Thursday, May 31, 2007

On the Pile

I haven't read nearly as much I had hoped I would this past week. The headaches and the anxiety are kinda getting in the way.

Finished: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. How could a book about legalized vampires in Louisiana and a mind-reading waitress named Sookie be anything but awesomely addictive? But yet . . . I was not only not addicted but also rather disappointed. Although I appreciate Harris wanting to move away from the gothic, fantastic vampire stereotypes (and the inevitable Anne Rice comparisons), she spent too much effort emphasizing that this wasn't the "typical" vampire story and too much time on the technicalities of the vampire world. The themes---love is never simple or easy, we have to accept others and ourselves for who we are---were overly anvilicious. And I never got swept into the story. In my opinion, truly good fantasy/sci-fi lets you almost forget that you aren't in the real world because the stories are so grounded in real human experiences. Joss Whedon is a master of this. I mean, I never would have thought that I'd love a space western. But by the second episode of Firefly, I forgot that I was watching a genre show and got swept into the stories. With Harris, the story constantly took second chair to the genre, when it should have been the other way around.

Currently Reading: I'm rereading Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh to try to deal with my current situation. I tend to let anger entirely consume me, and I don't deal with it in the best way. I get obsessive, vengeful, and emotional. I wind up hurting myself way more than the other person hurt me. At the same time, I don't want to be a doormat. I need to figure out a way to assert myself when I have a legitimate reason without being consumed by negative emotions.

Also reading Human Cargo by Caroline Moorehead, which is about refugees and their struggles. I thought I'd try to remind myself that problem, while frustrating, is hardly the worst thing that could happen to me. Yeah, it'll suck to have to borrow from my parents or taking out cash advances on my credit cards to pay the extra rent for the summer. But I have those resources available to me. I'm not going to be out on the street because of this, and I have rights that I can exercise (like taking the girl to court). Reading about people who have lost everything---family, friends, homes, even their identities and rights as a person---definitely puts my problem in perspective.

On Deck: The Assault on Reason by Al Gore

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Aches & Pains

I've been having the most horrendous headaches this past week. Gee, wonder why?

Although the headaches may also be from the high pollen count and the humidity. In any case, they are killer. Enough to make me lose my appetite, which is a huge rarity for me. The times that I can remember losing my appetite:
* When I had the flu and a 103 degree fever.
* When I had malaria and a 103 degree fever.
* When I had the stomach flu. (I have since learned that there is no such thing as a stomach "flu." Influenza has no intestinal form. Stomach "flu" is actually usually any of a number of other, much more disgusting bacterial or parasitical infections.)
* When I accidentally rear-ended someone's car and was so horrified that I had hurt someone that I stopped eating and sleeping for about two weeks.

In other words, it takes a lot for me not to want to eat.

I'm also a little limpy from some foot problems. I finally started running regularly again, but my shoes are about three years old and their best days have come and gone. I really need a new pair, but with the prospect of having to pay two rents and a mortgage this summer, new runners just may not be in the budget (I'm not sure food and electricity will be in the budget!). I'm hoping the pain is just soreness from bad shoes and being out of shape, and not anything more serious. Yesterday, I could barely walk across the room without intense pain through my arches, toes, and ankles. Stretching and resting my feet today seems to have alleviated the worst of the pain. I'm hoping to be able to buck up enough to get back out tomorrow. Because the one "benefit" of the stress of the past week is that it has been driving me to some decent runs. (And running is helping me to deal with the stress.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Apartment Update

So I went down to the courthouse bright and early this morning. The law resource center at the courthouse has a lawyer available on Tuesday mornings for free consultations about small claims cases. He said that I have a "better than average" chance at winning my case, but he wasn't entirely reassuring. He also informed me that I can't file a claim until the end of the summer because I have to incur the actual financial damages first; I can't file in anticipation of the damages. Which means that if I can't sublet the place to someone else, I've got to find an extra $1700 for the rent.

Oy vey.

So I am trying to re-sublet the apartment. I was going to try re-subletting regardless of what the lawyer had said because (a) I'm a nice person and (b) it would save a lot of headaches for me. I had one person come today, but he called tonight to say that he was going with another place. Two people are scheduled to come tomorrow.

Light candles, say prayers, sacrifice animals and small children---whatever you do to bring good luck, please do it this week for me!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Gonna Make Some Pie

I just saw Waitress. So cute! I *heart* Nathan Fillion. Captain Tightpants was entirely adorable. As usual. And I even softened toward Keri Russell (She was so irritating in Felicity). Endings are a big thing for me, and this ending was entirely sweet and happy, but not so perfect as to be annoyingly saccharine.

I went to Sundance 608, which is this new theater/cafe/restaurant. It's part of Robert Redford's Sundance empire, so it specializes in semi-indie films. The theater itself is comfy and above par, but tickets are overpriced and the cafe is a let-down.

