Thursday, December 13, 2007


I love Christmas. I do not love being far from my husband during my favorite time of the year. That being said, Paris is not a bad place to be (smile).

Monday, December 10, 2007

Creating a Tradition

in which I must take at least one funny photo of a charcuterie during each of my visits to France.
I personally thought the name Porcus was just hilarious.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Boring is good

Yes, nothing of any true import has happened to me. I think this is a good thing. I'd rather not be having a ton of problems. While they can be interesting, they are not necessarily fun to deal with and believe me, I've had my share of "fun" in Paris. Like the time I left my entire money belt (passport, traveler's checks, all my money, plane tickets) on my hotel bed, or that time the front desk guy locked me into the hotel and wouldn't let me leave. Ah, good times. Like I said, Paris has been a place of pretty severe problems for me (of course, the first one was totally my fault).

On Monday, I went to the Richelieu branch to check in rather than to Tolbiac/Francois-Mitterand. I wimped out. I chose the smaller, less imposing building. Basically, I found the "Service d'Orientation des Lecteurs" after the front guard sent me to Manuscrits Orientaux. Ummm, I know that what I said sounded nothing like Orientaux. There was a big truck driving by and I think he just heard the first two-three syllables. Walked in and didn't see anyone so I walked to the back. A lady told me to go back and talk to someone else and then I'd speak with her. (This is actually what I understood. My French really went down the tubes over the last 2 years--quelle surprise!-and I'm only understanding about 1/3 of the words people say to me. At least I usually understand the most important words. But, even when I do understand, I question myself so much I go back to ask and make sure I really understood correctly. I think when I left 2 years ago, I was understanding about 75-80%.) Went and wandered around some more and finally the entretien lady was at her desk. I sat down gave her my pre-inscription, which I'm so glad I did because it made this process a piece of cake, also handed over my attestation from Stefanie, my passport, and my carte d'étudiante. Went to the other lady to go get my picture taken, et voila! I have my card.

Yesterday, Tuesday, I went back to Richelieu to the Music building because they have some Mercure Galant issues I want to look at. I wish I had a)brought my camera and b)they allowed pictures. That Mercure Galant! So, it was a pretty important journal that was on everything that was happening at court, in Paris, etc. and continued through the revolution and on as the Mercure de France. Anywho, they would actually include little pieces of music in foldout sections. Small madrigaux and the like. Very interesting, but not of direct import to my diss. Also, they have these hilarious debates on such things as "If a person loves an ugly person, but thinks they are beautiful, is the ugly person really beautiful?" I got some good stuff, some poems teasing Quinault and the like (not necessarily useful, but still funny) as well as mentions of 2 of the three operas. But, they only had certain months for each year I was looking at, so I'll just absolutely have to go to the music library at the Opéra. You know, housed in the actual opera building. Sigh, twist my arm or something.

After that little bit of fun, I went to another department at Richelieu--Estampes et Photographies. I'm looking for drawings/images of the set design/costumes for Act IV of Phaeton. Well, they have a book that is a complete reproduction of all Jean Berain's costumes etc. So I waited there for 45 minutes. And they came back and told me it wasn't there. It exists, and no one else had it, but it was not there. I think they just didn't want to tell me it was lost. By this point, I'd had no food in approximately 6 hours and I was getting pretty frustrated/sad/irritated. So, I had an okay day. Not bad, not great.

Today, off to Arsenal in the 4ème.

Katie's "Suggestion of the Day": I can read French fairly well, much to the confusion of everyone who hears me speak it. I suggest that everyone has an LED over their head which would scroll the text of what they were saying to me so I could understand everything and not seem like a complete idiot. While this would be cumbersome, I find this to be an excellent solution to my problem.

Monday, December 3, 2007


According to the weather reports, it is supposed to be precipitating every single day for at least the next 10 days.  I've actually seen the sun twice, though, to my surprise.  Once the day I arrived and this morning!  Here is the view from my window, up the street towards the Pont Neuf.  I had to lean out to take it.

I arrived on Saturday morning an hour early.  Normally this would be cause to celebrate, but since it added another hour to the time I had to wait until I could check in to my apartment I was not overly pleased.  My flights were fine.  The last one, from Dulles to Paris was great because I had upgraded to Economy Plus and while regular Economy was packed like a can of sardines, Econ Plus was only half full.  I had someone next to me, but the extra leg room added to the plethora of empty seats added a sense of spaciousness.  
I held of sleeping until my last flight in order to wait until it was really night-time in Paris. 

Mind you, I had gotten up at 3:30 am PST to get ready for my flight and landed in Paris at 8:45 pm PST.  So, I finally fell asleep on my last flight to be awakened after only an hour by the very loud burser yelling last call for duty free goods.  This scared the crap out of my sleeping self and left me awake for the rest of the flight.  Grrr.

I waited for a very long 6 hours and took the train into central Paris to my apartment.  I'm very glad I'm staying in the same place as last time, even though it's tiny, because I already know the neighborhood and I didn't have to wander around figuring out where to go.  Yay!  I got in the apartment and realized the circuit breaker had been turned off, so got everything going and was getting ready to take a shower.  Then I realized that I had also just turned on the water heater.  Went grocery shopping and got my French SIM card instead.  I came home and skyped with M before finally taking a 2 hours nap around 3:30 pm.  At that point, I had been awake for 27 hours with only 1 hour of sleep.  I tried to take a picture of the spectacular bags/black circles under my eyes, but no picture could do them justice.

Saturday night into Sunday morning, I slept for 13 hours.  Granted, I did wake up for a while at 2 am because there was something that sounded like a huge street party outside my window.  I looked out and the entire block was filled with a traffic jam.  It was noisy like when I was here two years ago for the Fête de la musique.  I still don't know what was going on.

Other than that, I went on a walk Sunday afternoon to Notre Dame and the Louvre.  On my way between the two, I stayed on the Right Bank and walked along the Quay looking over the Seine.  At one point, I was pretty much by myself when I heard someone walking behind me.  I turned my head to look at the person (with peripheral vision) and it was a guy coming up rather quickly.  Just after I turned my head, he stopped and started looking across the street.  Shortly thereafter, he was gone.  Weird.  At first I was all, I averted someone trying to steal something (he would have been in for an unpleasant surprise because I only had my umbrella and my keys), but I'm not so sure of that now.  Who knows?  (Note: I was planning on going to the Musée de l'Orangerie, which had been closed for 7 years, and that has been when I've visited Paris lo these many times, so I've never been.  But, waking up at 11:30 am and then slowly moving around, plus the heavy rain and winds made that plan go down the drain.)

Anywho, today is the day when I go to the Bib Nat and have my interview.  I'm tired and feeling a bit woozy, but am okay otherwise.  We'll see how it goes.
Yep, my time here is just filled with excitement.  People reading this are going to wonder why the hell they did.  :)  More boring stories another time!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Off to Paris

It's my turn to make a European research trip and I'm leaving tomorrow at 6 am.  I suppose in the interests of keeping this blog somewhat active that I shall go ahead and blog over the next 3 weeks about the travails and wonders of my time in Paris.  

Most everyone knows this, but I've had a particularly interesting 10 days since my laptop hard drive completely died and I was stupid enough to lose the chapter (the last of the body chapters!) that I had just finished drafting.  I still had a lot of work to do on it, but the bones were there.  Then there were no bones and I've spent my days (other than the 4 that I took off for Thanksgiving, dammit) madly trying to write it all down again.  I'm almost there.

My trip will not be all work and no play as my mom is going to be there for a week and we are going to the Marché Noël in Strasbourg for a couple days the first weekend of Advent.  It's going to be crowded and full of all the Christmas kitsch I could ever want.  The invited "country" guest this year is Quebec.  Last year it was Romania.  This kind of irritates me because I just went to Quebec and heard all these things about how 2008 is their 400th anniversary.  And the tourism minister of Quebec will be there!  You know, so he or she can help you plan your trip for next year.  Yay.  It is also weird because, as much as some people wish it so,  Quebec is not technically a country.  But, who are we to question?

I will need lots of luck on Monday when I attempt to access the administrative nightmare of the Bibliothèque Nationale, where I have to have an interview with a librarian about why I should be able to do research there.  I will be jet-lagged and having to speak in French--what fun!  It's not so much the speaking that's the major problem, it's the understanding the clipped Parisian accent.

I arrive on Saturday very early in the morning, when it is supposed to be raining, and have to kill 5 hours before I can check into my apartment at noon.  This too shall be interesting as I'll be schlepping my bags around and trying to buy a SIM card for my cell phone, while praying that the hundreds of euros in my pocket which will pay for the remainder of my rent will stay there until I can get to the 6ème.

