Thursday, January 31, 2008

Week One

Good news: I just got an e-mail informing me that a conference proposal I made last month has been accepted. I ended up applying to present a paper at this conference the night before proposals were due. I almost wasn't going to do it, but then I figured it would be stupid not to make up an abstract for this conference. It deals exactly with my specific interest within my field, why wouldn't I at least try to go? So I wrote an abstract based on some research I was doing last semester, and lo and behold, my proposal was accepted and now I'm on a panel with two other people presenting my ten-minute paper. Which hasn't been written yet, of course. This is the first time I've tried the "submit the abstract first, write the paper if the abstract gets accepted," game. I realize that this is how many academics function, but it's not how I have functioned prior to now, so this will be an interesting experiment for me. The conference is in New York City in late April, so I'll be able to drive there and hopefully stay with Kiki, thus not having to shell out hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a conference experience. And it will give me an excuse to see Kiki, which is a nice added bonus. Plus it hits at the perfect time, right before my end-of-the-year performance review, so I'll be able to go before the faculty with my good academic record (hopefully it will still be good by that point) and the news that I presented at two conferences this semester. That should make me look pretty strong. Oooh, and I also just realized that the professor I'm doing an independent guided study with this semester will probably be more than willing to help me with this paper since it has a lot to do with what I am strongly considering writing my dissertation on, and if I continue down this research path this prof is likely to be my dissertation adviser. So maybe I can kill two birds with one stone and work on this paper as part of my independent study in lieu of reading a couple of books.

This good news caps off what has been a promising first week of the semester. Besides doing the same teaching load I did last semester (two intro classes, which are located as far away from my office as they can possibly be and still be on campus), I'm taking four courses again this semester. One of them is just the one-hour guided study I mentioned, with Dr. Absent-Minded Professor. I call Dr. AMP that because s/he is constantly like, "Oh, yes, we were supposed to do that this week, weren't we?" and, "Right, I should have e-mailed you days ago! So sorry!" You may wonder why I'm seriously considering taking hir on as my dissertation adviser. I'll tell you why: despite hir propensity to be absent-minded, s/he tends to be a good advocate for hir students and hir advisees are actually graduating in a timely manner. Plus s/he tells it like it is when it comes to making it in this profession and getting a job. Plus I've discovered if you tell hir exactly what you want to do, s/he's willing to make a few additional suggestions and then basically go along with your plan. And that's what I need: someone to approve my plan and then help me finish in a timely manner. I don't care about being BFF with my adviser, and as of right now I don't think I'm going to need someone to hold my hand the whole way. I just need to be able to check in with someone once in a while to say, "Am I on the right track here? Okay, cool, thanks." And I think s/he will hopefully be able to do that for me. It helps, of course, that s/he also has excellent name recognition. Haha. True, my topic could change completely between now and May. That's sort of what this semester is for, testing out my potential dissertation topic to see if its really feasible.
Besides the independent study, I'm also taking two three-hour courses within the department. One, with Dr. Hyper, will also allow me to do a lot of potential dissertation research from many different angles. I think the class is going to be hard as hell. We have a good 300 or 400 pages of reading every week, plus we each have to give a presentation on our work almost every week as well. The reading is all stuff I'll need to do for my comps eventually anyway, but good God. Dr. Hyper is a speed reader-an actual speed reader, not just someone like me that reads faster than normal people-and I think when s/he creates hir courses s/he forgets that not everyone shares hir skill. I know this class will be incredibly useful for me, but I am also already envisioning all the Mondays when I'll be awake all night long trying to finish my work for class on Tuesday. I'm also taking another class with Dr. Scary. I don't know what I was thinking when I signed up for courses with Dr. Hyper and Dr. Scary in the same semester, but at least Anna, Nicole, and Stacy all did the same thing so we can commiserate with one another. Dr. Scary's course seems like it is going to be very interesting. It concerns an area of the field that I have always been extremely interested in but never studied in depth, and it involves some fun-sounding projects (yes, really). I just hope that s/he continues to like me this semester, since s/he is known for being extremely volatile.
The last class I'm taking is an out-of-the-department course. I have to take three of them as part of my course work, and I plan to take one each semester until I'm done with my course work. When I started here in August, everyone told me that our department is extremely challenging compared to most departments on campus. I didn't fully believe that until now. When I saw the syllabus for my out-of-the-department course, I almost laughed out loud. I'm used to being handed syllabuses (or syllabi, depending on if you're of the Latin or Greek persuasion) that are seven or eight pages long with detailed calendars, project descriptions, tons of required and recommended readings, etc. This syllabus? It was one page long. One page! We read only one book a week. And although I don't want to get into what sort of books they are, I will tell you that it's going to be easy reading compared to what I'm used to (after all, if I tell you the out-of-department course, then you'll know another department that I'm NOT in, and I can't willingly give you clues like that. Accidentally, sure, willingly, no). We write only one paper over the course of the semester, and it's only 5 pages long! And we do have a final exam, but the professor already basically said that we'll all get "A"s as long as we're not lazy. While there's a chance that all of these students will have a vocabulary that I don't share and I will be prevented from actively participated in discussion, I don't actually think that's going to happen. I think this course is probably going to be pretty easy compared to what I'm used to.
Which is funny, because when we were introducing ourselves in the class and I mentioned that this is one of my out-of-department classes and that I am working on a PhD in something else, I definitely saw a couple of dubious looks and something that looked suspiciously like an eye roll. I wanted to say, "Please, you people have NO IDEA," and then pull out my syllabus for Dr. Hyper's class, since if this course is any indication, I apparently do more in one class than they do in every bit of their graduate coursework.
See, my field is not always (hell, even often) highly respected. More than once I have had people say, "Oh wow, you can get a PhD in that?" As a result of this disrespect, I think there is a tendency for professors in my subject to overcompensate in order to prove that we are "real" scholars. That certainly seems to be what's happening here. Several of my friends are also taking classes in other departments this semester, and they all report similar laughably small workloads. The next time someone patronizingly says, "Oh, you study [subject]? Wow, that must be really easy!" I'll just smile. Or maybe kick them in the nuts. Because I definitely know better.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Love It!

Now this is a candidate I can really get behind!:

vote basset

Obama, Clinton, McCain, Romney, or Hoss? Hands down, my vote would be for Hoss. I think once you read all about his platform and check out his site, you will be a supporter as well. After all, who can possibly resist that face? (I sure can't...I have a hound of my own who gets away with murder on a daily basis)

One of my friends made this website, and I can't stop laughing about it. And I know I'm a big nerd when it comes to anything involving pets, but pass this along to anyone else who might get a kick out of it. I want Hoss to be an internet celebrity by the time the election rolls around!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

It's Been Awhile Since I Did A Meme

Because I'm bored, but not bored enough to go to bed yet, here's a meme that has been going around. It's about my house, so it won't really be interesting, but I have nothing better to do (or rather, I have better things to do, I just don't feel like doing them):

When you walk in your front door, which room do you enter?
The living room. You actually walk pretty much right into the back of my sofa because its sort of angled away from the wall

Do you have a dishwasher?

Is your living room carpeted or does it have hardwood floors?
It's carpeted with beige berber carpeting. Typical generic apartment flooring. My dream house will definitely have hardwood floors, though, because I feel like I could vacuum every day and still never get all of the pet hair off the carpet.