I enjoyed spending a couple hours thinking about something other than the apartment drama. I swear, that apartment is cursed. The latest: I have a couple of people interested in seeing the place, but I can't get the keys to show it! And Miss F.B. refuses to give me a mailing address. Which will make it more difficult---but not impossible---to serve her the court papers.

I'm just still entirely baffled that people actually behave like this.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Legal Eagles

Could someone please explain humans to me? 'Cause I just don't get them.

Here's the sitch:

I thought I had everything worked out for this summer. Someone was subletting my old apartment. I had put aside enough to pay the condo mortgage for the two months I'd be gone. And I had a fellowship to pay for my summer language lessons and living expenses in exotic Illinois. I'd even found an apartment to sublet that would allow Rowen to stay with me for the summer.


I must be working off some bad karma. Because once again, my subletter flaked. This time, she was moved in already! But she called this morning and left me a voice mail saying that it "wouldn't work" and she had moved out. WTF?!?! Four days before the rent is due, she moves. With no notice. No warning.

So it looks like, come Tuesday morning, I'll be making a trip to the courthouse to start a complaint for small claims court.

Any legal eagles out there want to give me some advice? Being both incredibly stupid and incredibly busy, I hadn't gotten the sublease taken care of before Ms. Flaky Bitch moved out. BUT, I do have an e-mail in which I explicitly ask if she is committing to subletting the specific apartment for the specified dates and she responds, "OK. I'm in!" To my mind, that e-mail is a written (if unsigned) contract to sublet a specific property for a specific period of time. Anyone know if that argument will hold up in court?

I'm so frustrated with all of this. And I'm really just ready to give up on people in general. Is there no one out there who isn't entirely selfish and untrustworthy?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Night Vent

I'm pissed. And not in the way I ought to be on a Friday night.

I ought to be sitting on the Terrace, enjoying the glorious weather and a view of Lake Mendota, while killing a pitcher or two.

Instead, I'm at home, writing a blog entry while waiting for my frozen pizza to warm up.

Why? Because I got blown off.

I made plans for beers on the Terrace with my friend, L. And I went, and all was well for about half an hour. Then a half dozen of her friends from her department showed up. (Who, as an aside, are rude, rude, rude. Only one of them bothered to introduce himself, and they all proceeded to have a bunch of insidery conversations. And we were sharing a table with another couple because seating was seriously scarce and I thought it was just L. and me. Despite my repeated hints that we should move to someplace with more room, L.'s friends just sat themselves down and squeezed out the other couple. Rude!) So, okay, a larger group than I had expected. I'll go with the flow. I wasn't thrilled, but whatever. I was outside, enjoying a beer, watching a dog frolic in the water, just letting my mind wander. Then, my peripheral hearing picks up L. telling someone else that she won't be staying long because she and a couple of the others have plans.


At no point had L. told me that she could only stay for an hour. Because if she had, I (a) wouldn't have come all the way to campus, which is a twenty-minute bus ride each way and (b) wouldn't have gone in on a pitcher only to drink one beer.

So I'm pissed that I got myself dressed in something other than sweats, took the bus all the way to campus, and bought a pitcher of beer only to stay for one hour, during which time I drank one beer.

How rude!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Interview Meme

Bearette sent me the following questions as part of an interview meme. If you want to do this, leave your e-mail in the comments section (or send me an e-mail) and I'll send you some questions.

1. What is your dream job?

Kept woman. Seriously. I wouldn't be one of those sit-by-the-pool-and-drink-martinis kept women, though. Mostly because I don't like martinis. I'd be the Angelina Jolie of kept women---volunteering my time for causes I feel passionate about, traveling, writing, having Brad Pitt's babies. Okay, maybe not that last part. 'Cause I don't really like kids.

But I'm more likely to remain an unkept woman, so . . . my dream job would be anthropology. I get to travel, write, dig deeply into things I'm passionate about, constantly learn new things, and maybe contribute to making the world a better place.

2. Favorite memory?

Yikes. This is a difficult question---in a good way. I have so many fantastic memories, especially from the past ten years---places I've traveled, people I've met, things I've done, time with Rowen. Picking a favorite is impossible! Ones that are high on the list:

* Sailing in the Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Australia
* Quiet snuggles with Rowen or watching her bound through the wildflowers at the dog park
* My students in Malawi
* Sundays in Rome, when I would walk halfway across the city from church back to the villa where I was staying, stopping at one of the piazzas along the way to have a glass of wine or a soda while I people-watched

My favorite memory from childhood was a summer vacation at Pipestem Park in West Virginia. We rented a cabin, and I remember going horseback riding and swimming and playing board games at night with my family.

3. Something you would change about yourself if you could.

Just one thing? Because, really? The list is long. But if I had to pick one thing---I wish I were less fearful, more confident.

4. If you had to pick a continent to live on for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Again, just one? Perhaps I should change my answer to #3 to being able to commit! But I would probably choose Europe. I'd have lots of options for moving around different countries, and it's more centrally located, so traveling to other continents is easier.

5. Favorite recipe?


I kid! I don't call Dominos. I order online.

