Saturday, December 20, 2008

In da liv-er.

I know that there are many of you out there in the interweb that have been missing me very dearly. Hanging on my every word, I know. And I've been ignoring you.

I apologize. But I'm not going to promise to do better. Honestly, blogging at home is not at all easy. For a number of reasons.

1. Constant accompaniment.

2. Constant entertainment/ employment.

3. Constant questions.

I'll not elaborate, but you get the idea.

Anyway, if you were near me, you would be annoyed by my constant imitation of and reference to Bas Rutten. Please enjoy the following video. It is six minutes of pure hilarity in the form of Bas Rutten's bar fight instructions.



I especially like Rutten's voice inflection. It. is. per. fect.

So, until next time, friends, keep it real.

**Also, things are very interesting around here at present. My sister is currently being offended by the naked women in 300. If you'll remember... there are only two notable women in 300. Ugh.***

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

VA is for bloggers, at least this one.

I'm home for a few weeks. Gone are the snowy hills of Maine! Well, I mean, I'm somewhat confident that they are still there, but I can't be completely sure.

Travel was... well... travel. I sat in the airport for 3 hours and then on the runway for another 3. Yesterday was long and boring.

When we finally drove through the good 'ol News, my mom said, "Does it feel wierd to be home?"

And I thought about it for a second, sighed and said, somewhat disappointedly, "No."

What was wierd, or what I really want to say is "disappointing," was that it felt like I'd never been gone.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Coffee Conclusions

I need no overcoat. I’ve got my love to keep me warm.

And by “love” I mean a Starbucks Grande Soy Caramel Macchiato.

Yes, a grande. I hope this drink alone causes me to visibly gain weight.

At least I won’t have to double-cup like Twiggy at the condiment counter. If I ever become so temperature sensitive as to complain about both the chill in the room – that no one else feels – and the mild heat of my coffee cup – that everyone else enjoys – please reintroduce me to the cheeseburger.

Please also remind me that even though I paid a meal-sized fee for it, the fancy coffee in my hand is, in fact, not a meal.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Myface and Spacebook*

Is there anything better than looking through hundreds of pictures of people who are obviously happier than you when you should, actually, be writing a paper?

I submit that there is not.



*Title courtesy of my dear, sweet, mother who honestly thought that's what they were called.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

ssssnnoooowww

It snowed all weekend and started up again on Tuesday. This morning I woke up with a gershry (does anyone know how to spell yiddish words?!) to find no snow. None! It was gone. It had rained all night. And it was perfect. I skipped through the rain all day today b/c rain I can handle. Rain I almost love.

But it's supposed to snow again tomorrow.

Really?! Really, Snow?! What have I done to you? Was it the move? Did it upset you that I came here acting like I knew you? Is it the fact that I didn't even try to get to know you before? Is it because I didn't call? I get that I'm all up in your piece and I have to play by your rules, but I don't have to be happy about that. I mean, you throw me down. You've bruised me more times than I can count, and I'm sure you'll do it again. I think you almost like being mean to me.

You and me are just going to have to deal, I guess.

So here it is: Stay out of my way and I'll stay out of yours.

If I see you around tomorrow, I'm going to be pissed. Now you know.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dating Figs, or Figging Dates?

It's been a while since I teased you guys with a cupcake, so here you go!

This latest cupcake was very trying for me for several reasons.

1. I was baking for an actual event, not just because I wanted to bake.

2. The cake recipe calls for figs, but it's winter in Maine. I had to use dates.

3. I mistakenly used both the stick of butter called for and the stick of butter I was softening for the icing in the cake batter.

However...despite my best efforts to ruin them, these cupcakes are both tasty and cute. Observe:

These are Date Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting and Fig Newton Books.

Last night I pre-gamed the cupcaking by decorating 24 Fig Newtons with tiny little book spines. I'm taking these to the potluck for my Young Adult Lit class. The course title is ERL 518.


And then when I started actually preparing the cupcakes this morning, I had to begin by stewing the dried dates. Let me just say . . . well, I'll just show you.

See? It's not good. I just don't like dried fruit too much. And I hate hate hate things with skins. And the dates started out dried and then - with the stewing - gave up their skins. Ugh. I'm making an ew face just thinking about it again. It makes my own skin feel a little crawly.

Anyway, I powered through the stewing portion of the show and then opted for the food processor rather than the "chopping" that the recipe demanded. I just couldn't be handling the dates that much. The processing worked just fine.

Dates aside, the recipe was quite nice. I made some lovely - read odd - buttermilk and combined that with some reserved date water and I was on my way! Please note the snow. It continued to snow all day today. Again. I'm so over it.

The cupcakes are really helping me cope with the snow for sure. Haha. Don't question it, just let it be.

Here's a wacky picture of both my life at the moment and one of the cupcakes. Notice the stack of books in the background. They'll be going to class with me tomorrow too.


So, that's what I've been up to lately. The end of semester has actually snuck up on me. I feel like we just started, but I have only paper left to write. And, next week at this time, I'll be on my way home. Success.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

iNeed iTunes iHelp

So, here's the problem: I've been listening to music all day while I wrapped up my YA lit projects. And... I thought that was a good thing.

It was fun while it was happening. And the songs were lovely and wonderful and sometimes even fun. But now that it's evening (Well...in Maine it's been dark for two and a half hours and 6:22pm) I'm finding myself rather bummy.

Nothing has happened. I had a pretty alright weekend (though there was minimal human contact, that might have something to do with it). I finished a fair amount of work. I even made 6 adorable cupcakes. So what gives?

I'll tell you. My iTunes.

Apparently the singer-songwriter thing I've had going for a while is just not good for Maine winter. That makes sense, right? Brandi Carlile is beautiful and perfect and honey, but her heaviness is probably not what I should be listening to when the days are so short.

So here are the most frequent artists on my iTunes these days:

Tegan & Sara
Brandi Carlile
Missy Higgins
PCD
P!nk
Josh Ritter
OneRepublic
Girlyman

Now...I know that P!nk and the PCD are a little random in there, but I like them. Sometimes. I <3 P!nk, but those Dolls are only okay sometimes.

Anyway, I'll stop making excuses. I'll just ask for help.

What should I be listening to? Please advise.

Oh, and please know that Hayden Panettiere's single Wake Up Call is some kind of magical. That is all.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Nog and Snow

Yesterday afternoon I got a little antsy. I have a fairly ambitious academic weekend set up for myself; I'm actually trying to get the majority of my work for the semester done and out of the way. And, I honestly don't have that much left. I need to respond (rather creatively) to three YA novels, and then work up a Letterman-style Top Ten list of my YA learnings. For my play class, I need to revise (yet again and this time like I mean it) the paper that will become my seminar paper.

I know in my head that these things will require a good deal of work. However, I keep thinking that since the YA stuff is all creative and the Staging History stuff is 'just' revision, I can breeze through these last efforts and be set.

Bearing all this in mind, I got antsy yesterday afternoon because I didn't feel the need to do real work. Therefore, I found myself checking out all the great cupcake recipes for fall/winter. I've already figured out what I am taking to the YA lit last class potluck (and you'll just have to wait and see what happens there) on Wednesday, so I thought I could hold out and just bake on Tuesday.

No luck there!

I've been needing to try out a recipe before I take it to the big Christmas party, and I have been wanting to make a batch of six cupcakes. Without further ado, I proudly present the cutest batch of cupcakes an alchy ever made!