Pray for me.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

More Dissertation Avoidance

I have yet to read the book "No One Cares What You Had For Lunch" by Maggie over at Mighty Girl, but I've enjoyed reading her posts based on its prompts.

In a bid to procrastinate some more, I'm taking her prompt from page 49 (or so she and others say).

Making My Timeline

My First Decade + one year to make a prime number

Age 1: I am small for my age and my mother worries that I will be very short.

Age 2: My sister enters the world. 'nuff said.

Age 3: I memorize my favorite book, Sleeping Beauty, including when to turn the pages. My parents have a dinner party and a friend's 5-year-old daughter runs out of my room and proclaims in astonishment to everyone, "She knows how to read!"

Age 4: I want my mom to cut up an apple for me for a snack. She tells me to wait because she is trying to finish something. I keep asking. Finally, she tells me to stop asking for an apple or I would not get one at all. I return a minute later and ask for "that green thing on the counter."

Age 5: I learn to hate wearing dresses because Ryan S. keeps chasing me and trying to flip up my skirt. My mom never understood why I didn't like dresses after that.

Age 6: In first grade, my teacher does a shadow profile portrait of each kid in the class. I am offended that Dolly's profile portrait includes the outline of her eyelashes whereas mine did not. I wonder why my eyelashes are so short.

Age 7: I really want a Cabbage Patch Kid for Christmas. My parents don't have a lot of money--especially considering those dolls were something like $40 in mid-1980s money--so my mom makes me one by buying a head (that looked very similar to the real ones, btw) and sewing the body. I bring it to school, get made fun of, and abandon the doll at home, which means I played with it for maybe 2 weeks. Years later, I realize I had no comprehension of the amount of time, energy, and love my mom put into the project because she wanted to give me the best she and dad could, and how much it must have hurt to have that effort be so unappreciated.

Age 8: I am bored in my 3rd grade class, so I switch teachers. I help out the kids in my new class and a number of them tell me I should be a teacher when I grow up. And I got a perm. One of those kinky 1980s poodle mistakes.

Age 9: A boy named Jacob tells me in line outside of the classroom that I have "a fat butt and skinny arms." When playing dodge ball, I somehow end up the last kid in and all the boys throw the balls as hard as possible to hit me. I run to my teacher crying. I also start getting pimples. Goodbye self esteem!

Age 10: We come home from Christmas at grandma's house to find two feet of snow. I run to the backyard and see my sister's cat Cloudy dragging her entire hindquarters on the ground behind her. She was run over by a car while we were gone. She gets put to sleep at the vet's office. This is my first experience with the death of someone(? thing?) close to me. I realize that life is unfair.

Age 11: I learn to play basketball on my 6th grade team and have the best coach ever (Mr. Zeisler!). We had an "awards ceremony" at the end of the season, where he gave each of us a nickname. Because I was 5'6" at the age of 11 and therefore almost 4 inches taller than most everyone else in my year, my nickname was "The Tower."

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I saw Sicko a couple weeks ago, and while it did not contain any new information for me, it was still disturbing. There were things I felt could have been more fully explained--for example, I had some very long conversations with my host when I was in France about their healthcare system. She always complained about the high cost of their healthcare, via taxes, and how upset she was about the high level of fraud among illegal immigrants, the lack of security for their access cards, and how they were paying such high taxes to other people's advantage. Moore's film makes it look like the French healthcare system is all peaches and cream.

But, that's to be expected. And I'm okay with that, to some extent. When making a point, especially in a feature-length movie, sometimes we don't have time to comb through all the ins and outs of a system. I think a better stance would be to think of it as like a marriage. Each system has its problems. So, let's say these problems are a human being's "foibles". My husband's foibles, which I find irritating but can live with, are not the same foibles that my friends could live with. In fact, I'm sure some people wonder how I can stand to live with him at all! But, that's what marriage is about--finding the person who has the foibles that you are willing to deal with. Because, we've all got them, those foibles. Except for me. I'm perfect.

Seriously though, the hard part for our country over the next few years is going to be negotiating a healthcare system whose primary foibles we are willing to live with. And there will be foibles--a lot of them.

Anyway, while I was at work and had a slow moment, I was trying to catch up with my New Yorker reading and read Atul Gawande's take on the movie. In the penultimate paragraph, he brought up some points about government involvement and things like birth control, etc. This got me thinking...

I'm definitely a social liberal--I'm all for government programs that help people. AND, more importantly, I'm willing to pay more taxes for them. But, I don't trust our current government, specifically, the judicial branch in the form of our Supreme Court. If we give the government more control over our healthcare system, what's to stop them from limiting abortions, birth control, morning after pills, etc.? We're already seeing this with pharmacists and some doctors. We're seeing the attempts to overthrow Roe v. Wade. Or the recent partial-birth abortion ban that is really only used in this day and age if the pregnancy will eventually put the mother's life in peril. That ban says the procedure can only be done if the mother is in immediate danger. Aside from issues of body ownership and if a fetus has more rights than the vessel/mother, this has, for me, major implications for a universal healthcare system over which this particular court would have some semblance of control.

The big problem I have is that I do want more government involvement with healthcare, but only of a certain type. A type which I'm not sure our government can really fulfill, especially with many citizens' inability to separate their moral beliefs from the rights and choices that everyone should be able to have under the tenets of our government.

I don't expect a perfect solution, but I certainly do not want one which is yet another platform for religious conservatives, or anyone for that matter, to restrict our choices in healthcare. Can this be done?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Fire Season

Nice sunsets. Not nice air quality.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Explaining my Absence with Pics

I've been sort of busy lately what with birthdays and anniversaries, planning trips to other continents, planning trips to our friendly neighbors to the north, and planning trips to states with active volcanoes. Getting my computer fixed was also a big one as my optical drive died and I got my topcase replaced for discoloration (yay!). Oh, and of course, living the high life for one night here. (Pics to come another day for that last one).

Speaking of pics, we also bought a new camera! We've finally replaced our old 2 MP (yes, you read that right) digital that had full manual controls--the reason we've kept it for so long--and got a new ultra-compact one!

You must admit, however, that the old camera could take some nice pics:

Anywho, one of the awesome things about our new camera is that it has optical image stabilization, particularly helpful in macro and night shots. And it's not that digital IS crap that just changes the ISO making the shot really grainy.

So, I did a little test on my 5th wedding anniversary flowers:
New Camera:

Old Camera:
As you can see, the image stabilization makes a big difference because my hands were clearly shaking from the lack of martinis in my blood. Oh and the color is better too. I'll put up the cool Color Accent photos I took on flickr.

But most of all, I've been obsessing about my damned tomato plants. I bought 6 this year with the hopes that I'll get a fully ripe tomato from at least one plant, even if I kill the rest or those damned devil rabbits from Night of the Lepus eat our entire garden like they did last year (including my ripening tomatoes!). Oh, the destruction they caused.

I've watched as the first round of blossoms just fell off. I've only grown early variety tomatoes so this was a new thing for me and it freaked my shit out: was I watering them too much? was it getting too cold outside at night? WHY?!? Then, I noticed that the blossoms would open widely and then close, something that my early tomato varieties never did--the blossoms just stayed open and the little tomato grew out of that for everyone to see.

Just yesterday, we went to the garden to water it and I will share with you the marvels of our garden (because it is so utterly exciting).

The tomatoes are the newest thing:
Note that I didn't plant the seedlings until early June, so I'm a bit behind with the maturation of the garden.

But, can you see it??? There's a tomato there! Well, I learned that the non-early variety tomato blossoms do close back up (I assume to protect the fruit from the heat/sun) and then the little tomatoes eventually peep out. Meanwhile, I've had about 2 weeks of thinking I had a black thumb for tomatoes.

In case you don't believe me:

Yep! That there is a tiny baby tomato.

We also planted bell peppers:
A baby bell pepper. This is very exciting.

And lettuce, which likes it here:
And the arugula that bolted because it hasn't been as foggy as normal:

And finally, the cucumbers (well, just one in this photo):

I'm liking the new camera--especially how portable it is.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Me as a Simpsons Character

If you'd like to make your own Simpsons avatar:

Friday, June 15, 2007

Grading Avoidance: a Limerick about turning 30

There was once was a grown-up named Deetie

She felt like a kid, but turned thirty.

While not feeling much older

Her laugh lines betrayed her

Well, at least her small boobs are not saggy.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dissertation Avoidance: an Ode to Soda (after Pindaric form, kinda-sorta-not-really)

O, soda you are so fizzy

you have so many flavors, like Pepsi, and 7-Up, and Coke

and if I put liquor in there, I sometimes feel dizzy.

