I can see that I'm going to develop quite a habit working in the English department.
Every so often the table in the hall way mysteriously becomes covered in second hand books, and they are there to be taken, who could resist that? Today five large cardboard boxes appeared whilst I was at lunch, so I have no idea where they came from, and I had a good dig through the contents. I found lots of interesting titles, but I limited myself to carrying only 6 books back to my desk where I perused them and then chose to keep only two; this is impressive restraint on my part I'm sure you will agree.
The two books I chose were "Mark Twain's Best: Eight Great Stories by America's Master Humorist" and "Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behaviour" by Temple Grandin.
I didn't bring "The Master and Margarita" home, because it looks depressing frankly but I love the cover art. I'm assuming that the woman is Margarita, and she looks really annoyed about something. Not, I would imagine, her fabulous hat though.
It's very exciting in the office today because not only do I have a new Mac (I actually got it on Monday, but I wasn't able to really use it until Tuesday and then I was all headachey which is why I didn't mention the Mac joy previously), but I have turned on... the air conditioning in my office!
This may not sound like much, but temperature control is still an alien concept to me. So much so that, all day yesterday, I sat in my office and stewed in the warm and humid office with my headache. It was literally only when a faculty member gave me a funny look, and asked why I was sitting in an overly warm office that I realised I had the power to change that.
Today was entirely different, I was comfortably cool and it was just delightful. I just wilt in warm weather so it does make a hell of a lot of difference to me, but I am still aware of the amount of energy that air conditioning requires, so I'm intending to use it sparingly. Promise.
After dinner this evening Doc C suggested that we go out for frozen custard. Wait, let me revise that, on the way home from work this evening The Doc mentioned custard and by 9:30 this evening he was in a custard craving frenzy. Fortunately the Custard Depot is open until 10:30 on Fridays, Yay!
So we drove into town, and joined the queue for our frozen treat. As soon as we walked in one of the girls behind the counter said "Hello Doctor ******!" to Doc C, and we realised it was the student that the Doc had given the, um, reference for last week. The owner of the shop, Crae, looked up and said "Is that Alien Spouse?" and I knew I'd been rumbled.
Ah well! It had to happen at some point, and actually Crae was very kind and gave us our custards on the house because he'd found the Jane Doe story funny. There is not much better on a Friday night than a free Mint Cookie (Oreo) custard, although Doc C begs to differ, he thinks a free Vanilla custard is actually the winning ticket.
What happened was that the business has a Google alert set up, so they are notified every time "Custard Depot" gets mentioned and my post popped up. I should have thought of that, and usually I'm fairly diligent at concealing easily identified business names; in fact this is the first time in three years that I've been identified from my blog by someone who didn't "know" me previously. That's actually pretty impressive! I think the reason that the Custard Depot slipped by my internal firewall was that I really like the name.
My new office chair arrived today, and I started putting it together before the UPS guy had even left the building. I know you are probably thinking "Wait a minute... Didn't she just get a new chair?" and yes I did, a mere three months ago, shortly before I got a new job.
And that chair was nice, but this chair is really really nice.
It's a black leather LZB2000, made of 91% recycled materials and it's recommended level of usage is "intensive", which means it's designed to be used for five or more hours a day. I love that sitting for over five hours a day is catagorised as intense; do you think sitting for longer than that is "extreme"?
For me the very best part is that it's actually a La-Z-Boy chair, I just think that is hilarious, even if there isn't actually a flip-out footstool.
I bought this hour-glass thinking it would be a nice desk accessory, it's pretty and practical, but I'm not sure now. For one thing the team colours of the university are black and gold, so this might look a little too "Go Team!" for me; and for another Doc C really likes the hour-glass, which surprised me, and it looks great against the blue of our bedroom.
I think I'll take the hour-glass in with me tomorrow, along with a Buffy action figure (I specifically bought her for my office desk years ago and she's never actually made it into work, plus she has a large book as an accessory. Perfect for an English department!) and a mini desk fan.
This evening was the medal ceremony for our graduating seniors, so that they can then wear the medals at Graduation itself this weekend. It's a nice event and I love meeting all the parents to the students, but it's exhausting amount of smiling, getting the medals ready and clapping.
Fortunately when I got home Doc C had made me a pizza from scratch and there were a couple of bottles of Sam Adams' Blackberry Witbier in the fridge. I love that man.
A friend of mine from University has started a blog which she has entitled Delicate Little Birds.
It's a lovely name, and a lovely blog too.
Yesterday I was offered the job I interviewed for about a week ago! It's a lateral move from my current job to an equivalent position in the English department's office, so it's a pretty easy shift over from an HR paperwork point of view. Mainly I wanted to move to English, because that should help motivate me to really work for my MA; I mean how can you forget to hand in your homework if you're the one handing the professor her post every morning?
I'll start in three weeks time; so that's a fortnight tying up all the loose ends in my current office, then The Doc thinks we should spend a week off the mountain to de-compress. I am really looking forward to it.
