grad school, politics, knitting and other meanderings. And not enough time for any of it.



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Friday, September 30, 2005
this weekend

will be spent memorizing statistics equations. Nothing pisses me off more than memorizing crap I will never need to know again. And nothing makes me more angry than spending time memorzing, which has nothing to do with actually learning. But, there is no way in hell that this class is going to keep me from getting a phd. So I'm going to try not to be so angry about it and just get the exam out of the way. Ugh. In other random non-stats news. . . maybe soon I'll stop using my blog as a substitute for a therapist as I am currently shopping around for a real one. . . and I think I'll watch Harold & Maude again soon. I made an itunes mix of random Cat Stevens, and found myself thoroughly enjoying classic songs like "Trouble" and "Don't Be Shy". . . and there was something else I wanted to mention here, but I can't remember. . .

posted by knit wit | 9/30/2005 07:18:00 AM

Tuesday, September 27, 2005
tripping over myself

I have this tendency to make things extraordinarily difficult for myself. So very difficult that I loose sleep over what ought to be a simple, tiny thing that I blow out of proportion. This week the aforementioned 750 word paper triggered this lapse in reason. It is like I trip over myself- I am doing fine and then I get so very caught up in something, and progressively make it more and more complicated and difficult that it takes until the very last minute for me to realize what I am doing. It isn't that this happens a lot- maybe half a dozen times a year. And I know I do this. It is so frustrating that I know when I do this, but only realize what I am doing when I am already way past the point of panic. Everyone else seems to know I do it too. On Monday when I was freaking out about the small paper, my mom IM'd me that I am probably just making it too difficult for myself. I called Jo and suggested to her that I was making things too difficult for myself and she just said "of course you are- what else is new?" I even stopped into see my advisor who also quickly came to the conclusion I was making things too difficult, as usual, and managed to simplify things for me. So how do I go about preventing this from happening again? How do I see it coming? It isn't that I am totally clueless about myself- I have learned all kinds of tricks for preventing and dealing with stress. I know I take on too much, but I am getting better at taking care of myself through everything. This just really stumps me.

posted by knit wit | 9/27/2005 05:47:00 PM

Sunday, September 25, 2005
overworked, underappreciated

I have literally spent the last day (long, long hours) getting through a book I chose to read for a class. And all I have to do is write a 750 word paper on it. I chose to read it because I had never read any 18th-19th century feminist writing before and who knows when I am going to have a chance to endulge in such stuff in the future. Don't misunderstand- I am so thoroughly enjoying this book, but also it is also killing me that it takes me so long to read. I am not a slow reader, but the text is just dense and hard to get through. And there was so much other stuff I needed to do this weekend... I must also gripe a little about my job- the job that pays my tuition and the bills. I never feel right complaining about it, as it is a job that is so hard to come by. It is the very fact I am so grateful for the job that makes me feel even worse when it makes me want to scream. Last week I thought I felt caught up with my list of things to do, and then Thursday and Friday filled the list up again, with no end in sight of actually finishing anything. Then, to top that all off, the head-honcho I work for pulled me into his office to ask me about something that I know nothing about and have nothing to do with. When I politely told him that, he asked what it was that I do. I wanted to scream, but I just calmly listed the miriade of the dozens of things that I do. I mean, I do sit at my desk frantically working every day. I do everything the half-dozen people I work for ask me to do. I swear I am not twiddling my thumbs for 20 hours a week. And I always try to tell myself I shouldn't care so much. As long as I have been in the workforce (since I was 15 and shelved books at the library after school) I have always cared 150% about work and all the little issues and dramas that came with it. Even when I was going to school full time, knowing that jobs were only temporary stepping stones, I always cared so much that people would have to remind me that it wasn't my actually my career (so why should I care what is or isn't in my Borders personel file). Sometimes I wish I could be one of those people that glides through life with (the illusion, even) of not caring so much about every little thing- getting detentions in high school, not doing homework, showing up late to work, late to meetings etc... Who am I kidding? I would never be able to survive like that. Instead I just have to deal with the fact I do care. And maybe try to be a little more vocal about the work I do (instead of being so modest, maybe). Maybe working on my own work would also help out with my sanity. Whenever I don't have time to focus on my own writing, I always get irritated by stuff like this way too easily.