It’s truly the fizz that I love, and your sweetness too, so I’ll buy you until I go broke.

I could drink coffee, but that has too much caffeine,

making me sweaty, shaky and wild-eyed,

which renders me unable to do any work on my dissertation.

O soda, you come in bottles and cans, but I hold cans in the highest esteem,

because those fizzies from the can have no where to hide,

and I can burp loud enough to hear across the nation.

O soda, you may be so very bad for me,

your phosphorus takes away my bones’ calcium.

So, I try to drink more 7-Up, which has fewer chemicals, you see.

But, I crave those bits of caffeine to make my days more halcyon.

Thus, I return to those wonderful colas of yore,

with their caffeine-laden bubbles sparkling on my tongue,

and the gentle effects of those chemicals make my words vomit onto the page so beautifully.

O soda, you ask, how could I love you more?

Does this ode not lend a sense of those feelings you give me, of elation?

If not, well too bad, for I’ve tried my best and you can just go screw yourself. Beautifully.

The End.

Pindaric Odes: usually 3, 10-line stanzas with rhyme scheme ababcdecde. The form of the stanzas should be strophe, antistrophe, and epode. But, that's a little TOO involved for dissertation avoidance. :)

Friday, May 18, 2007


For the first time (in 2 days of actual work), I got a daily bonus. This is good because it raises my hourly take by a few bucks. I have yet to check my hourly rate, but my goal in this whole thing is to make close to the 20/hour I get paid to teach. I think this is fair, yes?

Sorry, no highly interesting stories from last night. People were fairly docile or hung up quickly enough. I was actually having a terrible time of it for the first 1.5 hours. I finally just took an early break and that helped me stop stressing and move on. It got better because I decided to experiment and change up my intonation a little bit. It certainly worked! Or I just got better callers.

DC Mollie is here! We went to B'Ak D'Or last night and it rocked! The guy made me a martini and made too much so he effectively gave me the equivalent of 3 martinis--it was like with a milkshake at a restaurant where they give you the extra! I had this highball of martini waiting to pour into my little martini glass. And he made it with Sapphire! And it only cost 6 dollars! So, on a 16 dollar bill I tipped him 9 bucks.

We are going on a boat ride today.

Oh. and I broke my glasses dammit. During my frustrated break last night, I was cleaning them and snapped the lens casing. Crap! Superglue to the rescue. Except I don't have any.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

New Job

Many of you know that I have taken on a part-time job in the evenings to accelerate my credit card payoff plan. Basically, for this job I answer phones and tell people about a service. I can't get anymore specific than that here because I don't want to be fired for a blog, you know? I'd rather be fired for something I actually did.

I've just started and there is a somewhat extensive training period. Last night was my first time being on the phones the whole time. It was actually less tiring than training, for some reason.

The best part was when this one guy totally yelled at me and I just kept on going seeing if he would ever hang up. He got really pissed and continued to raise his voice and I still kept going because it was like this bizarro kind of game and I was testing him. I finally let him go when he threatened to curse me out. The funny thing is? I still got the sale.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Back in the saddle again...

You know, I always felt that song had such a crazy sexual connotation to it. In this case, I am actually using it to refer to the fact that I'm back to "normal" life. The months leading up to my conference presentation were difficult, but they allowed me to not think or worry about certain aspects of my life because I didn't have the time. As soon as I came home, it all rained down upon me and I had a sense of paralysis. But, the students turned in their papers and that made me get off my butt.

On the first leg out to wonderful (she says sarcastically) South Bend, IN, I sat next to this guy:
He's actually pretty cute in person, this Andrew Firestone guy. I really didn't know it was him until I was about to get off the plane, to be quite honest. It actually kind of sucked sitting next to him because he totally invaded my personal space. I mean seriously. His balls CANNOT BE THAT BIG. I had the aisle and he had the window, so he was totally doing that "guy spreading his legs thing" into my legroom. At first, I tried to shrink myself down as small as can be (and I'm not a huge person, by any means). But after a while, I got pissed and decided that our legs would just plain have to be touching because that was less uncomfortable for me than trying to not be in his way. This is a big thing, because I am not a stranger-touchy person. I HATE touching people I don't know. Big time. I mean, I'll give up my 3-foot stranger-danger boundary when I'm on a plane. I get that. Hell, when I travel with my husband, I'm the person sitting in the middle because he's bigger than me, and then I really have to just deal with my personal space issues.

The weird part is that when he finally fell asleep, he actually moved over. His balls apparently don't need as much space or air when he is sleeping. I still don't get it. Why, when you are awake do you take up my room? Why, when you fall asleep are you far more cognizant of other people's space? Whatever. I don't care if your family owns wineries and stuff. I don't go to your winery tasting room because it's too damned touristy. And, you know what happens in overly touristy tasting rooms? NO FUCKING PERSONAL SPACE because there's too damned many drunk-ass partiers there. (I also don't like smelling other people or their cologne/perfume while I'm tasting wine either.)

When I told M about sitting next to the Firestone Bachelor guy, he just said, "well, at least you got to sit next to a cute guy!" I had to explain to him that it was not a plus in my book because Cute Guy was being some weird kind of jerk.

Otherwise, my plane rides were mostly uneventful. Got to sit next to my advisor on the way back and apparently annoy people because we were talking. But no one had the cojones to say anything to us about it, so poo on them. At least I didn't have any claustrophobia episodes on the plane, which is something I've become increasingly concerned about, as I get mild panic attacks every now and then.

And on to more important things:
May I just say that it is currently 9:45 in the morning and it's already 75 degrees? This past weekend has been absolutely beautiful--one of those weekends where I ate the most awesome strawberries ever and don't want to move from my seaside SoCal location. Even though most of my friends are now gone. I guess I have to take comfort in something, yes?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I'm here

and in grading hell, but there it is. I have yet to read a paper about Christina Aguilera, so that's good.

I shall have to give more specifics of my trip and how I sat next to a Bachelor on the plane (which was nowhere near as interesting as it sounds), but I must get back to ruining my students' lives.

My paper presentation went fine. I was so utterly relieved when it was over. The way I think about it now was so eloquently stated by Bill Murray (paraphrasing Caesar) in the best movie ever, "Ghostbusters": We came, we saw, we KICKED ITS ASS!

I also got to see a good friend who just happens to be 8 months pregnant and I kept her up until all hours of the night while tempting her with glasses of wine. :) All-in-all, it was a nice interlude from normal life.

Now, I'm back to grading rubrics and assigning points for MLA usage. Woo hoo.

Oh, and watch this video about the Great Revolution of the British Cuckoos:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Hero

I find the whole Virginia Tech shooting to be disturbing, at the very least.

But, there was one man killed there who was a hero for his students. Beyond his legacy of teaching, he died helping his students live:
Liviu Librescu, 76, an engineering science and mechanics lecturer. He was born in Romania, immigrated to Israel in 1978 and moved to Virginia in 1985.

An Israeli citizen, he had taught at Virginia Tech for 20 years and was internationally known for his work in aeronautical engineering.

"His research has enabled better aircraft, superior composite materials, and more robust aerospace structures," said Ishwar Puri, the head of the engineering science and mechanics department.

Librescu's son, Joe, said his father's students sent e-mails detailing how the professor saved their lives by blocking the doorway of his classroom from the approaching gunman before he was fatally shot.

“My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee,” his son Joe Librescu said in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv. “Students started opening windows and jumping out.”


Monday, April 16, 2007

Leavin' on a jet plane...

Not quite yet, but I leave at butt-ass early o'clock on Wednesday morning. Woot!

In honor of my stress and how much I love my paper at this moment, I leave you with an image (thanks R):

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vocabulary lessons

My grandma, the 80 something year old short Basque lady who is up for anything and a lot of fun, called me today and left a message.

"Oh, hi Deetie. This is Grandma. Listen, have you heard from your mom? How is she doing? oh and can you call me back and tell me what that stuff Imus said means? I think I know what a ho is, but I'm not sure about the rest. Thank you. Bye."

Hee hee! I called her and filled her in on the 'rents situation (they're in Italy doing ancestry stuff) and she did not forget to ask about Imus. Nope, she asked "is he referring to their pubic hair?" I explained to her and then she decided that ho was the worst of the two. She mentioned what she heard ho meant, I think just to make sure that she was right.

Things to write in my journal about today: Taught today, went okay. Tired. Oh, and talked about ho's and pubic hair with my grandma.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Where Have I Been?!?

