." There's this thing online (I would link but I'm too lazy to look for it) that lets you submit sections of papers and then it analyzes them and tells you whether it thinks the paper was written by a male or a female. Inevitably, no matter what paper topic I opt to submit, if I submit a school paper the response comes back as "male." If I submit a section from my private journal, however, the response comes back about fifty percent male, fifty percent female (which makes sense, as I'm not the most emotional of females and I think this thing largely judges the emotion-related words in your writing)

6. Speaking of feminine and masculine language, I am working very, very hard these days to state my opinions without prefacing them with, "Well, maybe..." or, "I could be wrong, but..." Because that's what women do, whether we mean to or not. And it's time we stopped doing it. Really, think about it: when was the last time you heard a guy say, "I could be wrong, but...?" or some version of that statement. And when was the last time you heard a girl say it? I can give you my answer. The last time I heard a girl say it was last night during class. The last time I heard a guy say it was...well, not any time in recent memory. And maybe this is just the type of men and women I'm generally around, but I'm betting the phenomenon can be generalized beyond my little academic microcosm.

7. As much as I'm glad that I'm a woman in 2007 and not 1947 (or 1647, eeee!), there's a deep down secret part of me that thinks it would have been easier to live in a time where there were more clearly defined gender roles. But I acknowledge that those old-fashioned roles don't work for most people, so it's a very good thing that we have made the progress we have.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


So, I have a big project due tomorrow. It's a lengthy proposal paper for a course that is in my subject area but in a subfield that I have never had experience with before this semester [vague enough for you?]. I've found this course challenging, partially because it involves a lot of new methodology, and partially because the professor is often incredibly vague when she explains assignments but then grades them based on some sort of very specific rubric that exists only in her head, or at least was never explained clearly in class. She'll literally do things like say, "Dont be too critical," and then the next week turn around and say, "You all are really not being critical enough." It can be infuriating, but I haven't exactly been losing sleep over it.
Somehow, though, I have an "A" in this class. She finally gave us grades last week, and sixty percent of my grade in the course is an "A". Twenty percent of it will come from the project that's due tomorrow, and the last twenty percent will come from a final essay of some sort. I really have no idea how I have an "A", especially since apparently the entire class doesn't have "A"s (I always assume that if I'm doing well, everyone must be doing well, because I never feel that smart) but whatever. The point is, if 60% of my grade is an "A", the other 40% can be a "B" and my grade in the class will still be an "A", right? As far as I know, there are no actual number grades attached to the "A"s I have right now. So 60% "A" and 40% "B" should average out to an "A", I'm assuming. And it may be stupid to assume this, but I'm assuming if I actually do the assignments, I'll get at least a "B" on them.
In short, I have absolutely no desire to work on this assignment, and logically I don't feel like I should waste much effort on it, but knowing my luck if I attempt to get up tomorrow and throw something together just a few hours before class, I actually will get a "C". And yet I really, REALLY don't feel like working on this project. I don't know what to do. Maybe I'll just nap for a few hours right now since I certainly don't feel capable of focusing at the moment and then I'll get up really early in the morning and work until I have something that's reasonably acceptable.
Oh, and then there's the fact that I left my notebook with the original draft of this assignment and my prof's notes about it sitting on my desk in my office at school. I had a 25 mile per hour drive home from school in the snow on roads that are beginning to ice over, and the minute I got home I realized I had left the notebook behind. So I went, "Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck," acknowledged that there was no way in hell I was going to drive the twelve miles roundtrip to school and back again in the dark and snow, realized that at least I have the original draft saved on my computer and I remember the basic gyst of the prof's comments anyway [the basic gyst was, "Do this completely differently"] and then realized that I don't give a damn about this assignment anymore anyway.
I stopped caring about this semester over the weekend. Did I already mention that?It's a combination of general laziness, mild burn out, excitement about the holidays, and a cold that Cold-Eeze is no longer fighting effectively (I personally think Cold-Eeze and similar products provide nothing but a placebo effect anyway, but two weeks ago it was an EFFECTIVE placebo effect). So yeah. Maybe I'll be feeling more inspired in the morning when the adrenaline kicks in as I realize that I really do have to finish the damn thing by 2:00.

