Friday, 31 October 2008

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Okay, so I feel better after being a rockstar of a student today. I got up and made coffee and camped out at my desk for two hours reading essays, then went to the RAI and accidentally crashed a fellow's seminar on the post-Goodridge battle for marriage in Massachusetts. I didn't know it was a fellow's seminar, I just saw it on the schedule and thought it looked cool. And it turned out that David and I were the only randoms who showed up, which didn't at all stop us from grabbing sandwiches and fruit and staying for the seminar. Honestly, the paper wasn't that enlightening - if you were there protesting at the State House and regularly read the Globe, the play-by-play wasn't much of a revelation - but the dialogue afterwards was great. I should probably have expected that, seeing as they were all fellows, but there you go. (I got all excitable when one of them asked about the Hollow Hope and almost jumped into the discussion, which gives you some idea of the wonky streak that I keep bottled up inside myself.)

So that was my working lunch, and then I got back, read a couple of essays, and went to the gym, where I killed time on the elliptical by reading Amy Goodloe's "Lesbian Feminism and Queer Theory: Another 'Battle of the Sexes'?" and Sheila Jeffreys' "Queer Theory and Violence Against Women," then handily polished off today's NYT crossword before rowing until my arms stopped working properly. And then I jogged back and showered, made stir-fry, and watched a couple of episodes of Cory in the House over dinner, which felt productive even though it mostly revolved around watching an awful preteen sitcom for this project. I started reading the last two essays and couldn't do it, so I rocked downstairs for a break at Waugh Night and thought aloud about queer theory to friends of mine who did nothing to deserve this, and then came back upstairs recharged by ideas (and a little bourbon and port). And I finished off the last of the 300 pages, and now I feel sufficiently kick-ass again.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Missing Anything?

Yesterday night at LGBTSoc drinks, I was pouring some cocktails, tending some bar, and minding my own business when our outgoing president sidled up next to me and grabbed my arm.

"You are coming to PopTartz."

It was a question, except without a question mark on it.

"Um... yes?"

"Good. Because we need to do the handover ceremony. It's tradition."

I turned from the bar and wiped my hands on my pants. "And what's the tradition, exactly?"

He shrugged. "Mostly poledancing."

I put my foot down, because I'm classy that way. But on the upside, the fact that it was snowy and generally shitty outside meant that everybody (and I mean everybody, for better or for worse) ended up at PopTartz and then refused to leave. It was awesome. And because of that, my early bedtime was gradually pushed back to 2 in the morning. Ironically, the fact that I'm (temporarily) the (acting, interim) president of LGBTSoc means that I'll never be running for public office in my adult life, ever.

And I almost forgot about my early meeting today. Almost.

My alarm went off at 8 and I rocked down to a meeting with just about every important administrator in our college, where they asked me to take minutes and I couldn't very well say no, so I just stayed bent over my notebook, taking hits from my tiny cup of coffee as often as humanly possible. By the time it ended, I was ready for a nap. I collapsed in my room and, as if on cue, my phone lit up with a message from Dan and Dave, who were at OddBins and needed a letter from the MCR authorizing Dan to use the account. And I told them I'd be there ASAP, which is approximately how long it takes to design letterhead from scratch, write a formal sounding letter, run to the computer lab to print and sign it, track down a blank envelope, and run to OddBins to deliver it to our wine-buyers.

And by this point, it was lunchtime, so I met J. for pies at Pieminister (and tried the Wildshroom and Asparagus pie, which will probably not displace the Heidi pie as my all-time favorite, but was still really good). And when that ended, I realized that I had twenty minutes to get up to Banbury Road for a seminar, where I cracked open a can of Diet Coke and collapsed into my chair at the stroke of two. I had one almost insightful thing to say about Marc Bloch, which was actually pretty impressive when you consider that I read the book a week ago and hadn't had time to glance over it before class.

