Archive for April, 2008

Your mission, should you choose to accept it…

…is to help me procrastinate! See, it’s crunch time in paper-writing-ville, which means 1) there is nothing interesting happening in my life (not like there really ever is, but it’s worse than usual right now) and 2) I don’t want to write the papers that are the cause of nothing interesting happening in my life. So how about some random/weird facts about me?

  • I used to be on the dance team in high school. That’s right, I once wore a cheerleader-like uniform and danced during half-time at football and basketball games. We were officially known as a “dance and drill team,” but there were no drills to speak of…unless you count the fact that attending practices for said team was akin to the pain of sitting in a dentist’s chair with a cavity. Given my Russian classical ballet training, I was a dance snob, and I was used to working really hard during rehearsals and class. The dance and drill team practices were another world: it was like herding cats, but less organized. Fun fact: at my Wisconsin high school, when the basketball games ended, the gym floor would fill up with people in the crowd who would all dance to the beer barrel polka. Good times!
  • I twiddle my thumbs. I didn’t realize I did this (or that anyone really did this) until Apparent Dip caught me. Now I notice it all the time…
  • I’ve played some interesting instruments in my life. The piano will always be my first love, but I’ve dabbled with other instruments as well. In middle school I desperately wanted to play the flute, so I took up with…the oboe. Yeah, not sure how that one came about. I had braces at the time, and I can tell you (and Queen Mother can back me up on this one), playing the oboe with braces is not a good idea. I can only describe the sounds I made as something along the lines of a dying-cow-simultaneously-giving-birth. It.was.bad. That did not stop me from trying to teach myself to play the violin years later. I think this might be one of those times when the short temporal duration of my renaissance-woman dabbling is a blessing. I have also been known to play the hammered dulcimer. Next up: the accordion.
  • My OCD tendencies really come out to play when I eat. Some examples: when eating a bag of M&Ms, I separate all of the candies by color. I then proceed to eat them from least to greatest. Sometimes I start on the other end of the spectrum, and when I’m feeling really crazy, I might go by odds/evens. When eating Lucky Charms cereal (which I haven’t for years, sadly), I would leave all of the marshmallows until the end. I would then proceed to eat them in order of least to greatest. Peanut butter cups, swiss cake rolls, vegetable-tofu stir-fries…they all have a ritual involved with eating them. As a result: I.eat.very.slowly.
  • I’m not afraid to take risks with my personal appearance. When I was in the field for my geology major, I essentially spent an entire summer camping in New Mexico, Wyoming, and Oregon. After the first ten days without a shower, I decided that hair was overrated. The group I was with stopped at a hotel one night (we were ready to mutiny when we arrived at a campground in the middle of a thunderstorm to discover that the showering facilities were broken) and Apparent Dip, with the aid of a trusty beard trimmer, shaved my head for me. I have fine hair, but a lot of it.  The beard trimmer took a while, but I ended up loving it. I felt so free!  However, walking around logging country in Oregon as a woman with a shaved head in an Earth First! t-shirt was probably not the smartest thing I ever did.
  • For a while in college and the years immediately following, I couldn’t donate blood because of various piercings and tattoos. I’ve had my nose pierced five different times (I kept having to take it out for various reasons and it closed up too quickly). Apparent Dip went with me once to get my nose pierced and he learned a valuable lesson: if you have a queasy stomach, DO NOT look at photo albums in a piercing/tattoo parlor. I no longer have my piercings, but I’m seriously considering another tattoo this summer.

Ok, time for me to get my no-longer pierced nose to the grindstone yet again. Oh, and as a follow up to the last post: the blisters have healed, I can walk again, and I think I seriously drove up the stock price for triple-antiobiotic ointment!

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Summer has apparently arrived

Is it the warm weather that makes me say this?  The sudden presence of sunshine after a long winter of gray skies?  The fact that the two weeks generally allotted to spring in this area of the country have now passed?  The fact that I spend most of my time on the porch running away from bees? (I’m not allergic, exactly, but I do swell up around the site of the sting, often to comical effect).  No, the reason I know it is summer involves something far less appealing than green grass (or, if it’s our previously leaf-covered lawn, a green substance that looks suspiciously like endive), budding trees, and tulips.  My feet are my barometer.

Tootsies, dogs, call them what you will, I have a love-hate relationship with my feet.  I love them because they get me to and from campus, they help me exercise, and they provide an excuse for me to get a foot massage from Apparent Dip while watching movies.  However, I have not always been very nice to my feet, and I think I’m reaching a point in my life when they are exacting their revenge.  You see, I was a ballet dancer from the time I was three until roughly sixteen.  During that time, I went on pointe, lost toenails, gained blisters, and had to get excruciatingly painful treatments of liquid nitrogen (in which the entire base of both feet were swabbed with the stuff) due to some icky things I picked up from various dressing room floors.  I occasionally treated my feet to a soak, but mainly as a means to getting me dancing again, as soon as possible.

So now, fifteen years later, my feet are getting even with me.  They’re pretty sneaky about it too (it helps that it takes me forever to remember the lessons of the previous summer).  Once the weather gets warmer, I don’t like wearing shoes if I can help it.  I prefer being barefoot at home and I prefer sandals to anything requiring me to wear socks.  So my feet fight back with blisters.  A lot of them.  And whereas bleeding in/through one’s shoes was considered lucky in ballet (seriously, there was a whole ritual involving pointe shoe ribbons: before performances we would deliberately poke ourselves lightly with our sewing needles as we were sewing the ribbons to our tights in order to bring luck), bleeding through one’s super cute new sandals is just icky and painful and ruins a perfectly good pair of shoes in the process.  And whereas my feet would toughen up with every season while I was dancing, they absolutely refuse to do so now.

