Monday, March 9, 2009

3 Days...

It's Monday. I leave for Russia on Friday morning. Friday! I have three and a half days until I need to be packed and on a plane headed to Moscow, and I have had no time at all to mentally prepare myself. I'm used to there being a huge amount of excitement and build up before a trip abroad. In the past my trips to Europe have always happened in the summer when not much else was going on, and I've always had plenty of time to pack and research the places that I'm visiting and just generally get all excited and hyped up. This time, though, I'm very much in School Mode and so instead of my brain going, "RussiaRussiaRussiaRussia" my thought process is more like "Laundry, write midterm, study for other midterm, write response paper, prepare presentation, study Spanish, go to Russia, write response paper, finish work for Dr. AMP, schedule Spanish exam, make book list..." It still doesn't feel real. I can't believe that at this time next week I'll be on a train on my way to St. Petersburg, although I know I will.
When I have a second to actually think about it, though, I am very excited. I got my Russian visa last week, and every time I walk into my home office I pick it up and stare at it because it has my name written in Russian and I can't get over how cool it looks.
I'll be happy when I'm on the plane on Friday morning. Right now, though, the excitement is definitely tempered by all the stuff I have to finish between now and Thursday night. I think I'm just barely going to get everything done. As it is I'm not even going to think about packing until Thursday night, so here's hoping I don't realize I need something at the last minute. I think the excitement is also tempered by the fact that Penn isn't going with me. We both like traveling so much and he's such a good travel partner that it seems unfair that I get to have this experience but I have to do it without him. Now in the time we've been dating he's been abroad once without me and now I'm going without him. I know eventually we'll manage to cross an ocean together, I just wish he was able to come with me this time, too.

I really don't even have time to be writing right now, except I felt obligated to say I was still alive before I disappear to the arctic for ten days. I may try to blog a bit from Russia, although nobody I go to school with knows that I blog and I'd like to try to keep it that way (with the exception of Penn and my parents--who I think know this exists, although I don't think they generally read it--my general rule is that I use this blog to keep in touch with people only when they're no longer a part of my day-to-day life. That's why I started it in the first place, just to update the people I don't get to talk to regularly. I don't really like the idea of people I interact with on a daily basis reading about themselves on here. Not that I say much that I would really mind other people discovering, it just seems weird). So yeah, unless I can temporarily sneak away from everyone else in my group and/or figure out a way to post quickly and secretly, I don't know that I'll write again until I get home. I'm not taking my computer or cell phone to Russia, and I'm actually excited about breaking away from them for a week and a half. But I'll try to find time to talk about the trip when I get back.

In other news, we had houseguests this weekend (one of my friends from college and her husband, who came down to visit another one of our mutual friends from college who also happens to live here now), I managed to see another play, and Penn and I went skiing for the last time this season. We went to the mountain an hour from here with Nicole and her boyfriend. She'd never skied before, and I was impressed with how well she did. The mountain wasn't particularly challenging, but it was fun and because it wasn't all that challenging I got past some of my mental blocks and did some things I'd never done before: a few jumps, a slope with moguls, and Penn tricked me into barreling pretty much straight down one of the slopes without turning so I picked up some crazy speed, but it was fun. Oh, and we did night skiing, which was also new to me but cool. Being on the chairlifts at night was very peaceful. The only downside was that it was about 70 degrees outside (seriously) so the snow was really slushy, but skiing is kind of like sex: even when conditions aren't ideal, it's still really damn fun.

Alright, I need to get back to work so I don't have to be up all night for the next couple of nights. Keep your fingers crossed that I have a safe trip and that Penn and the pets and everyone back here stays safe while I'm gone (also, keep your fingers crossed that there are fun stories to tell when I get home).

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Go Snow Go Snow!

I woke up this morning and there was a dusting of snow on the ground. I love when it snows overnight. Opening up the blinds and seeing a world of white is always such a surprise. Listening to the radio this morning, I found out there is actually the potential for a significant amount of snow to fall today. The weather people are saying we might get as much as six inches! I know that's not a lot for some parts of the country, but we haven't had a very snowy winter so right now it sounds impressive to me. We've had two or three storms that each gave us about an inch of snow, but that's it. I've been disappointed by this lame winter. I'm not ready for spring yet because I don't feel like we've had a very satisfying winter, so I'll be really happy if we really do get a big snowstorm tonight. I'll believe it when I see it, though.

The only downside to the snowstorm blowing through today is that Penn is not home right now. He has been gone since Wednesday on his annual boys only ski vacation. I texted him this morning to tell him that we're supposed to get snow and he texted back that he was already on the road and they had purposely left the ski resort early to hopefully avoid some of the storm, but he has 8-10 hours to drive today so I don't think he'll beat the storm home. I just hope he gets home safely and doesn't end up having to spend the night in his hometown (which is on his way back to here, so I imagine if the weather gets too bad tonight he'll just stay there). Getting a bunch of snow won't be nearly as fun if I'm snowed in by myself.