These gorgeous babies are egg nog cupcakes with a healthy amount of bourbon whiskey. I can say 'healthy amount' because they taste like bourbon. It's interesting, really, being a cupcake and tasting of liquorhol, but it's not bad. When I make them for the party, I'll use a lovely smooth rum, but for the test purposes, the Jim Beam I had worked just fine.

I don't know if you can see the recipe in this picture, but making only 6 cupcakes is not an easy feat. It requires measurements like 1/8 of a tsp and such craziness. Needless to say, there was a fair bit of guessing involved. It will be nice when I can make a full recipe and not have to finagle like that. The recipe did, however, make exactly 6 cupcakes.

So cute when they're naked. And here's the striptease version...

So after an afternoon of successful baking and an evening of The Grinch and YA responses, I dozed off to Footloose. It was a pretty good night all in all. But then I woke up to this:

Neither wind nor snow nor dead of night, or some crap like that. So far, each time it has snowed in this apartment, I've walked downstairs to see this postman delivering the mail to this neighbor.

If it were anyone else, I would call this kitschy. But since it's me, I just call it aggravating. The good news is that since I've sat at my kitchen table doing homework this morning, they've plowed the street. Success. Now I just have to see to my car and driveway. Or...maybe I'll just stay in today.

And have another egg nog cupcake.

Friday, December 5, 2008

This Wordle has me befuddled.

Tonight in my blog readings, I stumbled upon Wordle. Wordle is one of those fun word cloud things that counts up the number of times words are used and then represents that with words of different sizes. My explanation is lame, but it's pretty cool.



I can't figure out how to enlarge it without sending everything pixely, but you can click through and see the wordle on the original site.

So, now that you know what I spend my blogs talking about, go to Wordle and do it with your own blog.

Also, egg nog cupcakes to come! (I got a little baking stir-crazy earlier.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

And the answer is...

So, my roommate and I revived an old debate about a week ago.

Our discussion went something like this:


A: "Well, you know, you can't balance without your big toe. If it's cut off, you'll just fall over."

B: "No... that's the pinky toe. You can't walk without it."

A: "I think you're mistaken."

B: "I think you are."


Alright, alright. I hope it was better the first time around, because - though we might struggle - my roommate and I should be more effective communicators by this point. We'll assume that my rendition just sucks.

Anyway, about a week before Halloween this year, I most likely broke my big toe. I say "most likely" because there was no x-ray or physician opinion. However, both a Master of Zoology and pre-med student deemed it broken. It swelled, turned red, then blue, then black, swelled again, and is now mostly better but sore-ish at times.

This morning, I might have broken the pinky toe of that very same blessed foot. This time the coffee table turned against me. This tiny toe is behaving exactly like it's big sister to the right. It swelled and turned a couple of pretty colors. Since it's quite painful, I've buddy-taped it in the most hilarious way.

But, the silver lining to all this is that I think I've gotten to the root of our Big Toe v. Pinky debate. Though the broken big toe was painful and certainly nothing I want to repeat, this struggling pinky toe is killer!

Pain shot through my toe and up into my leg when I raised my right foot to put my pants on this morning. Same thing happened when I - like an idiot who just won't learn - raised my right foot to put on my sneaker. Apparently, that stupid pinky toe is in a large way responsible for my balance. Ughflurgajibit.

Of course.

So I couldn't play racquetball today as scheduled. Instead I drank black coffee - for the first time in a long time - and rambled at my racquetball partner. Despite her requests, I did not flash my newly broken toe.

What I did do was buy first aid tape after my night class.

It is one glamorous life I lead.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Unprecedented.

Well, gentle readers, I'm doing something new today. I'm actually posting from the office. I thought today was going to be wickedly stacked and busy, but as it turns out, I'm stuck here for the next hour with nothing to do but cough.

I finished my homework and it turns out my students don't think they need me today. I'm playing racquetball in a bit and then I'll be off to class later, but for now I'm just . . . here.

So, I might as well blog!

For starters, my brother and sister left on Monday. My sister forgot her cold, hence my persistent cough, but other than that, my siblings made it to their respective homes without incident.

Here's my paparazzi wrap up of their stay in Maine.

Think Celeb Sibs: They're Just Like Us!

They eat mashed potatoes from the bowl!









They walk off Thanksgiving Dinner!














They take touristy pics!










They pull their own luggage!












So there it is. I'm asking my students to create their own tabloids as part of their final project this semester. They are freaking out quite a bit, and I was starting to get worried about the fairness of the assignment. But honestly, kids?


That was just plain fun.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Cupcake-y-ness

More pictures than words, because I'm quite tired. But, I wanted to post my Thanksgiving goodness.

Here's a totally cute picture of my brother and sister:

These are two of the Sweet Potato Casserole Cupcakes. One with candied walnuts and one with toasted marshmallows. They were quite good but next time I'll add more sweet potato puree. For several reasons.

And finally, a picture of me and my ginormous glass of egg nog. My previous experience with egg nog was not good, but our host encouraged me to try it again. It's actually palatable. Quite nice, even.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Very Best Kind of Surprise

Ah, 'tis Thanksgiving Eve. (Is it still 'eve' all day on the day before something spectacular, or does that just come about the night of the day before something spectacular? In any case...)

Today is the day before Thanksgiving and I'm very excited about this year's festivities. Last year was great too, don't get me wrong. We had a big potluck dinner with a bunch of grad students that stayed here over break, and it was nice to be able to hang out with friends on Thanksgiving. However, I pre-gamed Thanksgiving last year with work on an annotated bibliography for one of my courses. Then I finished that annotated bibliography on Friday. So, nice, yes. But I think this Thanksgiving is going to blow that Thanksgiving out of the water. Here are my reasons for thinking so:

1. My sister is here!

Instead of driving for 5+ hours to get from her school in PA to home in VA, Jessica decided to fly one hour from PA to ME. She found a cheap ticket and here she is. I've been planning for her 7 day stay for weeks now. She visited ME this summer, so the list of possible activities is greatly changed now in winter.

2. My brother is here!

Now, I was NOT planning for this. Yesterday, I giddily met up with my sister in the classic big-smile-wave-from-afar-followed-by-big-hug airport reunion. Arm in arm we took the escalator down to baggage claim and talked about carry-on bag size and the necessity of a checked bag. The conversation seems silly now, but it made sense at the time.

Then I felt a tap on my shoulder paired with a question about luggage or something ridiculous. Sure that some Mainer was asking me a stupid question, I wheeled around to see a young guy much taller than me standing rather close for a stranger. My first reaction?: "Why would one of my students approach me in the airport? Honestly?!" My second reaction?: OMGflurgyabnogyah, it's my brother!

And like Jessica reported from her surprised reaction in the PA airport, I said something along the lines of "How are you here?!"

Of course by this point I was crying. And I did not expect that either. So, I'm standing in the airport with my brother and sister, crying, and thinking how fully I have now turned into my mother, when the baggage claim track begins to move. In perfect Maine fashion, it produces maybe 7 or 8 pieces of luggage and stops, stranding those 7 or 8 pieces of luggage on the farthest bit of the carousel. As Jessica and Joshua walked around to claim their baggage, I stood, sniffling with Jessica's oversized Vera and composed myself.

This, I knew, was going to be the best Thanksgiving on record.

3. I am making Sweet Potato Casserole Cupcakes.

Now, it may seem silly to rank a cupcake with the presence of my brother and sister, but it you feel that way then you obviously have not been paying attention. If that is the case, I'll catch you up. I <3 baking cupcakes. I've been planning this particular cupcake for about two weeks. The recipe looks fantastic and I've made a very similar pumpkin cake that allows me to feel confident about the result of this recipe.


