proustbot: (young and drinking in the park)
This morning is the morning that I am waking up in sleepy leisure in my childhood bed, rather than staggering awake in the dark and throwing all my shit in my backpack and running for the airport.

(That joy awaits next week.)

Let's do the year in review quiz, kids.

2016: Everyone bought champagne for mimosas, and no one brought orange juice, and there's a metaphor in there somewhere. )
proustbot: (liz)

ME: "Oh, yeah. That dude. I met him at an anthropology workshop. The workshop kind of confirmed the awfulness of current anthropology as a discipline."


[five minutes later]

ME: "What word can I use in this chapter that's like 'supernatural' but doesn't carry the extra Eurocentric garbage connotations of 'supernatural'?

VERONICA: "I feel like...there might be a whole discipline dedicated to solving this's on the tip of my tongue..."

ME: "If only I hadn't thrown that baby out with the bathwater!"


The Dude circulated his dissertation to his committee on Monday, following the most manic spurt of writing I've ever witnessed. (He claims to have written his conclusion in two hours.) Following that, we've witnessed various stages of euphoria and depression from the Dude, and we haven't been a particularly reassuring crowd. (When the Dude tells people about writing the conclusion in two hours, I think he is expecting a different reaction from the one that he inevitably receives.) But we went out drinking with a motley crew Tuesday night, so that the Dude could alternate between venting about academia and gushing about high-school-era hip-hop.

I have experienced many, many hours of venting in the last week, so whenever the Dude began to vent again (usually about how his advisor hadn't been over-the-moon when the Dude began their meeting that morning by talking about writing his conclusion in two hours), I could feel myself entering a disassociative fugue state. As an added bonus, the Dude had invited an acquaintance who has now made good in a way that doesn't affect me (insofar as I like her a lot but I don't need to impress her with my CV), but in a way that really mattered to other people in the booth with us. (Which is to say: I gave Lockwood some shit about her overly correct pronunciation of LaTeX and Lockwood reacted in such a way that suggested that I was HUMILIATING her in front of her IDOL.)

What I'm saying is: I spent a lot of time at that bar looking for an opportune moment to leave.

But I stuck around, and I'm glad I did, because eventually people peeled off, and it was just me and the Dude and Veronica and Betty, and someone said "thorough," and I said, "He's a good man, and thorough," and the Dude clutched his hands to his chest and asked if we could watch The Big Lebowski.

So we bought some Kahlua and take-out Korean food and tromped back to Veronica and Betty's house, and we watched The Big Lebowski. And at the end, as the credits rolled, Veronica and Betty and the Dude all sang along Townes Van Zandt's cover of "Dead Flowers."

And I thought, This is nice.
proustbot: (young and drinking in the park)
J: "I don't know, I just assumed you'd know about Game of Thrones, because at that dept party, I made a Lord of the Rings joke that made you laugh harder than I've ever seen anyone laugh."

ME: [vaguely] "Oh yeah? What was the joke?"

J: "Well, it was at the end of the night, and we were all super drunk, and you were kind of sitting off by yourself by the fire, not talking to anyone and I came over and told you that you reminded me of Strider at the Sign of the Prancing Pony. And you laughed really hard and I felt so good about myself."

ME: [starting to laugh all over again] "Oh yeah. That was a good joke."
proustbot: (triumph)

Riding the bus yesterday home from work, I noticed a girl who got up from her seat two stops too early and then awkwardly remained standing until the bus reached her stop.

I felt a jolt when I saw her, and I'm not sure why. It may have been because she looked a little like K. -- same cheekbones, same shock of corkscrewing hair -- although she was a foot shorter and performing a different vision of gender. (Not all that different, though.) She noticed me noticing her, and then I averted my eyes and continued making small-talk with Veronica, while this girl determinedly tried to make eye contact with me.

Veronica got off on the penultimate stop. The girl followed and, passing me, blurted out, "I--I like your shirt!"

"Thanks," I chirped and she tried to say something else that was lost as the other passengers swept her along and out of the bus.

The next stop was the end of the line. I walked home and thought about the bus ride and wondered about that jolt.