I've been a little stressed lately. Just a bit. My life over the last 3 weeks has pretty much been full of nail-biting. A brief run-through of my last 2 weeks:
-write paper for conference
-smoke cigarettes (for 1 day)
-feel guilty for smoking
-stop smoking cigarettes
-feel better after couple days
-workout lots
-hurt neck
-neck spasms. go to doctor and get nice muscle relaxants. get no work done while medicated, but thankful for abatement of neck and back contractions
-stress some more
-rewrite conference paper
-smoke a couple more cigarettes (I really am serious here. Maybe like 4 in a 2 hour time period.)
-feel guilty for smoking
-stop smoking cigarettes
-feel better after couple days, but can't workout because of neck injury
-rewrite paper again
-family comes for Easter for major bacchanale. Eat too much, drink too much, smoke more fucking cigarettes. NO MORE!

Meanwhile, life has traveled on without me. Not that I blame it. Really? My stress is kinda small, it's not like I'm moving across the country or having a baby or something. But, things have happened over the last 3 weeks. I shall sum up my feelings about these things below.

1. I am sad Kurt Vonnegut died. I liked his writing and he's only 2 years older than my grandma who I loaded up with liquor over Easter (she really liked my martinis!).

2. Josh Bell playing at L'Enfant Plaza Metro Station is awesome. Honestly, I probably wouldn't have stopped to listen because morning rush hour is such shit in DC. Yes, we should be open to more beauty in this world. I can say that I probably would have commented to someone that I heard an awesome violinist in the metro today, but beyond that...I usually had to get to work. I caught a bus from the metro to get to work. That bus only ran every half an hour, so if I missed it I was really late to work. Not good. Now, after work was a different story (esp. later at night, like when I met my husband).
Anyway, I must also admit that L'Enfant Plaza is also where I would go for a pee run if I had gone drinking near the Capitol and had to trek home on my 1+ hour commute home to Maryland when I first lived there. Yeah, LP was the only metro station that had bathrooms right outside! And since I paid for a monthly unlimited pass, I didn't care that I had to leave the station proper to evacuate my bladder. Dude, it was a relatively clean bathroom that always had tp, soap, and paper towels.

3. Don Imus said shitty things and I'm kinda glad he's gotten in trouble for it. I don't normally give a shit about these sorts of things. I have a love-hate relationship with "shock jocks" anyway. When I was in college, I used to listen to Howard Stern for maybe 3 weeks to a month before he'd say something that disgusted me enough/pissed me off enough that I wouldn't listen for a couple months. I went through that cycle for a couple of years until I decided it wasn't worth it anymore.
Being a shock jock, especially an old one, has its problems. Basically, you traverse the thin line of what's okay and what's not okay every day. When you are this relic whose heyday was in the 1980s, well...hate to tell you this, but it ain't worth keeping you around if you fuck up--too many sponsors leave and not enough new ones can take their place. Maybe if you were 25 or something. Then the suits could say that you are young and stupid. It's harder to tell someone that you're 70 and stupid. Oh yeah, the other problem? Rap singers say shitty things about women as a whole. I don't like it, but at least I can say that it's a gross generalization about a large portion of society. Ripping on a small, very specific group of young women calling them nappy-haired ho's? That's too personal. Those young women are not celebrities who understand that their "privacy is expensive" (thanks Johnny Depp). No, those girls are trying to make a life for themselves by going to college and being good enough to play for their basketball team. It was only a matter of time before Imus said something that wouldn't be worth saving him from, and this was it.

Crap. Lost is on. I've gotta go.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Media Post

I'm currently avoiding finishing my conference paper and grading the final papers for my class. It's a bit depressing around here the last few days because the once glorious weather has departed for those gray, foggy days in which I never see the sun. It's "June Gloom" in fucking March. The weather, coupled with my ever-burdgeoning to-do list has put me in this state of paralysis: I don't want to do anything and I can't even force myself to try.

So, what have I been doing? Listening to music and wandering about the internet. I want to share with you 2 of my favorites:

1. A guy who has mixed Scissor Sisters, The Beatles, George Michael, and Aretha Franklin. Awesome! He's got a dual bachelors degree in both Music and Computer Science, so this guy knows what he's doin'.
"No One Takes Your Freedom"

2. A preview of the yumminess that will be released June 8th (and NO I'm not talking about Al Pacino):

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pictures from yesterday

In a fit of sentimentality, I've been taking pictures of where I live.

We went out last night during the "golden hour" to take some photos of a nearby beach.

La La--a post about nothing

It is a beeeyoooooootiful day today! It's 85 degrees! It's so wonderful that I cannot help but use exclamation points!

I, of course, have much work to do and don't really get to go play in the sunshine. I think I'll at least sit outside and soak up some vitamin D while I revise my draft of a conference paper.

I don't get do anything really fun until April 23rd. Oh well--if the weather could stay like this, I would work every weekend.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Paper grading

Did you know that if men and women were equal, as in if they were paid equally and could have all the same jobs that our country would become a socialist state? That women with equality in the workforce = descent into being commie bastards? And let me tell you why: because if women are paid equally to men, then no one will want to work harder than they have to, because, you know, everyone's getting paid the same anyway!

Man, you learn something new every day.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Jogging/Walking Musings

M gave me a Nike+ thingy for my iPod for Christmas. I didn't ask for it or anything, but because I had mentioned it he decided to buy it for me. (Don't tell him, but I actually only mentioned it because he was talking about training for a half-marathon and I thought it'd be really cool for him. oh well.)

So, now I feel like I have to start running again, even though I'm not a huge fan of running. Ha. That's an understatement. I borderline hate it. Seriously.

In an effort to use the little gadget (and yes, you can use it without those expensive Nike shoes--I bought a $5 shoe thingy), I've started to jog again. But, since I'm at the beginning I am doing that jog/walk combination, which feels silly when someone is behind me. Oh well.

I suppose this post isn't about much except to rub it in the face of my friends who have moved from here, or who are not here right now. Thus, I'll get right to the point.
The last few days, it's been very windy here. The consequence is that it is insanely clear in this coastal town. I've been jog/walking by the ocean in the late afternoon close to sunset and when that sun hits the islands off the coast, it has been absolutely amazing. These islands are normally a shrouded presence that some days look like a cloud bank on the horizon. But this week, oh! that clarity in the air reveals mountains jutting out of the ocean, with sheer rock walls plunging ino the sea and breaks in the brush that covers those peaks, with the bare land peeking through.

It has been one hell of a sight; in my six years here, I have never seen that much detail on those islands. I live in a beautiful place--it can be a strange beauty as the primary colors here are yellow and blue, but as my time here winds down it's nice to revel in what makes this such a desirable place to live.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My Job≠My Self

I had a telephone conversation with someone lately (I honestly can't remember who), and this person talked about those poor souls with their nursing jobs, or the like, whose lives and very selves are inextricably linked with their career. For these people, any and every failure reflects poorly on not just their performance, but on the deepest core of their existence.

I nodded many times, expressing my agreement and my chagrin for Those People, you know, because the person on the other end can see when I nod when I'm on the phone. Anyway, I was all, "that's right! It is so sad." And the conversation moved on to other things.

I had some fleeting sense of something directly after I got off the phone, but didn't revisit it fully until I was driving home from school today. That something that I was brushing off earlier was a niggling feeling that fully flowered today: I am, in some ways, one of Those People.

Perhaps I am in denial, but I do believe that academia is particularly conducive to the My Job/Self people. I think it's a hazard of that career track. Long ago, when I was going through my crappy high school phase, my parents sent me to a psychiatrist to make sure everything was okay. This psychiatrist talked to me about all of my parental issues and mentioned that, unfortunately, I was subjected to certain rules and regulations because my father is a lawyer. Sort of like the kid who is the progeny of a doctor--the doctor knows what could happen based on a simple headache and rather than giving the child aspirin and sending her out the door, Dr. takes her to the hospital to check for meningitis and won't let the kid out of the house for the next 3 weeks. The point is that I think academia is similar, and I never felt this way with my regular jobs.

Why is the "Job/Self" disease so possible with academia? Because we work so hard on our research, throwing our hearts and souls and every kernel of intelligence at the problem we have created for ourselves. This problem we love so much that we are willing to give years of our lives to pick at it, take it apart, and master every contour and nuance. In giving so much of oneself, it is difficult not to feel crushed when you are giving a paper and someone in the audience calls into question the basis of your career and, really, a huge part of your life.

But, I'm not sure that really gets at it. Isn't a "regular" job a huge part of everyone's life?

