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22 December 2008

Baby Dreams

It's finally happened. I was quite content that it hadn't happened yet, but on Friday night, I had it. A Baby Dream. (Queue screaming sound effects.) Yes, my friends, it can even happen to you. But I don't think it was a traditional Baby Dream because I was rather resentful and bitter.

Picture this ... Sicily ... 1917 ... (Sorry! I had to!! Golden girls homage!)

Anyway, in the BD, I was living alone but next door to my mom. Some friends of ours had had a baby, but, sadly, the mother was no longer in the picture. I'm not sure if she died or left or what, but she was gone. The father was trying to take care of this child, but he was failing miserably. He left it (it was a baby boy ... I think Daniel?) for long periods alone and didn't feed it regularly. (This is actually remarkably similar to a situation that The Boy and I were involved with regarding a dog that we cared for while a friend's husband was in the hospital. Anyway ...)My mom comes to me and tells me that the poor child is suffering and needs a stable home. She says that "since I've got nothing better to do" (!!!!), I should care for the child. This pist me off. Not because I actually had better things to do but because I didn't want to take care of the brat! Of course, Mom guilted me into it, and I took the baby into my home. I bought it all kinds of toys and clothes and diapers (I remember buying A TON of diapers!!! Damn!!!!) and furniture, and it lived with me for a few months. I actually started liking it. I looked forward to rushing home from work and spending time with it (although I don't know what I did with it while I was at work ... ). I even stopped calling it "It." 

Anyway, after a few months, the father's degenerate family comes into the picture and takes the baby back. I got really upset about it. They were really rude and abrupt. It frustrated me. I was sad to see the baby go, but I think I was more sad that I had all this baby crap scattered around my house (that I had spent a lot of money on!) gathering dust. 

So, there you have it. My first, and hopefully only, BD. 

I would really hate to have this thing analyzed. I think it would reveal scary elements of my psyche!!

21 December 2008

Definitions of Beauty

As I sit on my couch, sipping peppermint tea and waiting to go to work, I'm watching U-Carmen. It's a South African version of the opera, Carmen. It's an interesting exploration of what cultures deem as beautiful. Let me explain ...

Traditionally, actresses and singers who portray Carmen look like this:

 or this 

or even this ...

She is always svelt, lean, and stunning. At least according to Western ideals of beauty. We are, after all, the culture who idolizes women the likes of  Pam ...
[pam_anderson.jpg] (who we all know is lusted after because of her impossibly thin waistline and disturbingly large cup size) and Catherine Zeta-Jones . And I actually like the last one!

The Western ideal of beauty is thin and pale (with the occasional dark-haired beauty!), usually with unnaturally mismatched measurements.  In this version of Carmen, the women are rather big boned and VERY proud of their bodies and shape. Here she is ...  She is by no means the traditional Carmen. In fact, all of the women, save but a few, are shaped like her. The great thing is that she is a highly desirable sex pot. Men lust and chase after her, seeking her companionship and attention. It's a great look into what real beauty is. Confidence and vulnerability. Attitude and style. This Carmen has all of those and still shops in the Women's section of the stores, not the 00P section. Very refreshing. And I won't even get into the depiction of South African life. 

15 December 2008

Advent Inspired by Kiki


Kiki recently posted some of her reflections on Advent and Christ which means she beat me to it. I had been meaning to do so since this season marks the one year anniversary into my Catholic journey. I've been so busy that I haven't had a chance because of work and such. I posted a rather long comment on her page and that got me juices flowing. 

Advent is a time of great celebration and rejoicing. For those of the Christian faith, it is a time of hope and renewal. Christ the Savior is being "re"born to prepare a way for us. It is a time for family and joy. Sadly, today's consumer culture has transformed Advent into Retail Madness. Advent has become the Christmas season. Traditionally, the Christmas season actually begins on Christmas Day and ends on the Epiphany (January 6th). This is where the whole idea of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" comes. It happens AFTER Christmas, not before. Because of this great consumer (and, by extension, social) emphasis on the lead-up to Christmas, the real focus of Christmas gets lost and convoluted. 

The thing that I really appreciate about the Catholic church is that we follow the liturgical calendar. Advent in the Church is a time of preparation and great anticipation. The reading and Gospels in the mass discuss directly the coming of Christ and the signs of His future works and trials. We don't read about His life or deeds during this time. We focus on preparing ourselves for God's greatest gift. We don't sing traditional Christmas hymns or carols, and the church has few signals of the winter holiday. A few poinsettias bring color to the altar, but that is it. Next Sunday, the third week of Advent, a few small white-lit Christmas trees and evergreens will appear. At midnight mass on Christmas Eve, we will introduce the caroling and Christmas hymns into the mass. And we will sing those hymns for the next two weeks or so. Because, at that point, the Christmas season has begun. 

Our Christmas season will end in January when we'll have a few short weeks of "ordinary time." Late in February, Ash Wednesday marks that start of Lent. Of course, this is a serious time of reflection, repentance, sacrifice, and penance. This solemn time allows us ample opportunity to reflect on our own lives and examine the debt we owe for the sacrifices made.  The Catholic Church's calendar is set up so that the Easter miracle is never far away. Everything we do is in preparation to honor and revere this holy sacrifice made for us so that we may be forgiven. The year is a near constant cycle of preparation, rejoicing, and reflection, and sacrifice. It ensures that Christ's life and death is always at the forefront of our mass celebration.  Even now, in the throws of the "Christmas season," Christ's sacrifice is the focus of our mass. Each week when I participate in holy communion, I'm reminded that Christ was born to die for my sins. That sacrifice is overwhelming and overpowering. And it's important that we not forget it. No matter what the season. Christmas is joyful and renewing, but it is also the start of the greatest sacrifice ever made. 

While Advent is a temporary season prepping us for Christ's coming, it really is the start of His most holy sacrifice. To only celebrate the wonder and glory of Advent is to lose the real significance of the season. 

But those are just my thoughts. Yours?

11 December 2008

I sing you to me

Jo and I just returned from watching Australia. It was really well done. I can completely see the comparison to Gone With the Wind. Very romantic and "building of a nation-esque." While I appreciate the beauty of Hugh, he doesn't make me swoon as he does some people (Queen of the West Bank!). He did a great job in the film, as did Kidman.

A reoccurring theme in the movie is the importance of our stories because they make us who we are and leave our legacy behind. The film explores the aboriginal value of song and singing our stories rather than just passing them down. Little Nullah tells Lady Ashley twice that he will "sing you to me." As they separated because of societal forces, Nullah reminded Lady Ashley (his "adoptive"mother) that no matter how far apart they are, he will lead her to him through his song. Lady Ashley replied that she "would always hear." It's a very romantic and grand notion. Those we are deeply connected to will always be able to find us because of the song that we share. It made me tear up. 

I give it two thumbs up. Go see it, people!

Mom's cookies!

... came in a big box today!!! Yummy!

Our stockings are hung by the chimney with care

I've decorated the house for Christmas. Actually, I decorated about a week or so ago but have just gotten around to taking and posting pictures. 

Here's my hope chest, covered in my snowman collection.

Here's my Christmas tree, decorated in the usual blue and white WITH PRESENTS BENEATH IT! Mom and Dad's packages got here today!

This is the same tree that we had last year. It is some kind of tropical evergreen that lives in a pot. Her name is Cecilia. 

Cecilia all lit up.

And our stockings!! One for each of us!

It's nothing spectacular, but it makes it seem more like Christmas.

Self-imposed ice cream restriction


Sadly, my love affair with ice cream has come to an end. Well, not so much an end but more like a curtail. Does that make sense? Probably not. Let me explain.