I went to a birthday party with Bear tonight. We had made a pact to go together and leave after one hour, because as much as we liked the birthday girl, we knew that we were going to know no one else at this party.

"We'll protect each other from strangers," Bear texted me before the party.

When we finally fled the party, Bear was carrying the unopened bag of chips he had brought to the party (which he had carefully retrieved from a side table) and I was clutching a stolen hot dog, which I consumed on our ten-minute walk back to my apartment. As we maniacally giggled at one another in the chill evening air, I remembered all the things I liked about Bear, and how much I still want to be his friend, despite everything.
proustbot: (Default)
On one hand, this piece of fashion reportage is unfocused, overwritten, and basically bananas, but it does have this jewel of a sentence:

Steely strong women, cold, authoritarian, powerful, slightly unhinged, aloof but charming, tender but cutting, vain but elitist, superficial but cultured, terribly cruel and laudatory in the same sentence, frivol[ous], cunning and manipulative, overdramatic, superb, all bringing, as Hamish Bowles ridiculously once said, ‘a powerhouse of pizzaz’.

(Let's pass over the fact that the context of this sentence is that all gay men love women who remind them of their universally unloving mothers; let's just focus on the fact that this imaginary type of woman sounds excellent.)
proustbot: (instant intimacy)

"Yeah, yeah," I said, "but they need some mid-level grad students. If they just surveyed late-stage grad students, their survey would be full of bitterness and fury." Forgetting that the swivel chair was slightly broken, I tilted back a little too far and had to scramble upright as it threatened to tip over.

Veronica regarded the table. "Sure," he said softly. "It's fine now, but I'm sure in a year or two, I'll regret all the life choices that brought me here. I'll regret moving to the United States. I'll regret leaving my job. I'll regret blowing up my wife's career, just so I could satisfy my own selfish desires."

"Uh, well," I said, spinning a little and almost toppling over one side. "That's maybe a worst-case scenario."


Today Vidalia spoke his native language in front of me, and it might be the highlight of my month. Or year.


THORNTON: "Well, I would, but I can't take off this sweater. Do you want to know why?"

ME: "Yes. Tell me why you can't take off your sweater. I must know."

THORNTON: "Well. So [wife] just bought some new deodorant. From the Internet. Very expensive. But it's better for you than normal deodorant, because it doesn't have some kind of...metal...?"

ME: "Aluminium?"

THORNTON: "Yes! Anyway, [wife] loves the stuff. Swears by it. Told me that I had to try it. So I am...but I'm not confident that it's working, and so I dare not take off my sweater. I have to wait to go home so [wife] can check."

ME: "Yeah... I've think there's sometimes a problem with those natural deodorants, because after a while, you become acclimated to your own body odor? And your partner will normally find your natural body odor appealing, because of biology and pair-bonding, so they're not a useful second opinion."

THORNTON: "Oh, [wife] and I don't have that problem. Last week we were lying in bed, sniffing each other's armpits and talking about how bad we both smelled."

ME: "..."

THORNTON: "...I think I may have revealed too much to you."
proustbot: (walk of shame/terror)
Update: I looked up the symptoms from overdosing on Dayquil (they are, in order: liver failure, followed by painful death) and then stopped drinking Dayquil.

As a consequence, my sinus infection has caused me to weep uncontrollably for the past 18 hrs, which is fun.

Yesterday, we administered a midterm, and ten minutes into the period, the fire alarm went off (for the third time that day). So we all trooped outside as my professor got more and more anxious. Finally, after about twenty minutes, she cracked, ordered the students to run back into the (lights-flashing, sirens-blaring) building to grab their exams 'n' stuff, and then go to the adjacent lawn to finish taking the midterm (with the concession that now they only needed to write one, not two, essays). Luckily it was a nice day, but understandably the students were frazzled by the experience, so I suspect we're going to be grading verrrry generously.

The fire alarm went off for fifty minutes before someone finally showed up to turn it off. He told the gossipy office ladies by the entrance that nobody in charge had known about the alarm; apparently a necessary phone call had not been made. In case of a real fire, I predict hilarity will ensue.

