Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Went to Canada!

So much has been going on around here the past two weeks. Which means bullet points! Yeah!
  • My parents came to visit last week. It was a lot of fun. I wish they had stayed a bit longer, actually, because I had to be in class a lot of the time they were here and I didn't get to hang out with them as much as I would have liked. Still, we squeezed a lot into the three days they were here. We went to some fun restaurants, my parents spent time hanging out with their granddog and grandcat (yes, they actually refer to the hound as their granddog), and Mom and I went shopping and went to a crime museum (my mom was in heaven because she's a true-crime fanatic. Every time we turned a corner she was like, "Oh, Ted Bundy!" or, "Look at this, it shows you how to tell how long a body has been dead!" Also, they had a machine where you could fingerprint yourself and then print out a card with your fingerprint and your randomly generated "crime", which is why I got to call Penn on Wednesday night and tell him I was arrested for prostitution!). Speaking of Penn, on the first night my parents were here he came with us to dinner. I'm so glad that my parents finally got to meet my boyfriend, and vice versa. He has been such an important part of my life for the past six months that it was driving me crazy that everyone hadn't met yet. But now they have at least met each other, although I'm not sure one dinner is actually enough time to get much of an impression one way or another. My parents did say they liked him, so that's good. I honestly wasn't too worried that they wouldn't like him, though, considering he is an improvement over both of my exes (the two that were actually important enough for my parents to meet, I mean). College Ex was NOT meet-the-parents material (although my parents were always cordial) and my dad never warmed up to Phil (supposedly because Phil didn't strike my dad as ambitious enough for me, although I think the REAL reason was that Phil wasn't much of a sports fan and therefore he and Dad had nothing at all to talk about). I also figured that if my parents like my sister's boyfriend who has four kids by three different women--and they do like him--that they'd have to like Penn. Actually, I'm starting to think my mom would like anyone who wasn't an axe murderer. And even then she'd probably be excited to have a true-crime celebrity as a son-in-law, as long as he was treating her daughter well. Ha.
  • School has been keeping me really busy. I'm finding that juggling my relationship, my social life, and my schoolwork isn't as hard as I thought it would be. I feel like I've balanced the three fairly well for the first month. The hardest part is forcing myself to work on weekends when I'm with Penn, but he has been really cool about just sitting around reading with me for a few hours at a time here and there, and on Sundays he watches football while I work, which has worked out really well so far (no idea yet what will happen when Sunday is no longer Football Sunday; maybe he can be distracted by a movie). I think I'd be very overwhelmed if this was my first year, but as a second year student I'm discovering that I'm now much better at judging which work actually needs to get done each week and what I can fudge. Today, for instance, I had only read about 2/3rds of my material for my two classes and had just skimmed the last 1/3rd for important points, but I was still "on" in both classes, making comments and connections that actually made me proud of myself. That isn't even always the case when I have done all of the reading. So yeah, so far so good, but this is also the easy part of the semester...
  • I'm still really excited about Penn's new job. He doesn't have a contract in hand yet, which makes me a little anxious, but he called the new job today and they confirmed that it's definitely his, it's just going to be a few more days before it's official. Tomorrow I think we're going to go apartment hunting. It's a little funny to be apartment-hunting when I'm not actually going to move into the apartment until next summer, but I'm sure I'll be spending tons of time there between now and then. I have a lot to say about this, actually, so maybe it needs to be an entry in and of itself. We'll see. But in case I never get around to actually writing the entry that's percolating in my brain, the basic gist of it is, "This whole thing is a major step, but I feel really good about it."
  • Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls was awesome. The whole weekend was really fun. You know when you're single and you start romanticizing what it's like to be in a relationship and you get all girly and Bridget Jones-esque and you imagine the cheesy-fun romantic weekend trips you will take with your perfect boyfriend if you can ever manage to get one? Well, that was my weekend. The drive up was really scenic, and the falls themselves were amazing. Either the American Falls or Horseshoe Falls would be impressive on their own, but the fact that they're both right there together is a bit mind-blowing. I took about 70 pictures, but the problem with pictures is they don't capture the roaring sound (that somehow manages to be really soothing) or the feel of being there in the mist. It's almost hypnotic. Penn and I would walk down to the falls and sit on a park bench or lean against the railing and watch the falling water and talk about life and our plans over the sound of the crashing water, and in what felt like the blink of an eye a couple of hours would have passed by. It was so nice. I'm glad we got to have the whole Niagara Falls experience together. Which is not to say that it was all momentous. Penn and I aren't all that serious. For every conversation about our families or religion, there was also a conversation about, say, exactly how often a reasonable person vacuums an apartment or whether Horseshoe Falls could crush a bus. We're all about balance! In fact, here are two pictures that nicely sum everything up:

You see? Beautiful, majestic Niagara Falls, as viewed from the Maid of the Mist. Contrast that with our totally pimp hotel room (they screwed up our reservation so we were upgraded to the Jacuzzi Suite, bow-chicka-bow-wow!). Please note the Canadian beer, the passport (which is still actually unnecessary for heading into Canada at this point if you're traveling by land, just FYI), and the fact that the Jacuzzi is like, a foot from the bed. I kept telling people that I hoped all the hotel rooms in Niagara Falls would have heart-shaped beds, it being a honeymoon capital of the country and all. While we didn't end up with the heart-shaped bed, I have to say that the mirrored Jacuzzi pretty much fulfilled that wish just as well. Those two pictures are pretty much my weekend in a nutshell, although there are many more pictures of the tourist-on-the-Maid-of-the-Mist variety over on Facebook if you're interested. All in all, it was a great weekend.

P.S.-Two Canadians actually said "eh?" to me! I love when stereotypes are true!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

So Freakin' Excited!

I am so freakin' excited right now that I can barely stand it.

First of all, Penn and I are going to Niagara Falls this weekend. To the Canada side. I have never been to Niagara Falls, and I have also never been to Canada. Not officially, anyway. I've spent about 15 hours of my life in the Toronto airport, but despite the fact that I have two Canadian passport stamps due to going through customs up there, I've never actually set foot on Canadian soil. So I'm very excited to go to Canada and to see the falls.

But also, and more importantly, Penn called me tonight to tell me that he got a job here!! As you know, right now we live about 100 miles away from each other and we commute back and forth on weekends. Well, before he even met me Penn had been applying for jobs near where I live, and then he met me and I was an added incentive to the whole job application process. So Penn put in some applications, and last Friday he had an interview here. I was so excited that he even got an interview, but I kept trying to talk myself out of being excited because I just thought it would be too good to be true if he actually got a job near me.
But the universe likes us, apparently, because Penn got the job today! It's not totally 100% yet (he still has to pass the background check and wrap up loose ends at his current job) but he should be officially hired by the end of the month.

This is awesome news. It means that we'll only have to drive 20 miles to see each other instead of 100 miles. Yay for saving gas money! It means Penn can get a dog-friendly apartment so I don't have to worry about my howling hound getting him evicted. And since the eventual goal is that I'll move into his apartment when my lease here is up next summer, it's another step forward, which is really exciting and makes me really happy. I have so much more to say, but I've been out with my parents all night (they were visiting, it was also awesome, maybe more about that later) and I have to get up early tomorrow to work, so I'll have to elaborate later.

Suffice it to say, I'm really happy right now.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Said I Wouldn't Do This Again, But...

Sometimes my brain just gets so full of nonsense about Sarah Palin that I can't keep it in anymore, and I know I said I wouldn't say anything else about politics this season but I just can't help myself. Sorry!