posted by knit wit | 9/25/2005 11:30:00 AM

Friday, September 23, 2005
wisdom from the side of a fridge

This is on the fridge where I am staying. I think this is one of the most brilliantly true things ever written. I've been thinking about it all day. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." -Nelson Mendela

posted by knit wit | 9/23/2005 04:03:00 PM

Thursday, September 22, 2005
the first day of fall

Fall is my favorite season. I love the colors. I love how the humidity is replaced by a little coolness in the air, and how the air rustles through the leaves that are just turning crispy. I know, I am nuts that I love it when it gets cold. I am even so crazy that I love the winter. Snow is one of my favorite things (right up there with fall leaves, ice cream, and beer) and getting dressed to go out in the cold (turtleneck, sweater, down coat, scarf, hat etc...) is so much better than heading out the door in a t-shirt. Why am I posting about my love of the weather? (I could also mention how much I love thundershowers, but that one last night really kept me from sleeping.) Well, because everything else in my life seems so boring. I almost posted today about feeling caught up at work. Jeez. How exciting. I almost posted yesterday about the frustrating, irritating, and cryptic political science theory text I had to read, but that is even more boring than blogging about work. I nearly blogged about feeling stressed about needing to take care of my blood pressure, but I made a doctor's appointment and ate half a bag of salt & vinegar chips instead. See all that you're missing? All I have for you today is that it is the first day of fall and that I am dogsitting. I have high hopes for getting lots of work done this weekend. The end of September seems very close all of a sudden and there is so much I could get ahead on. How amazing is it that after being a student for, what, like 23 years, I finally figured out that getting work/reading done sooner than the night before/hour before class is a good idea? Anyway, I am always very productive when dogsitting for professors. Something about being in their space (and maybe out of mine) makes me able to accomplish more than usual. I did most of my data collection and analysis for my masters thesis while dogsitting for my advisor. Would it have happened otherwise? Yes- but it would have taken longer. Tonight, though, I have accomplished nothing. I woke up with a terrible headache about the same time the thunderstorm hit last night (at 3am) and thus got very little sleep. The headache lingered all day and made me generally grumpy at work. I left early. Now that the dog has been out and has been fed, I am looking forward to being asleep within the next 23 minutes.

posted by knit wit | 9/22/2005 10:07:00 PM

Sunday, September 18, 2005
film review: Darkness

Last night we rented Darkness. Jo is reading reviews of it online right now and is so shocked that people hated it so much (5.3 stars on imdb- give me a break!). I guess if you like current horror films that did nothing for me (The Grudge, Hide and Seek etc...) then skip this one. This is a European film very much in the tradition of some of the greatest horror movies ever made (in my opinion, anyway) and it scared the crap out of me (few movies do that). The people working at Bongo video told us it was too slow. Sorry- this was not too slow- rather, it was beautifully filmed. Like a Kubrick film or a Dario Argento film. Every shot was freakin' beautiful. And it borrowed from some of my favorite horror movies- but not in a way that ripped them off. It had elements from some of my favorite horror films- Rosemary's Baby, The Shining, and Susperia. The end was not expected (something else that is hard to do) and the whole movie just leaves you really creeped out. I actually woke up in the middle of the night thinking about it, and then tried to forget it because thinking about this movie in the dark was starting to really freak me out. I would just highly recommend it. And while we are on the topic of films- I am so very, very sad that Robert Wise died this week. He directed so many of my all-time favorite films (The Sound of Music, West Side Story, The Haunting, The Day the Earth Stood Still). I think we own all of those on dvd. If I had a full day to spend (which I don't), I would watch them all in tribute to Robert Wise.