I'm not sure if this is my favorite recipe, but my go-to recipe for most occassions is Oatmeal Cookies:

1.5 sticks of butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup bread flour
1.25 cups all-purpose baking flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup oatmeal
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste.

Blend butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Sift together flours, baking powder, and salt. Add to wet mix.

Add oatmeal, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Drop spoonfuls onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees (180 in Celsius).

* Add 2-3 heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter (may need to add flour for consistency)
* Add chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or other chips (or mix-and-match)
* Add 2-3 tbs of roasted seasame seeds and 1 cup of honey (may need to add flour for consistency)

Monday, May 21, 2007

On the Pile

Summer Break! That means I get to read . . . a whole bunch of books that
(a) I should have read during the semester because they were assigned for class,
(b) I should have read long before now because I'm apparently the only person who hasn't, and
(c) I should read to prepare for qualifying exams and dissertation prelims.

So what am I reading?

Of course: (d) Fun books that I want to read!

Finished: What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman. This was my end-of-term treat; the carrot to get me through those last few days. I picked it up because it was a mystery set in Baltimore, one of my favorite places. Little did I know that it included a very accurate description of my hometown and a flashback to Austin, TX! I know it's silly to like a book because you can "relate to it," but I get a kick out of recognizing real places in fictional stories. The story itself was very good. I figured out one of mysteries about halfway through, but Lippman included enough twists to keep me interested. And the ending felt mostly natural---not one of those endings where the author realizes that she's written herself into a corner and needs a tidy solution and tacks on a ridiculous and completely unsatisfying reveal that doesn't connect to anything else and just feels rushed---although I do think Lippman tried too hard to have a happy ending. Things were a little too resolved at the end. I can't really explain without giving away the mystery. So read it and write to me so we can talk about it.

Currently Reading: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. An offbeat mystery novel involving legalized vampires in Louisiana and a mind-reader named Sookie. How have I not read this yet?

On Deck:

The Whole World Over
by Julia Glass. I got this as a review book last summer and then didn't have time to review it, so I gave it away to another reviewer, who then never reviewed it. In the meantime, it has gotten lots of great reviews, and I'm still pissed that I gave it away to someone who never reviewed it. So I checked a copy out from the library.

Prisoners of Freedom: Human Rights and the African Poor by Harri Englund. I picked this up for two reasons. One, it's about Malawi. Two, it has an interesting premise---that the international focus on human rights is doing more harm than good.

On the Wish List:

Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook
. Okay, so I know in the past that I've been critical of Martha. And I don't take any of it back. But this book looks really, really useful. And I'm at a point in my life where I actually care about keeping a nice home. But I'm really lousy at it. Really, really lousy at it. And like most things, I'm convinced that if I just had the right book, I could learn to be a good housekeeper. Or at least a not-so-lousy one.

Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste, and Style
. I doubt that this book contains any great pearls of wisdom that I haven't already gleaned from thirty years of reading women's magazines and watching daytime talkshows. But, c'mom. Tim Gunn! I just know that Tim Gunn can turn me from a frumpy grad student into a stylish modern woman. Oh, Tim.

Plenty by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon. Another fantasy of mine is that I'll wake up one morning and totally love cooking. And have both the time and the money to buy super-fresh, locally grown, organic produce at the farmer's market. And make fabulous meals that taste even better than chocolate cake. In other words, that I'm these people.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cake is Yummy

Stolen from BDogg:

You Are Strawberry Cake

Fresh, sassy, and romantic.
You're a total flirt, who never would turn down a sugary treat.
Occasionally you're a bit moody - but you usually stay sweet!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Page Count

47 pages down.

0 to go!


I still need to do one last read-through and revision on the last paper. I'll do that tomorrow morning before I turn it in. But the pages are written. Yippee! Yay! I'm almost to the finish line!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Page Count

42 down.

5 to go.

39 hours left.

This last paper, really I am not just being humble or self-deprecating, this last paper is baaaaad. So very bad. I'm completely babbling, mostly because I'm overcompensating for lack of confidence in what I'm saying.

But at this point, I just want it done. I've turned in the other two papers and did my presentation on Friday (which went stunningly well---I will be a little less-than-modest and say that I think I really had the best presentation).

Now all that's standing between me and a month of semi-freedom is this one paper. And I'm really interested in the topic and in the method I'm using---a text analysis of a trial transcript---but I hit the wall on Thursday and I'm ready for this to be OVER.

Do you think if I close my eyes and really, really wish, the paper fairy will come and finish my paper for me?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Page Count

Can you feel that? Can you feel the heat as my fingers burn up the keyboard? Oh yeah!

32 pages down.

15 to go.

And actually, I wrote slightly more than that because my the paper I finished today is about five pages too long. Oops!

I still have some proofing to do, but at least all the content is there.

One more paper left to write. No page count updates for a few days, though, because I still have to do the research for that paper. Yikes! And put together a presentation for Friday. Eek!

Eight days left!


Monday, May 07, 2007

Page Count

15 down.

32 to go.