Also, about that snow...I was really excited last night when I saw that we had a good chance of getting snow. I was excited when I woke up this morning and it was already snowing. And then it took me 2 hours to drive the six miles to campus during the morning rush hour. I knew that people here would be idiots about driving in the snow. People here are idiotic drivers, period. I know I bitch about it a lot, but seriously, I cannot emphasize enough how horribly people drive here. And when it rains, they're even worse. So I knew that if it was snowing I would have to leave much earlier than usual. But traffic was beyond ridiculous. SIX miles in TWO hours. I still can't quite wrap my mind around it. Oh well. I missed this morning's lecture, but I made it in time to teach my last two classes of the semester (woohoo!), which is what really mattered.
At least the snow is pretty. Actually, despite the horrible commute this morning, I'm still excited about the snow. I love how it makes the whole world feel clean and quiet. And nothing is better than Christmas lights glowing through softly falling snow. Plus you should see the way my dog walks in the snow. I don't know if he's trying to get traction or what, but he walks stretching each leg out really far and sort of flexing his paw. It kills me. Unfortunately, he only does it for a minute each time we go outside and then he figures out what he's doing and starts scampering around like normal again. Maybe if I get up early tomorrow there will still be enough snow on the ground that I can take him outside and make a video of his snow walk. And even though it's completely unnecessary because there's a grand total of like, three inches on the ground, I might even make him wear his snow suit!
And what's not to love about a hound dog in a snow suit?

Sunday, December 2, 2007


By the way, winter break is shaping up to be really busy.

On the 20th of December, I'll drive to New Jersey to drop my dog and cat off with my aunt and uncle. Then on the 21st I get to fly out of Newark and spend ten hours making my way back to my hometown for Christmas, which should be a really enjoyable day. Ha.
On the 30th I'm going to make the (long) drive with my sister back to the city where she lives, which is where I did my MA program and lived from August 2005 to May of this year. (Well, more or less. I actually lived in a small town about twenty minutes from the city) So I'll hang out there for New Year's Eve and hopefully get to see Maddi since she still lives there.
I'll fly back to my hometown the night of the 1st and stay there for a few more days. Then on the 5th of January I'll fly back to Newark.
On the 6th of January my sister flies to the east coast. We're going to spend a few days hanging out in New York and then we'll head back here and do more touristy things around City A and B.
She'll fly home on the 13th. And by then I figure I'll be all socialized out and ready to spend the next week or two chilling out before classes start again in the spring.

All of that is definitely happening. Plane tickets have been purchased and arrangements have been made. And then when I called home tonight my dad told me he's in the process of seeing if he can buy plane tickets for the whole family to fly to San Diego for a couple of days for this college bowl game he and my siblings really want to watch in person. While I'm not all that interested in football, I am interested in San Diego, so it will be cool if he does end up getting the plane tickets. But if that happens, it means another two days of travel.



I have been freezing all day long. I don't know why. It's cold and rainy today, but not THAT cold. I think it's about 40 degrees outside right now. I shouldn't be freezing, but I'm wearing tights and an undershirt and a sweater and jeans and fuzzy socks and I ran the heater much more today than I usually do, and I'm still cold. Speaking of the heater, though, I'm discovering I barely have to run mine at all. I live on the third floor and there's an apartment above mine as well, so because heat rises and beause I'm insulated from below and above, I'm pretty sure my neighbors are unwittingly heating my apartment. My electric bill was only $38 last month. Muahahahahaha. A good citizen would pull her own weight in heating the building, but nah. I'm not gonna do that.

Speaking of cold, look at this: indoor skiing in Dubai I can't imagine that the slopes would be very challenging or be interesting for very long, but I guess when the average temperature is like, 130 degrees, and you still insist on skiing, you do what you can. The pictures do make me want to go skiing, though. Apparently you can go skiing just an hour or two from where I live, which I can't really imagine since I grew up skiing in Colorado and New Mexico so I'm not sure how thrilling east coast hills will be in comparison (they are hills, not mountains, and don't try to tell me otherwise). But maybe I'll get the chance to try it in the early spring. After all, skiing is skiing and I'm out of practice so maybe it will be a good thing if it's not too challenging. If it's going to be this cold, I might as well enjoy some winter sports.

I've been a complete lazy bum this weekend. Seriously, my level of motivation has fallen in a major way. I accomplished only the bear minimum of things I needed to get done this weekend, which isn't great considering everything I have to finish in the next 2 1/2 weeks.
Now, pretend to be interested in the list of things I have to accomplish:
-Finish prospectus for my intro to doctoral studies class [I present on my current prospectus tomorrow, and if I don't get told that it sucks and I need to change it substantially, I actually won't have too much work left on this project. Two or three hours at the most, hopefully.]
-Complete a draft and final portfolio of assignments for my Teaching [My Subject] class. [I got "A"s on all of the assignments this semester, so I shouldn't have to change anything too substantially, meaning that this project shouldn't take too much effort to finish. This should be another project that can be finished in two or three hours max.]
-Lead a section of my theory class
-Complete two more weeks of theory reading
-Write my theory final, another 30 page monstrosity. That's going to be FUN.
-Finish and present my proposal for my Thursday night class [Thankfully, this will be finished this week, even if I have to pull all-nighters to get it done by Thursday]
-Do some sort of final for my Thursday night class [We still have no idea what this is going to be. Initially my prof said it would be something easy, but she said that a lot of things about her course would be easy and very few of them actually have been, so we'll see...]
-Grade 60 final exams and tabulate final grades for my students