I had a good weekend even though Penn was gone. I've known for about a month that he was going to be out of town this weekend, so I purposely planned some activities that I knew he wouldn't want to participate in anyway. On Thursday night I went to see a play with a couple of friends from school. It was a Restoration comedy and it was enjoyable, although sometimes the pace dragged a bit (which was actually okay; the nice thing about period pieces is when they get dull I can entertain myself by staring at the costumes). Oh, and there was a raffle for a bottle of wine at intermission and I won it, which was fun. I never win raffles!
On Friday I got a haircut for the first time since JULY. It had been more than seven months since I last cut my hair! I'm letting my hair grow long right now, but even in a growing-out phase it's crazy to go seven months without even a trim. The layers in the front have been driving me crazy since at least Christmas and I was really starting to feel like a sheep dog, so I'm glad I finally got a cut. I went with my friend Shawn, who also hadn't had a haircut since summer. He's in my Russian class and somehow the subject of hair came up a couple of weeks ago and we made a pact with each other that we'd both get haircuts before the trip, so he texted me Thursday evening and said "Meet me at [subway station] tomorrow morning at 10 and we'll walk to the salon and get our hair cut." So we did. Sadly, I'm pretty sure Shawn making the effort was the only reason I finally did it. Otherwise, time and money constraints probably would have forced me to keep putting it off until summer again. Which, for the record, would have been just fine with Penn. I have never dated a guy that was so into my hair. I love that he loves it, so I'm growing it out for him (I personally don't care much about my hair. I will willingly admit that I style it according to the preferences of the guy I'm dating [or, sometimes in the past, attempting to date]. It's versatile and I like it pretty much any way it's styled. Long, bobbed, straight, curly, up, down, whatever. The only thing I won't do is dye it until it goes gray and I have to, but fortunately no one has ever asked me to do that). Every time I've mentioned cutting it in the last few months Penn's response has been, "Noooooooooooo!" so I promised him I'd just clean up the front and keep the length. I'm happy with how it turned out. I do feel sexy with long hair, but I'm pretty sure there is a limit to how long I'm going to be able to stand it. In Penn's opinion, hair can't possibly be long enough. But I'm of the opinion that on most people hair starts looking stringy and ratty once it gets too long. At this point I've committed to at least growing it past my chest, and after that I think it's just going to be a judgment call on when it stops looking sexy and/or professional and starts looking hippie-ish or fried.
Friday during the day I also met with a woman to talk about some research for my dissertation project, and she was really helpful and gave me a ton of info to look through, so I'm feeling good about the direction in which my project is heading. Now I just need to write a proposal for summer funding so that hopefully I can get some research/travel money this year.
Anyway, Friday night I went to the "conference" Nicole planned. We went to a bar that looked and acted like a total dive but somehow was getting away with charging eight dollars for mixed drinks (the one downside to drinking in City A), then to a restaurant/lounge that had a plush U-shaped couch that held all ten of us and that featured a jazz quartet that played a cover of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit (which was so bizarre I'm still thinking about it two days later) and then we finished out the night at a dance club that was having a Brit pop night. I had four drinks, did some dancing in a big group (which was not as fun as dancing with Penn, but acceptable), and was home by two thirty. It was a good night.
Yesterday I did absolutely nothing productive all day other than walking over to the grocery store to get ingredients to make myself a vegetarian dinner. I told you I was doing stuff Penn wouldn't be interested in anyway! I've been wanting to try this recipe for a while now, but since its main ingredients are whole wheat noodles and cabbage, I figured I shouldn't subject Penn to it (he swears he'll eat anything I make, which I think it's true, but I think a wheat and cabbage dish without any meat at all would really be pushing it). Anyway, the meal came out great and I had enough leftovers to make three lunches for this week. Rockin'. Oh, and I rode my bike for an hour yesterday, too! So it was a healthy day.
As for today, I still haven't done anything school-related. That's what tomorrow is for, though, especially if I get snowed in (Go snow go!). I spent three hours this afternoon babysitting for my friend's two-year-old son so she could get some work done on a paper that she absolutely has to turn in tomorrow. I had a good time watching him, although I realized just how un-childproofed my condo is. And how energetic two-year-olds are. Good lord. On the whole I like two-year-olds. They're old enough to be able to clearly communicate many of their wants so they're easier than babies, but they're not quite old enough to be the argumentative temper-tantrum throwers that many three-year-olds are. And my friend's son is a good-natured kid who seems to spend 80% of his time saying things like, "Oh, cool!" and "WOW!" so he was pretty easy to keep happy. But it has been a long, long time since I spent three straight hours as the person responsible for a toddler. He definitely kept me busy. I know kids have different energy levels and attention spans, and on a scale from one to ten this kid's energy level is easily a 9 and his attention span level is about a 2, so I basically spent the afternoon following him from room to room and trying to find things to hold his attention for more than five minutes at a time. It went something like this:
Kiddo: Was dat?
Me: That's the remote control. Let's not push the buttons right now, okay?
Kiddo: Was dis?
Me: Those are CDs. We don't play with those, buddy. Want your Spiderman?
Kiddo: Was dis?
Me: Oh, god, that's a lighter. No, no, no! Give me that.
[taking a deep breath, relieved that lighters have child safety latches]
Kiddo: Oh, cool! Was dat?!
Me: NO, that's a sword! That's not for playing with, either. Don't you want to sit down and watch Thomas the Tank Engine? Please?!
All in all, it was a favor I didn't mind doing, but it was nice to be able to turn him over to his mom when she came back to get him. Here's hoping my own personal offspring fall a little lower on the energy scale (also, here's hoping they take naps).

So yeah, that's what has been going on around here. Not much, but things are going well. Now I'm off to exercise and shower before my guy comes home. (Snow, maybe you can wait to dump on us in earnest until after 10 PM or so? Thank you.)