It would appear that I've got through the day without falling victim to any practical jokes, which I'm very pleased about.
However we are going out to dinner with a group of Doc's students this evening, so I'm still on my guard. Of course even if this is an elaborate prank I will still be getting a Mayan Tamale, with extra guacamole, out of it; so that's something.
The cats are really glad to have us home, Edith decided to miaow that at the top of her lungs at 5:45 this morning. Usually she only does that when she's wreaked some particularly impressive chaos, but this morning all she wanted was some attention and fuss from her humans. It's really nice to be loved, but it was hard to really appreciate it knowing that Edith would spend the rest of the day snoozing and I had to go to work.
Doc C doesn't remember a thing about any of this now, although at the time he was less than impressed.
So, thanks to the early wake-up call from Edith, and the pint of beer I had with dinner to celebrate Kim being made full professor (Yay!) I am VERY dopey now. Thankfully the only thing worth watching on TV is the SyFy marathon screening of the original "V". I think being too attentive might not actually be a good thing when it comes to mid 80's cheesy science fiction.
I'd already been thinking about getting a framed print for my office, because it is a particularly great motto for highly-strung students to bear in mind in moments of stress. Not to mention staff in an office that deal with highly-strung students in moments of high stress...
This particular colourway choose itself really; black-and-gold are the University's colors.
The print arrived this morning and I hung it up on a nail that happens to be protruding from the wall above my shelves. It's not it's intended permanent position on the wall, It's going to be centered on the feature wall, but I just had to see how it looked against the stone!
I rather like it.
This evening we went out for cocktails to celebrate Laura having got a job with the University. This is very exciting.
Laura has been teaching in Florida, whilst her husband Randy has been here in North Carolina; so Laura getting this job is really great news for them. On a more selfish note, my friend Laura will be in the same state! Squee!
I had a martini with two blue cheese olives to celebrate. I dispute any claims that having one martini made me in any way squiffy - Don't listen to Doc C. He doesn't really drink, and so he always overestimates the effect alchohol has on me. I'll admit to being happy, but under the circumstances I believe that is entirely appropriate.
I'm pretty sure it's hand-made, because of some of the details to it.
Of course I shall be submitting it to Unloved Glove; which is geographically based in Winchester and was pointed to me by Mum (who is in Norfolk), after she read about it on @ctramsey's (who is here in NC) Twitter feed, because I had traded tweets with him about the magical properties of toast.
Wouldn't it be hilarious if that convoluted chain of communication somehow lead to the mitten being re-united with it's twin?
Doc C is away this week, because he's taken a group of his students to New York for spring break. Yeah I didn't want to go, because you know NYC is just too much fun really and who would want to visit all of those art galleries and museums? Or be forced to eat delicious food? Or perhaps do a little light shopping?
So instead I'm staying at home to spend some quality time with the cats, and I'm getting lifts to-and-from work all week. My manager is picking me up tomorrow morning, which has the potential to be the best excuse for being late ever.
Today was sort of weird, because I had a doctor's appointment and my plan was just to call for a cab to pick me up from the surgery. The receptionists got out the yellow pages for me, and we started making some calls. Staggeringly the only taxi firm that actually answered wasn't available for a couple of hours, and every other number we tried either went to voicemail or was disconnected. The nurses on reception were equally surprised, but we all agreed that we didn't want to call "Taxis by Bubba". In the end I called back to the office, and asked the last person there to come and get me.
Now that would never happen in New York. Never.
Over the past few days the landscaping crew have been assessing the trees and putting yellow caution tape on any tree that looked particularly badly damaged with dodgy branches still hanging on.
Which gives the appearance of an active crime scene after a tree-hating psychopath has done their worst.
Well, it does if you've been watching far too many cop shows recently.
Today my friend Zack was preparing to teach a class, and he needed someone to help him test the tech. So I asked Doc C, because the tech in question was a Nintendo NES and a cartload of cartridges. Zack's co-teaching a class on games, so it's important for the students to get a thorough grounding in the classics.
Zack had set up the NES in one of the classrooms at the end of the hall from my office, and they both went scampering off to play check that everything was really working properly in two-player mode. Yes, I was working on budgets to the soundtrack of 8-Bit music.
Doc thought the technical consultation took fifteen minutes, but it was actually an hour and a half.
I took an accidental snow day today.
The snow started again yesterday, and when I woke up this morning the very first thing I did was look at the University's website to see if there were any delays. All classes were canceled until 12.30, which based on previous class cancellations meant the snow equivalent of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was marauding around campus. I thought the storm must be a lot worse in town than it was around our house at that point, so I simply checked in with my office by e-mail and went back to sleep.
As it turns out this entirely logical assumption was mistaken. It's a bit of a mystery why the University canceled the whole morning, because apparently the roads really weren't that bad; so my colleagues made it into the office quite easily. I did not know that until well into the afternoon however, because we lost power for a few hours, and I wasn't able to access the internet or e-mail.