The Boy has been doing some research for his European Union Law course in school. He and I have already started being more cautious and concerned over the food we put in our bodies. Over the past year or so, we've consistently been buying organic produce, organic meats, organic dairy, and organic groceries in general (when possible) because it is better for you. There are far fewer pesticides, the treatment of the animal is far better, and the general health benefits make a strong case for organic foods. The Boy's paper was about the mad-cow disease. His research for that paper and a previous assignment led him to investigating the use of rBGH in cows. If you don't know, rBGH is used to prolong the milk cells in a cow's udder therefore increasing it's productivity. rGBH is a synthetic form of BST, a naturally occurring hormone in cows. However the EU has banned the use of rBGH in dairy because there is a strong correlation between the presence of rBGH and prostate and breast cancers. While the correlation isn't cause and effect, it is strong enough to make one pause. 

As a result of his project, we've investigated our food choices even more closely. We've always known that Ben and Jerry's refuses to knowingly use rBGH enhanced milk and makes their dairy providers vow to not use the hormone. This is a good thing because we LOVE Ben and Jerry's! Sadly, Haagen Daz and Breyers do not make such a promise. This makes a sad Marybeth. I love ice cream!!!!!!!!!!! But I kinda love my boobies more. So I guess it's a trade off.  We've already decided to consume only organic cheeses or cheese made within the EU because it is rBGH free because of their laws.  Man, I love me some ice cream. Oh well. Ben and Jerry's has a bazillion awesome flavors, and there is one right next to my job at AT! Yeah!

Well, on the good side, the decreased ice cream consumption may help to decrease my waistline!

Oh! and this picture just makes me laugh!

09 December 2008

Giving Back

Despite my many complaints, I do live a blessed life. I am healthy (not counting the pre-arthritis and bursitis ... old age isn't an illness, right?), able-bodied, above the poverty line, gainfully employed, and surrounded by people who improve my life simply be being in it. While I moan and cry about not being with my family this holiday, I fully recognize that it is an extremely minor inconvenience in my life, paled in comparison to the many people who suffer greatly this season. I haven't lost my livelihood and savings in the recession, and I still have roof over my head and food in my cupboards. My children aren't starving or going without warm coats, and I not (currently) battling insurance companies for coverage of a major (or minor) illness. I truly am blessed. Sometimes I just need to pull my head out of the sand to realize how lucky I really am.

This Christmas, The Boy and I are only doing Sixty Dollar Stockings. We are going to save our money to go somewhere together at a later date, and we are filling each other's stockings with gifts that total no more than $60. We normally go WAY overboard for each other, and neither one of us can really afford it this year. Plus, there are better things to do with our money. We'll put some things together for B, but we aren't doing anything else for anyone else. My family has been notified of this (I usually buy for my parents and whoever I draw for the swap), and they completely understand.

Instead of spending money on presents and material things, The Boy and I are giving back this year. We are spending Christmas afternoon serving dinner to the homeless and less fortunate. We are also going to be making some donations to Heifer International. If you are unfamiliar with this group, the project focuses on providing people with the tools and materials necessary to create a sustainable food source and income. When I was a kid, our church did Heifer Projects every year. I always thought that they were all overseas. Turns out, Hefier International works globally, within the States and without. Not that it makes a difference, but it was cool to discover. HI has put together a "catalog" of giving that allows one to see the many types of giving available. You can give anything from a waterbuffalo on down to a hive of honeybees. The money donated goes to the entire mission, but it is nice to see how such a small amount of money can help someone to become more self-sufficent and economically stable. And the gifts start as low as $20, so it is something that even us poor grad students can contribute to. The Boy and I are thinking about giving some honeybees, geese, ducks, and chicks. Maybe even a trio of bunnies. It will be nice to give something back to others to remind me of how blessed I truly am.

06 December 2008

Melancholy yet contented

It's Christmas. I miss my family. I miss Mom's cookies. I miss hanging out with my Dad, running errands and just being together. I miss all of my screaming and rambunctious nieces and nephews running around the house like maniacs. I miss my brothers and my grandparents. I miss the snow (I can't believe I just wrote that!) and my parent's Christmas tree. I took B for a long walk today and loaded the iPod up with Christmas music. Bad choice. It made me even more sentimental. But I'll shake it off! I'm tough!

Happily, I have a lot to look forward to this spring to keep my mind off of missing home this season. I've got a kick ass new job that will hopefully be a permanent position. I'm going to be traveling (hopefully!) to Texas in March and Florida in April and hopefully home sometime as well. Plus The Boy and I are saving our Christmas money to go on a trip this year. I'll be working steadily on my prospectus and eventually my diss. Things are looking up. Finally.

You gotta take the good with the bad, right?


02 December 2008

Just call me "Prof"

So, yeah, Elon offered me a full-time teaching position for the spring. It's only a one semester and three course appointment, but they have a really high retention and renewal rate so that is great! I'll be teaching college writing (which I have A LOT of experience with), and the compensation is OUTSTANDING.  Far more than I ever expected. Seriously. It's goodbye to the Athletic Department! I meet with my boss's boss tomorrow to discuss my options (either he guarantees me my boss's full-time-with-benefits-job in writing or I say "adios!"). The Grad School has already told me that I can resign from my assistantship at any point so I'm not contractually bound there. So, tomorrow determines what I say to Elon. Of course, the compensation really does make my decision easy. 

I really am so thankful for this break. It's been a rough few months, and I was starting to get pretty down. Yeah for a reversal of fortune!

Guess who got a job offer today?

It's me! It's me!

The specifics are still out, but I could be a full-time instructor at Elon University in the spring!!!

01 December 2008

A chill is in the air

My apartment tends to remain a bit chilly in this cold weather. Not the whole apartment. Just the living room. The upstairs gets downright hot and the kitchen and bar and dining room all stay warm as well. But the living room stays blanket-worthy. When I'm home, it's no big deal. I turn on the space heater and nudge the thermostat up and hang out. If I have work to do, I simply do it in the office where a t-shirt and shorts is appropriate dress. When I leave, I bump the heat WAY down and this causes B to be a wee-bit unhappy. She's got no body fat to keep herself warm and she refuses to bed down under all of the blankets that I leave her. I normally secure the upstairs so she cannot get up there (because we all know how "investigative" she is). Because of the cold living room, I've started sealing off my bedroom and leaving the office upstairs open for her. I put her bed right next to the heating vent so even when I turn down the heat, she stays toasty. B is a BIG fan of this new arrangement. She prefers the upstairs anyway, so she's pretty happy about this.

I left the house this morning and peddled my ass to school. I left the office open for B, turned down the heat, and headed out. I returned three hours later and opened up the backdoor of the house. Normally, B is waiting for me at the door, eager to go out.  B was no where to be found. I hauled the bike in, took off my helmet and balaclava and gloves and coat. Still no B. I shut the door loudly. Finally I hear B wobble to her feet and clamber down the stairs. She was sleepy and groggy. She had NO IDEA I had gotten home because she was in a complete coma! It was very funny!

26 November 2008

Damnit,Thanksgiving!

It's officially the holidays. The store has been playing Christmas music for a few weeks now, and there is a radio station that plays non-stop Christmas music. Don't get me wrong. I love the holidays. It's just that is starts earlier every year. It seems that Veteran's Day is the official beginning of the Christmas season this year.

This will be the fourth (or is it fifth?) year that I've been away for Thanksgiving.  The holidays are a pretty big deal in my family. Specifically with my mom. She's goes a little crazy, but that is what makes it so fun. The family all gets together and eats and laughs and fights and makes-up and eats some more. This year I won't be going home for Christmas. Right now, I'm okay with it. Of course, as the holiday gets closer, I'm pretty sure it will be a bit more difficult. It started to hit me this evening when I was driving home from LL's after feeding her kitties. But, like a trooper, I held it together. 

I figure that on this Thanksgiving Eve, it is an appropriate time to recall the blessings of my life. So, here goes ...