On the way back from the seminar, I got a text from Aaron asking if I was going to tea at Rhodes House and was like, meh, sure! and ended up staying longer than I probably should have. I got back, shucked off my clothes and changed for the gym, did an hour of cardio and a few minutes of rowing, and jogged back to shower. And when I got out, I rapidly got dressed and bounced out the door to meet a friend of mine from the Women's Studies MSt to go to the panel at the Union on positive discrimination, which was good. (I still have no idea what the difference between positive discrimination and affirmative action are, and don't really understand the nuances of the way that each party constructs its shortlists, but still, better than a nap.)

And then we walked to Sainsbury's and I picked up groceries and made dinner (because it was almost 10 at this point), and then I read two chapters of a collection of essays for my thesis because I TOTALLY NEGLECTED THEM for the past 24 hours. I read a whole book yesterday, so I don't feel that bad, but I'm still planning on a cloistered day tomorrow, which will either end with my diligently falling asleep on a pile of books or giving up and going to one of the two things I promised to attend tomorrow night. I figure I get one of these every month or two, and then it's back to things like reading feminist theory on the elliptical and editing journal articles while I eat breakfast.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Eyes Have It

This weekend, I finished watching all 55 episodes of Hannah Montana after two excruciating weeks and sat down to watch Big Fish, which is the first thing I've seen since Friends With Money that has absolutely nothing to do with princess ideology, the commodification and mass-marketing of female adolescence, or the Disney Channel.

If you haven't seen it, it's great. I was just sort of passively watching and enjoying it, and then all of a sudden, I did a double-take and could have sworn that the little girl in the group of kids hiking down to the swamp to steal the witch's glass eye was a very young Miley Cyrus. I tensed up and blinked a couple of times, but they didn't really show her again in the film and I couldn't tell if I was very perceptive or slowly going insane. And I didn't want to pipe up and ask if anyone else had just seen Hannah Montana hiding in the swamp, because that's a question that doesn't really have a good answer.

But I thought about this apropos of nothing this afternoon and checked IMDB, and lo, it is totally Miley Cyrus - billed at the time as "Destiny Cyrus," before she got famous enough to stop crawling around in muck and stealing body parts from old women and became a carefully pre-packaged pop culture phenomenon. And now I feel less crazy.

Monday, 27 October 2008


Chase sent this to me like a month ago, but I'm just putting it up because a) I've been on a domestic streak lately, and b) I just bought the entirety of Jay Brannan's album on iTunes (and Red Letter Year and Acid Tongue), thereby defeating the purpose of my birthday list.

(Also, c) the video is totally fucking adorable.)

Any Questions?

"The discussion of camp, authenticity and gay porn in Australia draws attention to the fact that queers' relationship to nationalism is not merely one of rejection and exclusion."

- Jon Binnie, The Globalization of Sexuality

And this is why I study what I study.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

The [Drawbacks] of Being a Wallflower

It's been a crazy week (starting my thesis, finishing start-of-term MCR stuff, accidentally becoming LGBTSoc president, etc., etc.), so I've been mostly AWOL from my computer and using my spare time to catch up with, you know, tangible people. Like today, when I grabbed coffee with Leslie at Blackwell's and we went to Sainsbury's afterward. She convinced me to get cod filets for dinner, and it was the closest I've come to setting my kitchen on fire.

The downside with all this socializing is that I'm feeling hella behind on my thesis, and that (and not being able to put down Julia Serano's Whipping Girl, which I'm in danger of reading until I finish it tonight) means that I decided to be lame and hibernate for the evening. I did this without realizing that the rowers were having cocktails downstairs, and that I'd basically be barricading myself against loud music, a thick fog of gin and sweat, and an army of undergrads who seem to spill more than they drink. It's times like these when it's nice to have two thick doors to your room.