After doing a bit more research on Sarah Palin, I have come to the conclusion that I am in fact just as qualified to be vice president of the United States as she is. SERIOUSLY. Now, true, I have yet to govern a state. However, I'm thinking that I could make that happen in pretty short order. I bet I could get elected to the local city council based primarily on my charm, my public speaking abilities, my reasonably good looks and, um, my BA. Which I earned from my attendance at just one university!...but maybe I shouldn't judge, maybe she was having financial problems and that's why she had to transfer schools so often?...um, yeah. Then I could become mayor, then governor. I could do that pretty quickly. I mean, I don't even have the obstacle of five kids to slow me down (although,incidentally, the only time I feel remotely supportive towards Sarah Palin is when people try to say that she shouldn't be running for office because she has kids to support. That makes me rage. Husbands can in fact be the primary caregivers and do a damn fine job of it, people!) Anyway, let me govern oh, I don't know, Wyoming for a couple of years and then White House here I come!
After all, even without the experience of governing a state I'm already very well qualified, apparently. I have one and a half advanced degrees. That's one and a half more than Palin. Sure, my degrees are in a subject that has nothing at all to do with law or politics or even business, but the degree it took her six years to earn is in journalism, and my subject is about as useful to running the country as a degree in journalism would be. I've had a passport since I was 14 and I've visited ten different countries, which I'm pretty sure means I have more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin. Years of seminar classes have made me pretty awesome at masking my deer-in-the-headlights looks as I flounder around saying things like, "Can you elaborate on that question?" until I can think of a good enough BS answer. My mother seems fairly convinced that raising five children teaches you the skills you need to know to run the country, and while I agree that mothering probably teaches you an infinite amount of skills and coping techniques--really--I don't buy that it makes you competent to run a nation. Particularly if one of the said children clearly didn't buy into the parental rules and got herself knocked up at 17. But hey, if my mother thinks Palin's parenting skills make her competent to rule the country, I bet the whole, "My dog is a bonified Canine Good Citizen!" might convince a large portion of the population that I know how to be a competent and benevolent leader. My legs would look damn sexy in a suit, and I'm even better than a MILF because there are no stretch marks on this body, America! Oh, and I know that dinosaurs weren't roaming the Earth 4,000 years ago, for PITY'S SAKE.
So go ahead, aspiring presidents. Do all the necessary background checks and groom me to proudly burst onto the political scene in 2012. Teach me everything I need to know about U.S. policy in about a week or two. I'm a quick study. And during the two weeks where I'm learning how to say what you want me to say without putting my foot in my mouth, I will be fantastic at standing there and looking pretty and letting everyone talk about how sexist it is to ask me anything about my life, past, or beliefs at all WHATSOEVER. Or, you know what? Actually, when I am running for vice president, I'll say, "Bring on whatever idiotic questions you want, media, and I'll handle them!" Because so far the most sexist thing of all is the fact that all the McCainiacs feel the need to shelter her from the media, like she's incapable of handling the storm herself.

Don't get me wrong, I have a ton of issues with the Obama campaign and platform, too. There is never, ever, EVER a good choice for me in an election. I'm nervous about where this country will go if Obama gets elected. But I'm much more afraid of what will happen to this country if McCain gets elected, particularly since, despite the facetious nature of this post, I am actually just barely joking when I say that I believe I am as qualified to be vice president as Sarah Palin.

Why is it that anyone who could competently run this country is too smart to want to be in charge?

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Key to Success

I have discovered the secret to success in my Monday night class. We have to turn in reading response papers for this class so last night at about 9:30 I sat down at the computer to hammer out my two-page paper. However, by the time I sat down to write the thing I was already 4 beers into my evening and definitely feeling buzzed (I don't normally drink on Sunday nights, but Penn and I had been out with his friends watching football). I remember thinking as I wrote it, "This is nonsense! Also, probably NOT correct!" So imagine my surprise when I got the paper back this evening and scrawled across the top was the phrase, "Excellent work. You raise some great questions." I had four beers! I was basically one or two more beers away from drunk when I wrote that paper. And it earned me an "Excellent work"! This has the unfortunate effect of making me feel pretty much invincible, which is definitely going to come back to bite me in the ass eventually.