Well, another thing about academia is that it always comes home with me. When I worked a "regular" job, I rarely, if ever, brought my work home with me. Hell, I was just happy that I finally didn't have homework to worry about after I got was what made happy hour so goddamned happy. This job? I'm constantly thinking ahead: have to grade this weekend, conferences next week, need to start changing stuff for next quarter and getting the syllabus and reader together. Not to mention the stuff with my own research, the stuff that will never go away no matter how high I may reach in academia: have to finish the grant applications due tomorrow, write another conference proposal, finish a chapter, write the paper for a conference, fix a previous chapter's draft, plan a research trip to Paris that may never come to fruition, etc. etc. etc. It just never ends.

And I'm okay with that. Because I like it. Because there are those times when I'm proud of myself for what I've done. What I don't like is the fact that so much of myself is wrapped up in this crappy-ass blanket. This blanket that is so warm and soft and fuzzy and wonderful when people tell me I'm doing well. What a high! But, it's like trying to sleep on sandpaper when I'm blindsided by negativity about my work. It's not that I want people to lie either. I really want to know the truth,'s still heart-wrenching. Unfortunately, I've now resorted to automatically thinking that everything I submit is shit. It's easier that way. It is not, however, a good way to approach a job.

Further, this is truly about my work. My teaching? I'm a pretty good teacher--I've had my bad moments, but I'm all right in the grand scheme of things. I don't have that same confidence in my own work and I need to get over it. Because I can't keep going through this cycle of highs and lows with this job. I've got some prime opportunities to test my new resolution in the next few months, so wish me luck. It will be a tough road.

But, it will be a road filled with martinis, KTinis, Rebtinis, Mtinis, good wine, and good food. And really? What more could I ask for?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I'm not saying that no one else has ever done this. In fact, I'm pretty fucking sure they have. But, I made it for myself and I like it and we call it a KTini in our house.

Cheap-Ass KTini:
6 oz. Rear Admiral Joseph Gin (TJ's)*
.5 oz. dry vermouth
lime juice, splash (to taste)

Place ice cubes and water into 2 martini glasses. Let sit for 4-5 minutes. Place gin and vermouth in cocktail shaker over ice. Shake. Empty martini glasses, leaving slight film of ice water. Pour martini into glass and add splashes of lime juice to taste.

Serves 2. Or serves 1 lush. Which is me.

I don't put olives in this one. I have yet to determine my preferred garnish, but it's probably a lime wedge.

*You can substitute Sapphire or, even better, Hendrick's for the cheapo gin. Adjust vermouth accordingly.

I guess you had to be there

I'm back from the midwest. I was able to take a (hot) shower every day. And we fixed a furnace. The first rule of travel to the midwest during the depths of winter is that we don't talk about travel to the midwest during the depths of winter.

Anyway. As we move into our 5th year of marriage, I'm sometimes amazed at how much hilarity I still see in my husband. This is a good thing, especially considering that many of my dates had lost their hilarity shortly after the 3rd or 4th date (when they tell you they love you after 1 week, something's definitely wrong).

Since we got home, we've quickly reverted to our normal schedule of Idol-watching, but we've also had to catch up on our good tv shows we've missed, like Scrubs, Heroes, the last show ever of Studio 60, and the like. Anyway, M fell asleep on the floor. Anyone who has been to our house and stayed really late during a party has seen him asleep. [He's old, you know...those old farts need more sleep.] But, he wasn't just asleep. Oh no, he's honking away making more noise than the leaf blowers on Thursdays that drive me nuts.

Clearly, he was interrupting my Idol-critiquing [did you know that the people in the tv can hear you when you tell them they sucked ass?] so I woke him up. He said, "good night" and promptly went back to sleep on the floor. In my giddy mood, I found this somewhat amusing. I proceeded to tap his lower back with my foot to wake him up again. He eventually stands up and then does this teetering walk to the stairs that is honestly the funniest thing I've seen in a week. He walked like I did that one New Year's Eve that I puked at someone else's house for the first time [I've always been lucky enough to make it home]. I could barely stop giggling. I can't quite explain why it was so funny to me and it's not one of those things you can really catch on video. But, it was my first belly laugh since at least a week ago and it was nice. Sometimes, those husbands can be pretty cute. If only that cuteness involved a desire to do the dishes all the time...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Fucking Valentine's Day

So, we did our typical thing and celebrated Valentine's Day on the 13th. I made a nice dinner, we opened up a very nice bottle of wine and enjoyed ourselves.

Tomorrow at 5 a.m., I leave for Missouri. Yes. Missouri. Where at this very moment, it is 1 degree below zero with wind chill (yes, Shaz, I know it's far colder in Chicago). The kicker is that I just found out that the house I will be staying at does not have a shower. That's right, no shower, only a bath.

Now, to some people this is not so big a deal. They would say, "hey! At least you have some option for cleaning yourself." Me? Not so much. I know that I'm going to visit a person who has a higher temperature tolerance in her house than I. So, I'm always cold. For the last couple of weeks, I was thinking that even if I'm freezing, at least I can take a shower to warm myself up. Oh ho ho! Not now! Nope, I get to stew in the bathtub juices of 2 other people for 5 damned days. And getting a hotel room would be tantamount to murder to our host. I suppose my only option is to get a hotel room which I only use to shower. This trip, this very inexpensive trip has just doubled in price. And I want to kill someone.

Yeah, I know. Overreacting. But, this is one of my issues, my things, my standards that I sort of have when I visit somewhere. Preferably a separate room to sleep, but more than anything else...a shower.


Thursday, February 8, 2007

Cheap-ass Bastard

This is what I call my husband when he is being "thrifty". That's a nice way of putting it.

Anyway, when I saw this, my first thought was not about how great it is there are still honest people in the world.

It was: 30 fucking cents for a tip? Bitch, you're lucky to get anything from that guy.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

I think I made someone cry today

Ah, the joys of being a teacher.

I make my students come and see me for 2 10-minute conferences each quarter. It's pretty painless; I try to schedule them in conjunction with returning a paper so that I can explain their grade and you know...they won't act up in class and shit.

Yeah, that's happened to me before. My first year as a TA I had this guy who wrote a terrible paper: it was filled with all of this stuff about his girlfriend and how this piece of classical music I assigned reminds him of her. It was just bizarre. So I gave him a C. You know, not because his paper was off-topic and didn't follow the prompt. No, not because of that. Nope, I gave him a C because I'm a BITCH.

I made a big mistake that quarter, a mistake I had committed in previous quarters but I'd had no problems and was therefore not realizing the error of my ways: I handed back their papers at the beginning of class. See, when I was a spritely college student I loved getting my papers back and reading all the comments. Not because I was a nerd, but because I had worked hard and wanted to see what the prof thought of my work. Anyway, I hated waiting until the end of class for my papers, so I thought I'd spare any of my nerdy students this same angst.

I hand the papers back and commence class and I realize this guy is reading a newspaper in the middle of class. And it wasn't that paper-on-the-desk not really obvious paper-reading. Oh no, he was fully reading it like he was at his fucking breakfast table with a cup of coffee. Okay, whatever. I can handle that shit--if you don't want to listen, your loss not mine. About 10 minutes later, he stands up and walks to the front of the room, looks at me and says, "I have to go the bathroom." And walks out the door. just disrupted class to let everyone know that you have to piss? At the end of class, he came up to me and proceeded to enter my personal space...that 2.5 feet of space which only my husband and friends may enter (and, unfortunately, strangers on public transportation). Yeah, he entered my space. And he proceeded to yell at me. He was so INDIGNANT! HOW EVER COULD I HAVE GIVEN HIM A C?!? This fool did not realize that I am not a woman easily cowed. He didn't realize that when students yell at me, I get more stubborn, not less. I eventually had to tell him that we would talk about it later. He stopped coming to class after that. The best part of the story is that he sent an email to the prof (my friend) at the end of the quarter about how he was so busy and just really wanted an incomplete. Full of flowery bullshit. But, since I had apprised my friend of the situation 5 weeks earlier, he failed. **evil laugh**

Anyway, the point is that I think I made someone cry today. I had conferences and this one girl had written a paper seriously lacking in analysis. She was also missing a variety of documents necessary to her portfolio (and helpful to her grade) because she chose not to come to class the days we worked on said documents. Thus, she got a C on her paper. She had been very talkative and whatnot at the beginning, but as soon as I told her the grade, she shut down. Big time. And looked really pissed. I feel bad and that totally irritates me because I'm not the one who didn't spend enough time on my paper.

My whole philosophy, which I've revealed to my students, is that I don't care if they don't come to class or do what I've asked them to do. As long as they understand the repercussions and consequences of their actions, that's fine. Part of this understanding includes that they cannot complain about the grades they receive. I still feel bad. Oh well.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

I don't have anything to say

I'm in the midst of grading hell right now.