It could have been worse. I had power for long enough this morning to make a huge cup of tea, and watch "Shaun of the Dead". Then I had a lovely nap, until the power came back on and woke me up by sounding the smoke alarm (which indicates that it's wired directly into the mains, which I hadn't previously realised). By that point there was nothing more to be done with the afternoon then have another cup of tea, put a load of washing on and watch some police procedurals. Lovely.
Of course tomorrow I have GOT to get to the office, because I will have a ton of stuff that has GOT to be done for the event of Saturday.
I spent one whole hour in the office today, before the snow sent me home again. Actually, if it had been up to me, I'd probably not even have got in the car; but Doc C was a man on a mission, and that mission was to teach his three o'clock class.
Before we left I checked the university's website which said classes before ten were canceled, but proceeding as scheduled after that. By the time we got into the office, about half an hour later, the whole day had been canceled. I called Doc and gave him the happy news. He was not amused.
Ah well, I did quite well out of it all, carbs wise. I got a small soy latte and a scone on our way into the office, and the lovely Sybil (who is temping in the office for a few weeks whilst I'm still at half-strength from the Mono) had baked a butter pecan cake. Yum!
The food theme carried on, because I've spent the afternoon curled up on the sofa, watching "Cold Case" (I cannot believe that might not be renewed next season, I adore the retro crime scene flashbacks and soundtracks they use) and started planning the refreshments for a couple of events coming up. I'm seriously considering ordering a pseudo-wedding cake for the larger event, but with a graduation medal motif rather than roses. For some reason I was very nervous about planning big events when I first started this job, but now it's one of my favourite tasks.
It's traditional for the students in my department have Dorm of Doom party every Halloween, because ours is the halls of residence that is supposed to be haunted. The party this year has been moved to this evening because the University has an (American) football game on Saturday, so it's traditional but just because something is tradition doesn't mean you can't shift it to a more convenient day.
Anyway it was at least a month ago that I offered to make cookies that the students could then decorate at the party. I am pleased that they all turned out really well, so you can see what they are meant to be even without icing. Well, I suppose the skulls and the gravestones are still a touch ambiguous, but look at those bats! They are particularly pleasing because every other time I've tried to use that cookie cutter, they've just turned into blobby things.I was going to use up the rest of the dough making a bunch of small stars, but I ran out of baking time. That's ok though, because it means I can make some cookies just for Doc C this evening and if anyone deserves a batch of fresh baked cookies it's the Doc.
I was feeling a bit sorry for myself frankly. Yesterday we cancelled my flight to Denver (Doc has a conference there, so he's still going), decided I have really got to pull out of the MA program for the rest of this semester and we were even discussing not going to the Ghost Train this year. So that's very frustrating and upsetting, I got myself so worked up about it that I didn't sleep at all yesterday, which is not good.
Today I pretty much slept through the whole day, and when I woke up Doc C put "Murderball" on. He's screening it for a class next week, and he just needs to check the disc is playing properly.
"Murderball" is a fantastic documentary about paraplegics playing full-contact rugby in these unbelivably intimidating wheel chairs, and the American Quad-Rugby team preparing for the 2004 Paralympics. It's an amazing documentary. It's also the perfect anti-dote to feeling sorry for yourself when you are having a disppointing few weeks, because you know Mark Zupan would think you were being totally pathetic (And he wouldn't phrase it quite that politely either).
My new motto for the remainder of this crappy virus is "What Would Zupan Do?"
I think I'm going to have to change my Halloween costume plans, because there is just no way that I can see myself making the Bride of Frankenstein wig in time. It's theoretically possible, but I really think it's just too ambitious at the moment. Mono sucks all of the energy out of me, and I'm getting really frustrated with the daftest things. We went to KMart and bought a cheesy wig for Doc's brain slug to nest in, and it took me at least an hour to get the slug sewn on. It just wouldn't sit in the right place and look in the right direction, I had to keep taking it back off and starting again, and I got SO grumpy about it. Poor Doc offered to help by wearing the wig whilst I sewed the slug on, and I was extremely sarcastic about that suggestion, which in retrospect was very unfair of me. Although I still can't quite see how he thought that would work... Anyway...
This Mono thing is just ridiculous. Realistically I'm going to be convalescing for at least another two weeks, I hope that's a pessimistic estimate but let's take that as our working model. This means I have to make some decisions about work, as well as my other commitments and plans. Work is actually ok-ish, in that my manager is being great about the whole thing and insisting I look after myself, but I want to just have a little chat with HR to see how the land lies on this sort of illness. I want to know how it's going to affect my annual leave (I will be absolutely bloody furious if I can't go home for Christmas because of this) and if there are any problems I haven't even thought of.
As for my classes the main issue is that they are in the evening, so that's an extra three hours at the end of my working day on Monday and Wednesday and that was tiring even before I had Mono. I can see myself managing to attend the classes if I rest all day by not going into work, but that seems really cheeky to me; particularly as the tuition is being waived by the University because I'm a staff member. It's a conundrum.