Not an absolutely miserable amount of work, especially if I don't waste time like I did all weekend. Still, I'll be happy to see December 19th.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I Still Suck at Titles

This whole PhD thing really is like bobbing around in the ocean. Everything comes in waves: the work, the emotions...I guess that's life in general, really, but it feels much more exaggerated here.
I just had a period of a couple of weeks where I was going, "What the heck am I doing here?" It wasn't an existential crisis or anything serious, because even in the midst of it I recognized that it was a temporary state and that things would seem better shortly. It was just a combination of several things at once. Three weeks of really intense work, getting back a draft with less than stellar commentary, trying to figure out what courses to take next semester, which led to a host of other issues: What if I end up choosing classes that won't actually help me at all? What if I can't handle next semester's course load, assuming I can actually figure out what I'm taking? When in my life will I ever have time to work up some conference papers/prep for comps/study for my language exam? How am I going to afford to live through my next year of course work? It's going to be YEARS before I have this flippin' degree, and I might not get a job out of this whole process anyway because probably everyone has much more creative research and it's probably totally hurting my networking prospects that I like to hold my cards close to my chest. Hey, I remember a time when I wanted the degree for the sake of having it and didn't care so much about the job market. Ha, who WAS that person?!...

The funny thing was, even as I was stressing about these things, I was aware that most of my worry was based on tiny things that I was blowing out of proportion, so I had to reign myself back in. There's no way I'll ever be able to get through this process if I look at the big picture. The only way to do it is one tiny piece at a time, and I'd been doing good at the one-step-at-a-time thing for a couple of months, I just had to get my brain back to that point. I guess it's good that I have the ability to distance myself from, uh, myself, because it helps to put things in perspective.
So I was already in the process of getting onto a more positive wave, due to a combination of the much-needed Thanksgiving break and just general positive self-talk, when I got my midterm back today. Remember the midterm, the one that was killing me back at the beginning of the month? Well, I ROCKED that thing. 97. I got a 97! Me! From a professor that is notoriously difficult. I can't believe it, I really can't.
So today, I feel on top of things. I feel like I'm actually good at what I do. And if this feeling only lasts until tomorrow morning, so be it. I'll take what I can get.

And hey, isn't it fun that there's only about a month until Christmas? I finished decorating my apartment the other day, and it looks cute. I put lights on my balcony and windows, although I wasn't thinking about the fact that blue is opposite orange on the color wheel, so the orange streetlight right outside my window drowns out some of the effect of the blue lights I chose for my bedroom window. But I also have white lights and multi-colored lights on the balcony and other window, which show up very nicely, and the blue lights look nice from inside the bedroom and since I mostly enjoy my own light display from inside anyway, that's all that matters. My mom sent me an advent calendar, and the advent calendars for the dog and cat should arrive soon (yes, yes, I'm freakin' ridiculous and I have the most spoiled pets on the planet but I have a lot of nurturing maternal energy, I guess, and it has to go somewhere so yeah, until I have children, and probably even after I do, I will be one of those Crazy Animal Ladies who buys advent calendars just so her pets can have a treat every morning. Actually, I'm looking forward to seeing how many days it takes the houndy hound to associate opening the advent calendars with getting a treat. Since he started barking at the UPS truck every time we saw it around the neighborhood after only the second time the UPS guy gave him a treat, and since it only took him one trip through the drive thru bank to realize that he gets treats there, too, I'm thinking it won't take him long)
I just watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas on TV. I love all the Christmas specials. I usually miss them, but this year I've been doing pretty good, having caught both the Charlie Brown Christmas Special and the Grinch. The other two I always like to watch are Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph. The funny thing is, I remember looking forward to the Christmas specials as a kid, but I was also annually traumatized by 75% of them. This should come as no surprise to anyone who knew me as a child, since I was frightened to some extent by about 75% of my entire life. [Seriously, I started making a list once of things that scared me or made me nervous when I was a child, and I'd only gotten through about 1/10th of it before my mom said, "I'm glad I didn't actually know you were so scared of all of these things when you were little because I would have had to put you into therapy"] I eventually outgrew most of my childhood fears and now it's just funny to think about the things that scared me. Someday I'll post a list here and you can laugh at it with me. In the meantime, here are the things that scared me about the annual Christmas specials:

Frosty the Snowman: This one didn't really scare me so much as it just made me terribly sad because I couldn't stand the part where Frosty got stuck in the greenhouse and melted. It never mattered that the whole point of the song is that Frosty has to melt and will be back to do his magic again next year, I couldn't handle the melting. I went through a phase of a few years where I actually refused to watch this one because it just made me too sad.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The Grinch really is pretty freaky, right? What really scared me more than the drawing of the Grinch was the song, though. I found deep voices scary in general (I had several tapes with certain songs I wouldn't listen to because I deemed the voice too deep), and the combination of low, deep voice and slinking Grinch was too much. And since the song and the slinking is about half of the special, it was sort of a problem.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: That old miner guy weirded me out. The Island of Misfit Toys made me want to cry. And the Abominable Snowman scared the heck out of me. This is the only Christmas special fear that my parents really remember me having, probably because for a few years I would leave the room in a panic when the Abominable came on. Now that I'm an adult, my sentiments have swayed the exact opposite direction, and I find the Abominable Snowman cute and lovable. I even have a hot chocolate tin that "Santa" brought me last Christmas that has the Abominable Snowman on it, and even when it's not Christmas time it sits on my microwave to make me smile.
Charlie Brown: This was my favorite. No real problems with this one. When everyone rejected the Christmas tree it made me a little sad, but not melting-Frosty sad.

The question is, WHY did I look forward to these shows coming on every year? I have no idea. But I did. Maybe it's because even though the majority of each one scared me or made me sad, I'd focus on the two to three minutes of the special that I actually liked. Which is a good trait, I guess. And a trait I really did need to cultivate as a young child since, like I said, until I was about 9, 75% of my life experiences scared me.

It's amazing I grew up to be as well-adjusted as I did. Haha. And that I look back on my childhood as an extraordinarily happy one regardless of all the irrational fears.

I leave you with ten things I thought of just now as I was writing this that scared me at least somewhat as a child:
1) the hobos that I imagined sat around a campfire in my closet after I'd turned off my bedroom light for the night [hobos, with red kerchiefs tied on sticks; it was 1988but apparently my imagination didn't know that]
2) my second grade teacher
3) owls
4) the voice of the weather machine on a tape I had that taught kids about weather
5) Alice in Wonderland
6) the power converter thingy around the corner from the house I lived in when I was little [I don't know how to describe a mini power plant]
7) the masks that my grandma collected and had hanging on the wall at her vacation house
8) acid rain
9) several of the illustrations in my illustrated book of children's poetry
10)the cafeteria worker that called me mija

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Thanksgiving break is always such a tease. You get a handful of days to think about how nice it is not to have to do schoolwork, only to get completely inundated with it for three weeks afterwards. Oh well.

How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was nice. I opted not to go all the way home to be with my parents and siblings, mostly just because it requires an entire day of plane travel and I just didn't think it was really worth it to spend two full days traveling for only three days at home. So I drove to New Jersey instead and hung out with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins there, and I had a good time. My aunt cooked the whole traditional Thanksgiving spread, and even though she claimed many times that she's not confident in the kitchen, everything came out really good. And because my aunt, uncle and I took my dog and their dog for a SIX MILE walk through town and along the river trail while the turkey was cooking, I felt completely okay with stuffing myself. It was a beautiful day for a walk, too. It was so warm that I saw a couple of guys jogging on the trail with no shirts on. I don't actually think it was warm enough to be running around shirtless, but it was definitely pleasant. The crazy thing is that it was warm enough in New Jersey to be out walking without a jacket, but when I called talked to my family back home they said it was snowing this weekend. That's a little backwards. It's freezing again up here today, though so I guess things are back to normal.
I spent the rest of the weekend just hanging out. I watched a bunch of movies. We went to see Bee Movie on Thanksgiving night, and despite being the most over-advertised movie ever, I actually thought it was really funny and cute. It had initially been on my "skip" list, mostly just out of protest because I feel like it's the only movie I've been hearing about for months, but I'm glad my aunt wanted to see it because I ended up really enjoying it. Go watch it if you need a laugh, it delivers much more than I thought it would and I'd definitely see it again (although perhaps I should warn you that I went into it with very low expectations, so maybe that means I now like it a lot more than I would have otherwise). My cousins are on a V for Vendetta kick and have it DVRed right now, so between my wandering into the living room to find the two of them watching it both together and individually at various points throughout the weekend, I managed to finally watch the whole movie (although not in the proper order, so I can't tell you how I really feel about it). Late on Thanksgiving night my uncle and the boys and I also watched Mean Girls, which still surprises me with how entertaining it is every time I watch it. My younger cousin made me watch Lord of War on Friday afternoon, although I was reading some school stuff at the time and he kept flipping back and forth between the movie and various football games, so I can't tell you much about that one, either, except that my 14 year-old cousin recommends it. Oh, and we also watched Ocean's Thirteen last night. It was very similar to the first one, which I liked. Besides all the movie-watching, I walked my dog all over the place and he had a blast snuffling through leave piles and running circles around my aunt and uncle's dog, who is ten years older than him (although my poor guy now has the dog version of blisters, which makes me feel bad for him), we went to a hibachi restaurant, and my aunt and I went to several of the shops in their little town this morning and I did some Christmas shopping. All in all, it was a relaxing weekend.