Reading 4,000 papers. 3,998 of which are about Christina Aguilera and how she's not a skanky ho. No really.

Drinking and watching 'Arry Potter aren't even helping anymore.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dinner and a Movie

On to things non alcohol-related.

You know what this means, right?

Yep, yep. My latest culinary thang is that I'd like to eat vegetarian for at least 1 meal per week. When I say meal, I am talking about me slaving over the stove one night, which provides food for 2 nights. Thus, at least 2 of my nights should be vegetarian. [M is not overly thrilled with this, but he's mostly gotten over it.] The biggest reason for me to do it is that I tend to eat a lot more veggies and healthy stuff when I eat vegetarian. I guess the meat just fills me up more, so I don't eat as much salad or side vegetables.

Last night we had the second meal in my "Vegetarian Tonight" series: Cabbage Rolls. Yeah, that doesn't sound so hot on its own, but how about "Barley -Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Currants and Pine Nuts"? They've got feta in them, too. I like feta. A lot. Anyway, I made them last night and we both liked them! We have a little ratings system for the meals I make: not very good, eh it's okay but I would only want it every few months, it's good and you can put it into rotation, and I want to eat this at least once a week. This fell under the "it's good and you can put it into rotation" rating. I did, however, make one subsitution: I couldn't find pearl barley at TJs, but had their brown rice medley (brown rice, black barley, and daikon seeds) so I used that instead. Not to mention that the damned medley had been sitting unused in my cupboard for like 4 months.

[Oh, the first meal in the series was really good and really easy to make: Soba Salad.]

And on to the movie part of our evening. We watched This Film is Not Yet Rated. If you haven't seen it yet, go to the video store and rent it. It's a documentary and it's only 1.5 hours. The movie reveals, or at least attempts to reveal, the process behind the MPAA ratings system. Using interviews with film directors, actors, and producers as well as a private investigator, Kirby Dick explores the relationship between the studios and the MPAA. It's really interesting because the MPAA refuses to give their notes on the movies to the directors because it would be too close to censorship. But, the U.S. is the only country where the identities of the raters are unknown. Dick also reveals the appeals process, which he undergoes himself because this movie is rated NC-17. Finally, the largest issue he explores is the line between R and NC-17 and how the MPAA and the movie studios deal with those ratings.

Overall, a very cogent look at the ratings system that my parents used as a means to limit my movie watching when I was younger. (PG-13 meant I could not see it until I was 13, unless they had seen it first and approved it.) I can't talk too much about it without revealing too much. It's thought-provoking and I'm glad someone had the balls to make this movie and to talk about this subject.

Speaking of movies that would be rated NC-17 now, I'm off to start our Oppression unit in my class and we are going to segue from our hip hop music topic over the last few classes using Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing". Woot!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Lemony goodness!

This blog has become rather liquor-centric. And I'm okay with that. I mean, really. There's not much else going on in my life. I'm not overly comfortable writing too many specifics about my teaching, so can't talk about that. I know everyone is dying to hear about the day-to-day dissertation stuff, but I just can't quite bring myself to tell you things, like the day that I found out Apollo was not really the god of the sun (and almost shit my pants). The rest of that day, I spent reading through classical Greek authors to learn about this travesty, etc.

See? Wasn't that exciting?

No, it wasn't.

So, I'm going to write about liquor. Which at least seems more exciting to me. And that's what counts.

Last week at TJ's, I bought some Meyer Lemons.

If you've never had them, Meyer Lemons are great because they are sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons. The only catch is that they have a very specific ripe season, and it's right now. Good luck finding them during the summer--believe me, I've tried. [I've recently found out they are good as container plants. This makes me want my own mini-lemon tree.]

Anyway, I bought said lemons, but in all the blood orange craziness I kind of forgot about them.

So, last night I made a Meyer Lemon Martini. mmmmm...

I used the recipe above, so I made 4 oz. of simple syrup and added the zest of 2 lemons. So, the drink is basically a couple oz. of the lemon-scented syrup, a couple oz. of lemon juice, and a couple oz. of vodka.

I think this should be added to the Bible:
On the sixth day, God made Meyer Lemons. The people made martinis from them. And it was good.

Since I have a 1 martini/evening limit (except for when the girls come over, then all bets are off), I could not try it with the basil vodka. That, my friends, is slated for tonight.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Basil vodka = good.

I tasted the vodka last night and debated on leaving it for another day. But, since this is my first semi-success I didn't want to push it.

It's a little jarring at first to get that savory aroma right before you take a sip (it was just on the rocks), but it has a really nice just-a-bit-more-than-a-hint of basil in there. The vodka is really smooth too, which gives it a nice back end.

I found a recipe for blood orange martinis. I think I'll be trying that with some basil-infused vodka! The basil may be really minimized by the mixers, which will indicate I should have left it another day, but we'll see.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Don't let the Potato Vodkas get you down!

I talked with my mom on the phone during my office hours (to which NO ONE EVER COMES!) today. She was asking if I had found Mason Jars and then wanted to know again why I wanted them. My not-really-officemates (it's just these 8-foot high cubicles separating us so they can hear everything) heard me explaining the failed experiment, including my use of Persian cucumbers as opposed to the other kind (as well as my admission that I should have used regular cucumbers or checked the infusion earlier since they are stronger). I have a new rule for vodka for infusion: if I would not be able to shoot it (like if it smells like potato ass), then I should not use it. I think this is a good rule.

I was asked to let them know when next I will be speaking with my mother ("You talk to your mom about doing shots of vodka?" Yes, I do. She'd do 'em with me, too!) so that they could be sure to be there. Apparently, the one-sided conversations I have with my mom are quite entertaining, especially the part where I talked about cucumbers.

I also realized that I spend far too much of my time thinking about liquor. Oh well.

On to more writing about liquor!

BTW: I had cucumbers on my salad last night, and I had a hard time eating them because the smell reminded me of the far more horrid smell of the vodka. This is sad. I love cucumbers.

After taking a few days off and having to go to TJ's today anyway, I decided to try my next experiment: basil vodka. The girls are coming over on Friday and basil vodka takes 2-3 day to steep, so we should have some sort of infusion goodness. Either that or I will cry. (Like I wanted to today at the library when they forced me to unpack my entire backpack. Now, I'm murderous.)

I bought some regular vodka, this time. It looks pretty good (Black Sea vodka from TJ's for 15 bucks) and when I got it home I smelled it. Results: it smells like nothing! yee-haw!

The supplies:

I mixed it all together:

And now I will wait. I have it in the fridge right now, but I'm considering moving it. I will start trying it tomorrow. I found another cool site about infusions (R you especially will like it) via another website and it has some neat ideas.

I'm still thinking about that blueberry/tonic/sugar/basil-infused vodka/maybe mint drink but I know not everyone is fond of blueberries (I know, the horror).

So, I bought some of these.

I don't know if it will taste good, but it certainly sounds interesting--an herbal screwdriver! Plus the color should be awesome.

Oh, and it was only 2 dollars for that 2 pound bag. Maybe they were picked before the freeze?

Vodka update

Well, I think I may have to throw it out.

Potato vodka + cucumbers = shitty smelling thing that makes me want to gag

I have learned a valuable lesson: potato vodka, while so very Russian, should not be used when infusing your own vodka--unless you are using Chopin, which I'm really glad I didn't because then I'd have to drink the infusion based solely upon its cost.

Some of the internet lied about potato vodka being better. The main issue with it is that it smells weird/bad. And we all know which of our senses affects taste the most, yes?

Back to the drawing board with better vodka! At least I've got enough gin for martinis while I wait.

Speaking of martinis, with a bit of trepidation (but obviously not a lot) I bought the cheapo gin at TJ's. It's pretty damned good! No Hendrick's, mind you, but almost like Sapphire. Just be sure to add a shade more vermouth and leave a little coating of ice water in the glass.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Life's short and hard, like a body-building elf

Yep. Drunken, dry-humping, gyrating Canadians. That was my evening, one January 12th, 2007. (I've been listening to too much Prince, as I almost typed 1999.)

The scene of the crime:
So, there's a reason that DC Mollie and I ended up there. See, we ate at a great restaurant in the Marina and then went to the Mission for a post-prandial drinky-poo. We tried to go to Blondie's but it was packed beyond belief and we were THIRSTY. So, we walked across the street to this place. It was cool and all, with velvet "paintings" as an integral part of the decor, but we felt old there. I mean, we're at the cusp of our 30s. We are so 30 (well, she is for another 5 months, and I will be in 6 months), but damn! everyone there looked like they had gotten in with a fake ID. We finished our drinks, left, and decided to go back to the area around our hotel.

