Monthly Archives: October 2012

a shiny new camera

As a late graduation gift, I got a fancy new camera from my mom. I wasn’t neglected or anything. The gift has been in the works since graduation, but we’ve had a hard time locating the right camera. I’ve spent some time here and there assembling the thing, figuring out all of the parts, charging the battery, and so forth.After a snow storm and a few frozen mornings, we’re having another late, warm spell. Any time the temperature gets above 70, I take a run in the park and then sit or lay on a bench on on the grass and absorb the vitamin D. I have to stock up for winter. As an aside, I also realized after my last post that I cannot possibly write a novel during any of the summer months because as long as it is warm, I have to outside for a certain portion of the way. Being inside writing a novel throughout the month of June would never work for me. I’ll have to figure out another plan.So anyway, the weather was nice, and I had a burst of energy today, which is one of my non-workout days. I ran a few laps at the park and then sprawled out on a park bench. A young couple were laying on a blanket. The girl was eating crackers. The guy was on his back looking at the sky. They say that the sky in the Southwest is good for artists because somehow the light here is amazing. New Mexico is mostly known for this phenomenon, but I’ve noticed that on a clear day, Utah is incredibly bright. Today was one of those days. I think because of the weather event on the East coast, which has shut down a lot of air travel, there wasn’t a cloud, contrail, or chemtrail in the sky today. The sky was bright, deep blue–the kind of color and depth that is impossible to describe or capture on film. That didn’t stop me from trying.

I took the opportunity to experiment with my new camera. I’m not sure what to think of it yet. I got a few good pictures, but I took several that were really quite bad. The color was bland. I guess I thought that a camera of this caliber would work miracles and that it would be impossible to take a bad picture. That doesn’t seem to be the case. The quality is supposed to be a million times better than my old Kodak, but I can’t see a huge difference yet. Maybe that’s not fair. I can see that the photos are better or could be better. I think the potential is there. The real test is when I take photos of my nephew over the holidays. If I can capture some good photos of his cute little face, I’ll be happy.


The colors are beautiful, no doubt.


And, yes, I guess I have to admit that the quality is better.

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write something

I’ve long had the sense that one day I would write a book. That book would be followed by many other books. I think of a book because it is a familiar genre to me. I read books. I also read a lot of blogs, essays, and watch a lot of videos. So, it’s conceivable that my creative medium could be something other than a book. But, for now, I see myself writing a book.

In a few days, it will be November, which is also NaNoWriMo (http://www.nanowrimo.org/). I’ve vaguely considered participating in NaNoWriMo in the past, usually after someone enthusiastically posts something about it on Facebook around the first of November, only to have it peter out in the following weeks. This year, the temptation to write a book is more real. Since finishing graduate school, I’ve been much more creative.

The problem is that because I am an academic, November is not the best month for me. May through August would be better. Even December might be doable. The point is that I could see myself actually using NaNoWriMo to write my first novel. What an exciting prospect! I’m not saying I’ll begin in three days, but I do see myself using it in the next year or two when I am actually ready to sit down and write. I think dedicating a month to writing would be just the push I need to take on such a heavy task.

Here’s the thing, I really want to write. I have a few ideas in mind about what I want to write. That said, I’m not sure what will become of a novel if I write it. Of course I would try to get it published. I know a lot of people who have written a novel, but can’t get it published. They force their friends and loved ones to read it. It nags at their subconscious, but nothing ever happens. In fact, I currently have some sort of psychological sci-fi thriller on my bookshelf that I am supposed read under similar circumstances–some book that a friend of a friend wrote and it somehow becomes the friend’s job to push the book on to any literate person she can find. (I cannot tell you how much a psychological sci-fi thriller is not my genre.) Anyway, I’m not really worried about that because forcing people to read my stuff stopped being even remotely tempting about mid-way through my first graduate degree. There’s some element of ego and self-promotion that I am not comfortable with. Don’t get me wrong, some people are still forced to read my work (on the rare occasion that I do produce something), and I can count those people on one hand and they know who they are and I would do the same for them.

My point is just that I think that NaNoWriMo is a something that could work for me. I just don’t think I could do it during the month of November. Maybe next summer? Who’s going to hold me to it?

waiting

Last week the best news arrived in the form of an email in my inbox, indicating that my boo was making his way back to these parts.   …Er. You know what I mean *wink*. Basically this is the best news ever. It means I get to be with my love again. It means I don’t have to look through the window at snow falling without having him hug me. It means I don’t have to get into a cold bed. It means I get to laugh and laugh and laugh and then stop laughing and talk about serious things and argue and hate that there is anything we don’t agree on perfectly. Then there is more laughing and the energetic zing from our arms touching. I’m an introvert and love to be alone, and he’s really the only person I can stand to have around for any length of time.