Do you keep your kitchen knives on the counter or in a drawer?
My cooking knives are in a block in a cabinet, the other knives are in a drawer with the rest of my silverware.

House, apartment, duplex or trailer?

How many bedrooms is it?

Gas stove or electric?

Do you have a yard?
No, but I have a good-sized balcony with a table and a couple of chairs, and I'm thinking of maybe growing some herbs out there when it gets warmer (although frankly, I'll be surprised if I can actually keep a plant alive). Also, my apartment backs up onto a big lake with a mile-long path around it, and in some ways I like that better than a yard. But I have to admit, when it's freezing cold or really hot outside, I often wish I could just open the door and let the dog go out into a yard by himself.

What size TV is in the living room?
I have no idea. 30 inches maybe? It's plenty big enough for me, that's all I know.

Are your plates in the same cupboard as your cups?
No. Plates are with bowls, cups are by themselves.

Is there a coffee maker sitting on your kitchen counter?
I don't own a coffee maker since I don't really like coffee and very rarely drink it.

What room is your computer in?
It's a laptop and I have wireless internet in my apartment, so I take it all over the place. Its home is on my coffee table in the living room and I usually use it sitting on my couch, but sometimes I use it at my desk in my little office nook and every now and then I get in bed with it.

Are there pictures hanging in your living room?
Yes. I have four framed record albums from musicals (A Chorus Line, South Pacific, My Fair Lady, and Anything Goes), and a sort of abstract painting of Times Square on a rainy night that I bought at an art show when I was in college. In my office area, which is technically a part of my living room, I have that poster with the big black cat and the French words that pretty much every female college student in America had in her dorm room because they sell it at Michaels (I keep meaning to look for something else to go in that spot, actually, since I'm sort of tired of that poster, but it matches my decor and I'm too lazy to actively look for something else). Oh, and I finally hung up my two diplomas and the plaque I got for being the outstanding graduate student in my MA program. I felt like kind of a douche hanging up my diplomas, but I need the inspiration and it seems stupid not to display them until I have a real office (which is what I was originally waiting for).

Are there any themes found in your home?
Themes? No. I mean, I sort of have color themes. My kitchen decor is all yellows, blues, and greens, my bedroom is steel blue and red (very much like the colors of this blog, actually), and my living room is mostly chocolate brown and red. I like dark, rich shades in general. Oh, wait, my bathroom does have a palm tree theme! I have palm tree shower curtain hooks, a couple of drawings of palm trees, and a palm tree night light that I never use but plug in because it looks cute.

What kind of laundry detergent do you use?
Gain. I like Apple Mango Tango!

Do you use dryer sheets?

Curtains in your home?
I don't have any curtains, just the blinds that came with the apartment.

What color is your fridge?
White, but it has several goofy magnets on it and a paw print painting that my dog made at a canine carnival last year. Yes, really.

Is your house clean?
Yes, by pretty much anyone's standards. I have a really hard time focusing when my space is messy, so I straighten up the apartment pretty much every night and spend about an hour or two really cleaning it every Friday or Saturday (clean the toilet and bathtub and sink, dry and wet Swiffer the tile floors, clean the kitchen surfaces, vacuum, and dust). Some people seem to think I'm crazy for cleaning like that every week, but I just feel so much more relaxed and comfortable in a clean and organized space. It only takes an hour or two out of my week, and I'd rather do it this way than have to spend an entire day cleaning and organizing every few months. Plus I never have to worry about unexpected guests.

What room is the most neglected?
No space in the apartment is really neglected. My outdoor storage closet is a bit of a mess 'cause I tend to just throw stuff in there, but I know what's in there and its mostly stuff I only need a few times a year, so as long as I don't have to look at the mess every day I'm okay with it.

Are the dishes in your sink/dishwasher clean or dirty?
There are no dishes in my sink since I'm pretty good about putting everything in the dishwasher right away. Actually, that's something I've never really understood: why do people with dishwashers let the dishes pile up? It takes like, 2 seconds longer to put the dishes in the dishwasher instead of setting them in the sink. I understand dishes piling up if there's no dishwasher, I guess, and I will sometimes leave a pot or pan in my sink soaking for a few hours before I clean it since not everything fits in the dishwasher. But I've never been one of those people who leaves the breakfast dishes in the sink for three days. That doesn't surprise you though, does it? Oh, and the dishes in my dishwasher are dirty right now since I only run it when it gets full and since I live alone, that means I run it only once or twice a week.

How long have you lived in your home?
It will be six months on February 9th, but it feels like I've been here for years.

Where did you live before?
In an apartment that was actually very much like this one, just a tiny bit smaller.

Do you have one of those fluffy toilet lid covers on your toilet?
I do have a toilet lid cover, but I wouldn't call it fluffy...

Do you have a scale anywhere in your house?
Nope. I never weigh myself if I can help it. I figure as long as my clothes still fit, my weight is fine.

How many mirrors are in your house?
Three: my bathroom mirror, a little mirror that hangs over my dresser that I use to do my makeup, and a full-length mirror that sits in the corner of my bedroom.

Look up. What do you see?
A sprinkler head and a smoke detector and generic apartment ceiling. It's one of those ceilings with the little lumps on it. What is that called, anyway? The ceilings in my parents' house are like that, too, and my mom always calls the little bumps "picky-pocky." As in we were going to try painting the ceiling in the hallway once, and Mom said, "Don't do it, all the picky-pockys will fall off!"

Do you have a garage?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Beer Coat

I'm beginning to understand why people in colder climates have a reputation for being heavy drinkers. Last night I went over to Nicole's house to have dinner (she made a curry and it was delicious!) and then Nicole, Stacy, Shawn and I went bar hopping in City A. Shawn, by the way, is a guy that I originally met in my undergrad department, so it's kind of funny that we both ended up way on the other side of the country in the same department again two years later. For whatever reason, Nicole and Stacy have it in their heads that Shawn and I should date. There are dozens of reasons why I don't want to date Shawn, but mostly it's just because I don't find him that exciting. In college he used to date one of my friends, and I always used to wonder what she saw in him. I also used to make jokes about how his hair was the exact same color as his ski: even his complexion and tone was just pale and dull. I'll admit that, two years later, he has changed a lot for the better. His hair is no longer the same color as his skin, for one thing (I think it helps that he's not tan anymore, the tan was what made it all the same color). He also talks a lot more now, and he has lightened up a lot. When he was dating my friend they didn't really drink and they didn't have sex at all even though they dated for over two years (that's willpower...or a pointless waste of time). Now that he's out of that relationship it turns out he's just a normal twenty-something guy, and now that he's not on his best behavior all the time, it turns out he's more interesting than I thought. To be honest, though, even though I like him a lot as a friend these days, there are no romantic sparks there at all whatsoever, and I think the only reason people want us to date each other is because we are pretty much the only single people in the department right now. I don't understand the compulsion people feel to push single people together, even when its clear that neither party is particularly interested. I guess they just figure it would be convenient if the two single people in the group could date each other. The same thing used to happen in my last grad program where there was me and one other single guy and everyone else was coupled up. Eventually there people realized I truly wasn't interested in the guy, and I imagine the same thing will happen here after awhile. It's just annoying, though, that everyone thinks that convenience is a good reason for dating somebody.
Anyway, we had a fun night last night. I just like having an excuse to get dressed up and go out, so I was happy before we even got downtown. We ended up going to three different bars, and they were all fun, relatively low-key places with good music. I ended up drinking too much, and I'm blaming it on the fact that it was really cold. Nicole kept talking about how we needed our beer coats to keep us warm, and obviously it's true that the more you drink the less you feel (or care about) how cold it is, so I was definitely drinking for the warmth. The other problem is that when I'm out with this particular group of friends, everyone takes turns buying rounds. I realize this is probably the norm with a lot of groups of friends, but before moving up here I was always in more fend-for-yourself groups. Occasionally someone would buy a round of shots, sure, and usually when I'm out with only one other person we take turns buying rounds. But here we've fallen into a pattern of taking turns buying rounds for the whole group, and that's just not working as well for me. Sure, it's easier, but I find that I'm drinking way more on the nights we go out. I have a reputation for being able to really hold my liquor, but part of my trick is that I actually drink way slower than most other people, so even though we've all been drinking all night, I'm generally in better shape because I drink slower and therefore have had less drinks overall. With this whole everyone-take-turns-buying-a-round thing, I feel like I have to drink faster and keep pace with everyone else because everyone's drinks are empty and they're like, "Ready for another round?" and I still have half of my drink sitting in front of me. But it seems silly to turn down a drink if someone else is paying, so I try to keep pace. And then when it's my turn to buy, I feel like if I'm buying for the whole group I ought to buy something for myself, too, so...I guess I'm just going to have to start turning down some of the rounds, it just annoys the frugal side of me that I'm then technically paying for more drinks than I actually drink. Still, I probably should have had one less vodka than I did. I never felt that drunk last night; I drove myself home from the subway station and I definitely never drive when I feel like I've had too much to drink. Still, I was definitely a little hungover when I woke up this morning. I haven't had a hangover in a long time, so I'd sort of forgotten how much they suck.