posted by knit wit | 9/18/2005 08:35:00 AM

Saturday, September 17, 2005
paddling the day away

Did I mention how much we love living on the creek? We just really love it. Not only is being able to plop our canoe in the water any time we want wonderful, but we love the birds and ducks it brings to our backyard. We love how late in the day (like right now) the low sunlight reflects off the creek and sparkles on the kitchen and office ceilings. The creek also brings people by our apartment all the time. I sit in my office and watch people paddle by, and then we end up heading out ourselves to canoe. Well, today we went out with the intent of going to Target and found a bunch of canoes and people in our back yard along the creek. I recognized one of them as someone I took a class with last semester. He introduced me around to the Friends of Starkweather Creek. We had always meant to join but never actually made it to a meeting. They invited us to canoe along with them and we dropped our Target plans and got out our gear. The group ended its trip at the nearby Olbrich Gardens. We ended up venturing on with the person I knew, and his friend. With them we canoed all the way to the Yahara river (which is really much further away than it looks on the map or ought to be) and down the Yahara to the locks. Then we had to canoe back. The whole trip was 3 hours of canoeing along side each other talking up a storm, while admiring the turtles, the ducks and enjoying the cool-ish breeze. It was a long trip- lots of fun so we will canoe with them again- but I got a lot of sun and exercise and now just feel sleepy. I can't even imagine what my arms will feel like tomorrow.

posted by knit wit | 9/17/2005 04:41:00 PM

Thursday, September 15, 2005
where did the week go?

This week was just a whirlwind of busy- not only am I not yet used to my insane schedule yet (let alone the workload that goes with it), a whole bunch of extra functions were added to the week as a Very Important* scholar visited our department. While I couldn't care less about Britany's baby or someone else's breakup with some country singer, this was person I really was looking forward to being about to meet and talk with. And talk with him I did! I drove him to a potluck, and found myself chatting extremely comfortably with him- we talked about all kinds of things, not even just sociology. I'm sure not every famous academic would spend so much time with grad students, but he was incredibly generous with his time. I talked his ear off about my past and future research, and then sat there and watched him read through one of my papers- thinking "oh my god- is he really reading that? is it crap? did I get his theory wrong?" After a quick read-through we talked about the paper, and then the next day I got another email filled with advice after he had read my paper more thoroughly. Unbelievable. That, added to work and everything else made the week exhausting. I came very close to falling asleep in a chair in the corner of the potluck I went to. I got some work done last night, listening to Bush's public-relations-motivated speech that Jo was watching in the living room. Interesting how they had power in downtown NO for his speech, and then took all the generators away afterward. The speech was such crap- like he cares about racial inequality. All his nice sounding plans for the Gulf region? They just sound nice- but really it will be a huge conservative social engineering project. Nice houses and neighborhoods that poor (African American) people won't be able to move back in to, and a nice profit for Haliburton. No nice speeches can take away the fact that there were 3 days when supplies could have been dropped in and people could have been rescued by the federal government and they weren't. At least this makes me feel somewhat better. My plan for this week? Read a couple books, and try not to leave the house. Oh- but the department potluck is Sunday. There go my plans to be a hermit the whole weekend! * "Very Important" in the sense that if there were a "holy trinity" of gender scholars, this guy would be one of them. One of his books would be one of the 3 major books in soc of gender (along with this book and of course, this book).