Finally Doc has a conference in Denver next week, and I am supposed to be going with him. I've been looking forward to it for ages now, and we've already booked our flight and hotel, but I'm just not sure traveling is the best idea. Once I get there, I think I'll be fine; I'll send Doc out for food and then just stay in the hotel room watching cartoons and sleeping, the only difference will be I won't have cats walking across my tender spleen at 6 in the morning. On the one hand, I know the travel itself will be exhausting; but on the other hand Denver has a branch of Lush and I'm fairly sure the retail therapy of stocking up on moisturiser and fabulous smelling soap would be a big help.
I did consider putting another vote up in this post, so that I could canvas for your opinions on these issues because when I'm ill I prefer to abdicate decision making responsibility to someone else, but I know I can't do that. Apparently I'm an adult now, and that means making my own mind up about these situations. sigh.
Oh, the one good thing is that I have lost more weight, despite the whole lying around and not going to the gym aspect of the illness. Don't worry! I'm not doing it on purpose, and I'm trying to make sure I eat well, but if not having much of an appetite and fighting a virus ends up burning off some fat, well let's not look that gift horse in the mouth.
The doctor's office just called to confirm I do indeed have Mono, which makes sense given every single one of my symptoms was pointing to that diagnosis. The nurse firmly reminded me that this is a virus that will run it's course, but all I can do is rest until it does. She also said this can take weeks, or has been known in some cases, to take months.
Tell you what, I'm going to have another cup of tea with a slice of Doc C's freshly baked banana bread and do some positive visualisations of me running around as fit as a flea within weeks. Months is just plainly ludicrous, I can't be doing with lollygagging around the house for that long.
In the meantime, I've finished my "Frankenstein" essay in which I've managed to extrapolate a whole sado-masochistic marriage from a two sentence description of a painting. Don't worry, I had Doc check it wasn't merely fevered ramblings before I e-mailed it in to Jill.
Still no news about my blood tests, but I can report that I was at work for a grand total of two and a half hours yesterday. This was just enough time for four colleagues and two students (one graduate, one undergrad) to tell me I looked terrible. Mainly they thought I looked pale, which considering I am a blonde who avoids the sun isn't exactly news, but apparently I was even paler than I usually am. Imagine, I must have bee practically translucent. Doc brought me home, and I napped for a couple of hours, before setting up my work computer laptop so I can access most of the software I need to do some work from home.
Not exactly a strenuous day, but I was so tired by the time I went to bed that night I actually dreamt about settling down to go to sleep. It's quite something when even your sub-conscious is nagging you about accepting you need to get some more rest.
Apart from making sure I can keep my job, I'm also trying to keep up with my class work. I have a 2-to-3 page paper to write, which is a close reading of a quote from "Frankenstein". I've chosen the description of a painting in the Frankenstein library, which is only two sentences in the seventh chapter (page 76 for those of you with the Bedford/St. Martins 2nd edition), but I think it explores a lot of themes of the novel as well as indicating a much darker possible reading of the romantic relationships within the text. It sounds quite good in theory, doesn't it? The problem is that it seems to be coming out like that weird post I wrote the other day, I just can't seem to articulate my analysis clearly or, more to the point, provide solid textual evidence. I am going to go through an look up each and every word in the OED and hope that gives me something to hang the whole essay on. Keep your fingers crossed.
I have got so much reading still to do for my class tomorrow, and I want to make cookies, and I should really clean the bathroom, and Nancy needs another pill, and I have got to do some laundry, and the living room could do with being tidied, and when was the last time I brushed Edith?
I may have to have a nap. There mere thought of all of that is exhausting.
Don't you just love the first Saturday after payday? The endless possibilities? The things you've been putting off buying that are suddenly within your grasp? Love it! I'm not talking about desperately exciting stuff even, I just needed to spend some time browsing denim and stationary for my classes, I'm very easily amused.
This morning I had an appointment to get my hair cut, and buy hair styling product. Straight after that we drove off the mountain in search of jeans and other necessary things.
Doc particularly likes American Eagle jeans, and there is one in Hickory so we went there. He quickly found a stack of stuff to try on, but I don't find AE jeans very flattering on me so it took me a while. Once I did make it into the changing room things didn't really improve much. Call me crazy, but I don't like ultra low rise that seem to be so very fashionable. For one thing, I have a long body, so finding tops that are long enough to meet normal jeans is challenging enough thank you! Plus there is the small matter of there not being enough waist-to-hip ratio difference to keep the stupid jeans up, so you have to spend the whole day tugging at the waist band as it creeps down your hips. Annoying. Anyway, all of the AE jeans seemed to be distressed in various unconvincing ways that I'm not convinced do anything at all for a girl's thighs; so I didn't buy any there.
I did try on a short grey-and-pink tartan pleated skirt, which I liked, but I think my days of getting away with pleated tartan mini-skirts are behind me. It looked quite good on (The Doc said so!), it's just, well, where the hell would I wear something like that? To work? Ha! Clearly I am becoming more sensible, because that strikes me as vastly inappropriate for the office. So I didn't buy that either. In fact all I did buy was a pair of grey cable knit tights, which looked nice and warm. Sensible.