My dad got back from his fishing trip to the Amazon today, disappointed with his discovery that water does not in fact drain in the opposite direction when you're in the southern hemisphere. He did catch about a hundred fish while he was there, including a 17 and a half pounder, so I think he was pretty satisfied with the trip. I'm just glad he didn't get pulled into the water and devoured by a cayman, since my father loves all things boating and fishing but he has lived his entire life in the desert and really doesn't know what he's doing (when I was home at Christmas he would go out and practice casting in the dirt schoolyard near my house and it made me sad that he doesn't have a little lake to go practice in). He told me all about the animals he saw: 12-foot-long caymen, a river otter he swears was the size of a golden retriever (but you know fishermen and their exaggerations), big monkeys, parrots, toucans. It sounds really cool. I'm glad he's back because I haven't been able to talk to him in almost two weeks, but I'm going to miss the opportunity to say things like, "I don't know, I'll have to ask my dad but he's in the Amazon right now." Talk about a conversation starter.

Speaking of family, my grandfather has decided I should go back to my hometown during spring break to do a follow up on those test results I got back recently. He was supposed to be looking for a doctor for me up here. He's a doctor himself and taught med students in my hometown for years, so he trained a lot of doctors and likes all of us in the family to see people he approves of, which is very nice because I've always ended up with doctors I like and trust. This time, though, I don't quite understand his logic. He actually did find me a doctor here, a friend of his that works with a well-known and respected hospital in the area, but he called and told me all this and then said, "But since you're coming down here at spring break anyway, you can just see the doctor here." The thing is, I wasn't planning on going to my hometown at spring break. Yes, I'm going to go to that wedding in my home state, but the wedding is taking place near where I went to graduate school, which is not exactly close to my hometown. My plan was to hang out with Maddi and my other grad school friends there for a few days after the wedding and then fly to Las Vegas for my brother's birthday celebration. Now, though, grandpa wants me to fly back to my hometown so that I can go to my doctor and get the tests repeated. Mainly its that my grandfather really likes the pathologist there, I think. So okay, no big deal, grandpa will pay for the plane ticket so I'll fly home and get the testing done there. If it will make him feel better, I'll do it. I feel bad because even though he keeps telling me not to worry, he's obviously worrying a little anyway and I hate that I'm worrying him. I know its not my fault and there's nothing I can do about it, but if it will make him feel better if I come home for a couple of days, then I'll do it. It does mean a lot of time on planes during that week, though: a flight from here to the wedding city, then another flight to my hometown, then a flight to Las Vegas, and then a flight back here. I basically have to get four one-way tickets. I bet airport security is going to love me.
The other thing that's sort of silly is that if this test once again comes back showing a problem, then I'm going to have to get some kind of treatment I guess, and I can't be flying back to my hometown every time I need to see a doctor. So Grandpa is going to have to trust me to the care of someone up here eventually, which makes the whole trip home sort of pointless. But hey, like I said, if it will make him feel better then I'll do it. Besides, I can get my hometown food fix while I'm there, and I can't complain about that!

School starts again the day after tomorrow. I have to admit that I'm actually a little bit excited to go back. I've loved having all this time off, but I feel fully rested, relaxed, and ready for another crazy four months. Everything is all organized. I finally got in touch with one of my professors about doing a one-hour independent study and I registered for that yesterday, so now I'm registered for ten hours, which is what I did last semester. I think this semester will be more difficult, though. I'm taking a course that is one of the four fundamental courses in my department that all PhD students have to take, and it's supposed to be a real bear of a class. Apparently it involves doing presentations every single week, so there will definitely be no way to slack. Then I'm taking another theory class. I actually really enjoyed the last one and did well in it, but the professor is definitely a bit of a loose cannon so there's no way of knowing whether or not this will be the semester she suddenly arbitrarily decides not to like me anymore. Then I'm taking a course in another department (we have to do three from other departments, I guess to prove that we're well-rounded). It's just a Readings In [Subject] class so I'm hoping that means it mostly just involves reading and discussion and not a ton of writing or projects. If it's also a work-heavy class, it's going to be one hell of a semester. I feel ready, though. Here's hoping my positive energy and momentum lasts for a while.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


It's my hundredth post (in this blog, anyway). Too bad I don't have anything important to say. Or anything at all to say, really.

The masterclass I took yesterday was awesome. I shouldn't have been nervous about it at all. We did have to do a lot of participation, but it was all fun stuff. There was a lot of running around and dancing and imaginative play and improv. I felt like a kid. Plus it was wonderful getting to talk to an artist I admire so much. It was a nice reminder of why I wanted to do what I want to do in the first place. I feel inspired. I don't think I can act fully on my inspiration at this point in time, but taking this class was a nice reminder that, while I do enjoy research, there are also some other more creative impulses within me that I need to not keep on the back burner forever.

Speaking of creativity, I've started to have a lot of pregnancy dreams again. I'd gone a few months without having any, but now in the past couple of weeks they have been an almost-nightly occurrence. According to the all-knowing internet, dreaming of pregnancy is often a sign of new growth in life or growing creativity. That's nice, but the pregnancy dreams are always very physical, and I don't really like that. Sometimes I dream that I'm in labor, and that actually hurts (does anyone else have physically painful dreams?). In last night's dream I wasn't in labor, I was just sitting around pregnant and watching a movie in a hotel room with my friend R from my masters program and Phil's ex-girlfriend (who I don't even really know in real life, so I don't know why she was in my dream). It was a boring dream, actually, but I remember it because I physically could feel that I was pregnant. I felt just kind of heavy and uncomfortable. Not that I have any idea what it actually feels like to be pregnant in real life, but I sure do get very strong physical sensations from these dreams. The other annoying feature about these dreams is that they often involve people not believing me. Usually it's that I know I'm about to have the baby but nobody believes me because they all think it's too early. Every now and then the dream features a father who doesn't believe that he is really the father, even though I'm positive he is. Anyway, I wish I knew why the pregnancy dreams are back again, but I guess they're preferable to my other recurring dream of late, which involves frantically packing suitcases full of random things so I can catch a plane to India that then crashes. Fun.