I'm thankful for The Boy. He makes me happy and contributes to my health through good food and healthy cooking. He makes me laugh and comforts me in times of struggle. He loves me and supports me, and makes my life better simply by being in it.

I am thankful for my friends. The real ones. Not the casual ones who stop and say "hi" in a crowded hallway, but the ones that really understand me and all my weirdness. They are always there to cheer me on and talk me down, whatever is necessary. Weeks and months can go by without contact and it's like not a moment has passed. I'm thankful for their understanding and their friendship. They truly make life easier.

I'm thankful for my family. Specifically my mom and dad. They truly are the best parents one could ever want. They are loving and supportive and generous. They are my best friends. I know that, no matter what, they have my back. I feel so lucky to have such a close and loving family. Sure, we fight and argue and bicker, but I know that we're always there for each other.

I am thankful for my jobs and the roof over my head. They may not be the greatest, but they keep me dry, fed, warm, and busy. They provide my with health insurance that eases many a burden on my person. 

I am thankful for B. Even when she drives me absolutely insane, she still makes me laugh and loves me unconditionally. She's always happy to see me and never fights with me. It may be trivial, but her unconditional love is all that gets me through the day sometimes!

I'm thankful for my journey of faith. I'm thankful that the past year has brought me to a close personal relationship with God that fills me with hope and faith and a calmness that my life has always lacked. Attending the mass each week and praying gives me focus and forces me to acknowledge all the good in my life when it is easy to focus on the bad. It actually takes some of the gravity away from Thanksgiving because I readily thank God for my blessings. Tomorrow just allows me to focus longer on those blessings.

I am thankful for the Queen of the West Bank's recovery. She scared us for a while, but she's back and that's awesome. 

I am thankful that my dad is healthy. The thought of losing him terrified me beyond words, and I'm so thankful that he is healthy and strong again. 

I am thankful for all of the possibilities of the future. The good things haven't come yet, but I know that, whatever comes, I can deal with it and make it work. 

There are so many other things I am thankful for. Baby Sawyer being brought into this world, healthy and strong, growing like a weed every day. My wonderful Boston family and all their quirkiness and tradition. The new pregnancy of my best friend and his wife, despite the fact that they are in Germany and I rarely see them. The recent reconnections from days gone by that make me happy and reminiscent and eager to foster those friendships. 

I think that I am most thankful for the blessings that came in disguise. The blessings that seemed like curses that somehow worked out. Not in the way that I had planned but made me better off because of them. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

23 November 2008

The Boy's Birthday Meal

Appetizer - Chevre stuffed figs in Prosciutto

Take twelve golden dried figs and cut a small slit in the top. Fill the opening with chevre and the wrap the fig in thinly sliced Prosciutto. Bake in the oven at 350 for 12 minutes. While the figs are baking, bring two cups of balsamic vinegar to a boil in a saucepan until it reduces. When the figs are done, arrange on a platter and drizzle the balsamic reduction over their tops.

Salad - Reconstructed Pear Salad

Mix fresh spinach leaves, roasted pecans and chevre with apple cider vinaigrette (one part apple cider vinegar, three parts olive oil, salt and pepper and garlic powder to taste). Let set for twenty minutes to allow flavors to combine. Take two whole smooth-skinned pears and cut into four horizontal slices. Core the center, but leave the stem intact. Reconstruct the pear by placing the bottom slice on the serving plate and placing a small portion of the salad atop it. Place the next pear layer on top of the salad and add another small portion of salad. Continue until the pear is reconstructed. Finish the salad by drizzling honey over the top. 

Main Course - Ginger Maple Syrup Glazed Porkchops

Chop medium onion and mince fresh ginger root. Saute onion for ten minutes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add ginger. Let cook for three more minutes. Remove from heat. Combine three parts chili powder with one parts salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Rub spices into one-inch-thick chops and brown on medium heat. Once chops are browned, add 1 cup chicken broth, 1/4 cup maple syrup, onion and ginger mixture, cover and cook on medium low for 15 minutes or until done. Once chops are done, remove from heat and keep warm. Uncover remaining mixture and return to a boil. Allow mixture to become a thickened glaze. If needed, add corn starch to thicken. Place chops on a bed of jasmine rice and spoon glaze over top. Add any preferred green vegetable for color. Serve with a Pinot Noir.

Dessert - An assortment of slices of Cheesecakes by Alex or a coconut cake by Ganache

Mmmmmm ... so tasty!

So, how come nobody told me ...

... that Pilot Mountain looks like a perky nipple atop a breast?!?!? This is essential information that I need to know!!!


Of course, up close, it looks a little less like a nipple. But the similarity remains!!


The Boy and I spent Saturday touring NC's wine country. There were a few pretty great wineries -- Old North State Winery, Shelton Winery and Vineyard, and Hanover Park -- but the rest were eh. Every red seems to taste the same and most of the whites are overwhelmingly sweet. That damn muscadine grape! But the weather was beautiful and we had a wonderful day tasting wine and eating good food!

The pictures below are from the Raffaldini Winery. Sadly, the wine kinda sucked, but the estate was breathtakingly beautiful. 




The cold weather doesn't agree with The Beast. She's taken to snuggling down into her bed and covering up her face with her blanket when hanging out around the house. She can be so damn cute sometimes!



19 November 2008

Leave of Absence

Because my blog is becoming increasingly depressive and whiny, I've decided that I'm not going to blog anymore unless it is happy and good. I figure that I'm simply depressing my already small audience, and there's enough crap in the world out there. So, if something great happens (like the wine tour this weekend with The Boy for his birthday), I'll post. Otherwise, I'm out...

17 November 2008

Still a Separatist

It's a new day, and I'm still bleh.

Back when I was going through my separation and subsequent divorce, DMB's Grey Street really described the emotions I was going through. I felt like all of the joy and happiness in my life was being sucked out, leaving nothing but the bleak, lifeless remains. I was stuck in a place that wasn't where I wanted to be. The dreams and hopes that I had always had were at risk of being pushed aside for someone else's contentment. I knew what I needed to do to get out of the situation, but those steps were scary and risky. What happens if I fail? What if turns out to be all for naught. It was a tough time, and the song described those emotions perfectly. After the divorce and the color had returned to my life, I still really appreciated the song. It reminded me of the power of music and helped me to feel like someone else had been through this before and understood my struggle.

Today on the stairclimber, that song came on the iPod. Normally I just "sing" along and continue my workout. Today, when the some came on, I was unable to "sing" and read my magazine. I realized that, while I'm not going through a rocky marriage right now, those emotions and that sense of "something more" is the same. I feel them again, and I'm not thrilled about it. I have no real firm direction or plan. I feel like there is no life left in me. I feel the vitality and joy being sucked right out of me. My outlook is bleak and grey. 

When is this shit going to pass? Seriously. 

16 November 2008

Separatist Condition

I've been feeling rather withdrawn and isolated lately. It's very much a self-imposed withdrawal and absolutely no fault of my friends. They are wonderful and amazing in every way. A girl couldn't ask for better friends. It's simply that recent developments in my life have really led me to be rather introspective and self-evaluative. I'm seriously reconsidering my current situation here in Greensboro and at UNCG. I'm not satisfied, and I'm not happy. It seems that everyone I know has eventually come to the conclusion that the 'boro sucks. I've always enjoyed it here. There is some great dining, a few cool hotspots, and the people and weather are pretty decent.  I guess my disillusionment and frustration has caused me to dislike this city and this school and this life. I just want to be over and done with. I'm just over it. Completely and totally over. If I weren't up to my eyeballs in debt, I would pack up and move to Savannah, wait tables, and live a happy life in poverty and a city the celebrates the open container. 

