Thursday, August 28, 2008


Nicole called me this morning to tell me that the details about the conference in Boston had been e-mailed to us. This conference isn't what I'm used to, which is being on a panel with 3 or 4 other people, reading my paper to whoever shows up, and then participating in a 15-20 minute discussion about the papers that were just read (which is always by far the scariest part, I sit there in a panic the whole time wondering what I'll do if someone asks me a question I can't answer or, even worse, shreds my entire argument into pieces...I keep thinking this will get easier as I go to more and more conferences, but so far it's still really scary). At this conference, you are placed in a group of people and then you exchange papers with them a month or so before the conference and read each other's papers. Then at the actual conference session people show up and watch your group discuss each other's papers. It doesn't sound like it will be all that thrilling to be an audience member at anyone else's conference session, but whatever. The point is, I'm already freaking out about this because a) everyone gets to read my paper and comment on it ahead of time and b) I have to think of semi-intelligent comments to make about six other people's papers. So this morning I checked my e-mail to see who is in my group, and I learned three bad things:
1) Nicole is not in my group (there are about thirty of us in the large umbrella group, but because of our paper topics Nicole and I got shuffled into different sub-groups)
2) Dr. AMP is not the chair of my group (there goes what I was hoping would be my built-in support system)
3) Like any paranoid scholar, I immediately googled everyone on my group to see how much more knowledgable and accomplished they are compared to me, and I found out that one of the women in my group used to work at the company that I spend the vast majority of this paper writing about and bashing. Well, "bashing" is perhaps not the word for it, but my paper is a comparison of this company to another company, and it's pretty clear (at least as the paper is written right now) that I have a vast preference for the work of the other company. This is striking me as a pretty big problem because (here goes another list!) a) it's too late at this point to go out and find another company to research, and it would change the scope of my paper entirely, b) she is probably not going to want to listen to me rant about her former place of work, and c) she probably knows a hell of a lot more about the company than I do, since the majority of my research was based off of their marketing and website (and, okay, the whole point of my paper is how this company presents itself to the public and so it seems valid to have done most of my research based off of their public image, but I can easily envision her telling me that every single impression I have of this company is wrong and I should really do more research and talk directly to people involved with the company).
So now I have no idea what to do, and I don't know whether I should acknowledge right up front that I'm aware of her connection to the company and that I'm open to whatever suggestions she has, or whether it's creepy to have googled her and I should play dumb until she reads my paper next month. My only hope is that she left them on bad terms and will be thrilled that I find them elitist and pedantic and out-of-touch. UGGGGGGHHHHHHH.

Stupid conference stuff! I'm trying to be happy about it, I really am. Generally I enjoy conferences once I get there (and once my presentation is over and I can stop feeling that nervous butterfly feeling in the pit of my stomach) and I'm still feeling very pleased that I was even invited to participate at this one since I know several of my classmates submitted papers and weren't accepted this year. It's actually causing some tension with Stacy because she firmly believes that the only reason Nicole and I got accepted was because Dr. AMP is one of the panel chairs. And while I also agree that that's probably sort of true, well, four other people had to agree to take us on, too (Dr. AMP isn't assertive enough to have demanded that people let us into the group if they didn't want us there), and I don't particularly feel bad for taking advantage of a connection I have to get into a group. Isn't that how the game is played? Next year maybe she'll have a similar connection and her paper will get accepted. Mainly I just think she's bitter because Dr. Hyper pretty much wrote her abstract for her and her paper still didn't get accepted. So I'm trying to be happy that I get to add the most difficult conference to get into to my resume in only my second year, but now I'm even more nervous than I already was.

