Sunday, December 28, 2008

Conference Spouse Day

I've spent a lot of the day working on syllabi. Making hypothetical syllabi is like writing hypothetical novels. The idea is so clear and substantial, but when you go to actually put words on paper you realize how thin it was, how little you know, how much more you need to know. I can't put any of my hypothetical course titles in this blog because that will make me a google-magnet, but let's just say they're all over the place, and in various skeletal states.

Working in a hotel room is nice, although the wireless is extremely weak. I have to sit in one particular chair by the window to get it at all. I worked most of the morning and them went out shopping--catching after-Christmas sales at Macy's. Things were impressively marked down. I ended up with two $35 sweaters, variously marked down from $70 and $170. It's a tremendous indulgence (I rarely spend as much as $20 on a single item of clothing), but it just felt really fun. Then I wandered around a little nearby market and eventually got myself some lunch. I also made a squished penny (pardon me, elongated coin) with a pig on it. And ate a cupcake. I am about ready to decide that cupcakes are overrated and over-priced. Except there was that one incredible red velvet cupcake from Bourgeois Pig (coffeeshop in Chicago) that makes me hesitate to say this definitively. Probably it depends on how much or little fat one has been eating lately.

Meanwhile Pocket of Bolts had two job interviews today. On the one hand, I feel for him--all that stress!--but on the other hand, at least by tomorrow night it'll be all over, whereas my ordeal is still ahead.

I napped and wasted time in the afternoon, then got back to working around 7. I was still full from lunch, so I didn't eat dinner. It's so funny when PoB and I are on different schedules; I feel like I'm off the leash! I'll probably have to have a midnight snack. Now I guess I'll go work out in the 24 hour exercise facility at this fine establishment.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Family and Family Dogs

At last, a quiet hotel room in East Coast City where Pocket of Bolts is having his convention interviews. I am just along for the ride on this one, though my own trial by fire is fast approaching. For now... just time to unwind.

I have been in a state which I tend to characterize as "over-socialized." Too many people (and dogs), too much thinking about how to interact with them, and who they are, and why. It's like even after I am not with them anymore I keep thinking about them because their lives are so novel to me. However, it is difficult to stop thinking about them and that makes me feel overwrought.

It has not been an especially productive day but I have been sitting quietly with my computer, sometimes doing work, sometimes playing games, sometimes just tidying things up. Tomorrow I am going to be a tiger.

About the last few days...

I was a little sad on Christmas because PoB's mom's family does all the festivities on Christmas Eve, so by Christmas it seemed like everything was over already. We sat at the rarely used dining room table in PoB's mom's house and did work. I polished up my syllabus some more... So yes, I worked on Christmas Day. Anytime I am tempted to accuse myself of laziness, I should probably remember that.

In the afternoon we went to PoB's maternal aunt's "open house," a fairly laid back holiday hanging out. I met one person I liked very much, the aunt's eleven-year-old step-daughter. She was a shy little adolescent but she did seem interested in interacting with PoB and me. I talked to her about this and that, and we ended up playing Trivial Pursuit, which was one of the things she had gotten for Christmas. We taught her how to play our own simplified "more fun" version. Trivial Pursuit is a bit rough for an eleven-year-old but she was game. She also let us play with her new electronic rubik's cube. It was pretty fun (internet comparisons between it and the original tend to miss the point--it's a totally different thing, more like Simon Says than anything). Later when PoB and I were talking to the grownups again, the step-daughter got a large paperback (complete Chronicles of Narnia in one vol.) and sat by, half listening half reading. She reminded me so much of me!

We had a quiet night after we got back. I stayed up late doing who knows what. Reading web comics. Poking around. Playing games. We also finished watching the first season of Deadwood. One of the main characters, Seth Bullock, is such a dead ringer for someone we know that it's downright funny. It's not just in looks: in personality, ethical make-up, temper, you name it. It makes the show about ten times funnier and more interesting.