“Is she just horny?” you’re asking yourself right now, and I’ll let you answer that in your own mind.

The days are crawling by even though I’m busy. I’m busy trying to get all of my work done before he gets here. I have grading and cleaning to do and articles to write. I’m busy doing all of the things that don’t do a very good job of distracting me from the fact that very soon I get to see my boo! My sweet delicious funny smart beautiful talented boo.

getting it all done

Today I took a three-mile run, which was followed by grading, which was followed by Bikram yoga, which was followed by grading, which was followed by the acquisition of a set of squeaky new (siped!) tires (bring it on winter!), which was followed by grading, which was followed by the discovery of Liberty Heights Fresh market (they have sheep’s milk yogurt.!.!.!.), which was followed by more grading, which was followed by making dinner with the things from the market, which was followed by…you guessed it! More grading! Seriously though, I am trying to get everything done before my boo gets here. After that, I full intend on spending all of my extra curricular time with him.
p.s. I may have overstated the grading by about four.
p.p.s. But I’m going to start again any minute, I swear!

listening

I ran three miles and then attended a Bikram class today in an effort to detox from a recent trip to Louisville where I ate and drank all of the things, including a “Hot Brown Sandwich,” which is better than it sounds and about one million calories. The trip was pretty low key. I’ve always been great at flying, but lately I’ve noticed some anxiety that accompanies my travel. I had a few anxious thoughts before I left. In fact, the night before, my homepage kept featuring a “How Passengers Experience a Plane Crash” article, which I had to hide a few times before closing down my computer entirely.

The trip was nice. There was a good mix of being alone (and even feeling lonely) coupled with unexpected and very intense (but good!) exchanges with near strangers. A couple, together for nearly 30 years, drank wine at the hotel bar and gave me unsolicited romance advice. They were still very much in love, or at least doing that thing of where you mythologize and maintain an over the top story about your relationship. They were giggly as they explained that they enjoyed watching baseball together. They met when she was a bartender  and he had some kind of miserable dead end job. They both still seemed surprised to find themselves working as academics in Ohio. Needless to say, I was smitten with them and their story. Oh, also, their scholarship takes them to places like Jamaica and the Dominican Republic every few years. I could live with that.

Next, there is an academic with whom I am smitten. I feel like we are on the same energetic level, and we often coincidentally bump into each other. During this trip, we ate lunch together. She gave me some ideas and esoteric Native American mythology. At one point during lunch, she unexpected grabbed my arm, looked at me with fiery green eyes, and said, “Have children while you still can.” It might seem strange to some people, but I have actually heard this with some frequency from my female mentors. I think this also happens because women who don’t or can’t have children have the time and energy to pursue more advanced careers, and so childbearing is a part of the conversation. It comes up also, I think, because women with successful careers are still relatively few in numbers and a generation ago women were told to pursue careers first and have children later (much later). Those women then found out that they had missed their window. We know a lot more now than we did 20 years ago. We know that the 30s are a safer window than the 40s, and we know that there is more legal support now than ever before for working women to get maternity leave, etc. I love these candid conversations with amazingly smart and generous women. I love that they’re willing to share. The jury is still out on my own reproduction. While I know I want to experience the process physically, I have some ethical reservations about the rest of it, and so on and so forth and I’ll let you know if, in five years, I am pregnant.

After that, I sat by a man, also from my field, on a short, hour-long flight. After easy chatting about the field and ideas and stuff, we started to talk about more intimate things, and he opened up about his own questions and unhappiness in relationships. As I returned home I realized that, while my presentation was better than my average, what meant most to me was that two scholars whom I admire told me that I was an excellent listener, a kind soul, and someone who would have something important to say in this field in the coming years. What nice things to say.

and yet…

I’ve had company. My mom was in town and we had a joyous time running around the city, buying things, not buying things, eating all of the things, and also basking in the sun. I call this “self care,” and it is something at which I excel.

I have a presentation at work, which is not a huge deal, but it is my first presentation at this new job, and being that presentations are not my strong suit, I am a little nervous. I just want it to be over and for it to have been a success (not like standing ovations or applause, but just successfully and articulately conveyed the idea and made connections, etc.).