I'm really glad I got to get away. I needed to do that. The second I walked back into my apartment today I felt my body tensing up with that so-much-to-do feeling. That's the only bad thing about the fact that I do so much of my work at home on my couch: it makes it hard to truly relax at home on my couch. I wish I lived somewhere that would let me have room for a separate office and living space. It's probably not entirely healthy to have the two overlap as much as they do here in my little apartment. But since there's nothing I can do about that, it was good to get away for the weekend and really relax. I didn't even check e-mail. It was nice.

Speaking of my apartment, though, I put up most of my decorations this afternoon. Tomorrow I'm going to put up my Christmas lights outside on the balcony and in my bedroom window, which I think will really make it feel cheerful. I also heard a rumor that they're selling advent calendars for dogs at Target (you open the little door each day and get a biscuit for your dog!) so I'm going to check that out. My hound dog would love that. And maybe I'll find a few more Christmas decorations, because I'm sure you have to draw the line at Christmas decor somewhere, but I'm far, far from the line at this point.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

G to the etto

I like to joke about living in the ghetto, but I can joke about it because it IS a joke.
While I was worried about being able to afford to live in University Land (and while I'm still vaguely worried about how I'm going to be able to afford to live here come July, which is approximately when I'll run out of all of my bartending/waitressing savings and be forced to live off of my pathetic stipend and loans or something)I am currently able to afford a nice place. It's a lakefront property so I have a nice place to walk the dog. The area I live in is relatively affluent, so the nearby shopping centers are kept up well and there are plenty of dining options within walking distance. It's quiet. Now that I have gotten used to it, the traffic isn't actually too bad, most of the time. Basically, even though I live on the edge of a major urban area, my town is comfortably suburban and although I actually think I would enjoy living in the city proper, I like where I am right now. Even though the crime rate in my county is high in comparison to most of the rest of the country, I have always felt very safe at my apartment complex.
Yesterday morning at about 5:15, however, my sense of safety was disturbed. I awoke to a noise so startlingly loud that my first instinct was to literally jump out of bed before I was fully awake. My second instinct was to say to myself, "What are you doing?!" and then jump back into bed and hide under my covers (when I'm half-asleep, I somehow always think that's going to protect me). Then I woke up enough to start logically trying to figure out what was going on. The sound was basically an extremely loud engine, so loud that my windows were rattling. Honestly, my first thought was that a plane was going down right outside my apartment. Looking out the window didn't automatically change my mind, either, because all I could see were some weird lights in the still pitch-black sky. Eventually I put my glasses on and figured out what was actually going on:
Four helicopters were hovering in the sky above my apartment complex. Four! Which explains the horribly loud sound, and the fact that it didn't initially sound like helicopters at all. Not only were they hovering very low, but one of them was shining the world's brightest searchlight down onto the parking lot outside, where a police car was also slowly cruising the parking lot and shining a giant flashlight of its own behind cars and into bushes. And let me tell you, there's nothing like a white light from the sky beaming its way directly into your apartment at 5:15 in the morning. At least it was cold enough for me to be wearing pajamas. The helicopter eventually stopped shining its light into my apartment, but for the next half hour I couldn't sleep because I could still hear all the helicopters hovering around outside. The police cruiser came by a couple more times, too.
I never did figure out who they were looking for. I heard on the news yesterday evening that the leader of a ring of car thieves had been arrested and then escaped from my town's hospital this morning, but the newscast implied that the escape happened during the daytime. Plus I don't know that a car thief would warrant an all points bulletin and four police choppers, but what do I know? What WOULD warrant four police choppers?
Anyway, I found the whole thing a bit unsettling. I think I saw a police helicopter doing a search in my hometown years ago, but never directly over my house in such an intense way. In retrospect it's not a big deal, but yesterday in the dark it was scary.
I realize that there are some communities where searches like this happen all the time, though. For me, it became just an interesting story to tell my friends when I got to the office. But for many people around the world, waking up to unexpected blaring noises and intrusive shining lights is a daily way of life. I'm so lucky and so grateful that it's not mine.