So we went to Old Navy, where I was confident I could find something that would work. I bought a new pair of painter jeans, and another pair of the flirt jeans I've been living in for the last two months. It's time to move on and accept that belted in size sixteens just look silly on me now. I also bought a skull-and-crossbones water bottle, and some more knitted tights, it is going to be a toasty winter if I have anything to do with it!
The main problem with this shopping trip was the mall we went to, which was the hellish polar opposite of the swish one we visited after my biometrics appointment. Perhaps it was that all of the shops seemed to be blaring out really bland rock music, or that each place seemed to use a different overpowering air-freshner, but I pretty soon had a headache and the desire to make it all stop.
We drove back up the mountain (well, Doc did, I slept the whole way), stopped off to buy chemist stuff, house stuff and school stuff, then called it a day.
The picnic went well, but it's surprising how exhausting it is standing around watching 400 people eating fried chicken and wondering why no-one seems to like the hot-dogs. I did eat a fairly nice black bean burger, some crisps and a brownie, with the sweetest lemonade I have ever drunk. Ever.
When organising a meal for 400 odd people the thing is that you have to order the food a few weeks in advance and confirm final numbers at least three days in advance. This is why I sent out a reminder e-mail the Monday before, because getting a prompt response to my invitation was key. So you can imagine that when, in the words of Cher Horowitz, "...people came that, like, did not R.S.V.P. So I was, like, totally buggin'."
I shouldn't have worried, because for every student that turned up unannounced with their family, there was another that hadn't put in an appearance. So it was all fine really, we had enough food, and the only things we ran out of were rice crispie treats and iced tea. It could have been worse.
I didn't have unsettling dreams about the North Pole or re-animated corpses, but I did spend an inordinate amount of dream time looking for an umbrella with a green handle and a cream canopy with a photo of something glamorous printed on it. It was quite a specific dream, in that the umbrella was mine and I knew I'd left somewhere at a sort of nightclub-slash-health-spa, which was haunted, naturally. I found lots of other umbrellas, but I specifically wanted mine so I just kept searching all night. This may well have something to do with the event I'll be working today.
It's a picnic for 450 people that I organised, and originally intended to host on the lawn outside our dorm building, but then had to move it to an indoor location because of the high probability of rain. Except the indoor location got the date for the booking wrong, and called me last weekend asking we were. So I'm a bit nervous. What with the Chancellor of the University coming to this event, and last week having been just so fabulous. Oh, and I have to wear the department's logo on a T-shirt too, so there will be no chance of flying under the radar at all.
Today was a very good day! Doc made crumpets! And I read "Frankenstein" from beginning to end!
Actually my personal best is still having read "Wuthering Heights" cover-to-cover in a single day, but that's not the point here. Whilst reading Mary Shelley's best known work I was also underlining lots of passages in the novel and made a couple of pages of notes, which is guaranteed to make a girl feel like she's been doing some serious thinking.
One of the best things about buying second-hand text books is when the previous owners have already underlined bits, or made notes in the margins. Whoever it was that owned this book before me started off annotating the text quite emphatically, for example there is a star in the margin that was drawn in ballpoint pen with such force that it's impression goes through the next three pages; but that kind of intensity is hard to maintain, and the notes stop a third of the way into the book.
Still, the last note is particularly pleasing:
"The Monster Lives!" Yeah, it does! Wooh!
Today started off very well indeed. Doc cooked me buttermilk pancakes and episode-one-season-two of "Dollhouse" was available to watch on Hulu. Yay!
For the rest of today I shall be mostly reading "Frankenstein" and critical analysis of "Frankenstein", which may well lead to my having unsettling dreams about expeditions to the North Pole for at least the next week.
To help keep up my energy levels through out the academic activity, I have snacks in the form of low-fat chocolate milk and a bag of multi-grain pretzels.
It's going to be a pretty good Saturday!
Today I've been thinking a lot about intellectual property, copyright and plagiarism. It's fascinating stuff, but not very funny and, just perhaps, a touch dry.
So instead let me tell you that I think I'll be basing Doc's Brain Slug Wig/Hat on a pattern posted here several years ago, which illustrated the construction process of costumes for twin boys who had decided to be Dr Seuss' Thing One and Thing Two for Halloween.
I only wish Doc would even consider the Wig/Hat in blue, but it still amuses me to think he will be Thing Three: The Growed Up Version.
I'm on day seven of a 12 day stretch of being at work, or on campus for some reason, every single day. Is it a coincidence that is has also been raining, well I say raining but only because I'm fairly sure "monsooning" isn't an actual word, for all of that time? Well, yes it is a coincidence, but it's one of those damn annoying ones it is hard not to take personally. If I have to be constantly hanging around work, I'd at least like my feet to be dry whilst I'm there.