When it's not nice is when you decide to take your contacts out, open both doors, and find two undergrads fucking on your doorstep. My room is the only one on the top floor, and it's just my door directly across from a windowsill. When I walked out, there was a girl sitting on my windowsill, and a guy standing in front of her with his back to me and his pants around his ankles. The guy turned his head and said, "oh, fuck" and I blushed and covered my eyes with one hand, and then he said, "dude, in or out!" and I panicked and thought, "in, in!" and ran back into my room and slammed the door. I took a deep breath, and then I was like, wait a minute, what? So I went back out and they were still at it, and the guy cursed again, and I was like, "I live here, and stop fucking on my landing," and padded down to my bathroom. But they were actually pretty apologetic when I passed them on the way back up, and didn't make too much of a mess except for a gigantic moat of gin in front of my door. It was pretty innocuous, and they were actually lucky that I'm not in a dry spell, or I might have just pushed them both out the window.

I sympathize, but seriously, kids. This is why public toilets and poorly-lit parks were invented.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Aww, SAD Times

"Since the days are getting shorter, the MCR is providing subsidized Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)."

I think they meant that they were providing the lights and not the crippling seasonal depression, but either way, £5 is a bargain.

Monday, 20 October 2008

In Which I Am Not Even the Hottest Thing in My Otherwise Unoccupied Building

I got back from the gym tonight, peeled off my shirt and socks, and plodded down to the shower on the third floor in my track pants. When I got there, the door to my bathroom was locked - which is unusual, because I'm the only person living in the stairwell, but it's not unheard of because the tearoom is downstairs and hey, everybody pees. I figured that it would probably be awkward when a total stranger popped out to find me half-naked in the stairwell, but it also seemed really childish to hide in my kitchen.

And then I heard something in my kitchen, and the door swung open and Jamie came out. She started to laugh and I shyly pulled my jeans and tee-shirt up to hide my half-nakedness, and I apologized because I'd always gotten away with nobody seeing me when I've trotted down in my shorts before. And then I changed the subject by asking how the curry she and Ed had made had turned out, and she said it went off without a hitch. (I know it's easy to make, but everything seems adventurous when your culinary ability runs the gamut from stir-fry to boiling vegetables with pasta, spiced up with the occasional bowl of cereal.)

As if on cue, the second doorway on the landing opened, and Ed and Mark came out, and I blushed a deeper shade of red and tried to cover more of myself with my bundle of clothes. And before we really had time to chat, the bathroom door opened and Dan popped out, and there I was, hanging out with everyone in the stairwell just like I do on a lot of evenings, except this time they were fully clothed and I was wearing nothing but track pants and getting sort of cold and blushing in many, many colors. I ducked into the bathroom to shower, and Dan kindly offered to prop the door if I wasn't done stripping in public. I declined.

Rural Populism Changes Everything

It's starting to look like the Forum poll that showed Obama up by 2 in North Dakota wasn't a total outlier (!), since a Research 2000 poll this week came up with Obama and McCain in a tie. Wha?

If Obama reopens his campaign office there, I'm seriously tempted to go back and volunteer for the week before the election, even though this is a) the worst possible timing in my term and b) completely impractical. Alternately, I'll probably just donate a bunch of that plane ticket money to the Democrats-NPL in North Dakota or the No on 8 campaign in California. I sent my absentee ballot, and I guess I'll also call my grandma to try to convince her not to vote for McCain, even though this means that I'll probably have to shatter the illusion that I can't call because I'm in England, and then I'll have to explain what Skype is, and then I'll be expected to call her every weekend for the rest of my life.

This is when I grit my teeth and mumble something about country first.

UPDATE: In wholly unrelated news, I stumbled over this feminist blog by women in North and South Dakota this afternoon, and it is tremendous.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Jenny Lewis!

It was probably a mistake to skip Ulf Hannerz's departmental seminar on anthropology and globalization (as I'm currently struggling to write a thesis on that, and failing), but I finished meeting with my supervisor yesterday and booked it to see Jenny Lewis in London because going to more shows is on the list of Things to Do Before They Make Me Get a Real Job.