So there you have it. These are the three most readily available reasons why Thanksgiving is going to rock this year.

Now I have to compile a grocery list with my sister while brother takes full advantage of the rare opportunity to sleep in.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve everyone! <3

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nine Observations from the AMAs

1. Kanye West is wearing an outfit that my brother wore in high school.

2. Rihanna's dress is wildly inappropriate.

3. Billy Ray Cyrus' hair is reminiscent of one of our favorite friends. He will henceforth be referred to as Anistan.

4. Enrique Iglesias now looks like one Victoria Beckham transitioning with the help of testosterone. He will henceforth be referred to as Tranny Spice.

5. Beyonce defied the laws of gravity and several sciences by keeping everything in that "Single Ladies" outfit.

6. Annie Lennox has my hair. Or, what I want my hair to be.

7. Natasha Bedingfield demonstrated the problems with emo bangs once and for all. Did you see the fan blowing moment???

8. Rihanna made up for the gauzey/floppy dress with the head-banging in "Rehab."

9. P!nk singing "In the Arms of the Angel" made my week. On Sunday.


Well, I'd say that the AMAs were completely worth watching.

Now I'm Pissed.

And here's why.

I think I am getting another cold. And I know exactly who to blame this time.

My last cold probably came from my coworker. Or maybe a friend. But there is no question about this cold. This cold came from my sniffing, hacking, 'can-I-meet-with-you-about-what-I-missed?' students.

Of course.

Ironically, my roommate alerted me to this Yahoo! posting early last week. Apparently Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the U. of Arizona, released what he believes to be the top 10 germiest professions.

Ringing in at number 1 is, you guessed it!, Teachers and DayCare providers. Yippee. Woohoo. Sniffle.

Turns out we encounter more germs than meatpackers, sanitary workers, janitors and animal control officers. However, we are barely past the germy folks behind our computers and cash registers. So, I guess the lesson to be gleaned from this most recent cold is twofold.

1. Students (and people in general) are massive carriers of disease.

2. I either need to change something or be prepared to lose a weekend every few weeks to couch sitting and bad tv watching with a box of tissues and much orange juice.

Remembering the Serenity Prayer and the necessity of accepting number 1 and dealing with number 2, I'll be taking advantage of some things that I had recently forgotten. Namely, the hand sanitizer on the end of my desk and the Airborne that I've neglected. After all, Airborne was formulated by a teacher tired of catching students' colds.

By the way, has anyone else ever doubted the veracity of that Airborne claim? How would a 2nd grade teacher know how to 'formulate' a homeopathic cold treatment? I guess she has an honest face. Anyway, I digress.

In a twist of fate, I'm also grading my students' final drafts of their final papers this weekend. So, while I'm sneezing and sniffling, I'll also be wielding the pen of eternal frustration and doom. Or, at least that's how my students see it these days.

Ah, well. Best of luck to them. I need to get some more orange juice and get down to business.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hallmark Approximation

Last night I walked into my building to make one final check of the office before I left for home. I noticed our janitor, Jay, and his cart of cleaning supplies as soon as I walked through the double doors. Since he didn't notice me, I walked behind him towards my hall and said hello.

"Hi, Jay, how are you?"

Jay jumped and turned around with an "Oh!"

"Did I scare you?" I said, smiling.

"No. It's just that nobody calls me 'Jay' around here."

"Oh." Now it was my turn to be scared. Have I been wrongfully chatting with the janitor formerly known as Jay? Is his name something like Harold or Brian? It's a good thing I speak before I think. "What do they call you?" Still smiling.

Paper towel rolls in hand -- "They usually don't call me anything."

Ugh.

We exchanged some quick how-are-you?s and how-have-you-been?s as I unlocked my office door and he continued down the hall.

And I decided that Jay needs a Christmas present. With his name on it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sealed for Freshness

Unsurprisingly, winter has come to Maine. And in a big way, actually. It's not terribly cold here yet, but the sun is gone by 4pm. Apparently this lack of sun is quite affecting.

In an effort to control my own mood more than the weather does this winter, I've been trying to take advantage of the daylight hours and stay relatively active. The active bit manifests itself in the seemingly continual racquetball games I've been playing of late.

I really do enjoy playing, and I'm actually starting to act more like an opponent than a tag-along little sister that nobody wants around. So, I consider this a success. Now that I've demonstrated that the racquetball thing is not a passing fad in my life, I bought my very own racquet. It's glorious and sparkly and pinkish. Makes sense, right?

Anyway, the racquet is exciting and will no doubt dramatically change my game, but the balls are what I want to dwell on for a minute.

When my roommate relented and agreed to play a game this weekend, I excitedly pulled out my brand new tube of balls to find this:























The racquetball balls were sealed for freshness. Really? They're rubber balls. Fresh? I don't get it.

So, of course this made me all contemplative. And I haven't been able to stop thinking about this seal for days.

And just tonight it dawned on me. I've been bemoaning my seemingly isolated place in Orono, Maine probably since I arrived here last August. I've complained about the lack of people "like me" and the sad choice on the local radio stations. I alternately whined about and enjoyed the snowy walk to and from campus in the months between November and April. I've counted the days until I board planes out of the state. And I've taken day trips just to get out of Orono.

But what if I'm just currently sealed for freshness?

This could perhaps revolutionize the rest of my time in Maine. There are many reasons why I could stand to learn a little bit about my self at this point in my life. However...there are three balls in my tube. So, I think, if I can stretch this analogy just a bit further, that means that I don't have to be alone in my fresh world. This is also good news.

And finally, when I did open that tube of balls and pull out the one on top, by God, that rubber ball smell was gloriously clear and sharp. Reminded me off a new doll. Suddenly the seal made a lot of sense.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gakked from Rishyish

This week has been filled with the ups and the downs for me. I gave a presentation that was hectic in the makings and a relief in the presenting/finishings. Stuculty went off without a hitch and was extremely well-received, but again, somewhat nerve-wracking and hellish in the organization. My students seem to be on the up and up, so that is win. And I got back a paper that I thought was rubbish but my professor deemed "promising." Ironically, I wrote that exact word on one of my own students' papers this week. Finally, in a rather surprising turn of events, I won a racquetball game of cutthroat on Thursday against E and K. Major win there. *pumps fist*

In addition, there are various other things swirling around me this week that don't need mentioning on the interweb, but let's just say that I am feeling... njkwychqogsaj.

In case you haven't noticed, I've introduced some new terminology into my blogging thanks to my current read: Serafina67 *urgently requires life*.

Susie Day's book is spot on. The book is the collected blog entries (complete with reader comments) of a young adult named Sarah. Sarah is contemplative and angsty and totally not speaking to Patch anymore. Her parents are divorced and their new relationships baffle her. Her friends are super supportive and their comments are riddled with blogspeak and emoticons. The book is, in a word, blogtastic.

So, in honor of serafina67 and the happiness she has brought me every night this week before I nod off, I've gakked a survey that she "gakked from rishyish". Here goes nothing.

Here is the passage from Serafina67 *Urgently Requires Life* (pages 186-187 if you are keeping track)

"List 6 things you would like to say to 6 different people, online or in RL. Be as honest and direct as you like. (Do not say who they are!)
1. I wish I was you.
2. F*CK OFF.
3. I love you loads and loads and I wish you liked yourself more. But sometimes I think you put it on a bit so people will tell you how much they care.
4. I miss you.
5. I don't miss you.
6. Sometimes I think we're really close, but I don't think I could ever say that to your face, which probably means we aren't."