I'm not sure if this feeling will fade. While I generally like to be alone, a general feeling of depression and sadness settles over me whenever I am by myself lately. When surrounded by my people, I feel fine. I feel different from them, but it is manageable and acceptable. As soon as we part ways and go home, the ominous feeling of solitude and being left alone with myself takes me over. I hate being depressive and miserable, but I'm just so damned frustrated and disillusioned that I can't seem to get over it.

Cest la vie, right?

13 November 2008

Energy Saving and Saving the Environment?

I ride my bike to school pretty much every day. I save a TON of money on gas, create fewer emissions into the environment, and get a little exercise as well. I usually don't mind it. It is sometimes cold and miserable, but I figure it builds my character, right? When I left for school this morning, it was a little drizzly but nothing that I couldn't handle. I put on the rain gear and headed on my way. However, four hours later, the drizzle had turned into a nice hard steady rain. And it was time for me to go home. I didn't want to loiter around in the building waiting for the rain to stop (I can't get far enough away from campus these days), so I hopped on the ole Roadmaster and peddled my ass home. When I got home, I was completely soaked. Of course, I was wearing jeans. Nothing feels quite as good as wet, cold jeans on freshly shaven legs. I'm pretty sure I caught pneumonia. No telling, but we'll see. 

I'm beginning to think that a parking pass may be worth while.

11 November 2008

Exams

Went poorly.

Don't want to talk about it.

'Nuff said.

10 November 2008

An improvement

B is being a little better today. She's still being kinda ass-y, but it's better than yesterday. Maybe I'll keep her after all. We'll see how the rest of the day goes.

The Wonders of Wikipedia

I'm not usually a fan of this site, but the "irony mark" and "certitude point" are rather appealing to me. I'm not going to tell you what part of my oral comps preparation led me to this discovery. I'll let you create a story. It would probably be better than the real story!

Although, the use of the "irony mark" seems to defeat the actual use of irony.

(Kik - Is there any way you could incorporate the use of these marks into your novel? You could be a pioneer! And it would be Ah-MAZE-ing!!!! Just a thought.)


Phase Two

I take my orals tomorrow morning at 10am. Yeah. I'm so excited. (please read the sarcasm dripping from my words). When is this damn thing over with? When can I start writing my prospectus and get working on that damn dissertation so I can be done with all this? I just want to get a real job and be done with grad school. It's really starting to grate on my nerves. 

A lot of things are grating on my nerves lately. 

On a good note, I found The Boy a birthday present that I know (hope) he'll like. We'll see. He's a hard one to peg.

09 November 2008

Free to good home

I'm seriously considering giving B away. She is driving me nuts. Seriously. The Boy and I had Jo and her beau over for dinner on Saturday night. She paced the entire evening and then PISSED on the floor TWICE ... RIGHT IN FRONT OF US ... despite the fact that we had just taken her out moments before.  Today we went to Durham to visit with friends, a place where B has been a million times and loves (they have kids and lots of crumbs to lick up). Again, she paced and whined and was a general bitch the entire afternoon. The whole ride home, she refused to lay down in the car and rest. I am seriously ready to cry. What the hell is her problem? why the hell is she acting like such a friggin' bitch? She can look adorable and sweet and be the most lovable creature ever and then she can be a raging ho-bag! Man, if having kids is anything like this, I will NEVER be ready. Ever. Not that I was considering it at any point.

Other than my dog being a huge ass, the weekend was good. But then there was B to balance things out. 

05 November 2008

Interesting Coincidence? I think not ...

Barak Obama awoke this morning to be President-Elect of the United States of America. He is the first black man to hold the title and represents all that is good in America ... hope, possibility, change, and potential.


Today is Guy Fawkes Day. For those who don't know the significance of the 5th of November, go watch V for Vendetta and do a little internet research. (The Gunpowder Plot, Catholic uprising against oppressive government ...)

I don't think it's coincidence that America has begun an amazing road of change on such a significant historical date. Some things are truly fated.

But it could just be coincidence ...

Good night, and Good Luck

This election has worn me out! I need to go to bed now. I don't want to because I don't want to miss anything! I guess I'll have to rely on the highlights tomorrow morning. 

Yes, We Can!

04 November 2008

Something I never thought I would see

Disclaimer: Please excuse the rampant patriotism in the following blog entry. I am overwhelmed with national pride at this current moment. 

Tonight, history was made. A history that I honestly never thought that I would see. While I believe in equal rights and oppose any kind of racism and discrimination, I know how racially motivated many people in this country are. I never thought that those stereotypes and racisms could be overcome to elect a black man as president. I am happy that I have lived to see this day. It fills me with pride and promise and ... sorry for the now cliched buzz word ... hope. The face of America has changed and the "American dream" has been proven and revived. The "leader of the free world" is a black man with plans and ideas that will lead us to recovery and success. Obama has what it takes to make things happen ... vision, charisma, and diplomacy. I look forward to celebrating his successes. 

I've never been more proud to be an American citizen. Our government now reflects the progressive and modern face that we like to show to the world. I look eagerly await the next four years ... and hopefully eight!


Waking up in a new America

I'm closing down the internet election surfing and am going to finish watching the election in bed. I look forward to waking up to a different and improved America tomorrow morning. 

Good night, with prayers of change.

Watching history happen

No matter who wins tonight (although I am partial to one particular candidate), this election is fascinating. And no matter who wins, the aftermath is going to be messy. There will be lawsuits, complaints, and all kinds of turmoil. 

One result that I hope comes from this election is the dissolution of the electoral college. It is antiquated and outdated. If McCain wins the popular vote, he deserves to be president. Clearly the majority of Americans would prefer (hypothetically) him to be president. It isn't fair or appropriate for one man to win the popular vote and another to win the electoral. It is asinine and doesn't work in today's world. While I would prefer Obama as my next president, I want him to come by it fairly. Not simply because he wooed "important" states. Aren't we all important?

On a related note, Kay Hagan stole Elizabeth Dole's senate seat! Yeah! My friends (Joey's parents) are personal friends with her. That's where I was most of the evening, watching election coverage. Oh yeah, I rub the right elbows. Don't you know it.

Ohio just projected for Obama! Damn this thing is exciting!

P=PhD

I just met with the barraCuda and was informed that I passed my 20th century exam. He is fairly certain I failed all of them, but I need to verify with KK. Of course, he had to qualify his "good news" with the statement, "You passed, but with qualifications." Meaning, I didn't do everything he wanted me to on his exam. Namely, I addressed all of 20th century literature rather than just Modernism in one of my answers, and he thought by course design question was to broad. But I passed. And "P" equals "PhD," right?

We met for about 30 minutes and talked about the things that he plans to address in my orals. Needless to say, I'm a little terrified. I've got a decent list of things to know cold, and he expects me to produce fireworks. He's more likely to get some dime store sparklers. I'm scheduled for my orals on next Tuesday, and I've got a PACKED week and weekend ahead. I work on Thursday and Friday and Saturday and Sunday. I've got Monday off from both AT and school, so I'll be doing some hard core work then. I'm going to try to get some done tonight and tomorrow, but Thursday and Friday are a wash. Saturday has the promise of work time, but Sunday is pretty much a "no go." Ugh. Just when I was starting to feel relaxed and relieved ...

Oh well ... ready for round 2.

03 November 2008

Election-itis

On the eve of a monumental election (arguably the most important election I have ever voted in), I thought that I would take a moment to express my thoughts on the influence of religion on politics.

Most of you know that I am a newly converted Catholic. I am extremely happy in my faith and find comfort and guidance in the mass and my conversations with God. I subscribe to many -- but not all -- of the Catholic doctrines. Significantly, I subscribe to these beliefs because they are aligned with my moral conscience not because The Church tells me to. 

