Tap, tap… is this thing on?

So, nearly a month since I last posted! And I was doing so well throughout November… but then FINALS intervened. Ugh. If you read any law student blogs, you have a good sense of my state of mind throughout finals season, and if you don't? You probably don't want to know.

Although I spent a lot of time composing long laments about finals in my head, I will simply sum them up by saying that I completely flubbed one element of the instructions on one exam, had NO idea what to write for the first question on another, spent 8+ hours writing the third, and didn't think the last was that bad, which probably means I missed seeing all the really complex stuff and didn't distinguish myself (especially since this was my "I don't have time for everything so I have to let something slide and this is going to be it" class). I felt much less prepared than I was last year, and am going to take solace in the fact that everyone I talked to felt that way.

Anyway, finals are over. I'm not going to think about them any more.

And now it's Christmas, my favorite holiday, yay! Not that we did anything especially exciting – we roasted a duck and various root vegetables and cooked some green beans with Meyer lemon and almonds, and that was all very yummy. (I have fallen in love with Meyer lemons – they are soooooo delicious). I also made some gingersnap sandwich cookies filled with lemon cream frosting – which were REALLY good. (The evil part is that each "cookie" is really made up of two cookies, so you, by which I mean I, end up eating twice as many without quite realizing it.)

I have been doing a little bit of Christmas shopping for myself: I ordered three sweaters online (because they were on sale!), although sadly, only one worked; I ordered a couple pairs of boots, and am crossing my fingers that they fit; and I bought a new purse (this; I had kind of wanted to get something other than black for once, but I didn't like the shade of red they had, and the purple and turquoise ones were a little too out of my color zone. I do love the purse, though; I could sit all day huffing the new leather smell and stroking the silky lining).

And that's about all that's going on here. Oh, I forgot, we saw Up in the Air, which was EXCELLENT and which made me cry like a baby. We had great aspirations to see more movies (Avatar, Mr. Fox, Invictus), but we wanted to see Avatar on the IMAX theater near us and didn't want to do that the weekend it came out, and haven't got around to it yet. Plus, it was snowing when we had free time this week.

So, yeah. Nothing very exciting. But I'll try to get into swing of posting here again, so I don't have to write boring, catch-up, "this is what I've been doing" posts. It's almost as bad as writing those holiday card updates (what the hell DID we do all year?).


My week finally ended today about 3:30, in that I finally had no pressing appointments, no places to go and people to see and spiels to perform about how much I want to work for [fill in employer's name here]. (It's not that I had SO MANY interviews that it was overwhelming, they were just spread out over the entire week so they took up a lot of mental space.)

My brother-in-law and niece are coming into town this weekend, so that will be cool. I had grand plans of cleaning up this place so we can bring them in without shame. 

I have some stuff to fill out and then put in the mailbox (like financial aid forms, eek).

I was determined to stop at the grocery store, since our apartment is truly void of food.

And I wanted to take advantage of the gorgeous day and free time and get outside to get some exercise.

But I got home and was sucked into the gravitational pull of the sofa. And here I am, 2 1/2 hours later, and I HAVE NOT MOVED. I think my brain turned off. It certainly hasn't provided any exciting ideas about dinner.

The upside is that only going to classes next week will feel like a relief. Probably.

Sunday night ramblings

Two more weeks till classes start… two weeks from tonight I'll be trying to go to bed early, which I probably won't manage, and I'll be sleeping badly knowing that again I have to get up to an alarm and BE somewhere by a specific time. (It's amazing how quickly I get out of the habit of getting up to an alarm, even though I've only been done with work for a week!)

Thankfully, my schedule will be a bit nicer this semester than last year: on MW I don't have class until 1 p.m., TTh my first class is at 10:45, and on F, I don't have classes at all. Sadly, I currently go till 5:40 on TTh and 6:40 on W, which means I won't be home till relatively late (especially a bummer since I prefer working out in the late afternoon/early evening). I guess it balances out the later starts.

Of course, that's assuming I keep all my classes. I'm taking a slightly heavy load, and I did put in an application for an internship I couldn't resist (haven't heard anything back yet, but I think they were taking applications until the 31st). If I get the internship, I should drop my MW class, because it would free up the most time in my schedule, and would probably make my life the most manageable (it's 3 credits, there's a final). But the thing is, the class just sounds so INTERESTING. I'd rather drop the 2-credit, 1x/week on Wednesday night class I'm taking, but it won't free up that much time, it's only 2 credits, and it already doesn't have a final exam, so dropping it probably wouldn't really make my life that much easier. (Everything else either fulfills a requirement or isn't going to be offered again while I'm still in school or is in a subject that I went to law school specifically to study, so those are my only two real options for dropping.)