In other news, I continue to be productive during my last week of vacation. One of the things I wanted to do over break was print all of the best pictures I've taken over the past year and label them and put them into albums, and I finished that project today. I've also finished a bunch of other organizational projects involving my comprehensive exam reading list and my bookshelves and personal writing projects and all sorts of junk I won't bore you with. I finally managed to read through the pile of magazines that has been stacking up on my nightstand since October. I love having pleasure reading time! I even managed to read three novels I've been wanting to read for ages. I'm trying to finish one more just-for-fun book before Monday, at which point I have to go back to reading hundreds and hundreds of pages each week, all class-related. Speaking of which, I bought or borrowed all the books I need for this semester's classes. Today I even took my bridesmaid dress to a tailor to get the top taken in. I'm excited because the top is going to fit perfectly and I won't have to be struggling with some stupid strapless bra all night long. The only challenge now is to stay the same size between now and mid-March. I'm not too terribly worried about gaining weight, I'm more worried about losing weight. I tend to eat less junk and work out more when I'm in school, and everyone knows that boobs shrink before any other part of the body (because they are JUST FAT) so I'm afraid that the dress that fits perfectly today might be gaping again a little by March. Maybe I just try it on weekly between now and then and eat a ton of Taco Bell and Quiznos if it seems like I'm starting to shrink? Yum.

Speaking of food, Project Eat More Protein continues, so I need to go find something meaty and cheesy for dinner. Bye.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cooking With Hound Dogs

I'm not a huge fan of all things Rachael Ray, but I do think it's cute that there is a recipe in each Everyday With Rachael Ray magazine that is specifically for people to share with their dogs. I realize that this sort of cutesyness is the exact thing the Rachael Ray haters usually hate, but it really amuses me. And actually, I can't complain much about Rachael Ray. Her 30 minute meals may take more like 45 minutes to an hour to make if you're me, but they always come out good when I make them...which is saying a lot considering I seriously once googled "How to hard boil an egg." While I do think that the media has reached its saturation point as far as she is concerned, my only real complaint is that some of her recipes are way out of my price range. If there was a 30 Minute Meals For Under $2 Per Serving, I'd be all over that!
At any rate, in my quest to cook more for myself and rely less on frozen food and canned soup, I went to the grocery store today and bought ingredients so that I can cook several meals over the next few weeks. And tonight, I made the frittata featured on this month's cooking for your pet page. And then I shared it with my hound. Really. I didn't give him a full portion since I'm not that crazy. I love my dog to death, but he has his own food, I'm not giving him half of mine. I'll be eating the other portion for breakfast tomorrow morning. But I did give him several bites of my dinner, and he was very excited to share. Apparently my hound likes zucchini! I liked it a lot, too, so tonight's cooking adventure was a success.

I'm feeling quite virtuous today. Besides successfully cooking dinner, I made myself come out of hibernation to do my laundry (which involves trekking to the apartment complex laundry room) and grocery shop. I was particularly pleased with my grocery shopping since I saved $40 with my store card and coupons. Go me!
And even though it was freezing, I took the dog for a 2 mile walk around the lake this afternoon and was shocked to discover that the lake is frozen! When I moved here back in August and it was 90+ degrees for days on end and miserably humid, I scoffed at the signs around the lake that said "NO SWIMMING, NO ICE SKATING." I figured it would never, ever get cold enough to freeze the entire lake to the point that people would even consider skating on it. But oh, I was wrong. The entire surface of the lake is frozen except for a little bit in the middle where all of the geese are paddling around (I guess this is south for the winter for Canadian geese). It's not like this is a small pond, either. We're not talking golf course water hazard here. The path around the lake is a mile long. So I'm pretty amazed the whole thing froze, although I guess since it has been below freezing for five days in a row I shouldn't be surprised. It's still not so solidly frozen that anyone with half a brain would actually attempt to skate on it, but it was frozen enough that I couldn't resist sitting on a rock at the edge and testing exactly how frozen it was. Highly scientific finding: The lake is frozen enough that I had to slam my foot really, really hard against the ice to get it to crack.

Besides being amazed at large expanses of ice and cooking charming dinners for two for me and the dog, I've been spending a lot of time the past couple of days playing around on Have you used this? It's pretty neat, actually. It's a free website that allows you to set health goals and then track your progress by logging what you eat and how much you work out. You enter your weight and how much weight you want to lose, and then it customizes a food and exercise plan for you. You can then opt to use the eating and exercise plans, or you can just do your own thing and use the site to log your progress. I'm not trying to lose weight, I just want to maintain, so I entered my weight and said I wanted to lose zero pounds, and now I know approximately how much I need to be eating and working out to stay at the size I am now. My favorite feature is that you can set it up to track whatever goals you want in addition to nutrition and exercise. In my case, I have it set up to keep track of how many nights a week I get a full eight hours of sleep, how many days I eat at least three servings of fruits and vegetables, and how many days a month I make a home-cooked meal.
I've been doing it for less than a week, but it has already been really eye-opening. According to their calculations, I need to be eating between about 1500 and 1900 calories a day and burning 200 calories through exercise to maintain my current weight, which seems about right. As I've been tracking my eating, though, I'm realizing that I'm rarely making my calorie count for the day. On an average day, I apparently consume 1200 to 1400 calories. True, I have yet to track a day where I've eaten a big meal out, but since those days only happen about once a week on average, I think 1200 to 1400 calories probably is my actual norm. And that's eating what I want when I want and eating until I'm full. In a way, this is a little bit of a good thing since I guess it's better to be naturally under range rather than over range. The problem, though, is that an unhealthy portion of those calories are coming from fat. I'm eating nowhere near the amount of protein or carbs I need to be eating (only about 1/2 the carbs and 2/3rds of the protein), but my fat calories are consistently coming in at the high end or slightly over my recommended range. And I read my fitness magazines enough to realize that a healthy diet needs enough fat in it, but I'm clearly out of balance here. Suddenly, I have a pretty clear explanation for why I still have a bit of belly flab even though my weight is actually on the low-ish range of healthy for my height.
I'm glad I figured this out. I can definitely stand to get more protein in my diet. I've suspected for a long time that I'm not eating enough protein, so I'm going to consciously start working on eating more meat and nuts and stuff like that. I'm not sure what to do about the fat, though. Frankly, I like not having to think too much about what I eat, other than thinking about how it tastes. It's easy to make a mental note to myself to eat more peanut butter; it's harder to attempt to give up certain foods in order to cut back on fat grams. With that said, it now seems pretty clear that I might actually see better results in my ab area if I tweak my eating habits a bit rather than just doing more cardio. So it might be worth experimenting. Assuming I still have time to even remotely think about what I'm eating once school starts again, of course.