I have to administer a make-up exam this afternoon, so Dayquil-drinking may resume in a few hours.
proustbot: (the best hill driven by black wine)
I applied for a teaching fellowship that I did not get, due to a) internal shady politics and b) the fact that I literally cobbled together my syllabus in less than 48 hours ("No, no," I cooed to myself, "spending a week reading the Popol Vuh is a totally great idea.")

So there are many fine and legitimate reasons for me not to win this fellowship, and I am not (overly) upset about it. But! In my rejection letter, the committee suggested that the scope of my course was too broad (note: it was a thematic approach to a ubiquitous survey course), and that a better course would be a tiny, tiny sub-section that happens to be the focus of my dissertation.


ME: ...

ME: ...

ME: what

ME: surely they just wrote this letter in haste and wanted to include some constructive criticism and saw the sentence in my letter where I described my diss

ME: surely they're not actually suggesting that I teach an undergrad survey on this tiny, narrow subject that has no primary sources translated into English or secondary literature of any kind because, hey, ain't nobody ever worked on it before? Hence why it's the subject of my dissertation?

Then I wrote a very bitchy email about the situation to my adviser (who hasn't responded yet, which is a bad sign), and then I showed my rejection letter to Wife E and the Dude, who were both horrified at this "advice" to an extremely gratifying degree.

In other news, I am sick and mainlining Dayquil.
proustbot: (Our sole remaining neighbor was the sky)

The other day, I was going through some old stuff, and I found a birthday card from Veronica & Spouse from last year. The latter's contribution to the card was normal and uplifting; the former's contribution was a sly, rambling mock-diatribe.

At the bottom, he included a final line in ominous lettering: "P.S. We are your friends."


We were pedaling exercise-bikes at the gym, and I was complaining to Gosling about a long ago time, when Wife A was attempting to reassure a friend that I wasn't mad at said-friend right when I was in the middle of castigating said-friend.

"It was, like, read the fucking room," I huffed. "Obviously I am angry; stop telling her that I'm not angry and it's all okay."

"Uh-huh," Gosling said.

"It's like her whole thing for managing people," I said. "And if there's one thing I hate, it's being managed."

Gosling glanced at me. "Uh, yeah," he said, carefully deadpan. "I think that's something pretty well-known about you, dude. Nobody who knows you would ever try to manage you."

I peered at him suspiciously.

proustbot: (young and drinking in the park)

On Sunday there was a lunar eclipse of a blood moon. It had been cloudy all evening, so I didn't think it would be visible, but when I left the house at 9:30 pm to trudge grimly to campus, the skies had cleared and the moon -- orange and smudged with darkness -- was there.

So I listened to Night on Bald Mountain as I walked through the night and watched the moon hanging above me. Behind my department building is a dark little area -- grass and a decorative pond, shielded by trees on three sides and completely without lampposts or lights. It would be a great place to commit a murder, and it was there that I stretched out on the cool grass and crossed my arms behind my head and watched the eclipse proceed, bit by bit, to the sounds of Bernard Herrmann's Psycho soundtrack.

I was on Day 4 or 5 of severe sleep deprivation, and all day, if I moved my head too suddenly, I had experienced a split second of vertigo. I experienced those moments of dizziness again as I lay there, and I stretched out further -- with the voice of my old yoga teacher trilling vertebra by vertebra as I did so -- and as gray clouds drifted across the corrupted face of the moon, I thought, And this, too, shall pass.


I realized this week my current depressed funk lines up precisely with the anniversary of last year's depressed funk, and the agent of my low-level despair is, in fact, identical.

Last year, I clutched little crumbs of comfort to my heart when I could and spent a lot of time lying to myself about said agent's motivations. And crying by myself. Admittedly last year's fall also featured "seasonal affective disorder" and "living alone, the worst idea," so there were some contributing factors. But last October was generally wretched, and its only bright spots were a) a glorious phantasm, b) apple-picking, and c) getting very drunk with M. in the worst bar in our neighborhood.

This year, two-thirds of those comforts are cut off from me (although drinking with M. remains an evergreen occupation). This year, I want to be wiser and stronger and squint into what is, in fact, the identical sad-making scenario based on the identical sad-making circumstances and whisper, "Nope, not this time."