In other news, I have pretty much convinced myself that I need to go to Russia next year. There's a course being offered next semester that involves spending a week in Russia, and over the course of the past, oh, six hours or so I have gone from thinking, "Russia would be fun but that's really no use to me or my research," to, "I've always wanted to see Moscow and this could be my only chance to do it since it seems like it's going to get increasingly difficult to get a visa," to, "I'd be a complete idiot not to take advantage of the chance to go to Russia with people who speak the language and actually know what they're doing, especially since the program cost is going to be very heavily subsidized by the school." So yeah! Russia! Wouldn't that be awesome? More updates after Friday when I go to the informational meeting and find out exactly how much money I'd have to come up with to make it happen.

Now I'm off to finish my reading for tomorrow since I spent most of the weekend kayaking, drinking beer, getting naked, and eating baked spaghetti...although not necessarily in that order and certainly not all at once.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


There are a lot of moments in my life that make me think, "I am soooooo not ready to be someone's mother yet." Moments like 11:00 on Saturday mornings when I'm still in bed, for example, or when I'm on the subway and a toddler is screaming its head off and my only thought is, "Ha, glad I don't have to deal with that!" Or the moments where I'm so freaked out about my pets' well-being that I can't imagine the emotional weight of dealing with an actual human baby. I have a lot of moments like that.
But then every now and then I have a moment like the one I had last night. My dog was feeling sick yesterday (I'll spare you the gross description of exactly how I knew my dog was sick) so I let him sleep in bed with me instead of on his dog bed because I was being paranoid and wanted the ability to reach over once in a while and make sure he was still breathing (see "freaked out about my pets' well-being", above). In the middle of the night I awoke to my dog making that horrible gagging noise that usually precedes a vomit explosion, and without hesitating, without even thinking, I sprang forward in bed and cupped my hands under his mouth. Thankfully he didn't actually throw up, but, people! I was completely willing to catch my dog's barf in my bare hands just because I knew that would be momentarily disgusting but would make cleaning up much, much easier. I'm pretty sure that's my instinctual Mom Brain at work right there. It's kind of reassuring to know the maternal instincts are functional, even though I'm thinking it will still be quite a few years before I need to put them to use.

Speaking of the dog, he's yelling at me so I'd better cut this short and take him outside.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Log Rides are Awesome

Remember when I wrote about the comedian who said it's impossible to frown on a waverunner? Well, there must not be many results on the internet for that, because I now get an average of 5 or so hits a week that are people looking for the comedian that said that. Unfortunately, I have no idea who said that originally. I'm so sorry people. No help for you here. But good luck in your searching endeavors!