Tomorrow is my master class. I'm so nervous! But excited! Good night.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Just Waaaaasting Time

Do you know how I know I have way too much free time right now? Because I spent an embarrassingly large portion of my weekend watching the entire series of Bring it On movies. Did you know there was a whole series? I didn't, until my sister clued me in. Apparently numbers two through four have all gone directly to DVD/ABC Family, and rightfully so.
There's the original, of course, which I'm only slightly ashamed to admit I actually like. True, it does star Kirsten Dunst and I've never understood her appeal at all because she can't really act and I don't think she's particularly attractive. She has weird teeth and the Worst Hair in Hollywood (really, have you noticed? It's like...really fine or something, it always looks bad unless she has it pulled up) but it's an entertaining movie. So I watched it yesterday.
And then Bring it On Again came on. Or at least I think it's called Bring it On Again. It has some kind of dumb name like that. Whatever its name is, it is absolutely one of the worst movies I have ever seen, ever. Not that I was expecting it to be good, but it was really just unbelievably stupid. About the time that the college dean became concerned with the cheerleading squad, I became enraged at the entire premise and I opted to quit watching and clean my apartment instead.
The third one, Bring it On: All or Nothing was all about the white girl who has to transfer to the mostly-black school and join their squad. So think about every possible race cliche, and you pretty much have the plot of the movie. It involved trying out for an audition to be on TV with Rihanna, who must have been quite concerned in 2005 that her career wasn't going anywhere. I was able to actually sit through most of the third one, though, if only to make fun of it with my sister via text message.
And now I'm watching the fourth (yes, FOURTH) installment. It's called Bring it On: In it to Win It. So far, it seems to be West Side Story With Cheerleaders. The teams are even named the Sharks and the Jets, a reference that I'm sure is being missed by every tween currently watching this nonsense. Ooh, and now they just referenced A Chorus Line. Someone likes musicals.
Why have I been watching this trash all weekend? Because I'm hibernating. The weather icon on my computer says it's 18 degrees outside right now, and it's windy. Yesterday wasn't any better, so I've really had no desire to leave my apartment except when it's absolutely necessary to take the dog out. I did clean my apartment, and I worked out both yesterday and today. Other than that, I haven't left my couch. I have magazines, blogs, leftover Christmas candy, chai tea, fuzzy socks, and crap TV. It was the recipe for a relaxing weekend.

Really, it has been a great weekend altogether. I did end up going out to see that show on Thursday night, and it was great! The staging wasn't quite as stunning as Metamorphoses, but it was still a highly enjoyable show. I would pay to see it again, and you all know that's pretty much the highest compliment I can give a show or movie. It was a fun night out, too. A group of six of us ended up going, a good mixture of people that get along well but don't get together often, and we rounded out the night by hanging out at an Irish pub for a while.
Then on Friday I spent the day with Stacy and Nicole. As planned, we went to a nearby town described on stupid tourist shirts as "A charming drinking town with a sailing problem." Ha. We drooled over all the Navy boys around town (well, Nicole and I did; Stacy is a lesbian and prefers her women rather femme), spent far too many hours in another Irish pub (it was Irish pub weekend, apparently), and then finished off the night with wine at Stacy's. I brought my dog over to meet her dogs, and they got along quite well, which means maybe she can dogsit for me when I go to my conference next month. Yay!

Anyway, the plan is to continue hibernating until Tuesday at 1:00, when I have to go to my masterclass. But then its right back into hibernation for another five days. Sweet. I don't really feel like starting school again...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Let it Snow!

It's snowing so hard right now! It first started snowing when I was out on my morning walk around the apartment complex with the houndy hound, so it has been snowing for about 3 1/2 hours now. It's really starting to stick now, too. They're predicting between 1 to 3 inches, which is about the same amount we got in the last storm back in December. Remember,the day it took me two hours to drive six miles? Currently it looks even snowier than that day, though. Last time the snow didn't really stick to the streets (which is why everyone's driving behavior was so ridiculous). This time my whole parking lot is already covered. Wheeee!
Fortunately, today is a much better day for a snowstorm. I don't have to be anywhere today. I drove my car over to the mechanic this morning before it started snowing hard, and then I walked back to my apartment. It was only about a mile walk, so I counted it as part of my exercise for the day, and walking in the softly falling snow was nice. So now my car is at the mechanic, which is pretty good timing. If I have to be without a car, it might as well be during a snowstorm when I wouldn't want to drive my car anywhere anyway.

The only downside is that a group of us were going to try to go down to City A to see a show tonight. It's a show by one of my favorite director/playwrights. If you go back to the very first entry I put in this blog in May, you can read my favorite segment from one of her plays, one of my top five favorite plays of all time. I love her adaptations, and her staging is amazing. For instance, the play I quoted back in May takes place entirely in and around a pool of water built into the stage. This play that we wanted to see tonight is another one based on mythology. It got great reviews when it opened in Chicago a couple of years ago, so I'm hopeful that it will be equally amazing. Obviously, I'm hoping we'll still be able to see the show tonight. It runs through the middle of February, so there will hopefully be other chances to see it, but the nice thing about this week is that students can get tickets for only $10. So yeah, I don't know what will happen. It seems like just in the past twenty minutes alone we've gotten another half inch of snow, and road conditions are probably getting pretty dicey (we can take the subway into City A, the problem is getting from our homes to subway stations...particularly in my case since I'm car-less and someone will have to drive up here and get me).
Anyway, if I don't see the show this week I'm determined to see it before it leaves, even if I have to go by myself and pay full price. Oh, and talking about the show reminds me of awesome news that I didn't tell you yet: I get to do a master class with this director next week! A campus e-mail went out offering a free class to the first 25 people to respond, and I responded even though I assumed the class would have filled up immediately with actors and directing students and I was probably too late. But I wasn't! I got a spot! I'm so nervous and excited about this. Excited because, hello, she's a Tony-winning director, she's definitely going to be in the entertainment history books someday, who wouldn't be excited about that?! But I'm nervous because it's a class on staging and I guess she's going to be staging us since we were told to wear movement clothes and lord knows I'm not a great performer at all. But I'm trying not to let that bother me much. I did a bunch of workshops with the Royal Shakespeare Company in England a couple of summers ago on stage combat and movement and voice and all sorts of performance-related things, and lord knows I wasn't a great performer then, either, and those classes all worked out fine. Great, even. Besides, I figure it's absolutely worth feeling awkward for a few hours of my life to learn from one of my favorite directors. We're staging dreams and fairy tales, apparently, and doesn't that sound so much fun? Yes, yes it does.

Anyway, the snow is still coming down like crazy. I'm used to living in a place where snow that actually sticks is a once-a-winter event (and even then it's usually more ice than snow) so at this point snow is still a huge novelty and I'm excited about it. I said I'd be satisfied that I now live somewhere with real seasons if we got three snowstorms this winter. Considering it's only mid-January and this is already snowstorm number two, I think there's a pretty good chance I'll get my wish. I think I'm gonna put the dog in his snowsuit and take him outside for a while.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Good Again

I'm feeling way better today. As predicted, getting my worries out of my mind and onto the internet made me stop thinking as much about all of them. Everything always seems so much more manageable once its in a list. Plus I actually made progress on a few things. I have an appointment to take my car to a mechanic tomorrow. I also found a phone number for someone who will hopefully be able to alter my dress, so I guess I'll make an appointment to get that started once my car is fixed and I can get around easily again. I also found a kennel with a very nice website that is relatively affordable, so I'm going to drive out there (again, once I have a car again) and take a tour of the place sometime soon just to make sure I get a good vibe from the place.