To change the subject completely, I am pleased to announce that I am no longer drowning in work. True, I am paddling frantically in the deep end, but at least I am keeping my head above water, and that is a major improvement over the past two weeks. Of course, a greater improvement still would be to get to wade in the shallow end for a change. Or float leisurely on a raft. Or, to continue this stupid metaphor to its logical conclusion, to get out of the freakin' pool and flop down on a lounge chair with a pina colada. Oh well. Winter break is only a little over a month away. I think I can survive until then.

Oh, I'm taking an unexpected day trip to New York on Sunday! My aunt called me yesterday. Her company is sponsoring some sort of social event where they all go to a Broadway show together, but they ended up with several extra tickets. Because my aunt is awesome, she thought to call me to see if I wanted to use one of the tickets. So because I have this deluded idea that I can actually get all of my work for Monday done between now and Saturday, I happily accepted the ticket and will now be taking the train to New York on Sunday morning to see a matinee performance of Young Frankenstein!!! Which I am extremely excited about! And it's one of only eight shows that isn't on strike, which is really lucky! And then I'll go to dinner with everyone and catch a late train home.
It seems a little silly to go to New York for just the day, especially since I'll come home for just two days before loading my pets into the car and driving back to New Jersey for Thanksgiving. Still, the ability to do day trips to the city was one of my deciding factors in moving here in the first place, so I might as well actually take advantage of the opportunity.
Rae's brother and his wife and their baby are in City B visiting Rae and her husband this weekend as well, so I agreed to go out to dinner with them in Little Italy on Saturday night. Which should be fun, too. Although between the whirlwind New York trip, going out on Saturday night, and going to another event I have to attend tomorrow for research purposes (which I can't really tell you about without giving away what I study), I'm going to have to scramble in my free time to get my work done before Monday.
Thank goodness next week is nothing BUT Monday. Hooray for Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Something I Never Thought I Would Do as a PhD Student:

Take a tango lesson. Yes! Tonight in class we discussed this book this book. It's a really interesting book, actually, and not at all academic or jargon-y so it was a very easy, quick read. It's even a flip book! There's a little picture on the bottom right corner of every page, so when you flip through the book you can see tango steps in action. Which, needless to say, was pretty distracting as I was reading, because approximately every ten pages or so I would decide to look at the flip pictures again. I couldn't resist.
Anyway, it was a book I was looking forward to discussing in the first place, but then class ended up being extra awesome because my professor for that course happens to be a competitive ballroom dancer, so she invited another ballroom dancer to visit class today. The two of them coupled to demonstrate some steps, and then he actually instructed all of us in some of the basic Argentine tango steps for the last half hour of class. It really was a useful way to gain a better understanding of the book, and I had so much fun with it. I am absolutely terrible at any sort of partner dancing, though, because I have a really hard time following instead of leading (yes, I realize that with all of my controlling tendencies, this probably should not come as a surprise). Tango was especially hard for me, because the entire point of the tango is that the male is supposed to be in complete control. The whole time I was like, "Damn it, I'm trying to lead again, aren't I?!" But it was fun. Especially because we also had wine to go along with the dancing. Every week should be like this! [P.S.-The instructor had us switch partners every few minutes, but coincidentally, guess who my first dance partner was tonight? Yup, the guy who I dreamt about last week. When I realized that we were going to end up as partners, I couldn't help thinking, "You have to be kidding me! This is getting really ridiculous!" First I have a really inappropriate sex dream about him, and then we end up having to do this sexual, dominant/submissive dance together?! What are the odds?]
I realized tonight that I really miss dance classes. I grew up going to dance classes two or three times a week (and pretty much daily in high school), but the last time I took a formal dance class was my first semester of college. I'd love to get back to going to some sort of class regularly. I just think dance class is so much fun, and a challenging but also sort of effortless way to stay in good shape. And after tonight, I'm thinking that some sort of ballroom dancing class would actually be really fun, and I don't think you need a partner to do it, I think people go solo. The problem is that I have no idea where I would go up here, and I always find it kind of hard to find a class that is geared towards adults and actually teaches adults (as opposed to the 15-18 year olds that seemed to frequent all the "adult" dance classes I've seen in suburbia). Plus I'm sure it would be really expensive. Still, something ignited in me tonight and I felt a feeling I haven't had in ages and thought, "Wow, I really miss this." Maybe someday, that mythical "someday" where I actually have free time and money, I'll be able to get back into it again.