I ended up having a really nice weekend, which was good because I have to admit that the first week of school was kind of stressful. I don't really have a routine established yet so I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to juggle my schoolwork with my new assistantship responsibilities, and it doesn't help that people keep adding more responsibilities. Just yesterday I found out that I'm now a member of a committee on international studies, and while I was looking to do some committee work this year, it would have been nice if someone had bothered telling me that my assistantship also comes with committee work. I think I'll be okay once I get a better sense of exactly how much work I'm going to have each week, but it's definitely taking a lot of willpower to make myself work right now.
I was actually kind of productive this weekend even though Penn was down here, so that's a good sign for the way things will work out as the year goes on. Yesterday it rained a ton because of a tropical storm (my first tropical storm, hooray!) so we didn't leave the house at all during the day. We sat on the couch all afternoon and I read while Penn wrote and then did some reading of his own. It was cozy, and I managed to do several hours of reading before getting distracted by the hot guy reading on the other end of the couch. Then last night once the rain had passed we went out with a couple of Penn's friends (the couple he was hanging out with the night he and I met, actually). It was fun getting to know them a bit, and I discovered a new-t0-me bar near where I live that has a huge variety of beer. I never really go out anywhere near my apartment, I always end up driving down closer to the university or going out in City A. It's nice to know that there's a nearby place that's safe and fun. (Most of the bars in the town where I live strike me as really, really sketchy, which is part of the reason I don't drink up here.)
Yesterday was sandwiched between two other fun days. On Friday we hung out with a bunch of my friends and had fondue and played board games. Penn says I'm never allowed to tell his friends that I talked him into eating fondue, and I bet I'm not supposed to tell them about the game, either, but I'm pretty sure he had fun. I know I did. He and I were laughing, though, because our friends couldn't possibly be more different from each other. I hang out with a bunch of nerdy academics who are mostly married or almost-married, and usually when people suggest something to do it's wine night or a dinner party. Penn's friends at home are mostly guys who spend their weekends re-enacting Jackass pranks and sleeping until 3:00 in the afternoon. Luckily we can both hang out with each other's friends and have a good time. It's kind of like our friends are on opposite ends of a continuum and he and I both fall somewhere in the middle (which is why we actually get along so well with each other, come to think of it). It's going to be really, really bizarre if they ever have to interact with each other, though!
Anyway, today was also fun because my cousin's company was having their company picnic at an amusement park and Penn and I went with her. It was great. There were a ton of roller coasters and no lines! The longest we ever had to wait was fifteen minutes, and most of the time we could walk right up and hop on the ride. I wish amusement parks were always like that. All the fun, none of the crowds. I also wish I had my own personal bumper car room for days when I hate everybody. What an awesome way to get out aggression!
All in all it was a great weekend. Now it's time for another round of "Let's get through this week as quickly as possible so it can be the weekend again!" And the week is going to be a lot less painful if I actually finish more reading tonight, so I'm off.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Apropos of Nothing

This morning on NPR they played an ad for a program that will be talking about how the first wave of Baby Boomers is reaching retirement age and how it is affecting the community. I know, doesn't that sound riveting? Anyway, the ad referred to people over the age of 65 as "elderly" and so I was inspired to send my mother a teasing text message that said something to the effect of, "Haha, only thirteen more years until you're officially elderly!" (because I'm such a kind, loving daughter). But then I realized that in only thirteen more years I will officially be middle-aged! That made the whole text message idea suddenly lose its appeal and I didn't send it after all. Because thirteen years ago I was in middle school, and most of the time that does NOT feel like a very long time ago at all. So to think that thirteen years from now I'll be almost forty is pretty damn horrifying.

Also, today I made a small donation to a dog rescue and as a result my dog now has a "Basset Hounds for Obama" pin on its way to my mailbox. For all I know my hound may be a McCain supporter, but until he learns how to speak and expresses a definite preference--which is highly unlikely to happen in the next eight weeks--he'll be sporting an Obama pin on his harness. And that's about all the political talk you'll get from me, I think, except to say that I'm pretty much the epitome of the swing voter (socially I'm extremely liberal, but I'm fiscally fairly conservative and not a fan of big government). And if the McCain campaign thought they were going to capture the American swing voter's vote by putting Sarah Palin on the ticket, I think they were mistaken. Not that I can generalize my own opinion to thousands of other people, of course, particularly since I don't have children and supposedly her great appeal is to working mothers (really?), but...
I do have tons and tons of snarky things to say about the effectiveness of abstinence-only education, but I'm also going to refrain from going on and on about that except to say, hey, CLEARLY that was effective in Governor Palin's family! How many times do you think Bristol Palin's boyfriend has thought, "Wow, I definitely knocked up the wrong girl at the really, REALLY wrong time"? Poor kids. Accidentally impregnating someone when you're Joe Blow out in the sticks has got to be bad enough. Having to deal with it on national television? Wow.