So, we BARTed back and wandered about looking for a martini and a place to sit. We went into a few places and left, usually because they were too bright. Really. Once you notice lighting, it's hard to NOT notice it. These places should have been dark and brooding, hiding the clientele's imperfections, cloaking everyone in a reddish-orange glow. Oh, not here. These places had the lights turned up bright, like a garish Toulouse-Lautrec painting: women shrieking with drunken laughter with bright red gums and beige-ish teeth suffused in the yellow-ish lights. It was uncomfortable in those places, to say the least. We kept trying out bars and then discarding them, just as quickly. Oh, and we didn't want to pay a cover charge (which we later realized was our big mistake). We had already gone to the Gold Dust once that evening, but after being told it was last call at our très chic hotel's bar, we decided to deal with it.

So, we found a seat at the Gold Dust Lounge--a palatial red velvet throne-looking type deal. We ordered--DC Mollie got a beer and I a vodka martini. And the fun began. There were actually two bars: one at which they served alcohol, the other behind which the band played. There were revelers hanging on the bar, really enjoying the music. We got our drinks and settled in to people watch. That's when we actually listened to the music. I don't even know what song they were playing at first (DC Mollie figured it out), but one of the singers was singing with this really out-of-tune falsetto voice that is almost indescribable.

That song ends and the other singer guy asks, "So, didn't someone request a pirate song?" The people around the bar, who we have now found out are Canadians, all start shouting "Argghhh!" Great. The band launches into this bizarro song that is so not a pirate shanty and does a strange little falsetto arpeggio in the middle of the first verse. Wha?

Meanwhile, there is this couple "standing" in front of us who are probably late-40s to mid-50s. I use the quotation marks because they were only sort of standing. They would have been cute if they hadn't been so damned gross. They were wearing matching black leather jackets and black pants (we assumed they had gone shopping and felt that these outfits were oh-so-urban). They were totally making out and he's feeling her up and shit while we are sitting less than 7 feet away. As the minutes tick by, it was getting more and more obvious that they really needed to go back to their hotel room. Prophylactic, sir?

At this point, DC Mollie and I are cracking up at the utter absurdity of it all when the band finishes their "pirate song" and then start in on "Magic Carpet Ride". This other drunk Canadian "standing" (being supported by) the bar gets way into the song and starts "dancing" (stomping in place like a 3 year old). Leather Couple start dancing and their friends create this circle around them. Leather Chick must have been so excited by the attention that she threw off her jacket and started gyrating and doing all sorts of moves that are scary when done by both young girls (see "Little Miss Sunshine") and women who are my mom's age. (Sorry, Mom. If you saw her, you'd agree.)

During all of this hilarity, we realized why our seat had been empty when the bar was packed full everywhere else. We were in between the doors for both bathrooms. In typical fashion, the boys bathroom smelled far worse. So, while the delicate strains of "Magic Carpet Ride" graced our ears our noses were subjected to a flogging every time a guy had to piss. And most of them were drinking beer. We think that someone left the door open at one point because the expected remission of the smell did not happen. Mmmm! Toilet water vodka martini, please!

We finished our drinks and decided that it was time to turn in. We made it to 1:30 am and had one hell of a laugh at the last place.

See, there are people who would be really bummed or pissed off at the bar...especially when with a friend they rarely see because they want things to go well so badly. I have to admit that at one time in my life, I was that person. Now, however, I realize it is far more fun to just sit back and laugh; these are the moments that I'll remember. Dinner was great, and I'll remember it, but not with the clarity of our time at the Gold Dust. It's probably a maturity thing, but there it is.

It was great to see my friend and to add yet another memory to the list of absurdities we've accumulated over the last 8 years. Thanks, Mollie, for one hell of a weekend.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Pray to the student health gods for me...

I chipped a tooth over the weekend--a molar on the right side. I'm going in today to see what the dentist says. It could be as small as a minor shaving away of the sharp edges. Or it could need as large as a multi-thousand dollar crown.


Edit: Thanks, guys. He sealed it there. It was 67 bucks for everything, including the x-rays. He also said that the filling in that tooth is problematic and if I ever have increased sensitivity or any pain that I have to call them immediately. I guess I'd better start saving for that. :)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I'm sneakin' up like celery, yeah I'm stalkin'

Well, I had a fun-filled weekend in the city (that's San Francisco to you) with DC Mollie.
I think I'll post tomorrow or something about the crazy dry humping Canadians at the bar with the shittiest band I've ever heard or the lady at the Macy's visitor's center who thought a wine bar was "what they are calling it [bars in general] today."

And I learned two things, both of which I already knew, but didn't KNOW.

1. I love me some cucumber-infused vodka.

So, I'm making me some. The girls are coming over soon for a little slumber party without their mans for a 'Arry Potter marathon and we're going to drink. (Hence the slumber party.) My plan is to have some good cucumber vodka drinkie-poos: like a Cucumber Cooler (lemonade with cucumber-infused vodka).

So, I followed this recipe, using a potato-based vodka. The problem is that the people of the internet do not agree on which type of vodka should be used for an infusion. Some feel it is like mulling wine and that we can use whatever cheap-ass vodka we please; others think we should only use the better vodkas. Some feel that potato-based vodkas give the purest flavors; others feel that potato vodka tastes like ass and does not take on the added flavor as well as grain-based. The potato argument stuck in my head (something about residual sugars in the potatoes, blah blah) so I bought the only potato vodka TJ's had.

Here are my supplies:

I used the Persian cukes because they taste WAY better than those crappy English hothouse dildo thingies. R would be pleased--the potato vodka is made in Vienna.

I peeled the cucumbers because I felt like it, removed the seeds, chopped them up, and threw them into the Mason jar. Added vodka, shook the jar a little bit, and hid it in a cupboard (my cool, dark place).

It is a thing of beauty:

It should steep for 5-7 days. I'm supposed to start "tasting" it on Day 5. Let's hope it tastes good!

If it works out, I think I might make some basil-infused vodka, too. I'm thinking of a drink with some basil vodka, lime juice, blueberries, and some sugar/simple syrup. Maybe with some soda water. Mmmmmm.....

See, some of my friends do crafts, I infuse liquor. It floats my boat.

2. I love mash ups. I've known this for a while, but have yet to really explore them beyond enjoying them in the background while sitting at a bar. They are one of the most inspired uses of pop music out there. When done well they can be sublimely ironic.

Best use of irony: DJMaxEntropy's "Short Skirt, London Bridge"
-It's Fergie's "London Bridge" vs. Cake's "Short Skirt"
-the lyric interpolations are awesome: "How come every time you come around my London, London Bridge wanna go down like London London London? I want a girl with a mind like a diamond. I want a girl who knows what's best (oh shit!). I want a girl with shoes that cut and eyes that burn like cigarettes. I want a girl with the right allocations, who is fast and thorough and sharp as a tack..."

Most fun: Lenlow's "Kanye Mahna"
-It's Cake's version of the Muppets' "Mahna Mahna" vs. Kanye West's "Gold Digger"

Best for exercising: Lenlow's "Apeboy"
-It's Enya's "Sail Away" vs. Prodigy's "Smack my Bitch up"

The one that cracks me up every time I hear it: Rebeldj's "Real Big Time"
-It's Mannie Fresh "Real Big" vs. Peter Gabriel "Big Time" vs. Jean Knight "Mr. Big Stuff"
-Lyrics: "I'm on my way, I'm making it. House real big, cars real big, dick real big, everything real big. I've got to make it show. Yeah!"

There are a ton more that are just as good, like the mashup of Rob Base vs. Prince's "Kiss"...but I could spend all day writing about them (and not my dissertation) so I think I'll leave it at that.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

One of the Worst Profs I Ever Had

While writing the last post, I was reminded of my crazy-ass Italian teacher from undergrad. So, I figured I'd write about her.

[I must warn you. This post is full of digressions. Sorry. I can't help it.]

I must start by telling you that my mother graduated with a degree in Italian from the same institution of higher learning I ended up attending (full academic scholarship = no choice but to go). Back in the archaic days of the mid-90s, for some reason my U. was still using the face-to-face method for class registration for the first quarter; after that, it was all by phone. Needless to say, I got screwed with my registration time and was one of the last of the 900 students in my class to go into the gym, running from table to table to get stickers saying I was in a class.

I go to the Italian Department table with every intention of signing up with this amazing professor both my mom and dad had for Italian. Unfortunately, through some weird set of circumstances that I still do not understand to this day, I ended up in La Pazza's class. (We'll just call her that, 'kay?)