Today's trip to campus was so I could take a practice GRE test. I have to take an actual GRE before the end of the year to be able to complete my application for my MA; this is because, at the moment, I'm masquerading as a non-degree seeking student. Once I've taken the GRE I can easily convert my status to degree seeking, and the hours I've taken this semester will count. Simple, right?
However, we all know that exams are the stuff of classic anxiety dreams for a reason, and so I took a trial run in the hopes that it will make the actual exam less intimidating. There are several sections to the real GRE, and it's a computer based test so it actually adjusts the difficulty of the test according to how well you are doing. The practice test today was in a classroom with exam booklets and HB pencils, and just covered the quantitative (Maths) and verbal (English) sections.
The maths doesn't really make any difference for me, because I already know that the English department won't even look at that; but I still have to sit the thing and personal pride dictates that I don't totally fail it. There is, however, the small matter of my not having had a maths class since I took my GCSEs sixteen years ago, and the differences in the focus of the British educational system as opposed to the American educational system, so several of the questions on the GRE were just totally unintelligible to me. When I knew I didn't have a hope in hell of working the answer out I just guessed, but I did at least try with the all of the others.
The English was a much friendlier paper. The questions were oddly phrased I thought, but I felt as though I understood what they wanted from me, and I was much happier with that section.
The main thing that struck me today was how no matter what age you are or the type of exam you are taking, being in a classroom where an exam is being given never changes. It's at once too quiet and not quiet enough, I could hear every sniff of the fellow students, the air conditioning that I wouldn't even notice usually seemed deafening and when two girls started to whisper to each other it was really annoying. Plus it was bloody cold in there, why is it so hard to get an exam room to a sensible temperature?
I get my results back on Tuesday, not that they matter in any real sense, but it will give me an idea of how much work I need to do to get a good enough score on the real thing.
How do I know it's been years since I earnt my living by standing behind the counter of a bookshop all day? Well, today I helped to man my department's stand at the University's Open House, which meant I was standing for four hours talking to prospective students, when I got home I had to nap for a good hour or two and now my legs feel like they want to fall off.
Four hours is nothing to a seasoned bookseller at the peak of their selling capabilities, so clearly I'm seriously out of condition! To think I used to flog books all day, then go clubbing and get up for the early shift and do it all over again is just exhausting. Where did I get the energy from?
Yesterday the new Graduate Assistant and one of our Work Study Students were in the work room next to my office, and I could hear them whispering and giggling for ages. I don't know about you, but that sort of thing always makes me feel paranoid.
Then they came into my office and asked if I wanted to be part of their conspiracy, but I had to say yes or no before they would tell me what it was.
Essentially they had hatched a plot to kidnap the Wolverine figurine from Zack, the department's Tech Specialist / Advisor / Assistant Lecturer / Photographer / Videographer / Webmaster / Housing Liason.
I let them do it, because they were so hyped up by then it would have taken the X-Men to stop them. The thing is though that I really don't like practical jokes, so I made sure Wolverine was put somewhere safe (on top of the stationary cupboard) and when Zack hadn't noticed by lunch time today, I cracked and dropped a hint that he might not be noticing something.
He worked out that Wolverine was missing, and found him almost immediately after that. The students had put a Post-It on Logan, that said "Want a Muffin?" because Zack had offered us all a home-made mini-muffin yesterday.
The plan right now is that Zack is going to put Wolverine back on top of the stationary cupboard, but change the Post-It note. He just hasn't worked out what it's going to say yet.
This evening's class was on John Webster's "The Duchess of Malfi", which has everything you could want in a Jacobean play, and throws in a nice case of lycanthropy when you're least expecting it. Love it.
As you can see from the photo I bring all the necessary school supplies to the class with me.
Week three of my college classes and I'm still not 100% on top of all the reading I need to do, I am getting through most of it somehow but I don't feel like it's digested properly. I feel like there is a chapter or two stuck in my throat.
I was talking to Doc C about this problem of working a 40 hour week and studying for two MA classes a semester, because that is a lot of work, and I mainly just wanted him to sympathise. Naturally, and if you've read the blurb on the back of "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" you'll know this, he responded by trying to come up with a solution. He began recounting anecdotal instances of academic colleagues getting up at 6 so they can read for two hours, then go to the gym at 8, then reading for another 2 hours before teaching a class. The problem being, I already do get up at around 6 and I have to be at work by 8:30, so the idea of having 4 hours of reading time every morning is just so luxurious as to be laughable. And not helpful. I may have snapped a little tiny bit, before remembering who would be nipping out to buy me a burrito so I could have my dinner before going to the class.
Having considered the matter further, there is really only one logical solution. The deal with the University is that they pay for three classes a year and I get time out of my working week to attend those classes. As it happens that both of mine are in the evenings, it's absolutely necessary for me to re-appropriate that time for research and reading.
So if you walk past my office and you see me reading a book, no I am not relaxing with chick-lit (as if!) and yes, I have finished that paper work you wanted. I just also have a ton of homework to get through and I am loving it!