PoB's mom and step-father left early the next morning, that was yesterday morning, and we were left to take care of the little dog and slowly pack our stuff. More on little dog: we decided that part of her problem is over-sensitivity, though the cause is unclear. She has an overdeveloped flinch response: you reach out to pet her, she flinches. It's like her first assumption is that you're going to attack her. Part of her barking problem seems to be over-excitement. I tried not only ignoring her while she was barking but also standing stock still. Then when she stopped barking I moved very slowly and quietly. That helped some. PoB and I both worked on petting and praising her only when she wasn't barking. And a lot of the barking subsided. Still, though... really a strange dog.

I confess my encounter with the step-daughter caused me to have a strong desire to make a friendship bracelet. Who knows why THAT particular throw-back to my adolescent days, but it was one of the things the girl was quietly doing on the edge of things, making a friendship bracelet or rather learning to make one. It's funny to know that girls are still doing that, and making the very same ones too. So I made PoB take me to the Walmart and got the materials for this activity. It is much faster and easier than I remembered, ha. I think as an adolescent I was probably prone to a certain impatience and dreaminess which made the projects take longer and often not get finished at all. Of course, I still am; projects on the order of a friendship bracelet seem doable however. I finished one and got about halfway through another on the three hour drive. I was thinking I might send one to the step-daughter with a little note. I'll put a picture up when I get around to it.

Anyway, we arrived at the next stop on our journey, PoB's paternal uncle's house. He's married to an Italian-American gal and they have two kids (ages 9 and 11) adopted from Korea. Also two dogs, a young male golden retriever and a slightly more mature shiba inu. (The latter was exceedingly adorable; it looked like a teddy bear crossed with a fox, somewhat like this.) And a cat. In addition to this crowd an Italian uncle who lives nearby was visiting with his two kids, not sure their exact ages, maybe 5 and 7? As you can imagine, there was a lot of chaos. Everyone talking a mile a minute, Christmas presents flying. Stilts! a weird roller-skate type of scooter! video games! Ipods!

The golden retriever was so strong it was tearing open chew toys and gutting them of their stuffing. Then he'd poke disinterestedly at the rope and squeaker and dead little cover. If he got his mouth around something that the shiba inu was also chewing on, a massive and hilarious snarling match would ensue. Meanwhile we all tried the stilts. Also some big semi-automatic nerf guns.

I would write more but it makes me tired just thinking about it all. PoB's aunt (by marriage) talks a mile a minute and had a lot on her mind. I think we heard a goodly proportion of it. We also saw a documentary on adoption made by one of her nieces. This was about the last thing we did before going to bed, dropping with tiredness. Once in bed though I couldn't sleep at all. Adoption is disturbing. I kept thinking about it. The older kid has Tourette's syndrome and I kept thinking about that too, especially since we were sleeping in his (extremely handsome and immaculate) room. I finally got to sleep but didn't sleep too terribly well. Had many "escaping from bad guys" dreams.

It was not a long drive from there to here and as I said, I've just been chilling out. Eating inexpensive but reasonably healthy food. May even go have a short workout in a bit.

I have been thinking about how I may change this blog in the new year. I was thinking I might try to do something more fun and systematic, maybe something to do with a new Yijing project I've been contemplating. We'll see.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ordeal Upon Ordeal

Trip to grad school town: fairly disastrous!

Plane out of Chicago was much delayed; didn't arrive in grad school town until after 1 AM. Fortunately the friends I was staying with were able to just leave their porch light on and door unlocked. I slipped in quietly and fell into bed.

Slept in some and then got to work preparing for the convention interview advice meeting and mock interview, all of which were starting at 3. I did do my best to prepare, but ...

Went to the meeting, having changed into my new suit. On the up side, the suit was praised as being absolutely appropriate. Hurray! On the down side, at least the dissertation spiel part of my mock interview was disastrous. I REALLY need to work on that. Our profs can be really scary when they try. I mean, they're scary even when they don't try, so ...

Although there were people I hadn't seen in a long time, and it was a real joy to see them, I also felt the mass accumulation of stress in the area to be far too much for me. I think we got each other more wound up rather than being able to give each other any real comfort.