Even if nothing comes of the internship, I'm wondering if I should drop a class. I'm not very good at gauging how much work this courseload will be, because in both my undergrad and grad programs, every course counted the same and everyone took the same number of courses each semester (4 in college, I can't remember if it was 3 or 4 in grad school). Eh. We'll just have to see how it goes (with one eye firmly on the add-drop deadline).

Anyway. I'm looking forward to everything starting up again, just because I do REALLY BADLY without a routine. For instance, I went walk-running for the first time today since my horrific wipeout, two weeks ago last Wednesday (and it was more walking than running this time, although I think partly that was because I'd eaten crap all day so had little decent fuel in my body). That's partly because it was at least 10 days before my left knee stopped being too sore even to think about running (the scrape still hasn't finished healing, and it itches like a bitch), so I had to lay off for a while. But then when it started feeling better, I was done with work, and having nothing to do, I kept thinking, I don't have to go running NOW – I have plenty of time. I'll go later. Such thinking is the kiss of death; I never go later. Conversely, when I get off work at 5 or 6, and I know I want to eat dinner sometime well before 10 pm (I have the eating habits of a midwesterner, not a European), and I know that I don't like working out much later than 7:30 pm? Well, I know that if I want to run, I have to do it when I get home or I won't do it at all. So I suck it up and do it.

(Am not sure exactly how this will play out during the semester, but that's something else, we'll have to see how it goes.)

Okay, maybe I'll go answer the e-mails that I've been ignoring since finishing my job, since, after all, I have plenty of time; I can answer them later.

Lessons learned

  • Two small pieces of chocolate cake are not good fuel for intense apartment cleaning.
  • There is little that is more annoying than completely rearranging the living room furniture and realizing it worked better the way it was originally.
  • Unless it is breaking your thumbnail about as short as it can go.
  • If you are going to engage in large scale furniture moving, you might want to a) put your husband's three pairs of shoes somewhere else and b) remove the fluorescent light bulb from the side table that you're carrying around the room. Because you know? Those things break when they fall off the table because you trip over a shoe. Who knew!
  • On the upside, one way to resolve the problem of the too-big side table that doesn't actually fit beside any of our furniture and so was floating in space by itself disrupting the flow of the room is to stick it in the corner and put the oak file cabinet that was in the corner where the side table was. (The file cabinet is much less obtrusive.)
  • On the downside again, moving an oak file cabinet just might scratch the hardwood floor. Crap. Don't tell NLLDH.
  • Ohmigod the Snuggy now comes in ANIMAL PRINTS. Just what you always needed!
  • When you have no real convenient places to stow crap, said crap collects on every flat surface. I think I need get a bunch of these kinds of things to stow under the coffee table and on the odd bookshelf space I have open.
  • Dirty cat footprints are amazingly Swiffer-resistant.    

But I have managed to vacuum the bedroom, mop the living room floor (though I may go back over a few little cat footprints…), wash the sofa cushion covers, and clear up at least SOME junk. Am going to head back to it, as soon as I regain some energy…

Update in three completely unrelated acts

I know most of you who read here have probably seen this on Twitter or Facebook already, but Eldest Cat had to leave us finally earlier this week. He was eighteen, and had been sick with hyperthyroidism for years; he had a heart murmur, his kidneys felt ominous, he walked crooked, he weighed less than half he did in his prime, and he continued to lose weight. The vet had given us medicines to try to halt the weight loss, and he lost four more ounces. He was clearly hungry – he wanted food all the time – but it didn't make a difference. Wednesday night, he cried for food much of the night, and he was so weak that he couldn't counter his crookedness anymore, so he kept falling over into things. He was no longer comfortable.

I'm glad we did it, and our vet was – as always – amazingly nice and supportive. He went very peacefully, without fear. But when they took him away, I had an awful moment of thinking, Wait! I take it back! I made a mistake!

I got Eldest Cat just before my college graduation; I'm not sure I know how to be a grown-up on my own without him. And when I hear (Formerly) Middle Cat's collar-bell jingle, I still can't help wondering, for a minute, which cat is that?