Also? I bought my plane ticket for that other conference in San Francisco this morning and it cost $475. Ouch. And the department will probably only pay for $100 of that. Luckily I have people to split hotel fees with, and for the other conference a ton of us are going so we'll be able to share gas money and hotel fees to make it all more reasonable, but there's something that kind of sucks about the fact that every year I end up spending at least $1,000 of my own money mainly so that I can go to these things and network. I feel like if I don't make myself known on the conference circuit I'll never make connections and I'll ultimately have a really hard time getting a job,* but it's frustrating to have to spend so much of my money on business travel. I feel like my department and university should be ponying up much more money for these professional development trips, but I doubt that will ever happen. All the higher-ups are constantly telling us to conference, conference, conference, and yet we get very little support to do it. Oh well. At the very least it will be fun to hang out with my friends in Boston and San Francisco. That's what I keep telling myself, anyway (even if my papers are horrible and ruin my academic career before it even really gets started).

*At the six hours of meetings I had to attend yesterday we were told that of the people in the department that went on the job market last year, 100% of them got jobs, including several people who are still ABD. Here's hoping those odds last for three or four more years until I need to start looking for work.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Baker's Dozen of Bullet Points

Since it has been almost two weeks since I last wrote anything worthwhile here and since a lot of things happened in the past two weeks, I figure the least I can do is give you some bullet points. So here are a bunch of things I should have written about days ago, in whatever order I happen to think of them:
  1. I got to visit two states I had never been to before during all of the road tripping Penn, Kiki and I did during the past two weeks. It's so easy to visit states in New England, you can just take a half-hour detour and, ta-da, you've crossed another state and can mark it off the list. Now I'm up to 31 states plus D.C. The problem now is that the 19 states that are left are primarily states that I have no burning desire to visit. Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota...I can't really think of a compelling reason to go to any of those places. I mean, maybe you're from one of those states and they're awesome and I don't know what I'm missing and I'll get there eventually and be pleasantly surprised, but somehow I think it's going to be hard to come up with a reason to visit Mississippi any time soon.
  2. I really liked Boston a lot, but here is my tip for anyone planning to go there: don't ever, ever, EVER drive in Boston. Seriously, don't do it. We used public transportation when we could, but there were a few situations over the weekend where we thought it would be easier to take our own car. And...NO. It wasn't easier at all. When I go back in November I'm taking the T or cabs everywhere. I don't care if it's a $50 cab ride, it will be worth it. I don't know how we got out alive and with an undamaged car. The city of Boston doesn't believe in labeling streets or highways clearly. They also don't believe in traffic control devices. Apparently in Boston you're just supposed to go hurtling out into traffic and hope that nobody hits you. I'm only slightly exaggerating, people. Driving in midtown Manhattan seemed easy in comparison, that's how bad it was. So do yourself a favor and just don't ever drive a car to Boston.
  3. The two wedding ceremonies I went to last weekend were vastly different. One was a ten-minute affair on a cruise ship, the other was a forty-minute Lutheran church service. I surprised myself when I realized that I really preferred the church service. I never thought I was the sort of person that needed a church wedding, but the church wedding just seemed so much more real. There was more dignity and gravity to it, and I guess I just feel like if you're going to commit to spending the entire rest of your life with someone that commitment ceremony should probably take longer than six minutes.
  4. Weirdly enough, the bridesmaids wore bright green at both weddings. I guess green was the trend that bridal shops were pushing this summer?
  5. The North End in Boston made me feel like I was in The Godfather. And there were actual Italians there, which was cool because so many Little Italy neighborhoods are pure tourist traps. This one felt at least somewhat legit, though. I just wish it hadn't been pouring rain the night we went so that I could have leisurely browsed around a bit more instead of racing from one doorway to another. Kiki, Penn and I had dinner at a restaurant there and the waiter, Marcelo, was obsessed with Kiki. He was about 65 years old but he kept finding excuses to come over and talk to her, and I'm pretty sure he even gave her his number at the end of the meal in case she ever needed "reservations"!