So I opted for dinner with some other friends who are not on the market. We went to a restaurant I have always been rather fond of and considered reliable. My food didn't taste so great. I figured I'd just mis-ordered and ate it anyway. It was fun chatting with my friends, but I was increasingly distracted by strange feelings of discomfort and hot and cold. I thought it was just residual stress and tiredness, so we didn't linger much and went our separate ways (fortunately opposite directions).

Then I walked half a block and was very sick in a convenient garbage can. It was very surprising because I hadn't been sick like that since I was a kid. I have a strong stomach and even in China I got off pretty lightly, with only the occasional "spicy tummy" (diarrhea).

I walked around a little bit to calm down, but felt fine so I went back to the place I was staying. I didn't feel like eating anything at all, though those friends were having a late dinner of pizza. I hung out with them, drank some hot water. But pretty soon I was feeling pretty bad again. Anyone who's had food poisoning can guess at the gory details ... Fortunately they're good friends and I made it to the bathroom every time.

Originally I had planned to walk to small trunk station to catch the first train out for my early morning flight (about a twenty minute walk). But as the night progressed I realized that that plan was getting increasingly unrealistic, even if there weren't my bags to contend with. So around 2 AM I called to reserve a taxi to the bigger station. No, he couldn't come at 4:30, he was already booked up. Stupid small towns. He could do 3:30. Whatever. I wasn't sleeping anyway.

It turned out to be a van, a sort of shared ride thing. We had to pick up a lot of people, everywhere. He went around corners fast. I made it all the way to the train station, and even managed to pick up my bags before walking over to throw up discreetly in the bushes. By this time nothing but water. The taxi man walked over and looked at me with concern and distaste. I told him I wasn't drunk, just food poisoning and asked what I owed him. He said $20, which for a shared ride on a route that should take 10 minutes, was an extreme rip-off. I wasn't exactly in any shape to debate it though.

The train ride was better than I feared. Mostly I was just really thirsty. Security at the airport was much worse, a 40 minute wait in a crawling line. I hate flying United. I was so weak that moving my bags a few inches forward every minute or two was a major trial. Occasionally I sat down right on the floor and just inched forward on my ass. But I was worried that I would do something suspicious and make them think I was too sick to fly. Probably I was, but I just desperately wanted to get home.

The security guy when I walked through the metal detector did look rather suspicious. He said, Are you all right? I summoned my haughtiest, bitchiest manner and said, Yeah, I'm just totally exhausted!--with an accusing tone, as if it was his fault security was so slow etc. He lost interest fast.

After that things improved. I bought a bottle of sprite and drank it in small sips, which made me feel a lot better. The flight went fine although again much delayed. (Ground stop on the Chicago side due to nasty ice-storm.) When I finally got there, the train/bus ride home wore me out completely. But Pocket of Bolts was there (in a frenzy of worry) to take my bags from me and put me to bed and ply me with sprite and chicken soup.

The sprite and chicken soup were handy to have on hand, because PoB was himself coming down with something flu-like, and of course I caught it due to my weakened state. We basically stayed in bed for the next two days subsisting on saltines and soup, sprite, water, and advil. I even had a fever over a hundred. We did a lot of sleeping.

By the time we recovered, we barely had time to do our last minute Christmas shopping and packing before hitting the road again (yesterday), this time to fly out and have Christmas with PoB's mom's family. Travel and sickness have effectively eaten up the best hours of the past week and my interviews are looming.

It's all right here, at least reasonably relaxing. But today we were again pretty wiped out from the trip. We still had a bit more shopping to do and in the afternoon we tried to do some work. But it was an uphill battle, since we were a bit still headachy and bodyachy from the flu thing. Or maybe just from travel. We are both nervous about our interviews but too shaken out of our normal calm routines to do much in the way of preparation. Sometimes I think we should have just skipped Christmas altogether, just stayed home and got ourselves physically and mentally prepared ... but I guess that would have been sad.