* * * * * * *

The last day of my internship was Friday. It was a good experience: I learned a lot, I liked the people I worked with, and the big boss told me a number of times that he was happy with my work, volunteering to be a reference for me, so I accomplished pretty much what I set out to accomplish (I wanted a good reference and a writing sample I could use, but everything I worked on turned out to be too confidential to use as a sample, so nothing I could do about that).

Something valuable I realized, I think, was that I do like working with people, more than I realized. I think I used to underestimate how social teaching really is; academia values research more highly, and research (in the humanities) is a relatively isolated endeavor, and so I always thought of academics (and myself) preferring to work independently. And it's true that historians don't have traditions of collaborative work the way that people in the sciences and social sciences do. But when I started my internship, I was one of the only interns there, and got given work to do and sent off to my cubicle to do it. And that work was interesting, but became much MORE interesting when there were other interns around and I started to be able to discuss it with them.

Anyway, it was a good experience. Certainly other summer opportunities would have given me different experiences, but overall, this was a good one.

But I am still looking forward to not getting up to my alarm tomorrow.

* * * * * * *

Wish me luck at the tailor tomorrow – I pick up my amazing suit, and am crossing my fingers that it looks decent. I bought it thinking, Of course, the tailor can take the jacket down a size, tra la! But it turns out that the tailor didn't want to take in the shoulders, which, it seems, is reasonable since it turns out this is the most complicated kind of tailoring you can do, requiring you basically to reconstruct the entire jacket. But which I didn't know at the time I bought the suit. It's just frustrating, because I can't buy a suit in a size that fits both halves of me, so I'm stuck either taking in the jacket or letting out the bottom – and many garments don't have enough extra fabric to let out, so that's no good, but if every jacket ends up too big in the shoulders and therefore gapping across the chest, that's no good either (there are always separates, of course, but they're harder to find). I mean, I'd pay for the darn shoulders to get taken in! But if the tailors don't want to do that… What I need is a size ying to my yang, so we could buy the same suit in two sizes, and I could take the smaller jacket and bigger bottom, and she could take the bigger jacket and smaller bottom. Sigh.

I also have to see how the pants look. To get pants to fit me properly in the waist, they tend to have too much fabric in the, um, rise. But since these are non-stretch pants (all hail the glory of Lycra), they can't be too fitted when I'm standing up, or they'll be too tight when I sit. Which perhaps really means I should just wear skirts all the time.

Random comments on the past few days

For the gazillionth time, will someone tell me NOT to get into arguments with strangers on the internet? Sometimes I’m such an idiot. I need to put a copy of this over my computer or something.

* * * * *

I sat in the coffeeshop a couple of days ago and read a 264 page book in three hours.

Okay, well, it was 264 pages of word documents that, put together, will be a book, so not REALLY 264 pages.

And it was a collection of essays, so it wasn’t like I had to muster the energy to read a book-length exposition on something; I had to read ten essay-length pieces, each of which requires much less energy to figure out.

And the reason I had to read them was to see what connections I could make to my own essay for the collection, so it wasn’t like I had to read very closely – once I figured out there were no real connections, I skimmed like a madwoman.

So, really, it wasn’t that much of an accomplishment. But I still FEEL accomplished, darn it.

* * * * *

Why is it that the one essay with which my own had the greatest connections had to be the stinker in the collection? Seriously, in its current state it was both slender and incoherent. It has the potential to be interesting, and there’s still time for revisions, of course, but I really didn’t understand what its argument was – it read like one of those “let me throw out random observations and hope they stick together” kinds of essays. (It’s possible that I’m misunderstanding disciplinary conventions/differences and such an essay is perfectly okay in the author’s discipline, but I don’t think so.) I should probably read it again.

One author was fond of doing what my students often did, linking two independent clauses with “, however.”