Off to read for hours and hours so that I can relax a bit this weekend.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Here is a list of things I have helped various friends deal with over the course of the last week:

1. The death of a grandparent
2. A divorce (obviously this one is an ongoing thing, but certain events sort of made the whole issue worse than usual a few days ago)
3. A miscarriage
4. Cancer

What is going on? Why are so many of my friends, both long-distance and here at my university, having such a rotten time lately? I feel completely inadequate, too, because I can open a bottle of wine or a tub of ice cream and I'll sit on the couch with you for hours and listen if that's what you need me to do, but beyond that I feel helpless to do anything other than say, "Wow, that sucks, I wish you weren't having to go through this," over and over again. And that doesn't feel very helpful at all. Ultimately pain and loss and fear are things that we just have to get through ourselves, and I can sit there with my friends and try to take their mind off of things or hold them as they grieve, but all I can really do is watch and try to make comments that don't do more harm than good. Everyone has to go through the things on that list alone. That has really been driven home to me this week, and it sucks because I really want to do more for everyone. I especially wish I could do more because it seems particularly unfair that I have friends who are dealing with all of this crap when the biggest problem in my life right now is figuring out how I'm going to read 500 pages before Monday night. It puts any "problems" in my life into perspective, that's for sure. I know these things go in cycles, though, and I just have to hope that life will get better and easier for everyone, and also that they'll sit on the couch with me when I'm the one that's crying. Because like it or not I know I'm going to have crappy times of my own to deal with eventually...I'm just praying that I get to stay lucky for a little while longer.

Anyway, I have a lot of things I should be doing right now: cleaning the apartment, working out, picking topics for some class projects, figuring out what the heck I want to do in independent study this semester so that I have something to talk about when I meet with my advisor tomorrow, making some headway on the books I have to read this week. And I have done barely any work today because Penn came down and spent the night last night (not that I'm complaining about that! It was nice, I'm not used to seeing him in the middle of the week like this). In other words, life is back to normal for me. Now it just needs to get that way for everyone else I know!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Goodbye Summer

Summer is over. Classes start tomorrow. Booooooooooooooooo. That's pretty much how I feel about that.

Actually, I was reading over the syllabus for one of my classes the other day and looking at the projects made me feel really excited, which was a good sign that I'm going to be okay with being back in classes again (incidentally, how much of a nerd am I that reading a syllabus made me excited?). I was worrying about my lack of enthusiasm, but now I'm realizing that it's not so much a lack of enthusiasm about going back to school so much as a lack of enthusiasm about having to give up weekends like this one. Because this weekend I spent at least twelve of my waking hours lying on the couch curled up with my boyfriend watching movies and not ever thinking about what other more productive things I should be doing.
My goal this semester is to not let the "I should really be working" thoughts torment me all the time anyway, because spending quality time with my boyfriend IS productive. I'm not being facetious, I really think that's true. After all, when I look at the big picture I can see that having Penn in my life has already improved it and will continue to do so, and if by balancing my love life with my work life the work has to suffer a tiny bit, I'm more than willing to make that sacrifice. That's not to say I'm letting my work go to hell, of course, just that I'm aware that my love life, which was pretty much non-existent last year, has now become a top priority and that is obviously going to affect how I prioritize everything else. I think I can strike a good balance, though. I'm not too worried about it. Not yet, anyway.

It was a really nice weekend. I was dogsitting again so Penn came down and stayed with me. Besides watching movies we also spent a lot of time in bed (some of it actually sleeping) or sitting around reading together. For most of the weekend we only left the house to walk the dogs or pick up pizza or ice cream. On Saturday we actually went out, but we didn't have any obligations and could do whatever we wanted to do on our own schedule so we explored the city. We went to three different museums. One was science-y (Penn made me watch a planetarium show about black holes, which luckily wasn't as scary as I thought it might be; I hate black holes), the other was a modern art museum with a really interesting film exhibit, and in the third museum we went to just one exhibit on Jim Henson (which was really cool, I wish I could buy framed prints of his sketches of ideas for muppets). After we'd had our fill of museums for the day we had dinner at a Mexican food restaurant and then walked around the city for a couple of hours checking out the sights at night. It was such a nice day, and a really fun, lazy weekend. Exactly what I needed to end the summer.