Anyway, at least we went running today, offsetting some of our rather unvirtuous eating. We managed 25 minutes at a decent clip. Those gym-honed muscles are good for something after all. It's below freezing here, but at least not below zero as it is in Chicago. Even PoB did admit to being cold though ...

PoB's mom has a weird neurotic little dog, a year old now, who's a bit of a holy terror. Furious barking anytime anyone moves around in the house. She was very displeased at our arrival, barking and growling despite repeated reassurances. Now, we have been told, she has gotten used to us and is mostly treating us like she treats everyone else, barking loudly at the slightest relocation.

The only thing that stops her barking is picking her up and carrying her like a baby, which she of course very much enjoys. (I have resisted doing this, but PoB's mom is a pretty reliable vehicle.) Barking is an almost infallible way to attain this goal, so the conditioning's pretty well set. She is alternately fawned upon and scolded so much that neither reward nor punishment have any discernible effect on her. So, it is frustrating to try to interact with her. Any attempt to play with her (chew toys, tug of war, fetch) just leads to furious barking. She finds the activity more upsetting than interesting. Ugh. Both Pocket of Bolts and I have decided to try my parents' strategy of ignoring her barking so she'll know it won't work. Some success, pretty limited though; her patterns are pretty well set. Tomorrow we're going to try taking her running though. Supposedly exercise has a good effect on her. The whole thing reminds me of Nanny 911. They need Dog-Nanny 911.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Post-Midnight Oil and Snow

I have been up late working again. It's after 1 AM, and the apartment is very quiet. I am listening to soft piano music on Pandora. Pocket of Bolts has been asleep for hours.

Today all day it snowed, with heavy accumulation starting around noon. Snow plows and snow blowing machines and shapeless men with shovels have all been struggling against it, but they mostly gave up around midnight.

In the early evening I took the train down to the nearest post office, sending Christmas presents to the dear ones I will not be able to see this holiday. The sun (I assume) had already set, but the twilight sky was an improbable shade of purple. Snow was swirling through the high intensity lights over Wrigley Field, bright and silver like cold flying sparks. The world seemed strange and quiet. The sound of the train when it came was muted too.

I hope the snow does not prevent me from flying tomorrow. I am going back to grad school town for a practice interview. I am in no sense prepared for this, and have been putting off the preparation very assiduously. Given that my greatest fear is being unprepared, why don't I take steps to ensure that I am properly prepared? I have no idea.

In any case, I've spent the last two hours working on a syllabus. It's not easy making a syllabus. Clearly potential tinkering is endless. I have to come up with a dissertation spiel as well, a five minute summary/description. I haven't done that yet, probably because it's the thing I'm most anxious and insecure about. Or maybe second most--the job talk really takes the cake, but it's hard to say if I'll even need one of those. I know for sure I'll need the dissertation spiel.

Well, enough babbling. Back to work I think, or perhaps to sleep.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

'Tis the Season

I spent yesterday in a tremendous editing fervor. It is as my mom says: though I complain about stress, when it's coming down to the wire I can work with great intensity. I had promised a revision for my adviser by yesterday and managed to deliver, writing about 2000 words (probably more) of new stuff in the process. That's all in one day mind you.

Around three, I finished that up and headed down to meet Pocket of Bolts in his office. There we finally took care of my airline ticket problem. After exploring all the options, we decided that the best (and cheapest!) one was actually a THIRD trip to the East Coast for me--i.e., three trips in less than three weeks, but at least I get to have the comforts of home for a few days in between each trip. I am getting to be pretty good with plane tickets on Priceline.

In the late afternoon we went downtown to do some X-mas shopping. I had a bit more stamina for this than Pocket of Bolts did, perhaps because I won't have much chance to do it any other time, while he has the stretch of time I'll be gone this week, time to kill. He went home and made dinner, with the result that there was a lovely Portuguese sausage and kale soup waiting for me when I got back.