La Pazza is a highly respected, award-winning poet in Italy. I know this because she won some award while I was taking her class and some of the best days of that quarter were when class was canceled because she was in Rome.

Anyway, I signed up for Italian I, this language that I had always wanted to take but they didn't offer it at my high school, so I got really screwed and took French instead. I actually wanted to take Spanish, but they put me in French. I wonder if I called my high school's registrar and told her what that led to--me getting a PhD in which I must know the French language--if she would not feel so bad about sticking people in their second choice classes? Of course, it took me, oh ten years to realize the good in having taken French. Okay. Moving on. I swear.

I take Italian I and we're in this great little 19th c. building in which my Dad says people used to smoke cigars and cigarettes during class when he was there, with windows overlooking these expansive gardens full of rose bushes and no air-conditioning. It's warm outside for most of fall quarter, so we all get into this classroom on the third floor and immediately open the windows. Inevitably, La Pazza would sashay through the door covered from head to toe in flowing garments, with about 20 scarves on and she'd immediately shut the damned windows, mumbling something about it being "chilly, no?" 'Scuse me? It's like 90 degrees outside and you're cold?!? And then we sat there for the longest hour and ten minutes of my life. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Baking in that room smelling of stank and boredom.

We tried to convince her over the 3 quarters (yes, 3. don't ask.) that I was in her class to no avail. She was cold and would have those windows closed, even if Dante himself told her she should open them because she'd move up a couple of levels in hell.

And there were those would-be glorious days. Those days when we finished early and we all looked at her with hope brimming in our eyes. "Per piacere, La Pazza! Let us out early! Class is over in 7 minutes anyway!" Ah, those days! She would just look about the room somewhat blankly, after checking her watch and then...and then! She would tell us to turn to the next chapter and read quietly. Until the goddamned class was over.

But then, I learned the trick. Oh yes. I hated that class so much (not Italian, mind you, just the class) that I learned that as long as I regularly attended the first and last 2 weeks of class and any midterm/quiz day, I could still get an A. I mean, yeah, I had to study and shit on my own, which was fine. As long as I did well on my tests, I got an A. It was better than sitting in that room and I still went for more than half the class days (she says defensively). I know, I know, I was a bad student who was not upholding the Jesuit ideals of learning, but don't hire people like that! Sheesh!

That is why to this day, I will NEVER make my students stay if we are done with everything we have to do. Fie on all of those people who say you must keep them so they do not expect to get out early all the time! I refuse to subject others to such cruelty.


Tuesday, January 9, 2007

All Meat, All the Time!

When I was in undergrad, I hated those "icebreaker" activities. They were lame and I'd have rathered the professor let us out of class early than to do one. Now that I am teaching a "workshop" kind of class, I use these hated activities on the first day.

To try and be as "fun" as possible, I first had the students talk to someone next to them and find out their basic information: name, where they're from, their major/what they want to with their life. Then they had to introduce their new friend to the class. Yeah, yeah, fairly typical. But, I had them do that first so that everyone had some basic information to go on for the very exciting "Human Scavenger Hunt" that was the grand dénouement of our icebreaking.

So, I gave them this list of 20 statements and they had to find someone who fit each one and write their name next to it. I specifically told them they needed to "get up off their asses" for this one. They actually did, impressively enough. All in all, it worked out pretty well! And then I dampened their spirits by making them write for 30 minutes! (evil laugh)

Things I learned about my students:
  • there is only one person born in June (my illustrious birth month) in my class. And none who were born in December or January.
  • only 1/3 of my class can roll their tongue.
  • in California, at a fairly liberal institution, NOT ONE OF MY STUDENTS IS VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN
I guess I should just bring trays of meat for them, if ever I decide to bring them food, as they were very excited when they realized they were all carnivores.

I think they're going to love my t-shirt, when next I wear it!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Coming to a University near you!

The DAY OF DOOM* is tomorrow.

I have to teach tomorrow, too. Curiously, this will be the first time in a few years that I've taught on Mondays/Wednesdays.

I guess I'm just a Tuesday/Thursday kind of gal.

Wish me luck! Last quarter sucked big fat ass, so I'm hoping this one will be more of a "broken vacuum cleaner" variety of suckitude.

yay for me!

*I specifically used Courier because it's the largest of the fonts and is therefore used by students the world over to make their papers fit into the page requirements of their assignments. Oh yes, I'm onto them.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Non-standard word (consider revising)

Oh, Microsoft Word, how you are crazy. Let me count the ways...

Yeah, yeah, everyone's always ripping on Word and I'm usually just thinking "whatever, at least it's not a typewriter." But, it's finally my turn to complain.

I'm writing an abstract for a conference and I write this phrase (as part of a comes after a semicolon):

He acts only as an arbitrator, thus acknowledging there is an authoritative power he cannot supercede.

Oooo, pretty...right? But wait, what's that there? There is a green squiggly line underneath the final word! I right click the word to see what is wrong as I just KNOW I spelled it correctly. And whaddya know? It's not a standard word, apparently.

Ummm, kay. Sure.... **backs away slowly**

Hey, pssst...the people who put together the Word grammar check are really stupid. I mean. I knew they were dumb, but that's pretty bad.

Edit: So, R informed me that even though many of us spell supercede with a "c", the dictionary has it with an s: supersede. That still doesn't explain why I didn't have a red squiggly line underneath the word (for a spelling mistake). Green squigglies are for grammar or formatting. So, I'm not as smart as I thought I was, but the Word people are still stupid. We all win!

Monday, January 1, 2007


So, we did this whirlwind trip for New Years. A friend from high school was getting married 6 hours away from where we live. Because we live in California it is not that odd to drive that far to go to a wedding. (Note that a plane ticket from our small-ass town would cost approximately $400/person to fly 350 miles. Screw that. So we drove.)

Anyway, we drove to Sacramento (or Sacratomato, my name for it since I was a kid). I was tootling on down the road at 85 mph just inside the city limits when I saw a freeway sign. It said things like "Placerville x miles", "South Lake Tahoe x + 100 miles", and then the kicker: Ocean City, MD 3037 miles. I looked at M and said "What the fuck? Ocean City?"

I must digress. See, we met while we were living in Washington DC and early in our relationship, we had an ill-fated trip to Ocean City one August weekend. We stupidly drove out there without a hotel room for a fun weekend. We looked around a bit and visited a friend of mine who had a condo there. He wasn't offering for us to stay with him, so we went out for dinner/drinks and took off to find a room. It turns out that everyone and their uncle decided to go to Ocean City that weekend and there was not a room to be had in a 90 mile radius. WE DROVE TO DELAWARE, PEOPLE.* The nearest room available was in Annapolis. So we dejectedly drove home at 2 am, arriving around 3:30, vowing that we would NEVER do that again.

End digression.

Pretty bizarre, eh? Well, if you go to this website it tells us that Sacramento is the western-most point on Highway 50, which connects (who guessed it?) Ocean City, MD with said city.
Wasn't that exciting? I thought so.

On to other, even more exciting things. The wedding sucked. This was one of my really good friends from high school and we've obviously grown apart over the last 12 years or so. But--and this is where my Catholic guilt kicks in-- nothing trumps weddings and funerals; you just gotta go. I dragged the husband up there and there is no one there from my hometown, even though the bride had told me there would be a "contingent".

Does not "contingent" mean more than me and my husband (the latter of whom is not, technically, even from this country)???

We sit down at our assigned table and see that it is completely empty, even though the other tables were filling up. We go get some hors d'oeuvres and whaddya know, we sit down and see that there are 3 more place cards at our cozy table for 10. I see the bride talking to these 70-80 year old people while looking right at us. Yep. Those were our tablemates. I looked at M and said, "Screw this. We're going to spend New Year's Eve with my sister, who is spending it alone, rather than sitting here with people we don't know. Not to mention that we were placed at the "left-over table".** 5 people at a 10 top. Pshaw. And we gave them Riedel Martini glasses for a gift. Sigh.

At about 8:45 p.m., we drove back to the Bay Area at lightning speed. Arrived around 10 p.m., drank Australian merlot and Napa champagne, ate kettle corn, and watched Batman Begins with my sister while she railed that her internet didn't work so she couldn't send an email to her Australian boyfriend. It was awesome. Or at least way more awesome than that wedding would have been.

*I actually liked Delaware (Rehoboth) and would've stayed there, if a room had been free.

**I spoke to the bride before we left, talking about how M wasn't feeling well and "so sorry we must go." She said she was surprised we had made it and asked if we had been spending time at my parent's place, which is only 2 hours away (apparently the only reason she could think of for us attending the wedding). I didn't say anything; I didn't have the heart to tell her we drove 6.5 hours just to go to her wedding.