Okay, here ends the serafina67 bit and begins my bit? That sounds blergh but I'm not going to take the time to make it better.

*debates over what to include in list*

*debates level of ambiguity desired*

*decides to start listing and get over planning*

1. I don't want to know.
2. You are the bright spot in my week.
3. I'm glad we didn't grow apart completely.
4. Sorry, but I can't make Girl's Night.
5. You are probably my best friend in Maine.
6. According to ET!, Hilary Clinton and I share a dress size.

So, how is that for some honesty? That list was really hard to write. It must just be the nature of these survey/list/blog things, but I got a little bit angsty just doing that. *headdesk*

Dangerous... I'll have to remember not to gak very often.

I do, however, want to incorporate more of these asterisk-bookended actions into my blogging. Apparently, I've been blogging all wrong. *hugs on serafina67*

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Barack Obama, the most musical president in years

So, as I was disappointedly scanning through the miserable options on the Bangor radio today, I happened upon an amazingly fun reggae diddy about our 44th president. I thought, now isn't this great that we have songs written about the man who is going to be our next president? He hasn't taken the office yet, sure, but we like him. We like him enough to write songs about him. And I know there are songs because we have all seen or at least heard of the Will.i.am's Yes We Can and the Obama Girl's I Got a Crush on Obama. However...I knew there had to be more out there. When I got home for the night I did some quick YouTube research and I found out that there is most certainly something going on here.

So, here are a few videos that I feel to be the best of the best. In no particular order...

Susan Werner.

I love her for many reasons. First of all, she played with Girlyman at the Halloween concert in Portland. Since then I've been listening to her newest CD, The Gospel Truth, well...religiously. It's wonderfully song-writery and...gospel. Now, ordinarily gospel music would make me cringe in a way that not much else can, but she is so blissfully skeptical that the lyrics actually feel like something I would say. Or at least sing. Give it a listen. Anyway...the point...the Obama song.


Now for something really different, here is the reggae tune I stumbled upon in the car today. The singer is Cocoa Tea. The song is "Barack Obama." Surprise.

In searching out this song I found that there many many reggae songs out there about Obama, but I decided to be loyal to Cocoa Tea. I mean, he made it to Bangor radio, so he must be pretty hot.

And, finally, this one is my favorite. This song is "Change" by Manze Dayila & the Nago Nation. I give them major bonus points for naming the song something other than "Barack Obama." I also give them extra major bonus points for the amazing romper Manze is wearing. Can we still call it a romper? I basically just love the colors and the fit and the giant pant legs. I really just like this song and video quite a lot. Just wait for the "OH OH OH"s and I think you'll like it too.

I also really love the cut-off t-shirt that says "Obama or else" on it. Brilliant.

Anyway, I guess I don't yet have a conclusion about the number of jubilant praise songs out there for Obama, but I definitely think it is worth noting.

My roommate says that Barack Obama's name has a musicality to it that most other names do not. Perhaps that could be it. Or maybe it's the one-of-us feeling that he worked so hard to cultivate. Or maybe it's just because he's the antithesis to what we have now. Who knows.

What I do know is that Barack Obama needs a mixed CD. Right now.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

1000 Pin-Ups

I'm not entirely sure why I have been feeling especially self-reflective the past couple of weeks. Let's blame it on Obama and Rachel Maddow.

Anyway, I did my customary browse through Borders tonight and found myself at the Gender Studies/Sexuality shelf. This is usually good and bad for me. I find great books that make me feel good about myself. However, I also usually realize how far I am from where and who I want to be. If I even know where and who I want to be anyway.

So, I read most of Is It a Choice? Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Gay and Lesbian People. I'm sure you can imagine how that went.

After displaying the proper amount of excitement over the chrysillis (spelling?) of the Monarch butterfly to the most adorable, tiny, maybe four-year old boy who sat beside me, I polished off Is It a Choice? and graded two or three student revisions.

From my seat I spotted my next read on the Self Help shelf. How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You by Leil Lowndes. I learned many interesting tactics that I will probably never implement successfully. Let's just say that it has a lot to do with the eyes and how you use them.

I walked out of Borders with no conclusions, but a shiny new picture book.

After all, when life is scary and mercurial, the best thing to do is think about a tattoo.

The Art of Slacking

No one needs to be taught how to slack. Slacking is easy. Effortless, even. However, making slacking into an art is an entirely different thing.

The most important bit of the art of slacking is the deceit. As I much as I dislike the term, Randy Pausch's 'headfake' makes a lot of sense here. The goal of the artful slacker is to never appear to be slacking. Even more to the point, the artful slacker is never caught slacking.

Last night I drifted off to sleep while awkwardly thinking about an almost lover from my past. Who knows why homegirl came back to me last night, but it was an interesting thought experiment to remember that most uncharacteristic of Mays. Anyway...when I woke up this morning at 8:40am, I laid in my bed - fully awake - for several minutes before I decided to make a move.

Today is that day of the semester when the one class of the day is canceled and there is no reason to go to campus.

Knowing I had a full day to myself, I determined that what I really needed to do was organize my bookshelf. As soon as I found out I passed the Comp Exam earlier this week, I have been dying to incorporate the comp list books into my other books. This seems like the last step in acknowledging that the Comp Exam is completely behind me. So...while still sitting on my bed, I rearranged my bookshelves. First by category, then alphabetically. I now have anthologies and writing about writing across the top. Non-fiction on the two top shelves. Fiction on the next four. I still have a bunch of books that won't fit on my Dollar Tree shelves, but one day I'll have a glorious library. These shelves will do for now.

I allowed myself to work with the bookshelf until 10am. 10am, of course, is when The Martha Stewart Show comes on in Orono, Maine. I scrambled downstairs and readied a bowl of cereal in front of the television set. Now my roommate might be the only one to understand why this upset me, but Martha was touring Mexico on her show today. Ugh. I did not watch. I disappointedly watched Hoda Kotbe and Kathy Lee on the Today Show. It was okay, but not what I wanted.

After the lack of Martha, I read a bit of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. We're going to be discussing the book in my YA lit class next Wednesday, so this reading cannot possibly be condemned as slacking. :) See how this works? Anyway, The Book Thief is a really gorgeous moving book and I'm only 100 pages in. It's a work of historical fiction about a girl in Nazi Germany as told by the Angel of Death. Like I said, gorgeous and moving.

Between chapters, I vacuumed the apartment. It didn't take long and it was oh-so-gratifying. Let's just say that it really needed to be done.

After finishing Part 2 of The Book Thief, I researched cupcakes. I wanted to find the perfect vanilla cupcake recipe for this coming week's National Vanilla Cupcake Day. I haven't decided if I will take the cupcakes to campus on the actual holiday or make the vanilla cupcakes for my YA lit workshop on Wednesday or Stuculty on Thursday. Either way, I've decided to try Amy Sedaris' Vanilla Cupcake recipe. Success.

When I realized that I had been messing around with vanilla cupcakes online for over an hour, I decided I should do something else light that would create the appearance of productivity. Dishes.

Dishes done, I showered. At noon. Ladies and gentlemen, when you can live half of your day before you take a shower, that is a clear sign that you are slacking.

If after slacking all morning and feeling quite relaxed and chill, you can then look forward to the rest of your day without having been caught slacking, then you, my friend, are an artful slacker.

Isn't it nice that I can now shamelessly use the John McCain "my friend" without any fear of having to listen to it for the next four years? :)

In conclusion, I am quite pleased with my slacker performance this morning. My roommate just returned home to evidence of vacuuming and dish washing. I'm clicking away at my laptop, a clear sign that I'm working diligently on something relentlessly academic.

