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My H is coming to mouseville in July to see me. Hurray!

AERA Recap

Mar. 31st, 2008 06:05 pm
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Sunday - Street vendor soft pretzel, Thai curry (solo), authentic Chinese (mu shu is the food of the gods)

Monday - New York Deli, American Indian Corn Soup, cornbread

Tuesday - Indonesian, Indian Take-out
Wednesday - Italian Trattoria

Thursday - Cuban lunch and Turkish dinner

Friday - Ethiopian, Thai

Saturday -Amy's Bread
We saw the last three bouquet's of the day at the Macy's Flower Show.

We visited the MoMA design store, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the United Nations, the American Indian Community House, the Columbia University Campus ("I went to Columbia"), and, oh yeah, the conference.
I am home now and have the world's most cruel head cold. More later, when I can breathe again.
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Apparently if you plan and execute a dinner party, some people wont believe your schedule is actually trying to kill you.  These people (TDaC) are just jealous that my no cooking policy of the summer has been replaced by a desire to feed people who are not them.

To the narrow-minded idea that making time to cook dinner for people demonstrates the presence of free time, I can only say, HA. My schedule is trying to kill me, but so is teh lonely.  I am fighting  teh lonely as best I can, and tonight it involved having five people over for dinner.  I wasn't quite done assembling the salad when they arrived, but it went really well. The girl who is known for hating fish wants my recipes for ceviche and smoked salmon dip. No one else (besides me) seemed to find the menu disjointed, and people ate and ate some more. The conversation was good, and Emily brought dessert so my failure to provide chocolate went unnoticed.   Of course I made  WAY too much food, so will be eating wild rice salad, smoked salmon dip, and halibut ceviche for the next two weeks.  Fortunatley I like all those dishes.

I want to have people over more often.  Say, maybe once a month, with other people invited too. Not getting to entertain last year was sad, and I like having people over.  I am also hoping to plan a girl's night soon, to invite oodles of bellydancers over to loll on my couch, drink cheap wine, and giggle.  I need that kind of compansionship these days, and know the only way to get it is by planning the event.  It seems odd for a homebody/intovert/hermit to say that, but measured doses of people are truly excellent.

I still have tons of reading to do before class (which meets in 9.75 hours, ack!), but wanted to put my tentative, sheepish happiness up to contrast the angst of late.
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I was angsting hard on Friday night about the fact that my departure for Psychology State was a mere! four! weeks! away!, and then a friend-indeed called and asked me to spend one of those intervening weeks in doolittleville. I said yes, because I can and because I want to help, so will likely fly from here to there and back again for a week at the beginning of August. That conversation ratcheted the anxiety over my schedule up considerably, but also threw my neuroses into a stark light.

My anxiety about going back to Psychology State is essentially academic post-traumatic stress disorder, mixed up with a sense of impending isolation and anticipatory low-level homesickness. I like being in Alaska, and am sad my time here is whooshing by so fast. I have been a busy girl, dividing my energy among lots of projects and people.  This is hard for me, and over the weekend I found myself saying "I just feel like I am doing lots of things, but not doing any of them very well!  I am not spending enough time with my grandmother or the baby! I am not being a good enough friend! I should be a better employee! I am a bad daughter!"  Fortunately when I floated this idea to my parents they assured me that a) I am a good daughter (Mom), and b) this is a grown-up reality, not a symptom of poor choices (Dad).   That second part in particular was very reassuring coming from my dad, who is dutiful by nature.  In that light, I am doing the best I can, and need to remember a series of truisms: life is dynamic; we all have finite time to spend; and sometimes "good enough" is as good as it gets.  My family appreciates the time we spend together, and I see my grandmother at least once a week.  My friends know how to get ahold of me, and no one has said they feel neglected.  The people I work with seem pleased with my productivity thus far, even if it is imperfect, and I still have time to do more.  And, none of these relationships - personal or professional - will come crashing to a halt on August 17.  Summer is ending, but it will come around again, with lupines and fireweed cycling past.  In the meantime, time passes no matter how I am spending it, so I need to take a deep breathe, try and get enough sleep, and Be. Here. Now.
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Summer is passing, at a rate I can't quite understand.

I arrived in Alaska mid-May, with three gorgeous, unstructured months ahead of me.  It felt like eternity, in the best possible way: endless hours with friends, time to soak up Alaska's uniquely precious outdoors, and seeing my family without a plane ticket breathing "hurry up and enjoy this!"

Somehow it is July.  My endless summer is half over, the lupines fading and the fireweed beginning to bloom.

I am partial to lupines and they say  "youth" in my personal language of flowers.  One of my favorite pictures from my childhood is baby Redzils toddling through a patch of lupines, grinning, with her red-gold ringlets swaying in the breeze.  They aren't spring flowers, exactly, but they bloom in early summer and fade away gradually.  Watching the bank of soft purple lupines which adorn the hill across from TDaC's driveway fade from brilliant purple to almost purple, with the greenery reasserting itself, cues me that nothing stays the same. 