posted by knit wit | 9/15/2005 07:59:00 AM

Monday, September 12, 2005
seeking advice

This is a bird house that is hanging right above our back door. It is literally 1 foot away from the door, and not too far above our heads. Last summer, a cute little family of birds stuffed it with small twigs and made a home there. Well, the other day I was sitting on the porch, under the bird house, talking on the phone. I heard a terrible buzzing above me. Now I want to say that I generally like insects. I don't kill spiders. Unless a spider that I find in my house is really big, I leave it there. Bees, on the other hand, kind of freak me out. I have only been stung once- when I was like 3 and running around barefoot near a little wading pool- I stepped on a bee and it stung my foot. Can you see above in the picture the little yellow objects around the opening of the bird house? Yup- those are bees (yellow jackets maybe- I don't know). There are tons of them in there and we have no idea what to do about it. We just don't hang out much near the back door- we try to go in and out of the house really quickly. Moving it by hand is surely a very bad idea. I thought of maybe putting a big garbage bag around it and then moving it that way- but that doesn't seem like much fun. Where would I move it to? And how happy would the bees be once I sat them down in their new location and the bag fell away? I got a bat out of someone's house last week by trapping it in a big bucket and then setting it free- but that was a cute little frightened bat, and not a nest full of angry bees. So any advice?

posted by knit wit | 9/12/2005 07:34:00 AM

Sunday, September 11, 2005
a suggestion to the Illinois Tollway

Usually, when there is a toll someone has to pay, it is a good idea to let them know how much they will need to pay before they get to the tollbooth so that they can have the money ready. Maybe if you put the toll amount ($.80 or $1) on a sizeable sign (or signs) on the highway before the tollbooth, then the person in the tollbooth would not have to get annoyed when a driver asks how much the toll is, and then has to scramble to get the change together. Not only that, it might also be a good idea to make sure that the signs under the tollbooth window have the correct information on them --not some seemingly random and incorrect toll information-- so that drivers do not prepare and then try to pass you the wrong toll amount. Maybe you, the Illinois Tollway, enjoy the confusion this creates. Maybe you like to keep people in the dark as they make them pay toll after toll. But those of us who only drive on your highway like once a year would appreciate a little more information to make traveling smoother. Better yet- why not just make people pay $5 once instead of small amounts every 15 miles. (more on our adventure to Ikea and Trader Joe's later...)

posted by knit wit | 9/11/2005 08:46:00 AM

Thursday, September 08, 2005
a close call

I was sitting on the bus today, listening to Dar Williams, engrossed in the Beekeeper's Apprentice, when I decided that I was going to stop blogging for a while. I reasoned that I had too much on my plate this semester- that I felt too committed to way too many things. And I didn't want knit me more time to become one more thing making me feel committed and frantic. But, then I arrived home. Jo was on the phone with a friend from NY. They were talking about me. They were talking about my blog. I guess this friend in NY ran into some of our other NY friends over the weekend. They all talked about my blog and how much they loved it and how they read it every day. They also relayed they were worried about me with my lack of posting. I didn't realize they knew about my blog, let alone read it everyday. Joining in the conversation, I told Jo that I was planning on not writing in my blog for a while. I guess the word is I should absolutely not do this. I have fans! The timing is just too weird- so I will not shut down knit me more time tonight! Yes, folks, I'm at the point I reach about 3 days into every semester. Completely overwhelmed. Gads- do I have tons on my plate right now. I just don't know how I will do it all. I know it could be worse, and I know that I always start out feeling this way and everything works out, but that doesn't stop me from imagining the many, many nights and weekends of work ahead of me. There are some good things going on, I guess. Jo and I are driving to Ikea and Trader Joe's on Saturday. We'll get bookshelves, food and other stuff, and then with those bookshelves I can finally get all the very tall stacks of stuff off of my desk. I sat in stats today and actually felt like I was getting it more than I did the last time I took the class. Some things I have to do twice, and that's ok. I also have a meeting about the upcoming dissertation on Monday- it feels good to be moving ahead with something. And I am reading fiction every day on the bus instead of trying to crame in readings that I have to do. Don't worry, folks. I'm not going anywhere.