I was going to write a longer post about other reasons that I'm feeling better about life today, but I just now got a phone call from a friend inviting me to dinner with a bunch of people, so I think I'm gonna do that instead. Obviously.

More later. Or maybe not.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

So Much to Think About

This should be a relaxing two weeks for me: no classes, no teaching, no obligations. But I'm finding that with a lot of free time on my hands, I have a lot of time to worry about things. I wish I wasn't a worrier by nature, but I just am. I've never exactly been a carefree person. Even as a tiny little kid I was always worrying about things. For example, I have a very distinct memory of Teddy Bear Picnic Day in kindergarten. It was supposed to be a joyous day where everyone would bring their favorite teddy bear to school and we would all show and tell about our bears and do crafts involving bears and eat peanut butter and honey sandwiches with our bears. And was I excited about this? Yes. Until I found out that we all had to tell our bear's name so that the teacher could make name tags for our bears. I was upset that my teddy bear's name was simply "Teddy" and not at all original, and I was worried that the teacher would think I wasn't as smart as the other kids because my bear didn't have a real name, so I was over in the corner wringing my hands, wondering if I should quickly make up a new name for my teddy bear. [In the end, I just told the truth...because I was worried that making up a new name would be lying.] I was always that kid in the corner wringing her hands. And although as I got older I got better at controlling and hiding my worries--to the point that when I tell people now that I was a shy, anxious kid, the response is always something like, "You? Really?! You seem pretty relaxed to me. And you talk all the damn time now!!"--the mental hand wringing still continues.
The worry doesn't really negatively affect my life, though. It's sort of hard to explain it. I worry a lot about things, but it's definitely not real anxiety. It doesn't keep me up at night, it doesn't stop me from doing things I want to do, I generally consider myself a very happy, lucky person. I really have relaxed a lot as I have gotten older. Now worrying is sort of like a weird, sick hobby, actually. When there's not enough going on to keep me busy, my mind starts making up all these worst-case scenarios and I start worrying about stupid things that I have no control over that are probably never going to actually happen anyway. And hey, you all know this about me by now. The truth is that I never stopped being that anxious kid at all, I just learned a bunch of coping mechanisms to deal with the low-level worries that are always in the back of my mind. One of those coping mechanisms is obviously keeping myself busy, because the minute I don't have enough projects to keep my mind occupied, I start making up things to worry about. When I'm working and socializing, there's enough on my mind that I don't have time to really worry about things unless they're definitely happening in the immediate future. And that's a healthy worry. After all, sometimes worrying about something and wanting to get it over with is the only reason I accomplish anything.
When I'm on a break, though, the irrational worries start to rear up. And while some of these worries are real things that I actually need to think about and figure out, none of them deserve the amount of time my brain has been devoting to them for the past couple of days.

So I'm putting them here since I know I'll feel better if I get them out of my head and down on (virtual) paper. Yes, I know some of these worries are ridiculous. I know I'm very privileged to even have such worries since pretty much everyone in the world has bigger problems than I do. I know that, logically. It doesn't actually help to shut off the spinning hamster wheels in my mind, though.

1. My car. It randomly stalled out twice today while I was driving. One minute it was fine, the next minute the Check Gages light was on and the engine had shut off completely. I was able to just cruise into a parking lot and restart it immediately both times, but obviously this is not a good thing. It's actually pretty dangerous and probably needs to be fixed like, tomorrow. But I hate having to find a mechanic, I hate having to be without a car for any length of time, and I especially hate having to spend money on my car. While I love my car for getting me around and being cute and sporty, in my ideal world I wouldn't have to own a car or drive at all, so it pisses me off to have to pour money into one.

2. Which leads to the next worry, money. This is such a constant (albeit mostly irrational) low-level worry of mine that it barely even registers most of the time anymore, but some months just seem to conspire to make me spend way above my budget, and January apparently is going to be one of them. My sister was visiting and so I spent more money than usual on entertainment, although that's not a big deal since it was expected. What's getting to me are all of the other expenses I hadn't really factored into my budget: unexpected school fees, this car thing, a conference fee that was double the cost I expected it to be, my dog had to go to the vet for his bordatella shot but they wouldn't give it to me without a full wellness exam so I ended up having to pay triple what I was anticipating, etc. (Here's hoping when he's due for his rabies shot in May I can just say "Give me the shot ONLY, he just had a wellness exam in January that you did without even asking if that's what I wanted, so I know he's healthy." And then I can find a less tricky vet.) So all of these little things popped up unexpectedly, and the next two months are already going to be way more expensive than usual anyway since I have to buy many of my books for the semester, and I'll have to pay a ton of money to board my dog when I go to the conference next month since I won't have time in my schedule to drive him to Jersey to stay with my relatives and all of my dog-friendly friends are traveling with me.

3. Thinking about money always leads to my other irrational fear, never finding a job. Forget that my job hunt won't happen until years from now, when I have too much free time I start thinking about it. Am I doing enough right now to boost my resume? What if I can't finish a dissertation, or even start one, for that matter? Are there even going to be jobs available when it's my turn to go on the market? What if I have to move to Iowa to get a job (I don't know why Iowa is my scary, hell-no-I-don't-want-to-move-there state, but it is. Sorry Iowa, I'm sure you're lovely). This is my most pointless worry, and I know that. But it's still there sometimes. At least I have the consolation of knowing that everybody else I know worries about some version of this, too.

4. Speaking of money and jobs and things that I don't have to worry about yet but am thinking about already, I have no idea how I'm going to earn money this summer. The thought of going back to restaurant/bar work makes a bit of my soul want to shrivel up and die, but I also know it's by far the easiest way to make decent, fast money. So that's what I kind of want to do. But then there's this voice in my head that says, "Forget good money, you need to find something that you can actually put on a CV, you really shouldn't waste three months on a job that won't help you in the long run." I have no idea what to do about this yet, but lucky you, you can expect it to pop up here a lot in the next several months I'm sure.

5. My aunt's cat bit my cat when he was staying with them. Although my aunt says it's because her cat is a bitch, I'm sure it was also at least partially my cat's fault, because he's the coolest cat in the world when it comes to people but he can be a bit of a bully around other cats. I'm a little worried about the bite. It seems to be healing alright, but it has a huge bald patch around it and even though rationally I know that it's going to be just fine, I irrationally worry that I'm doing him a disservice by not taking him to a vet just to be on the safe side.

6. I got my bridesmaid's dress for my roommate's wedding, and I love the color and the style and it fits great everywhere except the bust, where it's too big. Surprise, surprise. So I'm trying to figure out if I should take it somewhere to get it altered, but where the heck does one go to get this done? This isn't something that can be done by the guy at the dry cleaners who hems pants, is it? Can you just go to a random bridal shop and ask them to do alterations even if the dress came from somewhere else? I tried looking it up on the internet, but all I found in my area was dry cleaners and other wedding shops. Ah! The top is just barely too big, so I'm tempted to just get a pair of those strapless stick on bra cups that boost your bust by a cup size, but will that just look tacky? I don't know!

7. I'm having a small health issue that has me a bit concerned, and a second pathology report that I got in the mail today didn't alleviate my concerns AT ALL. In fact, it made me more worried since it makes the problem seem worse than it seemed originally. My doctor says not to worry, and Google implies that I don't need to worry either. But it's not exactly reassuring to Google the results of a medical test and see the word "cancer" anywhere on the resulting pages at all, even as a tiny, tiny, TINY, so-tiny-it-shouldn't-even-be-listed-as-a-possibility possibility. I probably shouldn't even write this because it's totally blowing things out of proportion. Probably I'll have more testing done in a few months (which is the only thing my doctor says I need to do for now) and everything will show up fine after all. So you shouldn't be worried, and I shouldn't be worried, but, hey, it's on my mind, and that's what this list is for. Worst-case scenario things I worry about.