Around here, the striking pink-red fireweed appears later.  The flowers open from the bottom up, over time, and when the top pods burst, with white seed cotton bursting free, winter is almost here.  Fireweed herald the return of termination dust, when Alaska's short green season ends, the land fades to a crimson brown, and snow settles over everything.  I don’t get to see Alaska's marvelous, albeit short, fall anymore - I am back east by then, turning my attention to school.  And seeing the fireweed bloom, with more pink blossoms bursting free each day, reminds me that fall and my new academic life are coming.

I have not been eating healthily or going to the gym, despite prior assertions.  I have been spending my time and energy on the people I care about, forging new relationships and trying to bolster old ones. I am enmeshing myself in the dance community here, trying to perform well at work, and spending the time I can find with friends and family (that full time job thing really gets in the way).  I figure the fall, when I am back to living a spartan life, eating my own cooking and waking up at the same time every day, is soon enough to start worrying about calories and lifting weights.  Right now I am too busy eating Thai food with my friends, staying up late and sleeping ridiculous hours, and trying to say "Yes!" to every good idea that comes along.

I don’t want summer to end. I am not ready, but I am slowly realizing that I don’t have to be. My endless summer is only halfway gone.  I still have almost a month and a half left, and I mean to make the most of it.  I bought new roller-blades, and the current plan is to get outside and skate as often as I can, rather than attempting to lure myself into a hot, stinky aerobics room at the local gym.  I am going to embrace the craziness of my summer and soak it all up, to inoculate me from the ennui of fall.  And I have to remember: this fall will be different from the four before it. The Wicked Witch of the South East doesn't control my academic destiny anymore, I am going to be living alone in a fabulous house, and dancing a lot. It will still be far from home, and maybe lonely, but ... as always, the good news (and the bad news) is that nothing stays the same.
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Apparently I am sane and normal, with an added dose of surreal. Ha.
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Yesterday I went out to coffee with a friend of [profile] learethak's. This friend is now reading my LJ too - everyone wave!

I've now been told twice in 24 hours that I probably intimidate men, which seems a little . . .repetitive.

What do you think? Why do women of a certain temperament (think, say, mine) tend to scare the male of the species?
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If you are not offended by blood, marshmallow fluff, and the occasional anti-Pope reference you must go watch THIS.

Thanks, Jo, for putting it together, and Eliza for being our inspiration and dinahore operator!
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I spent my run-away weekend with Eliza and Jo. It was marvelous and hilarious and I plan to tell you all about it. Later. In the meantime, they both have excellent posts up about it, so go read their versions if you are curious about the bad fun.
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Road trip!!

Eliza, Jo, and I are off to Washington D.C. for what we have been calling niche fun (we are the geeks who will be sightseeing at the National Archives).

Before we go, I need to introduce you to the organic sculpture movement.  To participate in this movement, you find the messiest part of your house and drape a piece of decorative cloth over it.  There is a lovely purple sarong decorated with orchids brightening one corner of the living room (with three little monsters, laundry is never-ending so participation in the organic sculpture movement is practically mandatory).  Apparently Eliza learned this trick from The Amish Pastor's Wife, who carefully covers the dirty dishes in the sink on baking day, which I find delightful.

We are not taking the monsters to Our Nation's Capitol - this is what their father is for.  Should be interesting to see how organic (as in, deep, not pesticide-free) things are by the time we return.

The Bad Fun has been excellent.  Evidence of our twisted natures will be available on YouTube one of these days, as soon as I figure out a slideshow software and marry our stop-action work to music.  In the meantime, for your viewing pleasure, one of our stars:

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Last night, after dance class, RHeather, Fantastic Jen, and I went over to NuttyCrunchyHealthFoodStore (which RH manages), dropped beeswax candles into glass jars, set the jars in paper bags, and lit them.  The wind was raging, but we secured our makeshift luminaries as best we could, hugged one another tight, and went home.  When RH went out to clean up the remains today - at 3:30 pm, 17 hour after setting them up - two of the candles were still burning.
Tonight's dance class was our dress rehearsal for this weekend's (now cancelled) performance.  "Dress rehearsal" in the bellydance community translates, "skirts required, baggy tee-shirts acceptable" since we really just need make sure everyone's skirt behaves, rather than tangling up another dancer. We were awesome, and only had to stop and negotiate the "smacking points" a few times (Q. what do you get when you try to fit two belly dancers through the eye of the same needle at the same time? A. A smacking point). 

My favorite line from the evening: "Work the cute, girls! WORK THE CUTE."  "Work it, habibi" is a close second.