So naturally I stayed up until 2 last night, and I watched episodes of "Law and Order: SVU" and made a Brain Slug. I'm sure I can hand that in instead of one of my research papers and it will be graded appropriately.
Still for me Sundays have always been about that mad scramble to get homework done anyway. Why should that change, just because I'm 33 and should know by now how to efficiently plan my time?
The important thing is that the Brain Slug turned out quite well, except Doc thinks it needs to be larger. So I anticipate that I'll be whipping up this one's bigger brother when I should be doing something else entirely.
Ah, crochet! It's nice to see my wool gathering take a solidly literal form!
Last night we went to a Graduate Student and Faculty Mixer, but we only stayed for an hour because I nearly fainted. It was ridiculous! One minute I was happily chatting to my friend Tori and an English Professor I know slightly, and the next I had that horrible light headed too-cold-but-too-hot feeling.
I think all that happened was that I didn't eat enough yesterday, and the room was really warm, that seems to be what usually triggers the vapours for me. Well, that and having blood taken. The one and only time I've ever actually fainted I was standing in a queue in the food court of a motorway services with my Mum. I can remember I was looking at some sort of custardy dessert and thinking it looked like something I'd seen in the trailer for a really tacky horror movie, which is what I thought was making me feel ill. Then my legs went from under me, and I was on the floor.
Fortunately when I started feeling horrible last night Doc C, who had been across the room, had just walked over to me. When I said "I think we ought to go now" he didn't ask why or make a fuss, he simply helped me outside to a chair on the balcony. Then he whisked me off to the car, got me home and made me a nice cup of tea. He said afterwards that he could tell by my face that I was about to faint.
I'm just really glad it was a Friday night, so I could sleep late, have breakfast, nap for another couple of hours and then eat a great avocado sandwich. And drink a whole pot of tea, that was the thing that really did the trick of course.
Naturally I shall now turn to my cats to provide a welcome upbeat change of pace.
This morning Nancy felt that I didn't get out of bed promptly enough this morning, and this therefore delayed me preparing her breakfast. Driven by starvation, Nancy started chewing something on my bedside table, which turned out to be my copy of "Othello" that I had been reading for my class this evening.
So I can legitimately claim that the cat ate my homework.
Not only is today Friday, but I spent the day organising an event, which is probably one of my favourite responsibilities at work, then FedEx managed to actually deliver something to me and Doc picked up three of my text books from the PO Box. Plus my department found like a bunch of money down the back of the sofa, I was able to leave the office early and Monday is a state holiday.
Right now Doc is baking a fresh loaf of bread because I fancied beans-on-toast for tea, there is a double bill of Mandy Patenkin era "Criminal Minds" on TV and I've got a photo lined up already for today's picture post.
All in all a bloody good day.
At lunch time I spent a couple of hundred dollars on the text books I need for my MA course, and now I think perhaps I should also have looked for a decent time management book. Taking today as an example I have been doing something or other since 6:15 this morning, and I need to streamline my day somewhere. I mean obviously I need to keep the working, the reading, the sleeping, the exercising, the eating, and the scooping-litter-trays, so what does that leave that is inessential? Well, I'm thinking breathing and, believe me this really hurts, but I think it might also be time to cut back on... the internet.
Don't worry I will ALWAYS make time to blog, but I really have to cut down on my random web surfing. I've already got an extensive selection of blogs and websites that I peruse regularly, but I just cannot add any more to that, and some may have to fall by the wayside. Much though I love it, I don't need to read "Overheard in New York" every day, I think I can cut that back to just once a week, and I've already stopped looking at "Stuff on My Cat", can you believe that? "Stuff on My Cat" was what the internet was invented for, and I've gone cold turkey on it. Weird. Although it does help that it's not as good as it used to be, the cats are obviously still completely fabulous, but the quality of the stuff on them and the captions describing the picture have really gone down hill recently.
This is where Twitter, Netvibes and Instapaper are going to be invaluable. Twitter gives me fun sized snippets of data through out the day, Netvibes keeps my internet nicely organised as well as telling me when there have been new posts on my favourite sites and finally InstaPaper means I can save interesting things to my iPod to read when I have more time. It's a three-pronged internet attack plan, and I intend to use it ruthlessly.
Be warned internet, I will be taking no nonsense.
This afternoon I hand-delivered documents to Human Resources and the Graduate School that confirm which courses I'll be taking for my MA and request a fee waiver because I'm a university staff member. Yay for free university courses!
At the same time I also took the letter I recently received from the Immigration Service, which acknowledges receipt of my application for my visa to be extended. This is because my initial visa was for two years, and it runs out at the end of October. To extend my visa I had to apply 90 days before the expiration date, but not earlier than that. The letter of receipt is important because it is also an extension of my visa. The really crucial thing being that it allows me to work and travel for another year, whilst I'm waiting for another letter which will give me an appointment time for biometric processing. I wanted to make sure that the University had copies of the letter in a couple of different places, so that there are no problems in October with either my paying gig or my continued education.