So yeah. Those are the things my mind has been turning over today. But then I do a good workout and I feel really good. I go outside and it's freezing but the sky is starry and it smells like chimney smoke and there's a chance of snow this week, and I'm happy. I look down to pet the dog that is using my lap as a pillow and notice that the cat is now using the dog as a pillow, so we're all one warm comfy chain, and I think, "Why do I even worry about anything when there's so much that's good about my life?"

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ten Days

Does anyone else feel like it has been ages since Christmas? Seriously, you could tell me right now, "It's going to be Christmas again in a few weeks," and I wouldn't doubt you. I have just done so much already this year that it feels like Christmas was months ago rather than just a couple of weeks ago.

I flew back to New Jersey on the 5th and then my sister joined me there on the 6th, and for the past week we've done so much that I couldn't even begin to tell you all about it. Name a major city in the mid-Atlantic region and odds are pretty good that my sister and I were there sometime in the past six days. We even fulfilled a childhood dream by spending a day at Colonial Williamsburg! [Yes, we were weird children. Everyone else wanted to go to Disney World or Six Flags, but not me and my sister. We wanted to go to the country's largest living history museum to learn about the founding fathers. Nerds!]
We went to museums (Philadelphia Museum of Art,the Museum of Natural History in New York, Ellis Island, Williamsburg), an aquarium (in Baltimore, surprisingly impressive), a Broadway show (Wicked, which I was happy to finally see and which I enjoyed for technical and musical reasons although I'm very glad I was warned in advance that it was going to be absolutely nothing like the book or I would have been disappointed), lots of restaurants, some interesting bars. We did a ton of walking and sightseeing. I could tell you all about it, but isn't that kind of boring, just listening to someone blab about how fun her vacation was?
All you really need to know is that I had a very fun week hanging out with my sister, and I'm really glad she came to visit. There's all this touristy stuff I always want to do around here, and while I can do it by myself and sometimes do, it's more fun to have company for most excursions. And my sister is great company, since we enjoy a lot of the same [ridiculous] things and she's constantly making me laugh and we like to explore at about the same pace. I did post a bunch of pictures of my entire break, including Christmas, the bowl game in California, New Year's Eve, and my travels with my sister at my photobucket site, which I'm guessing you know how to access by now. The link is in my AIM profile, as usual.

My sister left this morning, and now I'm really looking forward to two weeks of just bumming around my apartment by myself since classes don't start until the end of the month. I'm sure I'll go out a few times in the next couple of weeks. I've already been invited to a barbecue next weekend; weather permitting, of course. I don't really know what everyone is thinking trying to plan a barbecue in January. I mean, it has been unseasonably warm ever since I've been back, but how long can these temperatures actually last? Stacy and I also want to get our dogs together since they've never met, and once Nicole gets back we all want to go check out a nearby town known for bars and navy men. So there are plans. But most of my plans involve lying around on my sofa and occasionally working on some little projects if I feel inspired. I need to print and organize the pictures I've taken over the past six months, I need to hit the library and bookstore to start collecting the books I'll need for the upcoming semester, I need to cook a few healthy meals and work out more intensely and get my body feeling normal again after three weeks of excessive eating and drinking and less exercise than usual.
And I need to plan my spring travels. I have to go to the midwest for a conference at the end of February, I'm in my college roommate's wedding in my home state on March 15th, and the weekend after that I'm going to Las Vegas to celebrate my brother's 21st birthday. All of these are fun, good things, but it involves a lot of planning. I have to figure out where I'm going to fly from and when, who is going to take care of my animals, whether or not I can use public transportation or kind friends to get around in each location (Vegas I'm not worried about, the other two places will take some planning)...All of this planning needs to get done soon, ideally before school starts again, but even though I love traveling, the last thing I really want to do at this exact moment is think about getting on another airplane.

Oh well. Give me a few days and I'll be raring to go again, I'm sure. In the meantime, I'll be here on the couch.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Well, GOOD!

-I bought three pairs of shoes at Target today for only $30.00! Partially that's because my mom paid for one pair, but it's also because the two pairs I bought myself were on clearance. I needed a pair of black knee high boots since I'd been wearing the same pair of Target boots since my sophomore year of college and they were literally becoming hazardous to my health since the heels had started wearing away at a weird angle and detach from the boot. I was pretty damn impressed that my original Target boots had lasted five years, so I was on a mission to find more or less the same pair. Luckily, I found a pair of black boots that's pretty close to what I had before. But in the process I also found a chocolate brown pair of suede knee high boots, and a pair of black and gray striped flats, and about six other pairs of shoes that I needed desperately. Freakin' Target. I was able to talk myself out of everything but the two pairs I already mentioned. The only brown boots I have are camel colored, so I'm sure you agree that I need a darker brown pair. And I'm always moaning to myself about how none of my casual shoes are dark colored, hence the need for the flats. On the bright side, I can no longer think of a type of shoe that I actually NEED, so I think I'm done for a while.

-Do guys' pajama pants always have pockets? I've dated guys that sometimes slept in pajama pants, but I guess I never paid attention. Anyway, I got a pair of men's pajama pants from J. Crew for Christmas since they have basset hounds on them, and they're super comfortable. And they have pockets! This means that I might never get dressed until 3:00 in the afternoon again since I can now carry my cell phone in my pajamas.

-There's a guy playing football on TV right now, and his last name is Cheeseman. I don't even care who he is or what he looks like, I'm going to marry him just so I can someday be Dr. Cheeseman. That's pretty much the worst--and therefore the best--last name ever.

-I was checking out my tuition bill today, and I shouldn't have even looked at it because according to this bill, I owe them way too much money. I don't even really understand what's going on. All I can think is that right now they're charging me for the three classes I'm actually registered for and also for the one I dropped (I registered for two a couple of months ago because I didn't know which one I wanted to take but I didn't want them to fill up before I could decide), hence the higher cost than I was expecting. All of my tuition is supposed to be paid anyway, so I know it will be. It's just that I want it to happen without having to do a bunch of paperwork and make a bunch of phone calls. My plan is to just ignore the whole thing for a couple of weeks and hope they figure it out before I actually get a bill and have to go argue with them. However, I discovered that apparently we have to pay student fees again in the spring. Sigh. There goes another few hundred bucks that I could have spent on shoes from Target.
Oh, and then this morning I also discovered that the place where I ordered my Christmas card pictures was trying to charge me some $15.00 monthly fee claiming I'd subscribed to some sort of rewards club, which of course I hadn't. So I had to spend a long time on the phone trying to figure out how to get unsubscribed to something I'd never subscribed to in the first place, and getting my money back.
I really hate money. I wish I just never had to think about it at all. I mean, I guess I COULD just stop thinking about it altogether, but that doesn't seem very prudent.

