Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Loving every minute

I wound up taking a break from everything over Christmas, including the blog. I want to spend every moment of these few precious weeks at home chilling with the family, catching up with friends and finishing my scrapbook (or trying to…)

The weather here has been nothing but typical Pac Northwest. On Christmas Eve, I awoke to the sounds of rain lashing the roof and wind sending shivers through evergreen boughs. It’s been absolutely beautiful. On more than one occasion, the sun sends inconceivably bright, amber-colored shafts between the clouds. Those rays etch the white branches of deciduous trees against the thunderheads like images on negatives. I have photos I’ll post later (the USB cord is in England). It’s going to be hard to leave again, since I’ll be away for close to a year, but I’m so grateful for the time I’ve had home between the mountains and Sound.

Coalescent Boy arrives on Friday after spending Christmas with his family in Wenatchee, and we’ll fill our last week with trips downtown to frequent familiar haunts. I’ll resume posting regularly soon – lots to write (New Year’s resolutions on the way), lots to report. Thanks for putting up with my absence!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Sound bound

This time tomorrow, we'll be touching down in Seattle. Although I know the flight will be nine hours of sheer hell, complete with crying babies, teeth-cracking turbulence and food resembling radioactive waste, I don't care. I'm going home!!

Although, I don't know if I deserve to call it home anymore after abysmally failing my foreign flatmate's American test the other night. She's going to visit the States for the first time this summer, so on the way home from a Christmas party, she asked me a few questions. The conversation went something like this:

"So, is Los Angeles safer than New York?"

Me: ", that's a good question..." (frantic mental review of old news headlines) "I think, um, I mean, nowhere's really completely 'unsafe.' It all depends on how well you know the area..."

"What city is the best for shopping"

"..." (realization that I know nothing about shopping) "Ah, shopping. Do you mean, 'shopping' like clothes shopping? Or something else?"

"I just want to find somewhere that sells Garfield. I love Garfield!"

"Oh yeah. Garfield. Well, I think you can probably buy that anywhere..."

"And I want to find things that say 'made in America.' Everything's made where I live, and I get so disappointed. Why did I even leave?"

"Yeah, made in America..." (hating self for participating in this conversation. Had really thought she'd ask about landmarks, or food, or maybe museums...shit.) "You'll probably have to look for independent designers. But they don't even sell that stuff half the time. There is a chain called American Apparel, and they do sell things made in the US - but they're also run by a guy who appears to be a total perv, so..." (trailing off as I realize I've just managed to confuse her even more)

"So what about Stanford? Is Stanford safer than Princeton?"

"Well, it isn't cheaper! Hah hah...ha..." (suddenly decide that I need to go across the street to the nearest convenience store, where I could feasibly hide behind the upright freezers until she gives up and goes home)

So I know nothing about the country, at least nothing that anyone actually wants to learn. I also managed to get into a verbal shouting match with some uppity Irish guy last night who thought he knew more about Americans than I did, despite the fact that I AM an American and that he's been to the country once to visit somewhere like freaking Bismark, North Dakota, which hardly counts as an emblematic slice of Americana.

Anyway, uppity Irish boy decides that he can declare, with much waving of hands and sloshing of beer, that "All Americans are ignorant! Y'know wot I mean? No offense, but you just don't seem like well educated people."

I resisted the urge to ignorantly forget the laws of gravity and pour my pint in his lap. He proceeded to lecture me about Irish history, despite the fact that I'd told him, oh, a half dozen times, that I was Irish American and knew my facts fairly well..."We had a revolution, you know," he said. "Nooo," I gasped. "Did you really? And you lost, I take it?" Bad me. Bad.

At least the guy managed to insult everyone, telling my Scottish bud that Scotland wasn't a real country anyway, and being English or Scottish was the "same thing." Hell hath no fury like a Scotswoman scorned...

Before I can cause any international incidents, it's best for me to see the Northwest again. The internet service at home is still predictably tortoise-like, so I probably won't get to post until we're at my husband's house in Wenatchee next week. I promise lots of long-overdue pictures at that point.

Not much else to report here now. My entertainment value will skyrocket after a few days around friends and family. Hoorah! Seattle, here we come!!!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The end of term slump

You know, it's probably a good thing the trip to Spain didn't happen, because this past weekend was apparently the last time my brain intended to function. I'm going to go watch a movie and hit the hay -- four more days 'til home!!!

Now back to my other purpose in life

The political rant (sorry for all of you who don't enjoy these, but I have to get them out of my system once in awhile).

'Tis the season, and what a season -- we're reeling from earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, wars, famines, environmental crises. You know what we really need right now? Screw that peace on earth and love your neighbor crap: we need wine baths.

Oh, you wish I was kidding.

I mean, how are we supposed to relax and enjoy the holidays when all of those annoying hurricane refugees are still huddling around FEMA tents and Red Cross shelters? Shouldn't they get off their asses and get jobs so they can rebuild their swampy excuse for a city themselves? It's not like they don't have time to job-hunt, right? And I'm certainly not going to spend my god-given, hard-earned cash on them when I can be smothered in cab sauv and left to bask beneath the rays of the indulgent desert sun. All those homeless people should be clamoring for jobs so they can enjoy the same delights - plus, the ingredients in wine are supposed to make you look younger, and I'm guessing that more than a few wrinkle lines have been left by those irritating forms they have to fill out every day.

I'm not saying that we should sell everything we own and give all the money to the poor (noble as that is, I'm too scared to do it myself, as I would then be relying upon someone else to do the same for me...). Seriously, though, would it kill us to forego flat-screen televisions, wine jacuzzis and state-of-the-art auto technology if it meant we could direct the money to something a little more important? Just a little??

Sunday, December 04, 2005


On Thursday night, I attended a formal hall at one of our neighboring graduate colleges. The meal was delectable-but-stuffy (e.g., cameras were banned from the meal because a single flash might cause the oil paintings on the walls to fade and crumble into microscopic piles of dust before our very eyes).

Halfway through, one of my friends was pennied.

Pennied? What?

Let's face it: an 800 year-old college is going to have considerably more time to invent creative drinking games than your average US institution. It's no surprise, then, that the Oxbridge drinking game of choice seems a little strange. In short, pennying involves plopping a penny into the cup of your ill-fated neighbor, who must consume said alcohol in one fell swoop. Pennying often leads to boat racing, which is sort of like pennying but involves entire tables of students drink-racing each other. Technically, pennying's probably been banned at every college in both universities -- but when has that ever stopped anyone? I've learned to eat with one hand in the vicinity of my glass, just in case I need to block an errant coin as it flies towards the cup.

One of its unfortunate caveats is that you can also be pennied if you're eating a suitably liquid-like food. Now, I wouldn't call my friend's chocolate-and-cream cake "liquid," but apparently it counted. So, as the college dean stood up at the head table to read his long, rambling speech, a red-faced girl buried her face in a pile of cake and started slurping.

It's times like this when I ask myself, "What would Stephen Hawking do?" Read through that link to its footnotes and you might understand why.

Recipe for disaster


- One unexpected paper deadline
- One early morning departure, courtesy of discount airline tickets which require you to leave before dawn
- One unshakeable headache
- One forgotten passport (whose, I will not say)
- One sleepless night in the airport


Yields one failed vacation, one story that will be funny in hindsight, and one more weekend in town...

...But hey, at least I pounded out a draft of my abstract. Coming soon, recipe for comfort food needed after one's supervisor rips said abstract into small, bite-sized pieces.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


No word from me this weekend - we're off to Seville for a quick if only my headache/neckache/backache would ease up long enough for me to pack my suitcase...

Back Monday! Have a good weekend.