Funnily enough the graduate director for the English department sympathised with me this week about all of the red tape that I needed to deal with to get onto the English Lit MA program. Really though that seemed like almost nothing compared with getting and maintaining my alien spouse visa.
I LOVED my first Eng. Lit. MA class last night. It was really interesting and my brain was engaged by the discussion. I know this because when I woke up this morning it wasn't my usual internal monologue of "Ugh! Work! I really don't feel like it today. **yawn** " (Nothing against my office it's just I'd prefer to be independently wealthy and spend my days wafting between Cinemas, bookshops & Pilates classes, when I'm not lunching with friends or sleeping), instead I found that I was thinking "Ooh! I wonder if that could also be tied in to perceptions of class structure in 17th Century England? That would be interesting to do some more research into, hmmm..."
It's just really nice to be learning stuff again, although now I've seen David's syllabus and grading policy I am more nervous about disappointing him. I really need to buy all of the books on the reading list and just highlight the hell out of them.
Guess where I am right now? Well, ok not right now because I'm setting up a timer delay on this post, but the time that this will be posted? Is this confusing? Anyway...
This evening I'm taking my first MA class in English Literature, um, Squeeeee!
Wednesdays (6pm - 9pm) will be "Seventeenth Century British Literature" which is being taught by my friend David and Mondays (6pm - 9pm) will be "Bibliography and Research" which is being taught by my friend Jill.
If you're really lucky there might be a photo post after the class (I haven't seen any unusually sized insects today, so don't get too excited), but Edith woke me up at 4 o'clock this morning, damn her, and let us not forget that Wednesdays are also a gym day, so I am predicting I will get home and promptly fall asleep because this will be a v-e-r-y l---o---n---g day.
Good thing I've had coffee. Really strong coffee actually, and I might make some tea to take with me to the class. And I should probably eat something as well, maybe a veggie burrito?
Point being, I am both really tired and over caffeinated, and that means I am barely coherent and I can't work put how to end this post without it just abruptly stopping.
Sort of like a Neal Stephenson novel, much though I love Neal Stephenson's novels, the way the story just stop drives me crazy. Have I mentioned that before? "The Diamond Age", for example, is a rocking good sci-fi novel for the entire way through and then has an ending that annoyed me SO much the first time I read it I was proper cross. When I re-read it, I was braced for the ending, so it didn't seem that terrible, but the first time I was totally deflated by it.
Today was the first day of classes, so naturally it was really hectic in the office all day. I was extremely glad when lunch time arrived and I could curl up for a nap on Doc's sofa. I've been cat-napping in Doc's office every weekday over the summer, and it makes my afternoon so much more pleasant. I can highly recommend a mid-day siesta, if you can find somewhere suitable to lie down for twenty minutes.
Of course it's also important to set an alarm before you actually go to sleep, and I find that leg warmers will do if you don't have access to a blanket. I love my leg warmers, and I may have to make myself some more in different colours. Project! Ooh, maybe I'll make a matching cowl as well and really embrace that whole "cosy accessories that the eighties forgot" feeling into my wardrobe this winter.
I have to go into work this afternoon for an Orientation Dinner for the incoming Freshmen in my department. On the one hand this meal is interfering with my current Amigurumi frenzy, and OMG I have got to get these finished for Row and Nairn's wedding which is in a couple of weeks now (side note: Squeeeeee!); but on the other hand I ordered the food for the dinner, so I know there is a really good salad and some pumpkin pie. I also requested plenty of take-away containers, so that the students take food away with them and my department isn't forced to eat left over veggie lasagna for the next month. It's actually a fairly good lasagna, but I really do not need that much bechamel sauce in my diet.
Anyway, apart from that I'm mostly crocheting like a lunatic to get these Amigurumis finished. So far I haven't hit any major problems, apart from none of the damn yarn shops being open after 5pm on a weekday. I mean what if there is a yarn related emergency people? Won't somebody think of the crocheters?
Today was Move-In day for the freshman students.
Based on my research, conducted whilst assisting carrying loads of stuff to dorm rooms, I would estimate that the campus levels of yoga mats has been increased by 25%, flat screen TVs by 65%, well loved childhood bunnies by 15% and really short shorts exponentially.
It's also at least five times louder, and our studies indicate most of that is really terrible music.
It's the only wall that doesn't have a window, and it was largely covered by my enormous desk until I reorganised the furniture. Now my desk faces this wall, and I'm thinking I need to put up some art because otherwise it's a bit oppressive in a Pink Floyd "Another Brick in the Wall" way, you know?
There already rawl plugs in some spots on the wall, so it wouldn't be too difficult. Well, accept that all of the existing rawl plugs were seemingly put up at random, so none of them are central and all look to be at least a foot lower than I would want to display art at. That sort of thing really bothers me.
Anyway, I'm thinking that I might get some new art from the University gallery, but what I would really like is to put up a "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster in a nice soothing colour-way. Personally I'd like sea green with off white or, maybe, charcoal with duck egg blue. Something soothing and reassuringly vague, in a nice British way.