Well...I guess I should actually make something happen with my afternoon. I need to grade about 7 student paper revisions and plan my 101 class for tomorrow. But for now...I'm making grilled cheese.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

I know this doesn't solve everything, but I'm very pleased with the American people tonight.

Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States of America.

One of the most interesting things I have found during the presidential election is the Facebook conversation surrounding this major event. I've been so disheartened by people my age and younger spouting off about how Obama is a Socialist and a Muslim and a Communist and basically the cause of America's impending downfall. These kids are so taken in by the dominant ideology, in this case their fundamentalist upbringing, that they don't see the need to critically evaluate the information they are given. These kids are praising Rush Limbaugh and his take on the election and the candidates. They cite YouTube videos that have spliced speeches on both sides of the campaign to fabricate messages the candidates would never endorse. And the worst bit of all, they parrot this stuff back without ever considering who they are excluding, damning, disregarding, and hurting.

I described their Facebook conversations to another friend as a parade of ignorance. It might be harsh, but their words are the direct product of a lack of experience of anything outside their privileged, Baptist, heteronormative, middle class lives.

So...I'm blissfully pleased about the outcome of this presidential election. I believe that our country has the potential to move in a new direction, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the next four years.

But, I'm still worried about the Facebook kids. I know there will always be Fundamentalists and a new president will not change that. However, I want these young people to understand what is happening in the real world. And, I guess I want this for them because I've been where they are. It is by no means an impossible trip. They can open their minds. I just hope that more of them decide to.

"I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight..." - Barack Obama, November 5th acceptance speech.

I passed!

That's right, kids! I found out yesterday afternoon that I passed the M.A. Comprehensive Exam!

No more forced reading of those 30odd texts. No more stretched connections between Paradise Lost and Frank O'Hara. No more marathon days of testing. No more dread of a retake. No more . . . valid excuse for slacking on my other coursework.

Stink.

Well, I guess I should be getting down to business anyway. I have two classes of my own to wrap up and about 20 first year writers to pass. I feel like my classes will be okay as long as I actually sit down and work on them. My students . . . well . . . I feel like they are coming around too.

However, as will happen, I've been struck down with a cold. My left eye won't stop watering and my nose is running and stuffed up at the same time. You get the idea. So what does this mean??? You guessed it! Another valid excuse for slacking on coursework. See? There is always a silver lining.

In other - clearly more important - news, go vote!

I know we'll all be glued to our laptops and tvs tonight as the results roll in. With any luck we'll have cause to celebrate by midnight.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween Ups and Downs

I've been so very eagerly anticipating the glorious debauchery of Halloween weekend for a few months. I start planning my costume as late as the summer, as early as the spring semester. This particular costume has been in the works for quite some time.

I did my research. I shopped for wigs. I tried on many dresses. This is what I came up with for the perfect Marilyn Monroe costume:


Once I had the costume, I just needed the proper venue in which to show it off. There was, of course, an English grad student-led party going on. However, there was also going to be a Halloween night Girlyman concert in Portland.

Hmm...concert by one of my favorites in an actual city...or a party with my coworkers in Orono - a party that I would have to drive to and from, mind you. I think you'll understand why I chose to go to Portland.

But, true to form, things weren't as exciting as they promised to be. Don't get me wrong, the concert was great. Girlyman has such a cool friendship going on within the band that their performance was really relaxed and fun. They made fun of each other. They improvised songs while the others tuned instruments. They analyzed the word "pimp" and whether one "pimped" or "pimped up". Two of them even wore "ghoulyman" makeup (their cheesy joke, not mine). And...a true miracle, the opener was actually really good. Susan Warner played some of her twangy, song-writery, gospelly folk music before Girlyman came out and she is quite remarkable. I'll have more to say about her once I more carefully listen to her newest cd, The Gospel Truth.

The interesting thing about the Halloween concert is that it was more of the second than the first. There was not a terrible amount of Halloween happening at all. The concert was advertised as a costume event, but I would guess that there were only about a dozen people in costume. And four of those people were me and my friends. So...when Girlyman finished their set and said all their "thank you"s, they pointed right at me and my friends and said, "And thanks for coming in costume, you guys. We really appreciate it."

I guess we should be happy with the recognition, but it just a bit awkward attending a concert as Marilyn Monroe. At first I marveled at my luck, attracting the eye of a couple of gorgeous people...but, alas, I think it was Marilyn that caught their eye. Not me. And they didn't even buy Marilyn a drink!

Anyway, after the concert, my roommate and I had to walk back to the hotel to let our friends into the hotel to get their stuff. At that point we decided to call it a night. Since two of my colleagues were presenting papers at an academic conference being hosted at our Portland hotel, I traipsed down to the third floor for a hot minute. The boys appreciated my costume for two obvious reasons, and I frightened a middle aged man who innocently turned the corner too quickly. All in all, the third floor was... interesting.

And...not that alcohol is all-important, but... I had a beer with dinner. And that's it.

Sober as a priest or someone who is actually sober, I went to bed around 12:30am. Lame.

Also, we didn't take the first picture of ourselves in costume. So, this picture I present you just because it would be rude to give you nothing. However, I took this before the costume and makeup came off, so it's not terribly flattering or well-composed.


But like I said to my roommate earlier today, this was a really great weekend. It was relaxing and fun and we saw a great concert. However, as a Halloween, it kinda sucked.

Oh well, there is always next year. And don't think that I won't trot out the Marilyn costume again next year. It's too good to put away after a sad half-use.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween, friends!



I forgot to take pictures of my dress rehearsal, so you'll have to wait another day or so to see my costume.

I'm pretty confident it will be worth the wait.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

eagle-like

Help me out, said the eagle to the dove.
I've fallen from my nest so high above.
Oh, help me fly, I am too afraid to try.
Now saddled with a fear of heights,
I'm praying you can set me right.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Matter of Balance

I've been planning to 'coach' a class of A Matter of Balance at the Bangor Agency on Aging for a few weeks now. The training session is tomorrow, and after I complete that I'll be ready to help senior citizens deal with their fear of falling.

Tonight, while running up the stairs and talking on the phone, I fell rather loudly. You know what I mean, limbs all over the place, slamming into solid objects. Loud.

My right shin is scraped and bruised and swelling in an unattractive goose egg way.

My left great toe is also swelling and reddish and feverish.

Brilliant.

At least we're starting from common ground.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mocha Spice and all things nice

Well...today was good and not-so-good. I don't want to say 'bad' because it really wasn't bad. Just not-so-good at parts. I did some grocery shopping. Good. I saw a few one-act plays, one of which featured one of my students. Good. It rained all day, and I was woken up this morning by the shaking of the apartment in the wind. Not-so-good. I tried a new cupcake recipe. Very good. I realized around 1pm that I had student papers to respond to by 10am tomorrow. Definitely not good.

So, you see, today was a mixed bag.

But, overall I think I can say that I am pleased with today. I'll feel better once I get the student papers taken care of.

In the meantime, a word about the cupcakes.

I tried the Mocha Spice cupcake recipe that I found here.
This was possibly the most complicated batter I've made so far, but that was only the case because of the incredible number of spices involved. There was such a great deal of measuring go on. However, all the measuring done, the cupcakes were a success.

The idea of spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and (to me the most frightening) ginger in my chocolate cake was a bit unsettling. But, I think the fact that the cake was more mocha than straight chocolate made me feel a bit better. Who knows.