posted by knit wit | 9/08/2005 09:49:00 PM

Monday, September 05, 2005

Jo and I went to donate blood today. We made appointments online last week, as after donating some clothes and a little money we felt like we had to do something more. Jo had never donated before, so it was all new to her. I used to donate pretty regularly back when I lived in NY but the last time I donated was way back on 9/12/01. That day, I stood in a very long line with about a thousand other people because we all thought there would be survivors who would need blood. Everyone was turned away, accept for those of us who are O-negative. That was the last time I donated. We got to the Red Cross center, right on time for our appointments. We ended up checking in with a not-all-there older man, and then sitting down to wait with others. The place was run so haphazardly that I couldn't even believe it. Nurses would come out and ask for the next person- we would all look at each other- and then whoever wanted to would just get up and go. We started to get impatient, but we were there as volunteers, so how much complaining can you do? Finally, I decided that Jo and I should go next. I got in the little room, and began answering all their questions. I almost made a joke about being pretty boring or something as all I kept saying was "no, no, no." Then, we got to a question I didn't remember from before. Did I live in the UK for more than 3 months since 1980? Yes. I did live there was I was a kid around 84-85. She checked her computer and then told me I could not donate. Ever. The reason- they have no blood test yet for mad cow disease. I was surprised and pointed out I used to donate regularly. It turns out that new regulation, she remembered, began on 9/14/2001. I pointed out they always wanted my 0-negative blood and she said "not any more." Then she wanted to know what it was like being in NYC on 9/11. I told her it was nothing like being in New Orleans right now was, and left it at that. So then I got to wait well over another hour for Jo to finish donating. The scene in the waiting room became more tense. The older man at the desk was clearly not writing down the order people had arrived in (or writing down anything at all). He didn't seem to care that some had made appointments, and that some had been there for as long as I had. The nurses would come out and ask for the next person and when people looked confused they would throw up their hands and say "well, whoever is next just go in that room- I don't care who is, so work it out among yourselves." This didn't go over well. Someone asked the man at the desk- "what? you aren't writing down our names?" He said "No. I am just a volunteer. I don't know who is next. I just have this list of appointments. I don't write down names..." and went back to putting red bracelets on notecards. One woman was not satisfied with this. She wanted an appointment so she could come back after running errands. Okay. Whatever. I waited so long for Jo that I started to worry about if she had passed out, and whether or not they would know to tell me that she had. She eventually came out- red bandages around both arms. They had to poke her multiple times in each arm to get enough blood out of her. But at least they wanted her blood! In the waiting room, I told her I had been disqualified. The woman who wanted to run errands looked at me in horror. I swear she thought I must have slept with a gay man, or something equally disqualifying and horrific. So, I explained to Jo it was because I had lived in England... and the woman went back to her Ladies Home Journal.

posted by knit wit | 9/05/2005 06:55:00 PM

Friday, September 02, 2005

This blog has fallen by the wayside, I know. Why? Well, mostly from being busy doing day-to-day stuff. Work has been crazy to say the least. Nothing notable has really gone on, either, so there has been little worth blogging about. I was going to blog about going out with my BBBS little sister to pick out a school backpack and how it made me remember how important getting new school supplies into a new backpack was to me when I was going into 5th grade. I was going to blog about the wonderful world of reading fiction. I finished The Alienist and started The Beekeeper's Apprentice. The Alienist was wonderful but the Beekeeper's Apprentice has taken my breath away. How did I not know about this series before? Whoever out there in blogland recommended it to me- thank you, thank you! And another reason I haven't blogged is that everything I thought about blogging about felt so insignificant compared to the hurricane. I am just so completely sad and angry that we have the "greatest military in the world" capable of dropping troops and supplies into war-torn countries and that there are still people dying in hospitals and in the streets 4 days after the hurricane. There is no excuse for this. I could have driven with my canoe on my car and paddled supplies to Charity hospital by now, and yet our military has ignored them and there are people dying without water. To say that I am angry is not even touching on the rage I feel. Thank goodness so many amazing people in this country are opening up their homes, donating money, blood and supplies. Bush just snarks around like a freakin' frat boy, barely even trying to convince people he cares. He doesn't even deserve to even call himself American.

posted by knit wit | 9/02/2005 08:15:00 PM

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