The result of all of this: I haven’t been able to work out on the treadmill for a week because of the pain.  I’ve hobbled through the mile to and from campus, but today I think I might need Apparent Dip to go back and get the car for me.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  However, I also think this is my body’s devious plot to immobilize me and force me to get my papers written.  At least, that’s what I’m telling myself as I prepare to sit on the porch while soaking my feet (and writing gibberish that will hopefully coalesce into a concise, persuasive argument).

I just hope the bees aren’t out today.

Random again

This will be a random post, I’m sure. I think my brain has decided that logic is for the birds and therefore has declared a moratorium on any kind of fluid writing. I apologize in advance.

First up: Running. I bought a knee brace but I don’t think I’ll be able to use it. My knee has gotten used to not having a PCL and isn’t quite ready to leave its crazy moving-all-over-the-place ways. It actually hurts with the brace on, whereas before I didn’t notice anything untoward. So knee-brace-free it shall be. However, I have discovered that the knee is the least of my problems. Breathing is kind of an issue as well. Although, really, perhaps breathing is overrated. I have never been this out-of-shape before, and I’m not enjoying it one little bit. But the only way to go is up, right? Baby steps…

Second: I have discovered two books that I just have to have. No really! They twisted my arm, bullied me, you name it. I tried to resist, but found that I couldn’t hold out. The first book that captivated me is The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective. Mr. Whicher was the detective investigating the Road Hill murder in 1860, in which a young child’s body was found stuffed in a well. Whicher suspected the killer lurked amidst the family members (and he was later proved correct). The murder horrified England, and it also inspired a wave of “detective fever” as Wilkie Collins describes it. Indeed, this case–and Mr. Whicher in particular–is seen as the inspiration for many sensation fiction novels (such as Collins’s The Moonstone and Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret). Last week I read Collins’s lesser-known anti-vivisection novel, Heart and Science, and at this point in the semester my brain is craving more mysteries/sensation fiction. This looks like the perfect book to dive into once my final paper is turned in.

The second book I’m interested in is Pearl S. Buck’s Peony. I am ashamed to admit that I have never read The Good Earth, but Peony is one that I can’t pass up (I discovered it through Nextbook, which has a review essay by Jennifer Cody Epstein here). Ezra ben Israel is the son of a Jew and a Chinese Concubine. He is married to a Jewish woman, and their son, David, has been raised as an observant Jewish youth who is, nevertheless, firmly rooted in Chinese culture. I cannot wait to get this in my hands!

Finally: I joined a couple of academic associations this weekend. How nerdy is it that I practically jumped up and down when I realized that one membership would allow me to claim a discount at Oxford UP? Oy.

Random Bullets of Tuesday

  • I apologize for the sporadic blog posts lately. It’s crunch time in my semester. I really need to get my papers written in the next two weeks and then revise them…and that might mean fewer posts. It doesn’t help that one of my research topics decided to explode over the weekend, so I’m frantically trying to pick up the pieces and patch something together without sounding too idiotic.
  • The weekend of rearranging is sort of over. We patched walls, we painted, we moved 500 + books around, and I threw my back out. Good times. Now all that’s left is the last dregs of cleaning/sorting. Overall, the change is great. I have an office! With a reading chair!
  • We received an interesting promotional DVD in the mail from the Axe body spray/cologne people (their marketing scheme seems to be centered around the idea that beautiful women will totally fall for stinky boys if the boys just use this body spray. Hmmmm. It’s rather questionable. I’m trying to figure out how to blog about it).
  • That’s all for now. Sorry for the boring post, but I need to get these papers out of my head! I know I have some unanswered comments as well…I’ll get to those soon, I hope. For those of you who are interested in geology, I recommend checking out Apparent Dip’s latest posts!

Crying “Uncle!”

Alternatively titled, how Samuel Richardson’s Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded defeated me.

Dear Pamela,

I would love to tell you that I finished reading through the packet of letters that you oh-so-carefully hid from Mr. B and that wicked creature, Mrs. Jewkes. After all, you were so kind as to inform me of your abduction and the numerous threats to your virtue in such excruciating detail, that I feel I treated you rather shamefully when I threw the volume across the room last night. I have no excuse, except that I hardly knew myself at the time. When I went to retrieve the book I had, unfortunately, lost my place, but you were so obliging as to provide me with a summary of everything you had written to that point [and to do so repeatedly! How wonderful of you!] that I hardly noticed the fact that I had missed several pages.

I do hope you won’t be too upset when you discover that I have moved on, my dear, to greener pastures, so to speak. An old friend, Tom Jones, has been calling out to me for some time, and, as his virtue is hardly as dear to him as yours is to you, I hope you won’t mind if I should chance to meet with him instead? Yes, he is something of a rogue, but then, you see, rogues are infinitely more interesting to me than young servant girls with an unwholesome obsession with their own honour. I do realize that you have an important place in English literature, and I shall remain forever indebted to you for repeatedly drumming into my head the importance of your scribbling. However, I must not tarry, for I have other works to read and my own writing to do. I shall miss your detailed descriptions, your randomly-placed italics, and your ever-ready tears. You have won out, dear Pamela, and although I shall no longer be reading of your mishaps and adventures, I hope that I shall always remain,

your most dutiful (if distant and unrewarded) friend,

Loose Baggy Monster