Anyway, I'm feeling quite content right now. Happy with the dancing...feeling a tiny little buzz from the wine in class compounded by the fact that Rae came down for a couple of hours tonight and took me out for a belated birthday dinner and margaritas at a (fake) Mexican food near my apartment...excited that I can actually sleep for a full 8 hours tonight instead of having to wake up early or stay up late to scramble to finish some project...and the weather guy on NPR even mentioned that there is a chance of snow flurries tomorrow evening! I'm pretty sure it won't actually happen. Still, it's blowing my mind that it's the second week of November and there is already a chance of snow.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Weird Little Things

Wow, I didn't realize how long it had been since I last updated. Sorry about that! It's just that I was completely drowning in work last week. Seriously, I was. My midterm just about killed me, although I'm proud to say that I finished it exactly half an hour before it was due on Monday. True, I had to wake up at 3 AM on Monday morning to pull it off (after not going to sleep until 12:00) and then hole myself up in the library for a couple of hours in the afternoon because I still find it impossible to get any serious work done in my office, but it was due at 4:00 and I e-mailed it at 3:30. Go me! I'm not saying it's brilliant. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's crap. But on the bright side, it can only get better because I don't think I'll be nearly as busy when I have to do this again for the final next month.

I did have a birthday in the middle of all the madness. Thanks to everyone that sent cards and messages and called, by the way. It made my day! So now I'm an age that rounds to 30 rather than 20, which kind of freaks me out if I think about it too much, so basically I just celebrated without bothering to really consider the implications. I had a great time in New York over the weekend hanging out with Kiki and celebrating. It was totally worth staying up working almost all night on Sunday in exchange for getting to spend Friday and Saturday nights in the city. We did a lot of fun things in a couple of days: hit a few different low-key bars, had dessert at Serendipity, ate at a fun barbecue restaurant, shopped (we went to Steve and Barry's and I bought a bunch of stuff from Sarah Jessica Parker's new Bitten line), went to see this guy Kiki knows from dance class in the revival of Terence McNally's "The Ritz" on Broadway. And then afterwards we went to the stage door to say hi and the security guys let us just go backstage and down to the dressing room to wait for him, which was pretty cool (although he had actually already left for the night; he must have changed in record time, which I guess is easy to do when your costume consists of nothing but a towel draped on a HOT body). I was joking about how going backstage at Broadway theaters is becoming so passe now because I get to do it every time I go to New York. Haha. Anyway, all told it was a really fun weekend, and I had a great time hanging out with Kiki. I already can't wait to go back again.
On my actual birthday I wasn't going to do anything special, but then Stacy decided she wanted to celebrate finishing our midterm so we went down to City A and went to my new favorite place there (the place with the awesome pineapple vodka infusion) and had a few drinks, which was a lot of fun. Or rather, I had a few drinks and Stacy had a single drink and got drunk, because she is the biggest lightweight in the WORLD. [She fairly recently broke away from an extremely conservative lifestyle; not too long ago she was teaching at a school where she had to sign a pledge saying she would not drink. Or dance. Isn't that insanely draconian?] Sometimes I wish I could get drunk off of a single drink, if only to save some money. Not that I actually drink very much these days, I've actually had more to drink during the past week than I had had in the past month, and even then it wasn't a notable amount.

On another note, here are a few weird/humorous little stories, completely unrelated to anything, that would have worked better as individual entries when they actually happened except that I was so freakin' busy before that I'm just going to have to post them all together now:

1) One day last week I came home and as I pulled into my parking lot there was this old man standing by the dumpster frantically waving his arms to get my attention. So I rolled down the car window and asked what was up, and he goes, "Are you in the military?" Incidentally, it's possible to make many assumptions when looking at me, but I don't think "military" would ever logically be one of them. Ever. Mostly because I'm really scrawny. Anyway, I don't know what being in the military had to do with anything, because when I said no, he said, "Well, maybe you can help me anyway. My wife threw my plant away, can you help me get it out of the dumpster?" My inner monologue was, "Uh, that's pretty freakin' weird" but out of my mouth came, "Sure, of course I can help!" You have to understand that I am a complete and total sucker when it comes to senior citizens and their weird fixations. I recognized this guy as my neighbor, so it's not like he's a total stranger, and he just looked so sincerely concerned for his plant. Desperate, almost. Plus I thought that helping would involve like, fishing it out with a fishing pole or something like that. But oh no. No. Once I actually discussed the plan with him, I realized he wanted me to climb INTO the dumpster. He had a pretty ingenious plan, actually. He had a regular ice chest and then one of those styrofoam ones you get at the grocery store, and his plan was for me to use the regular ice chest to get enough leverage to climb into the dumpster and then I could get the plant and hand it to him. Then he would hand me the disposable ice chest and I could use it as a stool to climb back out of the dumpster, and it could just stay in the dumpster and get thrown away.
So did I climb into the dumpster to retrieve a plant for my crazy old neighbor? A plant that was absolutely nothing special, the sort of plant you can buy for three bucks? A plant that his poor wife has probably been trying to sneak into the dumpster for weeks, because you know how men are about getting attached to dumb things?
Um, yes. Yes I did. Because I had already said I would, and his whole face just lit up when I said I would help him. I just couldn't take it back. Besides, the dumpster had been emptied early that morning so the plant was the only thing in it. And I had time to take a shower immediately afterwards, which I did. And I just felt so sad for him! Plus climbing into a dumpster for a total stranger has to earn me major karma points, right? That's what I'm hoping, anyway.