I believe that abortion is wrong. I would never be able to abort a child, and I would hope and pray that no one I know ever has one (or has ever had one). I know that there are many avenues and options for women carrying a child that they do not want. But I also know that I cannot understand every woman and her situation. I also know that this nation was founded on a strong belief of separation of church and state. 

I was in mass two weeks ago, and the lectern read a letter from the Bishop prior to the start of mass. The letter was telling us all to go out and vote. But it didn't end there. The Bishop spoke about the need to feed the poor, educate the young, care for the needy, and defend our fellow man. I was completely okay with this. Finally the Bishop ended with the following statement, "The protection of human life from conception to natural death is preeminent among our moral values." This "abortion is the only issue" stance is a problem for me. While I believe that abortion is wrong, I completely support the pro-choice position in legislation. The government should not and can not make laws that are based on religious ideology. I will be pro-life in my activism but remain pro-choice in my politics. It is not The Church's position to influence laws. It is The Church's responsibility to provide counseling, support, and guidance to women considering abortion, regardless of the laws that exist. The lives of the unborn are indeed very important, but they are not the only issue that matters. What about the millions of people who starve every day? What about the abysmal condition of our school systems? What about the endless "war" in which we are engaged? What about the millions of people -- old and young -- who have no health insurance and cannot seek medical treatment? All of these issues are very important to me. As a democrat, I believe it is important to take care of ALL Americans -- young, old, male, female, rich, poor, healthy, ill, born or unborn. I am very willing to vote for the candidate who is most likely to address as man of these issues as possible. I know that there are always pro-life activists who will provide women considering abortion with options and counseling. It just isn't our government's responsibility to tell us what we can and cannot do with our bodies. 

While I understand that so many of us find our morality and values within our churches, it bothers me that we so readily reduce our vote -- the most significant action we can take as an American citizen -- to just one issue. We are willing to forgo all of the other social services and issues to make sure that abortion is illegal. Why is it that we cannot focus those energies into preventing pregnancy (through education and available contraception) and working with women who are considering it? It just isn't our government's place to limit our bodies (women's bodies) with restrictions. I cannot in good conscience vote a single issue ballot. 

On a very good and happy note, I do believe that this election is a good sign of things to come. Voters are turning out in recored numbers. It seems that Americans have finally taken ownership of their right to vote and see it as an important element of their citizenship. One can only hope that this passion and excitement continues in future elections. 
 

30 October 2008

WTF?

How is it possible that the exam I felt MOST confident about now has me terrified and panicking with unpreparedness? Huh?

29 October 2008

Day Two

Over.

Done with.

No turning back.

Whatevs.

Home Sweet Upstate NY

FYI ...

This is what "home" looked like last night.

My parent's didn't get too much. But still ... It's sunny and seasonably warm here in the Carolinas with a projected high of 54. That's 22 degrees ABOVE freezing. Um ... yeah.

Ambling toward Awesitude

A few pearls of wisdom to grant me inspiration today ...

click it to see it clearly.

27 October 2008

Phase 1

1 down, 2 to go.

At the risk of sounding confident, I think I did ... okay? Maybe ...

Anyway, the big one is over.

26 October 2008

Comps are upon us ...

Exam #1 - 19th Century American Literature - begins in 16 hours. Ugh. I've felt like throwing up all day. Seriously. Of course, I couldn't because The Boy had filled me full of yummy foods and throwing up would just be rude.

But I still feel like blowing chunks.

24 October 2008

Urgent News!

FYI ...

Free Icey Cream for Voters!!!

(I wonder if you get two scoops for voting Dem?)

Ice cream makes me happy! I've already picked out my flavour ... Seven Layer Bar ... mmmmmm

(FYI ... the Ben and Jerry's website is just plain fun ... almost as fun as their factory!)

21 October 2008

Ode to the ones I love

It's five days out, and I'm kinda panicky. (I really hate how that word is spelled. I always have.) I had dinner with MealyMel last night and made it through without crying. Of course, the tears came when I got home. How lame-o. Oh well. This shit has been looming for over a year, and it's finally culminating. That's a lot of pent up anxiety and emotion that has to find it's way out eventually. I haven't broken down and sobbed, but that's only a matter of time. I guess I'll have to get used to studying with tears in my eyes, right? Such is life.

This whole process has really revealed how important our support networks are. I have amazing friends and family, and I am so thankful to them all. They are always there to cheer me on and support me no matter how insane I am. I've got my Post-Comps People -- MealyMel, The Queen of the West Bank, Kristen -- telling me how great it is on the "other side" and that I can make it through the ordeal. I've got my Pre-Comps Friends --Rae of Light,The Good MB, LL -- cheering me on and offering words of support and strength and hugs! I've got my Distance Friends --Kiki and Kia -- sending warm wishes from far off distant places. I've got the family -- Mom and Dad -- who call every day to let me know that they love me and believe in me and are ever of proud of me. And last, but certainly not least, I've got The Boy, who is a category all his own. He loves me and supports me and regularly talks me off ledges with his ridiculous rationality and levelheadedness. It often pisses me off how rational he is, but it is usually what I need since I tend to be far more emotional (damn ovaries!) than he is. He really is fantastic, and I sometimes wonder if I deserve him.

Without all of these unique and interwoven networks, I wonder how much I could actually accomplish. Not much, I'm thinking. If I didn't have all these people loving and supporting me, I'm pretty sure I would still be a middle school teacher in Upstate NY (not that it was a bad thing! I loved it!) wishing I had taken the chance to earn my PhD, a distant dream from my freshmen year of college. But because of you guys, I feel like I just may be able to do this. It's gonna be rough, and, even if I falter, I know you all will be there for me. I appreciate that. More than words can say.

20 October 2008

lost

The pressure behind my eyes won.

Let the games begin.

Blech

My stomach feels like a clenched fist.

There is a constant pressure of tears behind my eyes.

I want to pull my head inside of my shell and never come back out.

It's been a great day.

19 October 2008

Lazy days of Autumn: Or, My Life as an Invalid


Yesterday was an amazing day. Seriously. I didn't leave bed except to pee until 6pm. No joke. The Boy and I had a late night with a few bottles of wine and an amazing dinner at home of Friday night, and we slept in late on Saturday. He finally got out of bed around ten am and brought me up a fantastic breakfast-in-bed. Pancakes, tea, juice, fruit spreads, pumpkin bread ... the works. It was mucho yummy. After we ate breakfast, we both got back under the covers (I never actually got out of the covers) and slept until 1ish. After our nap, he got up and took care of the house (clean up from last night, tending B's every need and whim, going to the post office) and played around on the computer. I stayed in bed and read ... for PLEASURE! I actually finished a book! I was impressed. I kept my comps work next to me, hoping to feel inspired to do a little bit of work. But, alas, no such divine inspiration struck. The Boy brought me "lunch" in bed as well ... a bowl of warm squash soup with Goldfish crackers and some amazing rosemary-sea salt bread. I read some more, and then The Boy came back upstairs around 6 to invite me downstairs to watch a movie before we drove to Durham to hang out with the Durham friends. I obliged, given that I didn't do ANYTHING all day. He seriously waited on me hand and foot all day. For no real reason other than I was a bit crampy (you know, auntie made a visit). He's really friggin' awesome, and I'm such a pain in the ass. Anyway, ,I took a quick shower, dressed up in some Red Sox gear, and watched half of a movie with my boy until we left for Durham around 7:30.

We didn't get back from Durham until 2:30am (after a Red Sox win, cigars, rum, and Playboy Radio on the Sirius ... it was hysterical!) and then slept in until 10 today. The Boy went to mass, I read and then did some dishes and tidies up, and then we cooked our weekly lunches. It was a great day.