-One of the funniest stories of my Christmas vacation, that will never translate in writing:
When we were flying home from California, I was laughing with my brother about this weird habit he has had since childhood where he'll get obsessed with a phrase and repeat it over and over again for a few months: as an answer to questions, to announce that he's home, just randomly while he's sitting in his room playing video games. For instance, when he was about 9 years old he went through a phase of saying, "My butt!" constantly. For example:
Me: Brother, pick up your socks.
My brother: My butt!
Then there was the really, really annoying "Respect my authority!" phase (in the Cartman voice, of course):
Mom: What time are you going to be home this afternoon?
My brother: Respect my authority!
For a while last year, it was "Giddy!", like Kramer on Seinfeld:
Me: Is Brother home?
My brother, from the other room: GIDDY!

Clearly, it makes no difference to him whether or not these words/phrases make sense in context. Also, I'm pretty sure this weird trait is not just something my brother does, because most of the guys I've dated have done this to a certain extent as well, getting obsessed with a particular word or phrase, using it to death and in nonsensical ways for a few months, and then moving on to something else entirely. Women, it seems, do not do this nearly as much. [P.S.-Please tell me that the guys you know do this too, and that I'm not just creepily dating guys similar to my brother...]

Anyway. We were checking in our bags for the flight , and I reminded my brother of how he used to say, "Well, GOOD!" all the time in high school. I wish I could fully express, "Well, GOOD!" in writing. Imagine a sort of southern, extremely loud voice, and drag the "good" out a bit, and you'll sort of have it. Sort of.
I asked him where he got, "Well, GOOD!" from in the first place, since I never recognized it from any TV shows or movies (his usual sources), and he sort of furrowed his eyebrows in thought and then said, "You know, I don't remember why I used to say that. Me and my friends used to say it all the time on the golf course when we were on the golf team, but I don't remember who started it."
And so we changed the subject and caught our plane, and that was that. Six hours later, I was having dinner with my family at our favorite dive Mexican restaurant when we saw the girls' golf coach from our old high school sitting across the dining room. My brother played on the boys' golf team in high school, and both teams used to practice at the same time, so he knows this coach somewhat. My dad knows him as well, since my dad sees him at the golf course fairly often. Anyway, my dad said, "Oh, there's Coach Smith," and my brother said, "Oh god, I don't want to talk to him. He's really annoying." Dad said, "What's annoying about him?" and my brother said, "He used to make the girls do the stupidest drills. I can't even remember what they were, exactly, I just remember they were pointless. And he has the loudest voice ever."
So of course no sooner does my brother finish muttering this than Coach Smith turns around and says, "Hey, look who's here!" In the loudest voice ever. Then he got up and came over to our table and began chatting with my dad. As they were chatting, I noticed my brother make a sort of startled face and then smile to himself, so I whispered, "What's so funny?" and my brother whispered back, "As soon as I heard his voice I remembered: he's why we used to say, "Well, GOOD!"
And not two seconds later the coach bellowed, "You were at that bowl game? Well, GOOD!"
And I laughed so hard I choked on my soda and had to spit a whole mouthful of it back into my cup, and probably the entire restaurant was already staring at us since the coach's voice is so damn loud.
The end.

-Speaking of my brother, I think he gave me tuberculosis. Punk.

-I fly back to New Jersey on Saturday. Where did the past two weeks go?!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

How Many Times Do You Think Ads Will Rhyme 08 with "Great" This Year?

Last year on New Year's Eve, I spent the entire night thinking, "Wow, 2008!" and then having to remind myself that no, it wasn't going to be 2008, it was going to be 2007. For whatever reason, my mind had a complete and utter mental block against the whole idea of 2007 and was insisting on jumping to 2008. At the time, I thought two things:
1. Wow, my brain really wants it to be 2008. I wonder if that means some really big good thing is going to happen in 2008.
2. I hope this doesn't mean 2007 is going to suck.
Well, 2007 didn't end up sucking at all. It certainly ended up being more enjoyable on the whole than 2006. 2007 was a very good year, in fact. While excitement was still more or less lacking in my love life, my love/sex life continues to be much less of a factor in terms of how I measure my happiness, and by every other measure 2007 was technically a really exciting, productive year. A big move, the start of a new career, meeting tons of new people, plenty of enjoyable travel. The funny thing is, while all of those are big things, I keep classifying 2007 as a transitional year, a year when not much happened. Which is just so weird, because two of the most major events that have happened in my life so far--earning my MA and relocating halfway across the country--happened in 2007.
But somehow, my brain never quite shook the feeling that all of the events of 2007 were just a set up for some bigger payoff that's going to come...when, exactly? I can't even fully explain the feeling I've had for most of the year. I love where I live and what I'm doing now and I'm feeling exceptionally satisfied with my life these days, but in the back of my mind (when I really slow down and pay attention) there's this almost-constant feeling that something even bigger and more important is about to happen. You know in West Side Story when Tony is wandering around singing to himself, "The air is humming, and something great is coming! Who knows? It's only just out of reach, down the block, on a beach, maybe tonight..."? I've been feeling that sort of premonition ever since this time last year, and even more strongly ever since I moved to University Land. And that feeling combined with last year's urge to skip right through 2007 and straight into 2008 leads me to believe that maybe 2008 is the year something big happens.
What will it be? I have no idea. I'm about as non-psychic and skeptical as a person can possibly be. It's definitely possible that this feeling of mine means nothing at all, or that it could be a premonition of something horrible that's going to happen...but no. I think something great is coming, and maybe 2008 will be the year it--whatever it is--happens. I just hope I recognize it for what it is when it does happen. Until then, I guess I'll keep enjoying the flashes of anticipation.

I must say, the new year is off to a fabulous start. Since college, I have spent New Year's Eve in one of three ways: with my parents (either at home or at a low-key local bar, never actually doing anything exciting),with Phil (good times the years I was his girlfriend, kind of weird times the year or two I rang in the new year with him but not as his girlfriend), or, on one particularly boring New Year's Eve, at work. This year, I was determined that I was not going to spend New Year's Eve in my hometown. I just cramp my parents' style when I spend it with them (not that they admit that to me, of course), the idea of hanging out with my brother and his friends was not exactly appealing (I love him, but the college keg party lost it's appeal several years ago), and being with Phil wasn't an option this year (actually, for all I know it could have been since I didn't even ask, but I personally decided it wasn't an option).

So I spent New Year's Eve hanging out with Maddi in the town where I earned my MA. It was so much fun. I went out with her, her boyfriend, and all of his friends. I used to do that a lot when I was living there, so it was nice to be back with the old crowd. We went to our favorite bar and did all the stuff you're supposed to do on New Year's Eve: danced, took a bunch of pictures with noisemakers and goofy Happy New Year hats, drank [but not too much in my case since I have this dumb superstitious idea that it's bad luck to start the first day of a new year with a hangover]. I rang in 2008 with a glass of champagne and my "boyfriend for the night," one of Maddi's boyfriend's friends, a Justin Timberlake look-alike (Really! Thank you, 2008!) with a body so toned that it made me feel self conscious about my body. And I don't get self conscious about my body, ever. I don't normally go for the toned, very-attractive-and-knows-it, sweet-talking-country-boy type. At all. And yet I had a great time last night, all because Maddi convinced me to pay attention to a person that I normally would have ruled out before actually speaking to him. Which just goes to show that maybe my '08 model needs to be something else entirely. Here's to being more open-minded about men in 2008. Oh, and also to more JT look-alikes. There should definitely be more of those in 2008 as well.

P.S.-I do find it slightly funny, in an annoying way, that I had to move away from MA Town before I actually met a guy there that I had even the remotest interest in. Oh well. C'est la vie.