These are the things I want.


This afternoon, as I wandered into the library in a state of general dishevelement, I ran into B., who was coming up the stairs with Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Risky Business in hand.

"Hey!" I said. "When's your test?"

"It was this morning," B. said. "It didn't go very well."

"Oh, well, I'm sure it was...better than you think..."

He shrugged. "Can I have a hug? I think I really need a hug right now."

"Sure," I said, glancing at the coffee cup in my left hand and the umbrella in my right. "Sure, come on in here, honeybunny."

He hugged me gingerly and then stepped back. "Was that a weird request? I'm sorry if it was a weird request."

"No, dude, it was fine," I said. "Don't worry about your test any more. Go watch your movies."

He put his hand on the door and then paused, turning back to me. "Do you want to come to the H. tonight? Some of us are going..."

"Um," I said, because this was clearly a group outing from which I had been excluded, though B. had not realized it. "No, no, I can't, sorry."

"Okay," he said, peacefully oblivious. "See you later."

Then I went down to my carrel and rested my forehead against the cool desk and thought, This month is going to be wretched too, I see.


Then I made plans to go hang out with my brother.
proustbot: (instant intimacy)
Exciting recent adventures: I broke my left wrist last month and now have a bitchin' two-inch surgical scar (and an annoying physical therapy routine and a metal plate that will be setting off airport detectors for the rest of my life). Last week, I fled Spain and went up to Germany, where I hung out with Wife E (the best wife) and one of her friends, a strange and delightful German dude. (This was the first time I've been in Germany in eight years; the experience was a useful corrective to my rose-tinted memories of being an oblivious twenty-year-old in Berlin.)

Books: Louisa May Alcott, Rose in Bloom )

Television: HIMYM 2x11-13: How Lily Stole Christmas, First Time in New York, and Columns )
proustbot: (everybody's crazy about a sharp-dressed)
I turned over the keys to my apartment on August 13 and jetted down to the parental homestead for ten days of video games and sisterly bonding.

Dragon Age II, Tales of Xillia, and Skyrim )

On August 22, I flew back North to attend a dissertation defense and hassle H., followed by hijinks in Philly with TDR. I killed some time in DC, and then I came back for five nights of sleeping on the floor of The Dude's and Wife E's new apartment. When originally laying out my plans during the summer, I had budgeted a lot of dead time in the States, in case my Spanish visa proved difficult or obstreperous. Instead, I got my visa in record time and spent a lot of time wishing that I had planned differently, gone ahead to Spain, avoided the vagabond life of my current existence. But that regret faded in my last week of Baltimore -- it was worth it to finally be able to see Wife E again after a year of separation, and it was worth it to spend quality time with Ys, who will probably be gone when I return (if I return) next year.

And then I flew to Spain -- not the country of my heart, not exactly, but definitely a country within which I can comfortably live for the next year (or longer). Hurray for field years.
proustbot: (Mendou Shutaro)
Hey, guys, remember when we were all fourteen-years old and filling out quiz-memes on our LiveJournals?

Let's return to those times!!1 )
proustbot: (Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats)
Signs my academic angst may be reaching histrionic levels: today, for some reason, half my grad-student colleagues e-mailed me with puppy photos and Mr. Show Youtube clips and silly tumblrs and pep talks full of exclamation points.

Today was a remarkably awful day -- and apparently I'm not doing a very good job at concealing how remarkably awful I felt -- but it's nice to know that my department takes a keen interest in my mental health.
proustbot: (asia at odd hours)
Today we jaunted down to the annual neighborhood street festival, which exists primarily as an excuse for "day drinking in public." It was at some point in the middle of that drinking that we passed a face-painting booth that offered to paint Baltimore mustaches -- including the "Waters," the "Poe," and the famous "Natty Boh" -- for $1.

Naturally, Wife A. and I waited in line for 30 minutes with a lot of hot, anxious children who wanted unicorns and butterflies painted on their face in order to get the Natty Boh mustache. (We drank a lot of beer while we waited.)