  6. Penn drove about a thousand miles during all of our travels. He was also incredibly patient every time we got lost. We got hopelessly lost in Boston one night for about an hour and he didn't even snap at me, and vice versa. I think if we can manage not to bicker over maps and directions when we're both stressed, that's one sign that we're pretty solid. I thought that after spending ten straight days with him that I'd be sort of ready to have some time to myself, but no. If anything, being with him for that long just made my addiction to him even worse. That's what it feels like, honestly. The more time I get to be with him, the more I want to be with him. That's great, of course, and I wouldn't want it any other way. But it's also a tiny bit frustrating because there's no feasible way we can live in the same place any time soon. That's good though, right? It's probably good to have jobs and leases to prevent us from getting too hasty and moving this relationship forward too quickly. Just because it already feels like we've been together for a very long time doesn't mean we actually have been, and I think it's good that I have some things in my life that are forcing me to pace myself and give myself time to keep getting to know him gradually instead of being like, "Woohoo, move into my apartment tomorrow! Who cares if it has only been five months!" Slow and steady, right?
  7. My brother came to visit this weekend, and we had a great time. I took him to see some of the famous sites in City A and we went to a fun interactive museum there and to a baseball game in City B. We also went out with all of my school friends on Saturday night and he really liked everyone, which surprised me since I thought we'd be too old and nerdy for him. The baseball game was his favorite part, of course, but he liked everything else, too, despite the fact that he told me, "Don't take pictures of me looking like I'm interested in this stuff! I have a reputation to uphold!"
  8. My brother talks about nothing but sports. Really. I'd say maybe, maybe ten percent of our conversations were about something other than baseball or the Olympics. How he and I came out of the same womb is beyond me. Luckily we get along anyway.
  9. Do you think the new movie with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro will be awesome or horrible? I really want it to be awesome, but I have my doubts. The name sort of makes me cringe. Righteous Kill? Really? Hmmmmm...
  10. I'm not sure how I feel about my new assistantship. They ended up hiring a receptionist (which was supposed to be ten hours of my job) so now I have become personal assistant to one of the secretaries. I started working a little bit last week, and as far as I can tell my job is pretty much going to entail doing all of the grunt work that she doesn't feel like doing herself. Today, for example, I spent two hours rolling up posters about the department and putting them in tubes to be mailed. Next up I'm supposed to organize some filing cabinets. It's hard not to do that stuff without feeling like it's sort of a waste of my abilities, but, then again, it might be kind of nice not to have to think too much for that particular assistantship. The good thing about the change is that I can now do all twenty hours of my assistantship work on my own time and I don't have to come in to man the office at any particular time. The bad thing is that I think between working for the secretary and working for Dr. AMP I'm definitely going to have to do my full twenty hours a week this year, which I very rarely had to do when I was TAing last year.
  11. The other thing I'm not sure about is my new office space. This year all of the grad students with assistantships are sharing a giant office. They converted a couple of classrooms into our "office suite". It's basically fifteen desks in a room, a kitchen (which is actually pretty nice), and a conference room (that is pretty much just a closet with a table and four chairs in it; Bob and I have already started calling it the Interrogation Room). Some of the grad students in the other section of our department have started referring to our suite as the Daily Planet, which I think is great. It really does look like an old-fashioned open plan news room. In some ways I think it's actually going to be fun having our own space (we're downstairs from the faculty so we don't have to scurry from office to office and close doors to gossip anymore) and it will be much easier for us to communicate if we're all sharing one big room, but I have no idea how any work is ever going to get done down there. Luckily I never really used my office space to work in the first place.
  12. I had to go to court today to try to get a traffic ticket dismissed. There's nothing like being at traffic court to make you realize how many morons there are in the world. First of all, there were supposed to be about 100 people there during my hour but only about 50 people actually showed up. Of the people that did show up, several of them took naps in the court room and I'm fairly certain that at least two of them were drunk. There were way too many grown men wearing sports jerseys. And then there was my favorite guy: the judge called him to the bench and said, "You're charged with failure to carry registration. The police officer is not present. How do you plead?" and the guy said, "Guilty." The whole courtroom full of people burst into laughter. Why the hell would you plead guilty if the cop wasn't there? The judge was like, "Sir, are you SURE you want to plead guilty?" Idiot. Of course my state trooper ended up being there, but I was at least able to get the fine reduced by half and to get the ticket expunged from my record, so it could have been worse.
  13. I thought I had a lot more to say, but it turns out it's pretty impossible to sum up everything that happened in the past two weeks. At any rate, August was a good month and I'm still not in the mood to go back to school next week.