I was very tired from the stressful morning and afternoon of shopping, so I took a postprandial nap, something I usually try to avoid... I woke up really groggy, and Pocket of Bolts had to prod me and half drag me to the gym. I'm glad I went though. Late night workouts give me so much energy. I felt great by the end.

Today I have two big, time-consuming and anxiety-producing tasks to do. What I really want to do is go back to bed, but there's no help for it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Have fallen down on the blogging lately. Things have been hectic. There is a lot of preparation to do for this interview. It makes me feel less ready than ever for real adulthood.

Let's see, Wednesday I spent almost the entire day shopping for a suit. Untellable trials and tribulations. Settled on this one. Hope it's okay. Hours and hours lost that I'll never be getting back...

After that I stayed up half the night finishing up the presentation for Prof. Blue-eyes' class Thursday. Not that I had to do the presentation, mind you, but he had encouraged me to and I wanted to look good. He had also told me to come in half an hour early so he could give me some interview advice. Between that, catching a few hours sleep, and putting the finishing touches on the presentation, I never even got any lunch. Life is that kind of hectic. It pleased me to get his advice though. The presentation went fine. We ended up running out of time, so mine was condensed to only about 10 minutes. That was okay; it made me look better than it would have if I hadn't been rushed (and everyone had realized how little thought I'd put into it). As it was, I just seemed rushed.

After the class, I had drinks with an old grad school classmate of mine who got a job at U of C. One of those things--we should get together more often but somehow don't. I was pleased that we finally managed it though. It was fun. I'd grabbed a Leanpocket in between class and drinks, but still I got pretty tipsy with two beers on a relatively empty stomach.

Then I went home to Pocket of Bolts and we had delicious relaxation time in our cozy warm house, chattering together and watching Deadwood, an HBO show we've been getting from Netflix. It's about a gold-rush town in a state of semi-anarchy, the wild old West. After we watch it, we both talk like hicks. I guess it brings out our rural upbringing.

Yesterday I spent most of the day working peacefully, then went in the afternoon to get a haircut and do a bit of X-mas shopping. From there I met PoB at his office and we grabbed a quick dinner (Greek fast food) in Greektown. Then we got some supplies and headed over to my former office-mate's apartment for one of his movie nights. It was a night of "lasts": The Last Dragon, the Last Starfighter, The Last Unicorn, and Fern Gully (the Last Rainforest). PoB got extremely sleepy halfway through The Last Unicorn, so we took a taxi home. I have very nostalgic memories about the Last Unicorn, I should add, though I notice the animation lacked the majestic brilliance that I had somehow remembered it having. Animation has come a long way since the 80s!

Today was a pretty lazy day. Slept in, did a fair amount of work, interspersed with lazing around the house and a little cleaning. Nothing much else to say. It's been quite a week.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Holiday Spirits and Work Worries

It's late and I'm very tired, but I didn't want to let another day slip by unrecorded. I succeeded in posting every day in November, but lately morale has fallen off a bit... I will mention only a few things briefly...

First, I got us a miniature Christmas tree and decorated it with miniature lights, as well as various small knick-knacks I had lying around or in boxes. If I ever get a spare moment at the same time I have an ounce of leftover creative energy I'll make some origami ornaments...but that hasn't really happened yet. Anyway, this is the picture of me in my birthday cozies beside the tiny tree.

Second, we were sad when we finished off the Thanksgiving leftovers, and decided to make another Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. I'm not kidding. We made a whole second roast turkey with stuffing (wild rice and sausage this time rather than cornbread and celery), as well as homemade rolls and gravy. Pocket of Bolts also made a small cake. It was a hilariously elaborate meal just for two, but extremely jolly. I guess it's just that we had so much to be thankful for it couldn't be contained in just one Thanksgiving. Alternatively, we were just greedy for turkey, take your pick. We drank several glasses of wine each and got very jolly and lazy.

The result was I didn't do any work yesterday afternoon or evening and then had an awful anxiety dream about not being prepared for my interview. I had to get up at 6 AM (on a Sunday, mind you... though all days are reasonably alike to me), and drink some hot water, write down my dream, update my to do list, and do a few other tasks before falling back asleep.