Meeting and dancing felt very healing. We did the Dancer's Prayer, in memory of Reema, at the beginning of class, ended with a group hug (which sounds trite but felt solemn and right), and clustered in the studio to listen to one another.  Another Tech instructor in the class lost one of her students from last semester, and is struggling, which I can relate to.  I hugged everyone tight, and am grateful to have this community of thoughtful, caring, joy-seeking women in my life.
I am going to dolittleville tomorrow, to stay with an online friend and get away from the madness for a couple of days.  Interestingly, I realized an Alaskan friend is there too, for work, so I may get a hug from home.  I am very ready to get a little respite from the oddness ot post-apocalyptic Blacksburg, and my empty days.  I know canceling school was the right thing to do for many people, but it has left gaping schedules for those of us who dont have family here, and too many empty hours are a not a help right now.
The hand is feeling better.  The girls thought my gauze-net hand wrap was dorky looking. Apparently I need to hit a Hot Topic for black meshy fingerless gloves, to up the cool quotient. I am hoping to be down to a big bandaid by our show - whenever it occurs, since the gaping hole in my hand looks so much better tonight.
I clicked over to to see if they had the full list of victims yet, and their main screen photo features the killer pointing a Glock (?) at the camera, very aggressively.  Essentially, he is shoving the gun in the viewer's face, and I immediately slapped my hand over the screen - I cannot take that right now. I think it is an obscene photo, and his whole packet should be examined by law enforcement but not released.  He would have loved this attention, and he doesn't deserve it.  Especially at a time like this, we should be focusing on the heroes, the sorrow, and what comes next, rather than acting out the express wishes of the deranged lunatic who wrecked it all.
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Dear Interwebnets,

Thank you for putting up with my whining.



It is 8:15 Friday night and I am home, bored.  I would be swing dancing downtown, but I cant get there from here (see: annoying car problems).  I am in the mood to sew, which is odd since I haven't really done any sewing in a couple of years, but I dont have the materials.  I'm not in the mood to knit, which is too bad since yarn is what I do have. I am not in the mood to work on my thesis, read the pile of books I am accumulating, or click mindlessly around the interweb.  I should not distract myself with recreational eating or baking.  The house is as clean as it is going to be with somebody sanding furniture in the living room (good thing the landlord thinks he is cute).  It is dark and raining, so playing outside doesn't sound like fun.

I think I will paint my toenails, assemble a dance costume for the hafla tomorrow, do my shoulder exercises, and maybe watch a movie.  Somebody doubled the size of my DVD collection when she was here last week (3 ->6, don't laugh), so I even have choices!

Updated: or (in retrospect) take a bath, read an interesting book about living an undivided life, and go to bed early.  I am impressed by the book, and will probably post more about it later.  Thus far I can say it doesn't trip my pop-psychology bullshitometer, which is unusual for the genre and is cogent to my life.
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23.* Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce. (299 pages, YA, re-read 3/11/07, acquired at Edward McKay Used Bookstore in Greensboro, now in my collection). Reading Terrier reminded me how much I love Tortall and the people who live there, so I decided to re-read this one (for the eleventeenth time). Daine is sweet, and I like seeing glimpses of the people we met earlier in Alanna's series. I have been reading these books since middle school, so they are the ultimate in easy comfort reading.
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19. Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton (read end of February, 329 pages, arrived via Bookmooch). More vampires, shape-shifters, gore, etc. 

20-21.Bloody Bones & The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton (read 3/7-9, 370 & 369 pages, bought for me by Heather at a cute independent bookshop in Florida).  Anita has maintained her virtue thus far, but is finally beginning to lust after two of "the monsters" in her life.  There is some fairly gory "sex" which occurs between other, lesser characters - some of whom are even alive!

I am amused that, while no one has fabulous things to say about this series, more people seem to have read them than anything else I am journaling.  I find them engrossing in the moment, but have trouble remembering what happens in any given book without re-reading the cover copy. And I dont think I would enjoy Anita in person - she is just a little too strident about everything.

The smut element of this story arc confuses me, and I am a little bewildered by how the author will get from here (gore! saving sex for marriage! more gore! french-kissing! wait - casual sex is bad and cant happen! people die! non-people die!) to erotica.  Thus far, I have found the books fairly un-sexy.  They are violent (I think Anita has killed at least three people in every book, despite her continued insistence that all life is sacred) and occasionally we see (because Anita sees) sexual violence being done.  And, yes, sex and violence have some things in common  - both have a lot to do with bodily fluids, power, and vulnerability - however, the confusion here doesn't seem to be doing much for the series.  The only interesting bits so far, if you ask me, are Anita's dawning realization that "the monsters" are not that different from some parts of her, her discovery that she can love Richard and Jean-Claude simultaneously (if not in the same way), and Larry's emergence as a necromancer and as an independent adult.