Anyway, the spice is quite appropriate for fall, or pre-winter as we are now having in Maine. And the basic chocolate icing I made for the top is nice and comforting in its Hershey-ness.

Here's the glamour shot of the cupcakes on the tower my mom sent me a couple weeks ago.


And here is the naked shot. This cupcake is fairly boring to look at, but the flavor more than makes up for that.



















And please notice the blue cup of milk slightly behind the cupcake. I had to drink milk as I iced the cupcakes just because the frosting looked so rich. I wasn't even tasting as I went, I might have gone into a sugar coma if I had.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Taste of Maine

That is probably a misleading title, now that I think about it.

But my weekend can only be explained through the umbrella of Maine. It all began on Thursday when I attended the A Fine Frenzy concert slightly off campus.

If you don't know A Fine Frenzy, then you should get on that. Here's one of my favorite songs, Rangers.

And another, because it's live and just so very good. You Picked Me.


Our concert featured just the girl and the keyboard guy. Apparently this is how they used to do all their playing, but now they have a full band. Anyway...this is not the point.

The point is that Maine managed to pull together about 50 or 60 people for this concert. It was embarrassing. I blame this on poor advertisement. I didn't notice the flyer until the day of, and even then the flyer was unclear. I can only assume that this means the event was not advertised off-campus at all. The concert was paired with the obama campaign and the on-campus early vote day. Still...our showing was poor. More interesting yet, this was a free concert. A FREE concert! In Orono, Maine!

Despite all these factors, there were so few people there that we didn't even fill the upstairs of our small-pub-like off-campus bar. To me... this is indicative of my experience in Maine. I had a great time. I loved seeing A Fine Frenzy and the intimacy of the concert was really great, but underlying it all was my own uneasiness regarding the circumstances.

Oh well.

Then, Friday, after Beth and I saw High School Musical with a bunch of little girls and their mothers, we decided to go to the first home Hockey game of the season. Now there was a strong showing. We should in line outside for about an hour or so, and then we sat down in our seats in the FFF section. (That stands for far, far, far, I'm guessing.) The inflatable black bear's head came out and then a few minutes later, so did the players. We cheered, we listened to two national anthems, and then things went downhill. Northeastern scored three times in the first ten minutes. It was sad. We left early. We ended up losing 5-0.

And I know that Northeastern has a really strong team this time, so it's not all the Black Bears' fault. However, this pattern is also slightly Maine. Excitement, anticipation, disappointment.

For this and other reasons, I ended up at Target today. In the Halloween section. Buying too many cupcake-cessories.

And now...I have something to get excited about.

Friday, October 24, 2008

HSM 3!

Today is the day!


High School Musical 3 opens today, and I couldn't be more excited. Well, actually, I'm sure I could, but as far as Oh-no, Maine goes - this is a big weekend.

My roommate and I have had the HSM 3 opening day on our planners for weeks. Maybe even months. And, yes, I know that High School Musical started out on the Disney Channel and that HSM 2 went directly to video, but we don't judge a good author by her first awkward poems, do we?

The thing about High School Musical is that is combines all the things we dread (or do not remember fondly) - singing, dancing, high school, summer jobs, the bitchy popular girl, first love - in a way that makes them at last palatable.

At least if my high school experience sucked (and believe me, it did), I can have fun watching some kids who have it all figured out.

I mean, what is NOT fun about watching a whole cafeteria of high schoolers dance in formation and sing, "No, no, no! Stick the status quo!"

It's witty. It's colorful. It's innocent. It's social commentary. (This last one might be a stretch, but I'll let you know after I see it.)

And let's be honest, if we all looked like Gabriella and could sing like Troy, our formative years would have been very different.

So, that's where I'll be today. Be jealous. Or just join me.

In other news, I saw A Fine Frenzy last night for free. Details on that when I don't have to prepare for 101.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Letters!

Yesterday I received two letters in the mail. TWO!

I haven't received an honest letter in months. Perhaps not even since I've moved. My mom is quite good about sending cards with little notes and drawings on the envelopes, but letters are a totally different level of personal communication.

I so excited pulled them out of the mailbox to find two different gorgeous handwritings. Both of which I immediately identified. I had never noticed the similarities between my sister's and the Empress' handwritings, but now that I look at them again, it's really uncanny. I wish I could post them side-by-side but that would involve divulging more information than I care to on the interweb.

Anyway, two letters. The similarities, my friends, do not end there. Both ladies wrote me on lovely stationery. True to her nature, the Empress wrote on paisely, gold-embossed paper with a matching sedate, paisely-lined envelope. My sister chose a minimalist black, white and red leaf-patterned note in a crisp white envelope.

Here's the kicker, both letters contained enclosures. And . . . wait for it . . . both enclosures spoke directly to my rather obsessive baking habit. The Empress sent a magazine article on "Canine Cutie Cupcakes" that I'm excited to try out. Don't worry, the cupcakes are for people, they just look like dogs. :) And my sister wrote me up for "Excessive Baking" on one of her Office of Safety and Security citations at work. Seems I was misusing my "License to Bake" permit. My own sister even wrote in the fine. A wopping $35 for sharing my cupcake wealth with the world! The nerve!

Anyway, as you can see, I got too excited about my letters yesterday. I think I need to pull out my neglected stationery and write some letters of my own.

P. S. - True to form, I tried to scan some of my letters and enclosures for blog reasons, only to find that I unwittingly removed the scanning software from my laptop. Of course.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ugh.

Since the comprehensive exam (Oct. 11 & 12), I've been in a major slump.

It's not a bad, depressed, woe is me slump, but a slump no less. I'm falling behind in my schoolwork and I'm barely keeping up with my students' work. I just can't seem to make myself sit down and do everything that needs to be done.

I have a much easier time say...baking cupcakes. Or...shopping for things I don't need. Or...my current favorite, preparing myself and my roommate for Halloween. Sadly, however, the only thing I need to complete my super hot costume is a pair of false eyelashes and a man's suit coat. If those things don't make sense together, just wait for the pictures.

So, as my roommate and I excitedly planned our Friday activities - it was a much better option than writing our respective papers - I had a flashback to undergrad.

I was an over-achiever!

I did everything early. I submitted early drafts of papers. I discussed things with professors. I considered some professors friends, even. And...here's the kicker...I was so work-driven that I (and my then roommate) had to mandate that Fridays were for fun. We called it "Fridays are for Fun." Catchy, right?

Anyway, after our classes ended on Fridays, I feel like it was about 3 but I can't be sure, we would put down the books and do something fun. Sometimes this was as simple as watching a movie and having Dairy Queen. We really started to dream big when we began planning our Build-a-Bear trip that never happened. But you get the idea. Often our Fridays included other friends too, and it got easier to regularly make time for fun.

My friends, look at me now. I feel like I've made a 180. I now have to mandate work hours. And even then, I don't stick to them. Heck, I'm blogging right through my "read a couple student papers before T'ai Chi" block right now.

So, clearly writing things in my planner doesn't work for me anymore. For a while in undergrad I had a friend who would make me establish goals for the day, night, whatever, and then call me on my progress. That actually worked. That friend is now living her life in New Mexico(?) and therefore not quite bugging me about my work as much.

Lucky you!

Today I want to:
1. Read student papers
2. Finish my staging history rewrite
3. Read at least part of O'Neill's trilogy

That should be doable, right?

Ugh. I'll let you know.