Today was fairly productive, at least in a sense. I did some concentrated preparation for my language exchange meeting with the Reporter. He had asked me to proofread a short paper he had to write for his class, which I did. It was quite interesting, actually, all about the inner workings of the newspaper he had been with before changing careers, the ways it which it was less than ideal and how it could be improved.

In turn, I had asked the Reporter to help me write a good e-mail to YHz, my teacher in Beijing. It has been so long since I have been in touch with her that, first, I needed a deadline, and second, I have fallen terribly out of practice with writing in Chinese. Most reluctantly, I forced myself to produce a draft this morning, and brought it to the meeting. As you might expect from someone who had spent a large part of his life as a journalist, the Reporter was superb at helping me improve the letter. We both left very satisfied I think.

Then I went to work out, which I hadn't managed in a whole week!! My face and figure definitely show this neglect, and also I was not able to do my usual hour of hard cardio but could only manage a little over thirty minutes. It is disheartening, how fast you lose all your progress if you don't keep at it. Guess that's true of everything, but how finite my energy is, compared to my multifarious ambitions.

Speaking of ambitions, over the course of the day I did do some very rudimentary preparation for my interview, but felt deeply terrified. Sticking to my "slow band-aid" approach, I am planning to try to do a little each day.

After dinner (leftover turkey!), I succeeded in forcing myself to put in a couple more hours work on this and that. Much less focused than in the morning, but it's important to keep one's hand it.

Well, I'm tired. Pocket of Bolts has been asleep for hours. Bedtime for now, maybe a sleeping pill to head off further anxiety dreams. :P

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Cold Day/Surprise/Pandora

Today it was incredibly cold--16 degrees. I gave it almost everything I had in the bundling up department: wool socks, wools slack, a wool sweater, my down coat, a scarf, a hat, gloves, and the hood of the coat. I was still cold, but only a little bit!

I went down to U of C today for a talk. It was by someone I did not know, but talking about the text my dissertation is on. At first I listened very politely. Gradually I thought to myself, they should have hired me instead of this guy. Still polite, though, I raised my objections in a gentle manner. The guy himself was also disarmingly humble. Afterward, I went up to talk to him... and it turned out that he was not faculty as I had thought, but a first year graduate student! Then I was really really glad I hadn't been meaner with my objections. I talked to him for a long time, and gave him as much advice as I could think of.

Got good news today: my application for a dissertation writing support grant was accepted so I have a little extra money with which to arrange my interview (logistics are nightmare due to my unwarranted pessimism) and do things like: buy a suit. (Eeek.)

I have been playing with Pandora. It is online radio that learns your preferences and it is incredibly fun. You start by giving it a song or an artist, and then it gives you songs that it thinks are similar. You can give them the thumbs up or thumbs down, and gradually it learns your taste. I love it. Who needs to even own music anymore? But it's also a good way to get to know new music. I used to like listening to the radio in my car back when I drove. This is better though, no ads.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Yesterday I only posted about food instead of about my day because the only noteworthy thing that happened was that I got some interesting news. I was still "digesting" it, however, and wasn't quite ready to write about it here.

I suddenly found out that I got a job interview.

Having already made up my mind that I was going to be unemployed for another year, it was very startling, and at first almost unpleasant. I will have to work, and face things that make me anxious. Floating along the way I am, with work and new friends down at U of C and my wonderful husband, spending every other day at home in pajamas--frankly, it's really great. I feel like I could happily do it for another year.

Now twenty-four hours after getting the news, though, I am starting to work up courage and a little enthusiasm. Who knows what my chances are, but someone's giving me a chance, and that's actually pretty cool.

I won't say anymore for now, but I feel like a fire is lit under me. Whether it will just energize me or burn me too, I guess we'll just find out.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I interrupt my steady stream of fairly mundane every-day posts for a list break. Stole this list from here. I just thought it was kind of fun, though the selection principle strikes me as a bit mysterious. All the foods that person could think of that might strike anyone as at least slightly unconventional, together with some highly conventional ones? Anyway, things I have eaten are in bold.