2. This might be too much information, but please tell me that this happens to you sometimes so that I'll know I'm not crazy: do you ever have a really intense sex dream about someone that you're not interested in in real life at all whatsoever? I have sex dreams once in a while (yay, too much information!) I mean, not like weekly or anything. Not even montly. But every now and then I'll have one. Usually they're vague enough that I can't really tell who I'm with. Very occasionally I'll have one about an ex. But three times now I've dreamt vividly about people that I wasn't interested in at all. Once it was actually a sort of creepy dream about a guy I knew in college (who was actually a nice guy and dating a friend of mine at the time), once I dreamt about a guy that worked for me when I was an MA managing a bunch of undergrads (a day later he changed clothes in front of me in the office, which was kind of weird...I can make people take their clothes off with my mind!). This time, the dream was about one of my office mates! And when I say this dream was intense, I mean it was really, really intense, in a good way. While I was still half asleep I was lying there thinking, "Wow, that was pretty amazing for a dream. I wonder if I could do that in real life? Hmmm...that was good. That was...AUGH?! Why the hell was I dreaming THAT about HIM?!" Because I swear that there is no interest there during waking hours. Physically I suppose he's my type, now that I think about it, but I just never think about him like that at all. Plus in actuality, we would be awkward beyond belief, and not just because he has a girlfriend. At any rate, I had the dream on Thursday night and was glad that I didn't have to see him immediately that morning because you know how even though logically you know it was a dream, emotionally you sometimes still feel mad or upset or, uh, horny anyway? Yeah. By the time I went into the office on Monday morning, I had laughed about it with Kiki and gotten it out of my system and was over it. Or rather, I would have been if the first words out of his mouth as I walked in that morning weren't, "Are you dateable?" In my mind I was like, "What the-?! No way. He cannot possibly know about the dream!" Turns out he just happened to be reading an internet pop-up ad as I walked in. It was nothing. But it's a good thing I was hanging up my coat and not looking at him at the moment, because I'm pretty sure I was blushing. AWKWARD.
Then last night I had a dream that I gave birth to a baby girl. I dream that I'm pregnant and in labor a lot (I think I've mentioned this before). It's probably my most frequently recurring dream. I have no idea what it means, but it obviously ties closely to some emotion from my real life because sometimes I'll dream it again and again for weeks and then not have the dream for months and then it will start up again. I don't think I've ever actually gotten to the point of having the baby in the dream before, though, so that made last night's dream different. Interestingly, though, my labor dreams are normally extremely vivid, even actually painful. This one, though, wasn't all that vivid. I just woke up knowing that it is what I'd been dreaming about and that the baby had actually been born and had been a girl, although I remember very few details from the dream. What does it mean?! Why are dreams so damn weird?

3. Speaking of weird, remember Cake Guy, the guy I briefly dabbled with dating this summer before we both got too busy to actually see each other again, even though the first date was actually pretty good? Well, this afternoon for no reason at all whatsoever, he suddenly popped into my head. I was walking up the stairs to go to class and suddenly I was like, "I wonder how Cake Guy is doing?" And then I tried to remember why I only went out with him that one time. Thinking back, I can't really think of a good reason why we didn't go out again, other than that I was sort of busy and he was extremely busy and I was a little freaked out that he seemed to like me more than I liked him at the moment. So I was having those little thoughts that you have when it has been several months since you dated anyone and you're starting to run through all the people you rejected, wondering if maybe some of them weren't actually that bad and you just overreacted or didn't give them enough of a chance. (You do that, too, right?) And then I went to class, and that should have been that, but I'll be damned if he didn't text message me on my drive home! Freeaaaky. He texted me once shortly after I moved here to say that the bar wasn't as good when I wasn't bartending, but that's literally the only contact we've had since the end of July. So for him to text me completely out of the blue on the exact same day he popped into my head is pretty bizarre. We texted for a while tonight. There's a chance that if a couple of things happen with his job he'll end up in New York for Thanksgiving, and he mentioned wanting to hang out if he comes up here, and wanting to see me when I'm home at Christmas. I don't know what I'll end up doing about that. Mostly, I can't remember a single thing that I didn't like about him, other than the fact that he liked me too much. Which doesn't seem like a very good reason for blowing him off. So maybe I'll actually have a second date six months after the first one. We'll see.