Update: 11:16PM, Tuesday
1. 12 out of 16 done. 4 is a totally doable number of papers for tomorrow morning.
2. DONE! (and printed)
3. I read one and half plays . . . so I have about half to finish by Thursday afternoon. We'll see.

Now to sleep! So excited about that prospect.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cupcakes. What else?

So today I had a couple of errands to run in Bangor. I got what I needed...kind of. But I got a couple of things that made my day. One of those things is my new favorite cupcake-cessory.

September.




















I found September in the breast cancer awareness section of Kmart. Now, I have been to Kmart maybe two or three times in the last five years, but today I felt sure that they would have the cheapest food processor. They didn't, of course. Target did, but that's another point.

What they do have is this super-fantastic cupcake carrier! Now I don't have to precariously balance my Ikea platter on my arm while I make my way into the office. Now I have a handle! No more arm soreness! No more is-the-icing-getting-smooshed-by-the-seran-wrap concerns! I could even carry this into the office on a snow day. A SNOW DAY! That's unprecedented.

Here's September stocked with freshly baked Banana Chocolate Chunk cupcakes (with chocolate ganache on top!).


















These cupcakes are a super success and I can't wait to share them with my officemates tomorrow.

Oh, and, yes. I did name my cupcake carrier September. Don't ask me why. It just feels right.

Contradictory, a bit.

It was about Day 2 of my time in Maine that I realized that my life here is marked by contradictions. Me and Maine get along fine, but we certainly disagree on many things. For instance, Maine has a deep and abiding love for outdoor activity wear as day wear. In my opinion, if a shoe is appropriate for crossing a river or climbing a mountain, then said shoe is not at all right for either work or casual wear.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:


This summer I saw a guy in Starbucks (meeting a girl!!!) wearing a water shoe that made me gag a little. This water shoe had individual toes. That's right. Five of them. It was disgusting. Sadly, I can't find a picture of those...

Anyway, this is just one of the many things on which Maine and I do not see eye to eye.

But...today...I produced my own humorous contradiction. Dressed as if I belonged in Maine, I purchased gold, open-toed wedges. I was wearing a t-shirt, flannel Columbia shirt, and a knit beanie. And, I purchased shoes of the slut caliber that I will be lucky to wear more than once.

Exhibit C:


Exhibit D:












None of these things are at all like the other.

Ah, well. One of these days I will again live in an area that will not allow a flannel shirt out of the house.

Until then, I'll keep watching infommercials and baking cupcakes. Two things that are actually not too contradictory, actually.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I won't say that I quit...

but I'm not continuing the Five Bite Diet. As predicted, it was fun at the start, but today (Day 2) was just too much.

My buzz started to wear off when I couldn't even finish a small thing of yogurt for breakfast. For lunch, I created a mixture of salmon, salsa, and cheese to maximize the protein of a five bite lunch. Even then...I was still hungry.

So, I considered it a lesson learned, and had a bit more of my salmon concoction. Oh well! :)

And...since my roommate and I have 5 spotty bananas that we aren't going to eat as is, I tried a new Banana Oat Muffin recipe I found online. To really mix things up, I baked the muffins in the new super sweet flower shaped cupcake tin my mom sent me this week.


Cute, right? This tin is going to make some spectacular cupcakes. I'm seeing some nice colored petals with yellow centers. I'll post those cupcakes when they happen, of course.

In other news, I couldn't be more pleased to have reached the weekend. I've been dragging since the comp exam, so I'm hoping to catch up on both rest and work over the next couple of days.

My plan for the night is to stay on this couch, watch a movie, and perhaps even eat something!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Five Bites (Day 1)

I'm pleased to report that I survived the first day of my Five Bite diet. And, surprisingly, I'm not hungry.

Here -- because you can't pretend you aren't interested -- is my lunch. One egg + a bit of salsa & shredded cheddar cheese.














This is lupper. (Between lunch and supper, duh.) No real explanation necessary.


And this is dinner. I took one bite before I took the picture, but you can imagine what that bite looked like. In the end, the bites were too big and I cut off part of the last one. So, I ended up eating almost a full piece of pizza. And before you get judge-y, I made this pizza myself earlier this week with a ton of spinach and mushrooms and a whole wheat crust.















My observations so far:

- I don't need much more than five bites per meal, if any more at all.

- When I decided I was "hungry" and needed a snack, I moved on from that feeling by doing something else. Therefore, the snacking "hungry" is not a true hunger, and should probably be ignored.

- It is VERY hard for me to decide what to eat at any particular meal when I know that I can only have five bites total. Should I have a banana? That's quite a commitment... What about some yogurt? Again... a lot to sign on for.

- My groceries are going to last so much longer at this five bite pace. I'm going to need to start prioritizing based on expiration dates soon!

So, I'm still enjoying the new-ness of the Five Bite diet. However, I'm pleasantly surprised to be learning things about my own eating habits at the same time.

Onward and upward!

Five Bites

There is nothing more exciting than a new diet. For some reason, I absolutely love starting diets. Starting is fun! Starting is exciting! Starting is distracting! And new! (And not schoolwork!)

I've started more diets than I care to admit, and I actually do know what works. However, I'm not returning to what works today. Today I'm starting a new diet. :)

My roommate and I were talking about how we were going to revolutionize our lives after the comprehensive exam was done, and part of our discussion included brainstorming diets. I googled "fun diets" and if you want a laugh, go ahead and try that. According to the interweb, there is probably no such thing as a fun diet. What these sites don't account for is that ALL diets are fun the first few days. Still...I didn't want to do something ridiculous like cut out carbs. Or stop cooking. Or eat from boxes. Or restrict myself to things than can be juiced. The search continued.

In discussing all this with my mother, she mentioned the Five Bite diet. Usually the Five Bite diet is followed by people who have had weight loss surgery and lost a considerable amount, if not all, of their stomachs. I've always believed that if one could hold him or herself to the post-weight loss diet guidelines, then these diets wouldn't be as frequent. However, you can imagine how hard it would be to dramatically reduce consumption to the Five Bite diet if, in fact, five bites do not create a feeling of fullness.

So...a fun diet! Right?

I think so.

Allow me to explain. Each meal is limited to only five bites. Five bites of anything, but only five bites. Because five bites only gives so much food and nutrition, the Five Bite diet grants 4 meals a day rather than the All-American big three.

I'm sure you can already guess my first problem: A cupcake is a glorious seven bites. At least how I bite it.

But, this will only help me stick to the test-to-make-sure-it-isn't-offensive cupcake that I share with my roommate. At only three bites, the half cupcake will leave me two bites to use on...chicken or broccoli, or I don't know, I'll have to work on that.

Having finished the last of my Gifford's trial flavor (Peanut Butter Cookie Dough) last night, the Five Bite diet commenced this morning.

Let's just observe how much five bites of Count Chocula will give you:















That is not much cereal. And, yes, I know that Count Chocula is not the best cereal, but I was feeling very nostalgic the other day when I saw it in the grocery store for about a dollar. Yay, IGA! Anyway, I used soy milk, so at least I got a tiny punch of protein.

So far I'm feeling good. The cereal was wonderfully tasty and a clear reduction from my usual bowl.

I'll let you know how long the new diet buzz lasts. I know it can't be long...

Update: In my blog perusals today, I found out that yesterday was National Organization for Women's Love Your Body Day. Ha...apparently I missed out on that. What a perfect precursor to an absurdly restrictive diet!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Do I talk too much?