If I have not miscounted, my score is a pathetic 69/100. Got to work on that.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle (a bit underwhelming)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries (roadside blackberries in Oregon)
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters (not a fan of raw ones, though smoked ones are tasty)
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi (disgusting)
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (have had each separately, but not together)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail (Oxtail soup, a mainstay of my grandfather's winter cooking)
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk (easy to digest!)
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone (chewy!)
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini (the only kind of martini that counts)
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong (tastes the way medicated band-aids smell)
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. (I don't keep track of stars, so not sure)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Grown Up and Tired

Pocket of Bolts and I stayed up really late last night for no particular reason. PoB was worked up about writing a response to some listserv message he got, and I was trying to figure out how to "borrow" Chinese electronic books from this site that my grad school has subscribed to. It's an interesting concept. I crashed the reader a lot of times. We didn't get to bed until half past one.

I had to submit my chapter this morning by eleven, so I was under a lot of pressure. Life must be pretty good, though, because even in the midst of my stress I still felt that there was a lot to be happy about and thankful for. In any case, I submitted the chapter. There were a LOT of footnotes missing, but I'm betting they won't mind too much. If they do, oh well.

After lunch I headed off to U of C. I felt extremely tired, on account of the midnight oil I'd been burning, and let-down from the stress. Still, I learned some interesting things, such as that the character for "love" (a very late character) is closely related to one that originally meant "to have trouble breathing due to excessive eating or drinking." Go figure, huh?

It's very cold now. The snow has melted and refrozen in a cruddy slick on the sidewalk. I have been thinking about growing up, what it means to be an adult, why I don't quite feel that I am one, how it happened that I'm in this strange liminal state. I guess it's because I had a birthday and feel like I ought to be more grown up at 33. Of course, maybe this comic is right about the matter...

Update: anonymous reader suggests this comic too, on the same theme. It's pretty funny, even though 27 is so... 6 years ago. Guess the repo man is behind schedule.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Snow and Chai and Klok

We woke up to a few inches of snow outside; that was different. I imagine we'll get used to it before long. Then I'll say: we woke up and there was no snow; that was different.

Today is my half-sister's birthday, two days after mine. I never remember until the day of, but I never forget either. When my mom was pregnant with me, her due date was today, 12/1. My half-sister, I'll call her M2, was very worried and unhappy at the thought that I would be born on her exact birthday. Imagine having to share a birthday, as well as a dad, with your nine years younger half sister. I came two days early. I can't recall the last time that M2 has acknowledged my birthday, nor for that matter the last time I have acknowledged hers. Lately I have realized that I have complicated feelings about her, left over from very young childhood long ago. Though it is hard to see that thinking about them has any purpose.

I don't have too much to say for myself today.

Five PM, Pocket of Bolts comes home. Zapaper is sitting on the couch in her bathrobe, exactly in the same spot where she was sitting when he left at 7 AM. "Zapaper, did you get dressed today?" "No."

That was the day. I spent it in a long work coma. I succeeded in getting an extension on the "dissertation writing support" application, until tomorrow. I wrote most of the application. I did some editing. Then I succeeded in wasting a lot of time.

A bright spot was that I brewed up a big pot of the homemade chai that my brother gave me for my birthday. It was a nice thing to sip on all day.

Another bright spot is that same brother sent me a link to a completely awesome time-tracking program called Klok. It is a free download and incredibly easy to use. I've been using it a little over 24 hours, and according to Klok I have logged almost 9 hours of dissertation work, 2 hours of solitaire, 4 hours of Gemcraft (tower defense game) and about half an hour total of e-mail and blog posting. So folks, it turns out that that's where my time goes. Or at least that's where it has gone in the past 24 hours.

Outside the snow turned to slush and then refroze. Despite some fairly sinful eating, I did not succeed in getting to the gym. All I can say is, I'm going to try to be better tomorrow.