On the comps front ... it was less than super productive. I didn't study at all yesterday, but I will be putting in a few hours today/tonight. And I am studying ALL DAY tomorrow, so that should be productive. Part of me feels like if I don't know it now, I never will. I know that it's important to keep practicing and reviewing and studying, but I kinda feel that I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Which is scary. I'm trying not to count too heavily on seeing expected questions on the exams, but how else can I prepare? It's the only thing that I have going for me. I just need to get through this. I'm hoping I'll knock my 19th exam out of the park, and that will give me some good confidence for the 20th century. But all I can do is practice, right? I guess.

Check back in exactly one week for the panicky ante-comps entry.

12 October 2008

A good, non-comps weekend

I didn't study a word of exam crap this weekend. Ahhhhh .... very nice! On Saturday, The Boy had some car issues (which will be all a-ok, hopefully) and, after we finished at the dealership, we went to the Farmer's Curb Market and Earthfare for our groceries. We got a bunch of great stuff at the farmer's marker (it feels good to support local agriculture!) and some awesome pork chops (the humane kind!) from Earthfare. I then worked all day at AT and came home to do some pumpkin beer and Octoberfest testings with The Boy.

This morning was awesome. The Boy got up early to go to mass and, when he returned, he made me pancakes and tea and served it to me in bed. Very nice! After breakfast, we did our weekly cooking and then went to see Duchess. Very good movie. We both really enjoyed it. When we got to the theater, the marquee had the times and titles listed. I guess the word "duchess" was too long so they had "duche" listed. Too funny! Way too similar to a female cleansing activity if you ask me!

After the movies, we came home and cleaned the fish tank (ugh) and then I went off to work. He headed back to Winston at some point, and, after my meeting, I attended mass. It was a really great way to end the weekend. While I love Sunday morning mass, I sometimes really enjoy Sunday night mass because it really provides a calming and centered way to end the weekend and start the week ahead.

And now, tomorrow afternoon, I am back at the comping. Ugh. Well, it was good while it lasted!

10 October 2008

Comps Cram Week Comes to an End

Here we have Friday, the end of my "cram" week for comps. I've been mostly successful. I got everything done that I wanted to but not anything more. That leaves me a little disappointed. It also leaves me scared. As of today, comps are 17 days away. I get a stone in my stomach whenever I think of that. I want it to be over, but I'm not ready for it yet! I think the prep I have remaining is manageable but it still leaves me feeling ... icky.

I spent the week outlining and drafting parts of essays for each potential question. I say potential because I gave KK and the barraCuda questions that I would like to see appear in some form or another, but there is no guarantee that those questions will appear. Anyway, the drafting of outlines definitely helped me to start thinking about these authors and works and the different ways that they connect. I did this for all three of my areas (to the third area as much as I could given that I only hvae areas of questioning for that topic not actual questions). I've typed them up and flagged areas that need further development. I've also developed a plan for the next 17 days. I need to:

1. Finalize outlines by filling in holes and firming up positions
2. Create some notecards with important information for quizzing myself
3. Go through my lists in quiz style to see how well I recall each and every work on it.
4. Memorize some significant passages/quotations to stun my committee with.
5. Practice, practice, practice

I'm sure there are more things that I need to do, but that is all I can think of right now. I feel a little better knowing that there are only a handful of things that I need to do to finish preparing.

I need to go drink now.

Later.

08 October 2008

Rear Window

I'm trying really hard to be productive today, but it seriously isn't working. I keep getting caught up in naps, Google messenger, Facebook ... anything but studying.

My desk at home overlooks the side parking lot and the apartments across the way. I happen to look directly at the apartment occupied by two teeny-boppers (and, yes, I did just use that phrase) living "in sin." They are fun to watch because they are young and dumb. On the hottest days this summer, they would sit on their back "porch" with their back door WIDE open and smoke their cigarettes. Clearly the concepts of energy conservation and pest-avoidance are foreign to them. It's funny thought. They'll camp out on their "porch" with their camp chairs (you know the kind that are made of canvas and collapse for easy transportation ... like to a CAMPsite) with their laptops on their laps and cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. All with the door completely open. Dumb kids.

Today Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum decided to do laundry. Tweedle Dee is a very tall, rather stalky (is that how you spell that word in that context?) toe-headed man. Tweedle Dum is his arm-candy, cheerleader-eque girlfriend. So out comes Tweedle Dee to open up the trunk of the car and directly on his heels is Tweedle Dum carrying a HEAPING basket of clothes that probably weighed more than she did. He watches her carry the basket to the trunk (where he is standing, ever so patiently) and then watches her try to stuff it into their tiny trunk. He helps her out by tosing a pair of pants back onto the pile while she jams the basket in. It clearly won't fit (because they haven't done laundry in 6 months by the look of it) so she takes the basket out and attempts to reposition it. While he watches. Finally she gets it in and he helps her by closing the trunk. As he climbs into the driver's seat, she scurries back to the house to shut and lock the door.

Um ... wtf?

Back to avoid working ...

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh barraCuda

I had a meeting with the barraCuda today. I left it feeling really confident and capable. That's a first. I normally leave his office feeling unprepared and lost. But he was really reassuring and complimentary. He told me that he feels good about where I am right now and likes the things that he is hearing from me. It was a wonderful affirmation of all the crap that I have been working on for the past few weeks (Especially the last three days ... I've been hitting the comps hard core!). While I don't want to take my comps tomorrow, I feel that if I had to, I could do reasonably well. Of course, a few more weeks of study won't hurt anything. I'm trying to set up a Fall Break study date with MealyMel. We'll see how htings pan out.

Yeah for productivity! : D

Boo for exams in 19 days! >P

07 October 2008

Back at it again

I just finished my remaining 1/2 outline for my 19th century list and plan to jump head first into my 20th century list. I want to get at least four outlined today. Of course, trying to be productive, I chose to outline four that I haven't completed sample essays on. I figure I need some fresh material.

But my tummy is rather rumbly right now. Yuck. I think I'm going to go lay down until 2 and then jump in the shower. I'll be back at the grindstone by 2:30/3:00. Since I have the whole afternoon and evening off, I can work until 7 or 8. It kinda ruins my plans, but I'm starting to feel like shit.

Ugh.

06 October 2008

Are we ready for liftoff?

Study area cleared and neatened? Check

Pad and pencil out beside copy of lists and questions? Check

Pot of tea beside desk and candles lit? Check

Sirius Pops playing quietly in the background? Check

All negative thoughts and worries pushed far from the front of the mind? Partial check

Houston, I think we are ready to study.

04 October 2008

Rough

Today's been rough. It's supposed to be the feast of St. Francis (The Boy took B to be blessed today), but it's actually a rather somber anniversary. It's been 11 years. I can't believe all this time has passed. I didn't think it would still affect me this way, but it does. No matter how much we grow and change, old scars still remain.

JLB
SJH

01 October 2008

Relaxation?

I had a rather productive day yesterday. I worked at the office in the morning, came home and dealt with the Gas Man (had to get the gas turned on so I could have some heat, you know!), ran some errands (dry cleaning, quick stop at HT and AT) and then returned home to study. I worked for a while, but found that I was increasingly sleepy. I decided to take a nap for a while (45 minutes), and that nap turned out to be a little longer than expected (90 minutes). It wasn't on the schedule for the day, but it was my body's way of telling me that I needed some rest. After my nap, I got up and finished my designated study tasks for the day. All in all, I was happy with my progress. So, when New Neighbor called to go get some wine and dinner, I was happy to join her. I felt accomplished and productive!

After wine, we grabbed dinner at Fish Bones, and, happily, the Lord of the West Bank was there. We chatted for a bit and I called up the Lady and she joined us. It was nice to visit with friends because I seem to be doing less and less of that.