Still Alive

I really don't know what happened to the past two weeks. Why is it that the end of the summer always goes by so incredibly fast? I'm really, really, REALLY not ready to start classes again. Usually by the time late August rolls around I'm at least somewhat ready to go back, but this year I'm finding it really hard to get myself excited about going back to work. I want another month of sleeping whenever I feel like it and hanging out with my boyfriend and lying by the pool and reading stupid magazines. I think I'll be fine once classes actually get started, but right now I'm feeling very blah about the whole thing. The one consolation I have is that if all goes well this should be the last fall semester during which I'm the person taking the class instead of the person teaching the class, so at least there's that. One more year of coursework!

Anyway, I had a great time in New York and Boston (thanks for the suggestions, by the way!) and then this week my brother came to visit me and that was a lot of fun, too. And I should say a lot more about these things and hopefully I will have time to sooner or later, but right now I need to go to sleep because I have to go to work tomorrow. Boo!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What's the Point of the Butterfly Stroke?

So I just got an e-mail from the friend who is dog-sitting for me this week telling me that my dog is a shoplifter! My friend and her husband took their dog and my dog to a groomer/animal supply store on Saturday morning and while their dog was in the back getting her nails trimmed my dog was waiting in the front of the store with my friends. Suddenly my friend heard the cashier ask, "Are you going to pay cash for that?" and they looked down and saw that my dog had taken a pig ear out of a bin and was happily crunching away on it. My dog is a thief! I think that's hilarious. Actually, that's pretty smart of the shop to put the pig ears in a bin on the floor. How many accidental sales do you think they get that way?

My dog is staying with my friend right now because I'm staying at Penn's house this week. We went to New York over the weekend and we're going back to New York on Wednesday night so it just made more sense for me to stay at his place this week as opposed to going all the way back to my apartment for just three nights. So far, this trip has been a lot of fun. On Saturday morning we caught the train to New York and then embarked on a whole series of public transportation adventures that involved PATH trains and the New Jersey Light Rail and Hoboken, and eventually we made it to Liberty State Park for the All Points West music festival. It was a fun day. The weather was perfect: sunny and warm and breezy with almost no humidity. I had psyched myself up to either a) trudge around in sweltering heat and humidity or b) get rained on all day and I was determined to enjoy the concert anyway, so it was a nice surprise that the weather actually cooperated beautifully. Anyway, we went to the concert specifically to see Radiohead and The Roots, although we also got there in time to watch a few other sets. The Roots were great, they just seem like they're having so much fun together when they perform, and I'm a big fan of any band that incorporates a sousaphone. Radiohead was good, too, although it was a very mellow concert experience. All in all it was a fun day, and I'm glad we went.
We spent the night with Kiki on Saturday night so my best friend finally got to meet my boyfriend. I thought it went well. They're very different personality types, Kiki is very exuberant about everything and Penn tends to be pretty laid back, but judging from the time we spent together I think they're gonna get along just fine. I hope so, anyway!
Sunday was really nice. We all got up early on Sunday morning and went to a diner for omelets. Then Kiki had to go to work but Penn and I didn't have to catch our train until 3:00 so we strolled over to Central Park since somehow Penn had been to New York City four times before but had never been to the park. We had a really nice afternoon. We walked through the park for awhile and then decided to join all the sunbathers in Sheep Meadow. I stretched out and Penn used my stomach as a pillow and we napped like that for an hour or so, and it was sunny and warm and surprisingly quiet and just...idyllic. And then as we were starting to stretch and wake up, Penn rolled over and looked at me and said, "Guess what? I love you," and I told him I loved him, too, and that was the first time we've said that out loud to each other, although things have felt so right in this relationship that I could have said it awhile ago and meant it. The thing is, I knew he was feeling the same way I was so I waited, positive that he would say it soon enough. And he picked the perfect place and time to do it. When I think back to a couple of years ago when I thought that maybe I'd used up my one chance in life to fall in love with someone and we'd screwed it up, I just feel so lucky to be feeling like this again. It's different this time, of course, it's a different relationship. But it's better. I think it's that I know what is at stake this time, so it makes it all bigger. The fear is more because I know exactly how much this is going to hurt me if it ever ends, but the joy is also much greater, and so is the sense that this is exactly what was supposed to happen to me right now. The last time I fell in love it was good but also inconvenient for so many reasons (we were young, I was moving away, etc., etc.). This time, I feel like everything in my life lined up and put me here where I could meet this guy, and the fact that we even met in the first place is such a huge coincidence that I sort of feel like the universe is saying, "Of course this is exactly how it is supposed to be." Anyway. Enough about that. I'll get all sappy and there are some feelings I'd just rather keep to myself.
But yeah, it was a really good afternoon. After we left the park we walked over to FAO Schwartz and played with toys for half an hour. In the store they had these enormous sculptures made out of LEGOs. They were of Harry Potter and Star Wars characters and they were insanely complicated. I've never been so impressed with blocks in my life. Oh, and they also had a room of free-trade toys, including some drums made in Africa. Penn is a drummer so he decided to give me a brief lesson. We were definitely the loudest "kids" in the store for a while. It was fun!
Anyway, we'll be back in New York for more fun in a couple of day. Then it's off to Boston for a couple of nights, and I'm still trying to figure out what we should do with all the time when we're not at the wedding. I definitely want to do some sightseeing since I've never been to Boston before (or rather, I have, but I was only a year old so I don't recall anything about it) but it seems like there's just so much to do so trying to narrow it down is hard. Suggestions? (Briar, I'm talking to you!)