One essay fell into the “one damn fact after another” trap. In some ways, I think I was poorly suited to be a historian, because I have very little patience with narrative – and that’s what this essay was: narrative. This happened, then that happened, then this happened, then that happened. Such writing bores me to tears. But the problem was that the essay said very little about the significance of what happened. That is, it stated that the events/actions showed us how [theme of the collection] played out in [historical context], but just stated that in the introduction and the conclusion, and didn’t say anything along the way about what was interesting about this particular expression of [theme of the collection]. And there was no attention to what these specific events had to say about [theme of the collection] more broadly. That is, it’s kind of like saying, “Trees are important to a community. Community X has oak trees, elm trees, aspen trees, cottonwood trees, and the occasional maple tree. Trees are important to a community.” Okay, but what do Community X’s different kinds of trees tell us about how tree are important to a community? It’s almost like the author took [theme of the collection] as a given and said, “here’s an example of it.” But s/he didn’t use hir evidence to illuminate [theme of the collection]; it was more like the theme of the collection gave her an excuse to talk about stuff s/he wanted to talk about anyway.

(I don’t really think it’s just my problem with narrative, because there was another, very similar kind of essay in the collection, but that author did a good job of making clear hir argument about how the specific events s/he described illuminated something specific about [theme of the collection].)

The one thing to be said about the narrative essay is that I think it’s easier to punch up the significance and broader implications in what was otherwise a perfectly solid essay, than to render coherent the incoherent.

* * * * *

Some of you will be wholly unsurprised to find that once I’d read the whole, it was clear to me that my essay connected most strongly with the essays by literature scholars, rather than those by historians. 

* * * * *

It was kind of weird to sit down and do something scholarly for the first time in about six weeks – and especially to think about medieval history again, rather than trying to imagine what law school will be like.

It was nice to discover that my brain still works, though.

* * * * *

And after I did all that scholarly stuff, I drove to a ritzy mall and drooled over a whole bunch of things at Sephora and JJill. The biggest downside to returning to school? NO. MONEY.

* * * * *

The high is supposed to be 101˚ today. Wheeee! I’d better head to the grocery store now, while the temperature is still something less than molten lava.

Look how productive you can be when your A/C works!

Crazy productive, people; here’s what I’ve accomplished so far today:

  1. Went to The Container Store to get a file box and folders for law school stuff (and ended up with some jewelry organizers and a toothbrush holder too. That store is evil. I could spend MUCH money there).
  2. Went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and bought an over-the-door mirror (I have been full-length-mirror-less since 2004 and I need to make sure my outfits actually work), a pepper mill (Youngest Cat knocked our old one into the cats’ water dish and now it doesn’t work), and some glass cleaner.
  3. Came home and installed the mirror (had to screw the hooks into the back of the mirror before I could hang it).
  4. Organized my jewelry, which entailed untangling at least four multi-strand necklaces (and then I cleaned some silver jewelry with toothpaste).
  5. Cleaned glass shelf and mirror in bathroom.
  6. Cleaned and hung ten pieces of framed art, involving much use of the whippy tape measure and the level. (I think they all work where they are. I might swap the big one over the TV with the smaller one on the next panel of the wall, though.)
  7. Discovered that one wall of our apartment is cinderblock under the finish and that therefore we won’t be hanging anything there.
  8. Unpacked two last boxes of “decorative stuff” and put most of the decorative stuff on shelves that hopefully Youngest Cat will not assault.
  9. Plotted where to create a family photo gallery with the rest of the unpacked decorative stuff (I need different nails for that, though, so this is currently hypothetical).
  10. Moved a shelf unit a few feet so we can put the vacuum cleaner in the resulting niche (otherwise I foresee the vacuum cleaner living in front of my closet, which is where it’s convenient for NLLDH, but not very convenient for me).
  11. Used the hammer to fix the bottom shelf of said unit (Youngest Cat spent some months sleeping on a quilt on one end of said shelf, which had developed a decided list), and ended up lowering it so it didn’t interfere with outlets.
  12. Got the cat litter I bought yesterday out of the trunk of my car and cleaned the cat box.
  13. Vacuumed up all the litter that gets everywhere on wood floors when you clean the cat box. And vacuumed the bedroom while I was at it (there’s not that much of it not covered by bed, so it doesn’t take long).
  14. Swept the kitchen floor (including the bits of stuff that had fallen behind the framed art that had been stacked against the kitchen wall before being hung).
  15. Emptied and took out the trash.

Phew! Now I’m sitting on the sofa, basking in the coolness from our wonky A/C (and sucking for approval by saying, “Look, internets, at how much I did today!!”), and feeling sort of pleased with myself. I’m also watching Alton Brown make potstickers and really craving take-out of some variety. Anyone want to come over and bring Chinese? Thai? Indian? No?