Later, we passed a little girl who had made herself a Natty Boh moustache on a Popsicle stick, and we made her mother take a picture of her with us.

It was a good day.

proustbot: (the face of all the world is changed)
They may kill,
and we may be parted,
but we will ne'er be broken-hearted.

Thanks, Ted Leo. I have a new mantra for this summer.
proustbot: (asia at odd hours)
So I'm in Spain now.

I like Sevilla. I spend my mornings in the archives, chortling over 500-year-old receipts, and then I spend my afternoons asleep, and then I spend my evenings eating little green olives and fried bits of cod and drinking lots of beer.

I rather like my life's trajectory.
proustbot: (But it was she and not the sea we heard)
Yesterday, I woke up at 4 in the morning, turned on the BBC, and began typing up an outline about the plurality of the Protestant Reformations as many people in wacky hats streamed through the TV and into Westminister Abbey. (I've gotten some grief about this from my cohort, to which I can only say: if you ever need to muzzily get up early to parse your indecipherable notes about Zwingli's interpretation of the eucharist in preparation for an eight-hour exam that you're about to take, wacky hats and organ music make a nicely soothing accompaniment.)

Then I packed up my stuff, went to the library, spread out my stuff on a group-study table, piled up my books like a fortress around me, plugged in my headphones, turned on my iPod, and took an eight-hour exam. (The questions I decided to answer involve the geographic multiplicity of the Reformations and the historiography of religious violence in early modern Europe.) I haven't taken a timed exam since undergraduate years, but I have written many research papers under ridiculous deadlines in the last three years, and that skill served me in good stead. I took one twenty-minute break to run up to the library cafe and eat a sandwich while flipping through Natalie Zemon Davis' Society and Culture in Early Modern France. Then I ran back down and kept typing. I produced 14 pages, which seems to be the average output for the people in my cohort who took their own exams that day.

Then I got on a bus with some friends and went downtown to the university conservatory, where one of the members of my cohort (who took his own eight-hour exam earlier that day) was singing with a Renaissance ensemble. Two hours of lute music later, we made sleep-deprived smalltalk and tried to go to our favorite pizza place around the corner, only to discover that their kitchen closes at 10. (10! On a Friday night! We were aggrieved.) So we went instead to our second favorite bar, where we drank beer and ate undercooked pizza and they mocked me for getting up at 4 in the morning to watch William and Kate wed. ("But I was just typing up notes," I wailed. "The eucharist! Iconoclasm! Institutional hierarchy!")

Then I went home, curled up sleepily on my roommate's bed while I talked to him about our days, and then curled up sleepily on my own bed. And went to sleep.
proustbot: (walk of shame/terror)
[SCENE: As I stand perusing the shelves in a used-book repository, a young man sidles up to me.]

YOUNG MAN: [apropos of nothing] "What kind of books do you like?"

ME: "What? Ummm...all kinds?"

YOUNG MAN: "Do you like horror novels?"

ME: "Well, no..."

YOUNG MAN: [sidling closer] "What about books about the Knights Templar?"

ME: "No..."

YOUNG MAN: "What about Anne Rice? Do you like Anne Rice novels?"

ME: [slowly sidling away]
proustbot: (Liberty Leading the People)
I started keeping this blog in 2001, roughly ten years ago. (Or nine-and-a-half, really, but it feels more poetic to round up.) I had an earlier blog that I kept for a year, and I'd like to find it again, but I think it has disappeared into the ether by now. It was fairly angsty, as I recall.

This journal has been much less angsty, partly by design, and partly because I have very little to angst about. I have been loved and blessed and favored by the universe in the last ten years. I have made good friends and seen new sights and read good books. No catastrophes have befallen me; no crippling injuries or devastating betrayals or insurmountable disappointments. I have had a very lucky run, far more lucky than I deserve.

A Decade In Review )

Ten years ago, I would not have been able to picture my current life. When I was sixteen, I had some vague idea of becoming an author of epic fantasy novels, but I was mostly convinced that I was worthless and useless and unworthy of having any ambition or dream.

I think my sixteen-year-old self would be pleased to see me. My life is far more wonderful than she dared hope.


proustbot: (Default)

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