Friday, September 28, 2007

An Adventure at 3 AM

Two nights ago, Pocket of Bolts woke me up at three in the morning by coming in the bedroom door and saying, "What happened to me?!"

"I don't know, love," I said. "What happened to you?"

"I woke up on the couch in the study."

"Why were you sleeping on the couch in the study?" (I started wondering in a frantic three AM way whether I had been snoring loud enough to chase him out? grinding my teeth? or did I kick? hog the bed?)

"I don't remember going there at ALL," he said lying down and looking extremely puzzled.

"Pocket of Bolts," I said ponderingly. "There was a lot of stuff on the couch in the study. How did you...?"

Then I had to get up and go into the study. The dissertation impedimenta (books, papers, note-cards) that usually lives on the couch in the study was neatly lined up in discrete piles along the foot of the couch. The couch itself had nothing on it but one lonesome pillow minus pillow-case, and a Pocket of Bolts shaped indentation.

"You were sleeping there all right," I said, going back into the bedroom.

"Now I'm worried," Pocket of Bolts said, and got up to check that the stove was off and the doors were locked and that in general there were no bizarre displacements in our rattly big nest. All was as it should be. Apparently he had not robbed any banks.

PoB's family on his father's side are notorious sleepwalkers. Once his grandmother saw one of his uncles sleep-walking through the house in the middle of the night. She followed him to see what he would do. Eventually he went into the pantry and started peeing on the potatoes!

Now I always tease PoB and ask him if he is going to pee on the potatoes.

As near as we can figure, he had got up to go to the bathroom, but got confused on the way back to bed, went into the wrong bedroom, tidily put the stuff from the couch off onto the floor, lay down there--never mind that the "couch" (just a futon couch) is hardly big enough for him to lie down on--and went right to sleep. But he didn't have a blanket even, so he was pretty cold when he came back to bed!

The odd thing was that, light sleeper though I am, I never even noticed--either that he'd got up or that he wasn't there in the bed.

Ha, I was probably getting some really good sleep. :P

(Just kidding, Pocket of Bolts.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Back from Oregon

I am back from scoping out wedding sites in Portland. Actually, I think we've settled on one. Our main criterion was striking the right balance between "classy" and "fun." I mean, mostly we want our wedding to be a great party, but we want it to be a party that our more fastidious relatives will be happy with too. I think this place will fit the bill.

After checking it out, I went home and hung out with the family. Dad spoiled me by buying me not one but two pairs of shoes(!) to replace the very broken down and worn out ones, which I have been wearing almost constantly for nearly five years now. I am not a great shoe person, but even I confess it's fun to have a change. This pair I am wearing now. The other pair is coming in the mail, owing to their not having the color I wanted in that particular store. I'd put a link, but I can't quite remember exactly which type it was.

I did lots of chatting and hanging out with the parents, and watched Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (for the first time). Interesting movie. Funny to see Jude Law before he got really well-known. I am not a great recognizer of actors, but I always recognize him right away because he has a very slight facial resemblance to Pocket of Bolts!

Anyway, another fun thing I got to do was go on a bike ride with my bro and his new girlfriend. Although I've as a rule not been putting pictures of myself on this blog anymore, I just had to post this one because I like it so much. It was the perfect thing to do on a crisp Saturday morning in fall. The air was cool and the sunshine warm. Leaves were just starting to come down. The river looked deliciously beautiful. Not to say I don't appreciate our lake here, but it's just different is all.

We had a big dinner--leg of lamb--and Mom and my bro and his gf and I played Apples to Apples. I love that game, because it's all about laughing your head off, non-stop. When do we ever get a chance to laugh that much? Something funny is always happening.

Finally, back here on Sunday. My class was getting observed yesterday morning, so I was extra nervous. But got through it somehow. I am getting better about balancing course work and my own work, and have even made some limping progress on my dissertation these past couple days. Despite being still tired from the weekend. It is refreshing to get away from it all, and nice to come back to the ever-smoother routine. I even got into the gym yesterday and today. Working off those vacation pounds. My mom's fancy scale (which has a fat percentage sensor) told me I was overweight. Thanks for the vote of confidence, scale! I like it better when the scale just gives me the numbers and lets me be the judge.

Still, I have been trying to be moderate with food and conscientious with exercise. And... I guess nothing much else to report. I finished Vanity Fair and felt very satisfied with it, especially with the role Becky played in the ending. What an ambiguous anti-heroine she was throughout! Many of her manipulations were actually quite forgivable, and the only thing I really had to hate her for was mistreating her son. As for Jos, he deserved what he got.

Okay, guess that's it for now.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Statues on the Spirit Way

By the way, just in case you were missing the exoticism of Beijing photos, here are a couple I never got around to posting. I'll try to put a few up whenever I'm feeling particularly motivated. These are stone statues along the "Spirit Way," along which the funeral processions of Ming dynasty emperors would travel en route to their mausoleums. You can see it is spring by the amazing green color of the willows.

One Week Down, 14 to Go

One good thing about having to drag out of bed at the crack of dawn and get to work is that it makes you appreciate weekends SO much more.

Insight number two, teaching is really hard, even when you're teaching stuff you have down cold. I approached my first week of classes with an almost comical level of anxiety juxtaposed with a pretty calm, confident outward demeanor. I mean, even on the first day my hands didn't shake, my mouth didn't get dry, and things really went reasonably smoothly--even though I felt jumping-off-the-high-dive terrified beforehand. The rest of the days were a little uneven, some better than others. Being able to gauge the pace of learning is clearly just something that comes with experience; it's really hard for me to tell when I'm going over material too fast, until (say) I have them break into groups and we all discover that they were completely confused. But I have done my best to at least keep things moving and varied, so the class won't be TOO boring. I'm cautiously optimistic. But it's taking tons of time.

In case it's not clear, this is the first time I've ever taught my own class. I've done discussion sections for big lectures before, but never been responsible for things like syllabi and pace. Fortunately my "boss" is very helpful and understanding. She taught the class last year and handed down all her materials to me. But even so, it's a lot of work. It's also a confidence boost, though, as I'd hoped it would be. If I can get up in front of a roomful of people and keep all the balls in the air, so to speak, surely I can write a dissertation which can be done is small unhurried stages in the privacy of my own home? Still working on that one, but early signs are cautiously optimistic.

Meanwhile, yesterday we had to buy things. I had to buy clothes AGAIN because it turns out I really only have one week's worth of presentable "teaching-worthy" outfits. Shopping is hard. PoB claims to like the results. But dressing up still makes me feel like a monkey--leftover trauma from my consulting days nine years ago, I guess. I realize that that was actually the last time I spent any serious money on clothes, so you can imagine what I've been wearing since: miscellaneous assemblage of dumpster pickings, GoodWill and such, and the occasional splurge at TJMax or Old Navy. Not that the stuff I am getting now is MUCH above that but I'm at least trying to make it the nicer end, and look like it's better. But it does wear me out...

In other news, we have FINALLY(!) completed our basic essential furnishings, defined as, those necessary before we feel comfortable having guests. Couch was high on that list, then table, finally dining room chairs. We bought the chairs separately (wincing and grumbling at the price--why do chairs have to be SOOOO expensive?) but I think they look like a pretty decent match. Who wants to come to dinner? :)

Well, I'd like to write more, but I had better get started on dissertation work. Now that the (really incredibly stressful) first week is over, I'm hoping I'll have a bit more time for blogging.