Now that we're back at Penn's I'm still having fun, other than the fact that he decided yesterday was the day to give me a heart attack. No, just kidding, it was actually a good night. But first we went to his mom's house for dinner and he was like, "Do you think you could have a one-on-one with my mom? I know she'd really appreciate that," and I said, "Okaaaaay" so he took off to his grandparents' rooms for a while and left me to fend for myself with his mom. Luckily she didn't ask me anything too scary. I was having visions of her asking about our sex life or if I have honorable intentions towards her baby boy or something like that, but the only slightly dicey question she asked was, "So, when you finish your degree are you planning to get a job around here?" Which is of course a thinly veiled way of asking, "Are you going to steal my son and potential grandbabies away to, say, Arizona?" I just said, "Well, I used to think I would go wherever there is a job, but of course it depends on what else is going on in my life at the time." Good, right? Anyway, after dinner Penn took me to a parking lot so I could practice driving his truck because I actually would like to learn to drive a stick shift, but then he made me drive us all the way home! That's, like, a fifteen minute drive! Through actual streets with stoplights and hills and OTHER CARS I COULD POTENTIALLY HIT. But I got us all the way home! And I only stalled three or four times! And I didn't kill us or anybody else! I was pretty proud of myself. The only problem is that now Penn seems to think I'm going to chauffeur him around town because he hates driving about as much as I do. Yeah. Not going to happen!

Alright, it's noon and I haven't even showered yet today. Time to at least pretend to do something productive with my life.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Kind of Town

So the trip to Chicago was great. Really great. It was everything I hoped it would be and more, honestly.