I figure I will read the next three, bringing me as far as Obsidian Butterfly (the first Laurell k. Hamilton I read), then move on to some other escapist reading.  This series is a fun train-wreck, but the body count is getting ridiculous.

22. Beka Cooper: Terrier by Tamora Pierce (read 3/9-10, 581 pages, YA, I gave it to Heather for Christmas, and she loaned it me).  This was an awesome book (not that I would have expected less from anything set in Tortall, my favorite fictional kingdom). I liked the characters and appreciated the way Tamora presented the Dogs (City Guards) and the Rats (members of the Court of the Rogue) as characters with depth and common motivations.  She lets life be imperfect, occasionally kills a character we care about, and generally respects her reader enough to present a complicated, messy story (since life is complex). The mystery element was interesting and the solution both clear and unexpected enough to avoid early guessing.  Beka, the heroine, is 18ish and you see some of her struggles to find her place in the world, but there isn't so much angst it chokes the story. The developing romance storyline is interesting. Need I mention that I think the rogue sounds adorable? [I always think the rogues are adorable. This is why I found George Cooper more appealing than Prince Jonathan, Jean-Claude more attractive than Richard, and Ranger more interesting than Morelli (double bonus points to anyone who gets all three of those references, triple if you agree with me)]. 
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Reading list update:

11. Holding the Line by Barbara Kingsolver (finished 2/18/07, 196 pages, acquired via Bookmooch).  This is Kingsolver's first book, pre-dating her novels. She was a journalist covering the "Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983" and wrote this book to shed light on the women who "held the line" throughout this strike. In a way, the book  reads like one of her novels, because it is so character driven.   At the same time, I never got the characters or the towns straight, since she was chronicling the stories of many women in disparate locations.  Despite that, I really enjoyed her writing because it anchored these women's action and growth in the larger historical and sociological context, without zooming so far out that the individual stories were lost.

12.* Protector of the Small: Squire by Tamora Pierce (409 pages, February).  I love Tamora Pierce's young adult novels, which follow strong girl characters through a faux-medieval society where magic exists.  Her heroines push the boundaries of their society to be knights and warriors, without being ridiculously perfect characters.  This story follows Keladry of Mindelan from becoming a squire (for Raoul of Goldenlake and Mallory's Peak, Commander of the King's Own) through her transition to knighthood.  I like Kel, the way which Pierce normalizes reality (she glosses over the details but her characters menstruate, have pre-marital sex, and talk about slatterns in taverns), and the story arc.  It's a YA, so a fast read, but a good one.  All Pierce's stuff counts as "comfort reading" for me.

13. Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton (finished the first week of February, sometime, 266 pages, arrived via Bookmooch).  This is the first book in the Anita Blake series (which I first encountered in book #3 on this list), and I enjoyed it.  It was a slick, fast read which kept my attention. Anita is the only character in the story with any depth at all, so far, but - assuming I agree to suspend my disbelief of the rest - it works.

14. Ms. Mentor's Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia by Emily Toth (arrived via Bookmooch, 207 pages, read in February). I haven't read every word of this yet, but am dipping into it for the odd ten minutes of amusement here and there.  Ms. Mentor has a column in The Chronicle of Higher Education which I read online, and I enjoy her sarcasm, realistic perspective, and reminders that academia is a skewed world.  The book reads like a compilation of Toth's columns, with a few defying belief (a drunken academic throwing the olives from his martini down the front of a pre-tenure women colleague's blouse, then another tenured drunken lout pawing her to retrieve them, springs to mind) while others reflect more typical troubles.

15. The Seven Towers by Patricia Wrede (264 pages, read 2/18/07, arrived via Bookmooch). I put Patricia Wrede in roughly the same category as Tamora Pierce (see entry #12), though that is mostly based on her series about Princess Cimorene (a very un-silly princess who runs away to bake Cherries Jubilee and sort treasure for dragons, rather than be married off to boring Prince Therandil).  This book was a stand-alone about another group of royal advisors, relatives, and hangers-on, set in another mythical region.  I picked it up for the first time the day after it arrived and couldn't get invested in it, but today it hit the spot. I had to read a little further than I would have expected to start caring about the characters, but she manages the unlikely feat of setting one character up to be pitied and disliked, then making him  emerge as the noblest of the assembled nobles.  I likely wont reread it, but it was a fun romp and you can see her feeling her way into personalities you see in her later books  (i.e. Amberglas evolves into Morwen, Crystalorn into Cimorene, etc.). I dont want this last piece to sound condescending, but I am not sure how to avoid it: Wrede is an excellent young adult writer, and her work has deepened and strengthened over time.  The Seven Towers reads like an early effort, because it is - it was published in 1984, at least a decade before the Cimorene books. (That doesn't make it bad, just less polished).


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