I ask this question largely because I have already reached my own conclusion.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. When I was really little, I was painfully shy. I didn't even smile in public, actually. Even if I wanted to smile - if I could feel it happening - I would bite the inside of my cheek to keep my lips from spreading. As I got a little bit older and continued through high school, I continued to repress most of my thoughts and feelings. I think there was just too much going on inside to even want to make sense of it outside.

In undergrad I found my footing. I made new friends for the first time since kindergarten. It took me four years, but I realized that I could make friends on my own and perhaps some people (some people) did actually enjoy my company. Becoming increasingly vocal, I joined the conversation.

Now in grad school, more is demanded of me than ever before. The academic bit is something, but the social/personal aspects are really having an effect on my presentation. Teaching and organizing and generally being an adult-type-person means that I am constantly talking. My throat gets dry much more often than I care to admit. Now it feels more like I unnecessarily dominate the conversation. And, by this I mean all conversations. Except in class. Well...some classes.

So, today while this conclusion lolled around in my head, as it has for the past few weeks, I came upon something interesting. While looking at the grade rubric for one of my grad courses this semester, I found that the rubric stipulates than an A student "listens listens listens and responds thoughtfully to class discussion."

I get it. Loud and clear.

I've been looking for a project recently, and I think I've now found it.

I'm going to listen three times (italicized) more than I respond. Because, honestly, I have demonstrated my ability to throw myself into the outspoken, chatty place. Now I need to sit back and moderate the voice I've found.

This can only mean good things.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thank God for Fall Break

Alright, I promised details of the UMaine M.A. in English Comprehensive Exam so here they are. In bullet and picture form.

Prep:
+ 30 text reading list (top shelf)














+ soothing craft to do the night before the exam (it's a necklace. of buttons. does this cement my quirky teacher persona once and for all?)














Test:
+ Essay 1: Tigger swirled yogurt, Paradise Lost, Phillis Wheatley, religious content's influence on literary form



















+ Essay 2: gay M&Ms, the Wife of Bath, Aurora Leigh, Judith Butler's theory of gender performance














+ Essay 3: ice water, burnt Dunkin Donuts coffee (large disappointment), New Negro anthology, part's importance to the whole



















+ Essay 4: vanilla chai tea (thanks, Beth!), Mary Rowlandson's captivity narrative, Frank O'Hara's poetry, Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, and the notion of literary national history














As you can see, the exam was obnoxious and not something I'd care to repeat but it's done. I'll know in three weeks whether I passed or not.

Ugh. And, in order to reestablish my life as my own, I'm baking cupcakes as I type.

I may also cruise the Columbus Day sales. Just for kicks.

I should be back to normal by 10am Wednesday. Let's hope. :)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Comp Exam Finale

For those of you keeping score,



I'm done!!!!


However, my fingers refuse to type anything more at this moment.

omg. revision.

So...I've been at this for 28 hours now, and I've got a complete first draft. Success!

Now the ginormous task of revision lies before me, but, really, that is small beans compared to the massive project of writing 4, 5-page essays.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Goodnight, Comp Exam

14 hours and 3 essays later, I'm going to bed. Details tomorrow.

36 minutes and counting

This is the worst kind of waiting room.

What's before me:

1 exam between me and the Masters in English.
4 questions that I will choose from a list of 10.
5 page essays in response to each of the 4 questions.
30 texts at my disposal.
20 texts that I am prepared to use.
48 hours to use as I please.

I almost wish this were a math test. :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

What Comprehensive Exam?

The exam starts in 10 hours and 47 minutes, and I'm actually looking forward to it in a let's-get-this-over-with way.

I'll let you know how long this era of good feeling lasts.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tango to Hell

The Tango Maureen is stuck in my head.

My 6:02am alarm did not go off this morning.

I have 5 student papers to grade. If any one of them fails, then I will have failed more students than I passed. Again.

I cleaned my room this weekend, but I just awkwardly found a cobweb while lying on my floor meditating.

I meditate.

I woke this morning to a text from my sister. She wanted me to pray for her accounting test. She sent her text at 8:54am.

My roommate brought me coffee and a blueberry cream cheese bagel at work today.

I made myself look like an idiot while sitting cross-legged in the presence of two faculty. The sitting had not much to do with it.

One of my students informed me of the fact that I am 'killing' him.

My comprehensive exam begins in 60 hours and 6 minutes.

I'm reading a book called Madapple. And a Churchill play called Vinegar Tom.

I need to read the cliffnotes on Ceremony.

On my calendar, Marilyn Monroe is looking at a calendar.

Yesterday I made pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese icing. Today I didn't eat them.

My comprehensive exam will be over in 108 hours and 2 minutes.

This post will be over right now.

At least I'll have tangoed at all.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I am a teacher.

Perhaps it's the ease with which I claimed the Border's educator discount this weekend, but I've been thinking about my style. And, I've come to the conclusion that I really am a teacher.


Not quite like this woman - and let's be honest, my students are also nowhere near this eager - but I find myself dressing in teacher-esque clothing. On and off the job. Allow me to lay it out for you.

Today I taught. So, my clothes were appropriately business casual. This is new for me this semester. My first year, I worked out the tortured humanities man chic. This meant a lot of oxford shirts, several ties, sweater vests and other layering pieces. A trusty sport coat. An ever-present pashmina scarf. And pants. Always pants. Every once in a while, I threw the ladies a teaser with a long strand of pearls on top of the otherwise man-ish clothing. I gained and maintained authority through my actions, not my clothes.

Back to this year - I rediscovered the glorious body shapes created by nice fitting women's clothes. And full on women's clothes, not just man-inspired women's pieces. So, this semester, I'm really dressing the part of a teacher.

Today I reached the high point, though, I think. I wore black dress pants (lined, even!), a colored wrap shirt with a delicate vertical stripe, a floral patterned sweater, and - get this - practical shoes. While it did contain two different patterns, the entire outfit was made up of black, white, and tan. Classy, but teachery as well. And about the practicality of the shoes... they are black flats and amazingly comfortable. They are perfectly teachery because I could probably wear them for several days (including brisk evening walks) and suffer no ill effects, however, their basic black flat-ness makes them acceptable for the lady interested in keeping up appearances.



And though I might still be a ways off from Doris Day's teacher look, I have found there are perks to dressing the part. For one, students hold doors open for me. Other teachers smile at me in the halls. That one really confused me for a while, I figured there must be someone behind me. Nope! Just me and the shared understanding of teaching these jokers.

In conclusion (You'll have to forgive me the phrase, I have 20 papers to grade tonight.), though my style is possibly becoming a bit staid in the classroom, there is an upside. My odd out of the classroom style is now just seen as an extension of my quirky teacher personality.

And, do you know what? I love being the quirky teacher.

Ah...and before I stop, one story from today's class.

I was teaching my students about Aristotelian argument, pathos to be specific. In order to illustrate the emotional appeal, I began explaining the oft referenced example of pandas on melting ice caps. I got a little bit annoyed at the student interrupting me AGAIN with his hand raised and his face skeptical.

Student: "Did you say 'pandas on melting ice caps'?"

Me: "Yes, the panda bear ice cap argument is one often used to elicit a reaction from people about global warming..."

"But..." he interrupts again, "don't you mean polar bears?"

"Yeah...what did I say?"

"You definitely said panda bears were on ice caps..."

"Ah...right, yes, we pity panda bears for their scarcity and their mating issues. Two bears with very different emotional responses."

We all had a good laugh over that one, but they won't forget pathos. :)

I also said, "We've all been under a president" and by an extreme exercise of will was able to not call myself out with "that's what she said" or another similar quip.

Ugh...so am I the most awkward quirky teacher or what?