First of all, I suppose I lied a little bit when I said I was going to Chicago. Really, we only spent one day in Chicago. The rest of the time, we mostly hung out in Cas and Jay's hometown an hour south of Chicago. We also took our road trip through Indiana to go to Ryan's show in Indianapolis. You know what I never thought I would do in my life? Take a road trip specifically for the purposes of going to Indianapolis. But it was actually really fun. The whole trip was fun.
Everyone got along great, for one thing. Cas and I picked up right where we left off and it was just like we had never been apart. We talked pretty much non-stop the five days I was there. In fact, I think the only time we weren't gabbing away was when we were in separate bedrooms at night. When Penn and I got into bed the first night we were there, following a couple of hours during which the boys played pool and Cas and I laughed our way through an old box of high school pictures, he said to me, "You and Cas are like mirrors of each other. You already talk so much, but she talks just as much as you do. I can't figure out how two people who both like to talk so much can carry on a conversation." Haha.
Luckily, Penn and Jay were very patient with the nonstop gabfest. The guys got along well, too, which was great. I have always enjoyed hanging out with Cas and Jay as a couple, and Penn fit seamlessly into our mix. It's a good thing we ended up meshing so well because we spent a lot of time in the car. On Friday we went from their hometown to Chicago (1.5 hours) and then from Chicago down to Indy (3 hours) and then on Saturday morning we spent about 2 hours driving back to their hometown. That's a lot of time driving through corn fields! [Incidentally, Penn kept teasing me for being excited about corn fields, but I'm from the desert! Edible things don't grow there. Corn fields are still a bit of a novelty for me.] Since the guys got along, Cas and I were able to sit in the backseat and chatter away as our men sat in the front and talked about cars or maps or whatever it is that men talk about. Cas and I determined that we have about a dozen different conversations in the time the guys have one. The thing is, we'd be in the back blabbing away but the second we heard anything that sounded remotely like, "wrong turn" or "doesn't look right," we'd both pop our heads into the front seat to find out just how lost we really were. Jay was like, "How can you even hear what we're saying up here with all your talking back there?" We're women, we multi-task, what can I say?! There was also this really funny moment during the road trip where Cas and I were trying to figure out how to fold down one of the back seats but despite Jay's specific instructions we couldn't figure it out. Finally Penn was like, "You can't figure out how to fold down the seat and you have how many degrees between the two of you?" That sort of good-natured teasing went on all trip. The majority of my friendship with Cas involves teasing each other constantly, only now that we're older we can tease in teams! Nice.
Anyway, we had plenty of fun that was not car-related, too. On our trip up to Chicago we went to Giordano's for delicious pizza, wandered around on Michigan Avenue, and went to the top of the Hancock Building for a drink. I highly recommend that, by the way, should you ever find yourself wanting to do something touristy in Chicago. The Sears Tower may be a tiny bit taller, sure, but you have to pay to get up there and go through security and then what do you do at the top other than look at the view? At the Hancock Building it's free to go to the top, you don't have to deal with security at all, and at the very top there's a bar where you can get a cocktail as you admire a view that is just as amazing as the view from the other building. Sure, it may be a $12 cocktail, but it's still a much better deal overall.
The trip to Indianapolis pretty much revolved around seeing Ryan's show. It's a good thing we decided to try to get there "early". If we hadn't been aiming to get there early we would have missed half the show because we had all forgotten about the fact that Indiana doesn't want to observe Daylight Savings time like most of the rest of the country. But we made it on time and the show was really funny. Good thing, too, because it would have been awkward to have to stand around and talk to Ryan afterwards if the show had been a flop. We lucked into a funny opening act guy, too. Our faces were sore from two hours of laughing. We didn't get to hang out with Ryan much afterwards because he didn't have his own transportation and was at the mercy of the club emcee to get him back to his hotel, but we did get to have a drink with him afterwards. It was actually worth driving three hours for, so thank you, Ryan, for giving me an excuse to cross the state of Indiana off my list. I have no idea how it would have happened otherwise!