Of course, as with all PhD people, the conversation quickly turned to comps and, by extension, MealyMel (who is currently under the torture of this arbitrary and antiquated device). The Lady of the West Bank revealed that MealyMel was not feeling too hot about her experience. She went into detail, and, the more detail she gave, the less comfortable I felt. MealyMel is one of the smarter people that I know. If comps shake her up, they will decimate me! The Lady was reassuring and comforting (having recently survived the experience herself), but I still felt a little (A LOT) less ready after dinner. I know this was not her intention, but I went to bed last night feeling overwhelmed and under prepared. Ugh.

So much for my productive and relaxing day.

I am now leaving the office to go study some more. There will be no nap today.

29 September 2008

It's creeping up on me.

MealyMel starts her exams today.

Mine are exactly 28 days away.

I'm not ready.

I'm not sure I ever will be.

I almost started crying on the treadmill this morning.

How lame am I, really?

24 September 2008

Doctor's Appointments

I finally got to the ortho for my recent ailments. Happily, all that I had to pay was my copay! Yeah!! Doc checked out my finger and my hip and thankfully prescribed "free" treatments and gave me FREE samples.

Turns out my finger does indeed have a ganglion cyst on the tendon. It has gone down considerably and the pain is completely gone, but it still clicks when I use it.

Doc determined that I have bursitis in my left hip. Yeah for being old!!!!!!! Go me! I've even stolen a pic off the internet (note the copyright info) and included it for your viewing pleasure!

Doc gave me some free anti-inflammatory cream to rub on both my hip and my finger and told me to take an Aleve a day for the next ten days. He also told me that a heating pad on my hip will help to ease the inflammation. Yeah for cheap (i.e. non-surgical and no needle!) treatments. I'm actually looking forward to laying down on the heating pad tonight. It's friggin' cold out! I haven't been able to sleep in my left side for quite some time now, so I'm really looking forward to this as well! Of course, in ten days if my current course of treatment is unsuccessful, Doc wants to stap me in the hip with a giant needle full of some steroids. Let's hope and pray for the best.

Words cannot express how happy this appointment made me. I felt so good afterward that I treated myself to a mani and pedi at this new place that was pretty kick ass (although their website is rather lackluster.). It was fabulous! I feel relaxed and calm. Ahhhhh ...

23 September 2008

I almost forgot!

I snagged these pics while in The Granary. I though it peculiar. The "barbed wire" and the sign face the ancient cemetery and don't seem to be protecting much. I especially love the sign.


What is this about, really?

Chapter Three: The Best Of ...

Here, my faithful readers, I give the lowdown of the trip in the Best and Worst of categories. Because I am me, most of these involve food or booze. But that is why you love me.

Best Hotel Overall: Seaport Hotel
Best Hotel Room: Omni Parker House
Best Hotel Bed: Omni Parker House
Best Hotel View: Seaport Hotel (view of the harbor)
Best Hotel Location: The Regency (Portland)
Worst Hotel Overall: The Regency (Portland)
Worst Hotel Room: The Regency (Portland)
Worst Hotel Bed: The Regency (Portland)
Worst Hotel View: Omni Parker House (we literally stared at an office building across an alley way)

Best Lunch: Thai on Newbury
Worst Lunch: Gritty McDuff's (Portland)
Best Dinner: Vignola in Portland
Worst Dinner:
Best Breakfast:
Mims (Portland)
Worst Breakfast: breakfast this morning in Peabody (shredded wheat and a banana ... I've been spoiled.)
Best Alcoholic Beverage: The coconut martini-esque thing I had last night at Stephanie's
Worst Alcoholic Beverage: Is there such a thing?

Best Day:
Saturday in Portland
Worst Day: Thursday ... the travel day
Favorite Activity: The chocolate moose ... or the game. Either one!

So much of this is totally relative. Everywhere we stayed and ate was so great that the "Best" and "Worst" are only separated by minuscule increments. The trip was a total blast.

(Of course, as I write this, I am realizing a million things that have happened in the past week that I haven't written about! Like the coffee that some ass spilled all over my purse in the over head compartment, or the way I forgot my baseball tickets in G'boro and had to have LL FedEx them to me, or the Isabela Stewart Gardner Museum, or beer tasting at Shipyard brewery, or seeing the Queen Mary 2 parked in the harbor of Portland, or the crackhead teenagers singing in their mom's SUV ... oh there is so much to tell!)

Chapter Two: Boston

Thanks for your continued attention! Now for the Boston chapter...

Like I said in chapter one, I arrived in Boston on Thursday. Friday, ALL MORNING, The Boy had interviews in the financial district. So ... what is a girl to do? Shop! What else? I took the train to Kenmore station and walked up Newbury street and explored the posh and high-end shops. Of course, my sadly limited budget restricted me to only spending money in AT (of course!) and this really sweet little tea shop. I bought a gorgeous special occasion dress in a soft baby blue. I have no purpose to wear it, but it cost me $29.00, marked down from $128.00!, so I figured, why not?! After my shopping excursion wore me out, I stopped at this little Thai place for lunch and had some amazing Panang curry. It certainly reenergized me for the afternoon. After lunch, The Boy and I drove to Portland, ME (see chapter one) and then returned to Beantown on Saturday night.

After mass on Sunday morning, we drove back into the city and checked into our hotel in the Seaport. It was a "green" hotel and was very modern. Not the most memorable hotel (nothing really stood out) but still in a great location and was very nice. We had dinner on Sunday night at Miel and then took a nice walk along the river walk where I snapped a few pics while we smoked a nice cigar.
The harbor at night.

The Hood "pagoda" at the Children's Museum.

While The Boy went to his interview on Monday morning, I stayed in the hotel and worked. How lame, but the comps are just around the corner and I promised myself that I would get something accomplished while on my trip. And I did! Once I had met my work requirement for the day, I took the train to Harvard Yard and then promptly turned around a reboarded because The Boy told me he was done and ready for lunch. I had expected him to tied up for at least another hour. Oh well! I jumped back on the train, and we grabbed some lunch. While he was engrossed in his second interview of the day, I explored The Granary (burial place of patriots) and King's Church (burial place of Tories), the two Revolutionary war-era cemeteries in downtown Boston. I'd never been before and I do have a weird obsession with tombstones. So I figured, why not!

The head stones had rather interesting carvings. This one has two dancing skeletons.
(King's Church)

This one has an angel dancing with a skeleton. Huh?
(King's Church)

According to the plaques in the cemetery, the willow and urn was a popular motif. Not sure why. I should have read more carefully.
(The Granary)

Paul Revere's gravesite.
(The Granary)

More skeletons ... a little macabre ...
(The Granary)

This skull and angel wing thing was on quite a few stones in both of the cemeteries.
(The Granary)

King's Church

King's Church

(This will all eventually be turned into a photo collage-like thing similar to the one I have of Bonaventure in Savannah.)

After playing around in the cemeteries in the afternoon, The Boy and I headed back to the garage to stash our stuff and get ready for the ballgame. Of course, "get ready for the ballgame" involved making mixed drinks and stashing them on our person so we could avoid paying a bazillion dollars for a drink in the ball park. Hey, that's how we roll.

Before the game, we ate a quick dinner at Stephanie's where I ordered a "tower" of onion rings. Of course, I'm thinking "tower" is just a turn of phrase or simply figurative. Um. No. The evidence is below. Sadly, I was only able to make it through half of the "tower" ... about the fifth floor. I was a sad disappointment. But they were super tasty!!! And they kept my tummy full through the game!

The BoSox lost (sadly) but we had a really great time in spite of that. The weather was beautiful, the fans were happy, all was good.

And then today, bright and early, reality appeared in the form of a southward-bound jet plane.