Then, I travel to The South. Err, I mean, Kentucky is The South, right? Not the deep south by any means, but south, southern, just barely not north. That trip should be pretty low-key, and the main thing I’ll stress about is negotiating the hotel shuttle, and the busing to and fro, and the getting back to the airport on time. Since I’ll have some stress with that, I know I’ll spend a good portion of the time recovering by lying very still on my hotel bed. There is a chance that I’ll meet up with people and be social, but that will be hit or miss.

So, I’ve got all of these things to do, and I really should be taking time to myself to prepare emotionally for all of the things, and yet I’ve been surrounded by people and will be for the foreseeable future, which makes me both happy and a little tired.

oral and my old, future-thinking self

I recently discovered a complete draft of a conference presentation that I thought I would have to write over the course of the next few weeks. I was not looking forward to it. Sure, it will still take some work, but the bulk of it is there. The idea is there. The reverse of this happened to me recently when I went to submit a draft for this other chapter-length thing. I totally thought I had a draft completed, but nope. I’m still struggling with that one. What did I propose? What did I say I was going to do? Hell if I know. Point is, the February 2012* version of myself had the foresight to put together a draft of the presentation for this conference in October, which makes me totally fall in love all over again with the me of February 2012.

Then, today I got home to a package on my doorstep. Was it my dissertation? No, I’m pretty sure that was shipped to Oregon. Was it a gift? Hmmm, I don’t see the word “Amazon” anywhere on it. Did I forget that I ordered something? Probably not. It turned out to be two “hot off the press” copies of the journal that published one of my books reviews. Sure, book reviews are not particularly prestigious, but it is something, and it will count toward my tenure because I am listed not as a graduate student, but as faculty at my university.

*Let me also note that during the winter and spring of 2012 I was revising my dissertation, preparing to present at a major conference, and preparing for my final oral exam (hey! there’s “oral” again, I guess it’s a theme!). So, yeah, it was one of the most challenging academic years I’ve ever had. Doing this work for me back then when I was really so busy is just going above and beyond.**

**Maybe I’ve been drinking tonight. YOU DON’T KNOW!

it’s safe to dance

Last night I finished reading Paulo Coelho’s The Witch of Portobello. I’m not going to lie: one night, inspired by the book, I turned up some music and danced alone as hard as I could. In the book, Athena dances for nearly an hour to get into her trance. I was done in about 15 minutes. To be completely accurate, I am known to dance like this from time to time, but this time, inspired by the book, I did it with more attention to my state of mind. It didn’t make me *not* meditative, but mostly—although I’ve been practicing Bikram and running three miles about four days a week—I was out of shape for that kind of dancing. Dancing hard for an hour every day would be great exercise (probably really good for my abs), but not something that I’ll do on a regular basis. I was actually surprised and heartened to realize that when it comes to exercise, I prefer running and Bikram. I prefer to dance for reasons other than exercise.

Coelho always has great characters and often bravely writes from the woman’s perspective. However, in the end, I often feel like his female characters are too helpless, that a male character always, ultimately, and subtly, saves the day. For example, in this book, the main character Athena and another important character, Andrea, don’t get along. They love each other and they learn from each other, but they don’t like each other. In fact, they really can’t stand each other. Jealousy and cattiness seem to be the only real reasons they don’t get along. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that a story should be good and honest before it should be feminist, but I would love to see more books with female protagonists that actually go beyond the limiting stereotypes that are so often portrayed in female characters. Coelho is tricky though because Athena is a powerful woman, made real by her insecurities, and she leads what seems to be an authentic life very much on her own terms. So, that’s great, right? That’s empowering. And that’s something.

the public

Also, here’s a funny story about how out of touch I am with the public. Today, I used public transit. I had extra time today to figure it all out, so I thought, why not use it to commute to work? Here’s the thing: I stupidly took lunch, thinking I might have time eat it on the train or bus (not only do I have to park and ride, but I also have a transfer :/). Ha! Yeah, I had time to eat, but I could barely breathe the air and I certainly couldn’t touch anything, I had zero appetite as I looked around at all of the bodies crammed into a small, sticky space breathing each other’s farts and recycled air. So, no. I couldn’t eat. One guy appeared to be picking lice out of his hair. I wondered if lice could live in the fabric of seats. I wondered if the train and bus interiors were ever cleaned. Meanwhile, another guy asked me where the Papa Johns was in AF. I said didn’t know, but he said I had “beautiful eyes” anyway. So, yeah, I pretty much probably just found my next ex-boyfriend. It was definitely grittier than the frat melee that Pullman Transit offered. Still, I’ll probably be riding more regularly, especially once the new high speed train is up and running!