From that point on I spent most of my time hanging out on the river. Cas and Jay have a pontoon boat and a jet ski and let me tell you, there is nothing in the world that is more fun than a jet ski. Seriously, Penn and I decided it's the most fun you can possibly have with your clothes on. I mostly rode with Penn, and we would fly down the river super-fast, sometimes getting up to 60 mph. It's incredible how fast that feels when you're not surrounded by a car. I don't think I've ever moved that fast before. Maybe you get that fast on skis or on a roller coaster, but not for such a sustained amount of time. It's awesome! My favorite part was when Penn would do donuts and send us bouncing around on our own wake. I almost fell off about eight times over the course of the afternoon, but almost falling off is the best part. I went out with Cas a few times over the course of the trip, too, and she and I get crazy air on the jet ski. We're both pretty small people (Cas is particularly tiny, so combined we weigh a grand total of about 240 pounds) so crossing the wake of a water bug sends us flying! There's a comedian that says something like, "Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy you a waverunner!" and then he goes on to say, "Just try frowning on a waverunner. You can't." And he's so right. All you can do on it is smile. And scream. And smile even more. Penn is now just as addicted to the jet ski as I am, and he was pricing them as soon as he got home. Unfortunately, there are many things besides the price that are currently preventing us from owning a jet ski, like, oh, the fact that we both currently live in third floor walk-up apartments with no immediate water access. But I am determined that someday we WILL have a jet ski. Don't you think that would be the best possible tool for a successful relationship? Every time we felt like fighting we could just get on the jet ski and all would be well!
Anyway, on Saturday night we went to the boat club luau with some of Cas and Jay's family members and friends. We didn't actually hang out at the luau itself, we just sat on our boat enjoying the drinks Cas's mother-in-law made and people watching. Then once we dropped everyone else off the four of us cruised the boat around in the dark for another hour or so stargazing and making fun of the endless stream of horrible music that was on the radio. At one point the DJ said, "Coming up next, Nelly Furtado and Air Supply!" Seriously?! Still, it was a nice night in spite of the horrible music. ("Playing Illiana's greatest hits! Coming up next: Chaka Khan!")
Penn had to go home on Sunday (boo!) but I stayed with Cas and Jay until Tuesday evening and we had a few more adventures. We took the boat out again on Sunday and cruised to a fun restaurant where you could just dock the boat and hop out and eat. On Monday it rained most of the day so Cas and I did some shopping and then that night the three of us went to the movies and almost got killed by a tornado. Well, maybe not killed, exactly. But there was definitely a tornado warning in effect as we drove home, and there was more lightning than I have seen in a very, very long time. We woke up on Tuesday morning and there were tree branches sticking straight up in the yard and the power was out pretty much everywhere other than Cas's house. It was a heck of a storm. I had to catch my plane home on Tuesday, but not before I spent more time hanging out with Cas. She and I just get closer the older we get. We have so much in common, from our sense of humor to our ideas about relationships to the fact that spending a couple of hours lying on the bed reading sounds like a lovely way to spend an afternoon. I'm so glad we got to spend time hanging out this summer. I only wish we could have stayed much longer. Now it's my turn to pester her and Jay endlessly until they visit me!

P.S.-Here's a nice, non-identifying photo of me and Penn hanging out on the river. Cas took this when we were on our way home after our fun-filled day of jet skiing. I really like this picture. Think we maybe like each other just a little bit?

P.S. Again-Speaking of Penn, he's reading the blog now. This is a huge thing for me. I generally don't like people involved in my immediate life to read my blog. I mean, I know more or less who reads it and most of you are friends, but you are friends in distant places that I don't generally write about on a daily basis, so it's a little different. None of my grad school friends know about this blog, and I like it that way. It's weird to know that Penn can pop over here and read about things that directly involve him. But when I mentioned the blog and then told him I wasn't sure if I could let him read it, he said, "I see you completely naked all the time but I can't read your blog?" Which seemed like a pretty valid point to me. That, and I'm realizing that I don't want to have secrets from him. If I can't say it to him I shouldn't be saying it to the world on the internet, anyway. So, yes, this is being vulnerable in a relationship in a new way for me because somehow sharing anything I've written is a million times more nerve wracking than, well, being naked. But it feels like the right thing to do. And I did warn him that I'm full of neuroses and obsessions and there is no better way to realize that about me than to read the blog, but he read a lot of it already this evening and said he's still not scared of me. Which is saying a lot, I think.