Chapter One: Portland

Our trip started in Portland, Maine. I flew in to Boston on Thursday morning and Tony (The Boy's dad) picked me up and took me into Peabody. The Boy was on interviews in New Hampshire, so I hung out with Tony. By "hung out" I mean that I performed manual labor. He needed help covering the pool and winterizing the yard, so, being the good ole country girl that I am, I helped out. When we were all done, we had a beer on the patio while we waited for The Boy to get back. As soon as he got back from his interviews (which went really well!), we headed into Boston to stay for the night. We stayed at the Omni Parker House and then headed to Portland on Friday afternoon (I'll fill you all in on my exploits in Chapter Two: Boston).

Portland, being in Maine and in New England, was C-O-L-D!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm talking like 40 degrees that night when we were walking home from dinner. Not pleasant. Luckily our bellies were full of wine and lobster so the cold didn't affect us as much. We had dinner at Vignola and it was fabulous. I mean, spectacular. We started off with two wine flights, had Spanish almonds, a cheese platter (we got to choose from over 35 cheeses!) and then came our entrees. The Boy had some excellent gourmet pizza and I had grilled lobster. I mean, we were in Maine. What else would I eat?!?! It was fabulous. For dessert we had some great confections that topped off our full bellies. Luckily, the hotel was two very small city blocks away, so we walked our drunk asses home and crashed.

Happily, Saturday was warm and sunny. It got to almost 60, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. We had breakfast at Mims Brasserie (where I had the most amazing crab-chevre-spinach omelet ever created) and started our day. Funny story about breakfast. The "hostess" seats us and we get to sit on the upper patio overlooking the harbor. The weather was warming and the sky was bright and sunny. The Boy made a comment about the weather. Something along the lines of "Beautiful morning, isn't it?" Our "hostess" responded with the flattest, most disinterested "glorious" we have ever heard. We almost peed our pants!

After breakfast, we toured the "city." (I use the term "city" loosely ... it may be the biggest "city" in Maine, but it is a quarter the size of Greensboro ... which is minuscule!) Below is my photo fun!


I love lobster. I love Guiness. I love this sign. I would have stolen it if it hadn't been so damn high up ... and noon.

One of the Portland lighthouses.


I'm not sure what this is, but I like to think of it as Portland's Alcatraz. Who knows? There's gotta be hardened criminals in Maine ... somewhere.
Looking through the canon ports at the fort. I don't really know what the fort was called, but it was a fort. And it had a lighthouse.

Not all that flattering, but it is one of three pictures of us from the past week. We are so bad about getting our pictures taken together.

The Portland harbor.

The Boy at the harbor. He seems to be contemplating big thoughts. Or just hoping that his sneakers don't get wet.
I like this pic. It belongs in an LL Bean Catalogue.

The highlight of the Portland trip. Lenny, the Chocolate Moose.

Here's Lenny and his friend, the bear (who has no name interestingly). I really wanted to eat him, but the task was rather daunting.

Although the little baby bears are rather snack size ...

Saturday night we drove back to Boston. We stopped in Kittery, Maine to do some shopping at the outlets there. I got an AWESOME new skirt that I cannot wait to wear. It's a full skirt, 1950s style, of hunter and navy plaid. It falls below my knees, and I love it. Oh, and I paid like 25% of the original retail value which makes me love it all the more!

Stay tuned from chapter two ...

The New England Travelogue

Because I have SOOOOOOOOOOOO many stories to tell and pictures to share (just for you, Kiki!), I'm dividing my vacation blog up into a few chapters.

Chapter One - Portland
Chapter Two - Boston
Chapter Three - The Best of ...
Chapter Four - Photo Stalking

Stay tuned!

22 September 2008

Quick update

Vacation is going fabulously. I wish I never had to come home. But, alas, I do .

But not before the BoSox game!

17 September 2008

Vacation starts ... NOW!

As of this moment, I am on vacation. Thank God.

I fly to Boston tomorrow morning at 6:15am (ugh) and don't return to this God-forsaken land until Tuesday afternoon. I need this break so badly. It is pretty damn ridiculous.

If any one is curious, these are the swanky places that the law firm's are putting us up in.

Omni Parker House - Home of the famous Parker House Roll

Sea Port Hotel

And the one I am most excited about ...

The Regency on Portland, Maine

I may even splurge for some spa action ... we'll see.

16 September 2008

If only ...

... I were Audrey Hepburn (with Katherine Hepburn's personality ... which I kind of already have ... just a little ...). My mild interest in the "Hepburn era" has morphed into a full-blown obsession. So much so that a colleague at work (AT) brought me in an original December 1955 issue of Seventeen Magazine. It's fabulous. I love the clothes and the styles and the prices of things (A bottle of perfume for $3.00! A stand mixer for $25!) If only I were alive then ... ahh ... le sigh.

I've already commissioned a colleague from AT to sew me a dress. She is a fashion design major and loves to sew. She's going to sew me the dress below (the blue one) in this really pretty pink (of course!) fabric. SOOO excited!! Hopefully I'll have it in a few weeks. Then I'll have to buy a petticoat to fill it out. Yeah!

In other news, the countdown is on. I get out of this hellhole in 33 hours. Damn it's gonna drag by!

LL is the bestest friend ever. She totally helped me out today. She came by the AT to fill out an application (I so want to hire her!) and then went to my house while I finished my shift and took The Beast on a walk. I had an apointment at 2:00 with The BaraCuda and then headed straight to AT for my shift. I had no time to let The Beast out. But LL was totally cool with it, and that is why I love her so much! She rocks. Coolest chick in America. And, to top it off, she is totally staying over tomorrow night and driving me to the airport on Thursday morning. At 5:30am. She is amazing. And is totally getting a kick ass present from Boston. I love that girl.

I love work weeks that only last for three days!

15 September 2008

Finger update

It still hurts but not as much. The swelling has gone down, but the clicking remains. I'm thinking about canceling my ortho appointment for Wednesday. The rational part of me says that I should go to the appointment to be proactive. The normal part of me says screw it. I wonder which one will win ...

The hip still hurts a little. I can't sleep on my left side which sucks because I am a left-side sleeper. That pisses me off.

Peace out.

12 September 2008

A new form of Comps Anxiety

So, a few weeks ago, I posted a blog about my amazingly good health. I'm such a dumbass. Way to freakin' curse myself.

I woke up on Monday and my hip was a little sore. This is relatively normal. My joints are a little weak, and I often have to "pop" my left hip when I am working out. No big. It pops and then it stops hurting. So, I ignored the pain, hopped on the bike and peddled my ass to the gym to work out. I figured that the exercise would work out the kinks.

Alas, I was wrong. It is now Friday and the damn thing still hurts. I'm not sure if it has popped or needs to pop, but it hurts. I can still walk and all that, but occasionally I need to favor it and put my weight on the right. It definitely hurts less today than Monday, but the fact remains that it hurts. Hopefully it will go away soon. Very soon.

More importantly, my right hand -- my DOMINANT hand -- is on the outs. When I was in undergrad (2001, I think?) I had a cyst on the tendon in my right index finger. The cyst would cause my finger to lock in place and be really sore. After a GIANT cortisone injection didn't make it go away, I had to have minor surgery to remove the cyst. By minor I mean the the incision was small. I had to be put out (general anesthesia) and the orthopedist had to go in and cut the damn thing off of my finger. It's actually a pretty cool little scar. But, back to my point. A new one has emerged on my right ring finger. At least, that is what I think it is. It feels the same except that it hurts LIKE HELL. Of course, I use this hand to do, well, everything. I type with it, drive with it, write with it ... you name it, I do it with my right hand. I have a doctor's appointment on Wednesday (right before I leave town for Boston) to figure this thing out. But I'm basically in a no-win situation. If I need surgery on it, I can't have it until after my comps. Of course, if they can't fix it until after my exams, I have to deal with the pain and limited mobility until then and, more importantly, THROUGH then. I hoping he can shoot me full of cortisone to make the pain go away and at least get me through till my exams are over.

Damnit. Curses!

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