The concert wasn't outstanding, but it was definitely worth the trip. I was trying to explain this to someone this morning - the band didn't seem that enthusiastic about the show, and left out any anecdotes or witty banter that usually make things like this fun, but the performance itself was really solid. She did end with See Fernando - which is maybe my favorite song from Acid Tongue - and her drummer is absolutely nuts and looks like a teenage version of a lunchlady and has the most expressive face I've ever seen, to the point where I was worried that she would either burst into tears or suddenly, violently, kill the bassist with her drumsticks. Or both. It was like watching somebody go through all the faces on those medical charts that rank pain on a scale of 1-10. So she was great, and since it's impossible to be mad at Jenny Lewis, I deemed it a success.

Anyway, I rocked back, brought scones and jam over to Julie and Zak's and saw their new place this morning, went grocery shopping for the queer brunch tomorrow, and then took a much-needed two-hour nap before the first Queer Studies Circle and the matriculation ball later tonight. I was just about to head out to the gym when someone asked if I could send out an agenda for a meeting tomorrow, and after doing that, I don't have enough time for a full workout before QSC. After Love Bar, the presidential debate, staying up to finish a 200-source bibliography for my thesis, and the concert in London yesterday, it's probably better that I took a breather, but I do hate nap/gym tradeoff days.

Friday, 17 October 2008

I Blame Breakfast at Tiffany's

"I'm going to a concert in London, then hustling back to get sleep before a housewarming breakfast at 9:30 in the morning."
"Are these Americans?"
"Yeah, why?"
"Americans are the only people I know at Oxford who plan social events before noon."

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

What I Did For Love


So Dick Cheney is getting a heart operation and Nancy Reagan has been hospitalized with a broken pelvis. The death of a prominent politician tends to trigger selective amnesia and sympathy from the public, and it seems suspiciously like the GOP is trying to off iconic Republicans as the October Surprise. Stop! Nobody has to die, guys!

Important Life Lessons, October 13-19

It is surprisingly difficult (or, you know, flat-out impossible) to draw up a reading list on globalization, diffusion, gender, sexuality, social movements, the Philippines, transgenderism, domesticity, religion, urbanity, Marxism, poverty, and development - basically, the whole of anthropology. It turns out that there is a great deal of anthropology floating around nowadays, and while the upside is that I have about 100 sources for my thesis, the downside is that I don't think I'm supposed to have that many before reading or following up on the footnotes in any of them. And that I'm supposed to present this to my supervisor in like 48 hours.

(To procrastinate, I a) voted absentee, b) got tickets to see Jenny Lewis in London, and c) did my first obligatory night of bartending/clubbing for LGBTSoc yesterday. It was insanely packed, and by the end, there was so much alcohol spilled on my hands and forearms that I could have performed reasonably sterile surgery on someone on the bar.)

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

It's All in the Vowels

R: "Hey, McCain is finally in the New York Times crossword puzzle."
E: "What's the clue?"
R: "Senator McCain."
E: "And the answer?"
R: "John."
E: "..."
M: "It's a Monday."

Monday, 13 October 2008

Your Mangled Back

I blanked and totally forgot about my first lecture today - not mandatory, but there's a seminar series on human rights and I'd sort of planned to attend - which is probably not a great way to kick off the term. Instead of "learning," I spent the day hunched over my desk banging out a reading list for my thesis and listening to the new Ani CD, which is super-good. (And then I went to the gym for an hour and realigned my back and listened to the Gossip so I don't develop spinal or psychological problems.)

My room gets a lot of sunshine (for England, this is relative) and my desk faces the door, so my room is a way pleasant place to work this year compared to last year. But today I ran into Daniel in the computer room mid-afternoon and he pointed out that I was wearing socks, and I realized that I hadn't put on shoes at all because I hadn't left the building.

I live in a bioturret, like a cross between Quasimodo and Pauly Shore. Except blessedly different.

I have a kitchen, a bathroom, and a computer lab. The mail and newspapers are delivered downstairs. At 1pm, everyone I know shows up for lunch and the BBC in the tea room, which I usually attend in my socks. If I absolutely need to, I can jog across the quad for a) laundry, b) tech support, c) a nurse, or d) the spiritual aid of our chaplain, who I mostly visit so we can drink tea and play with her cats, not because of any sense of existential despair. (One is a tabby!) It's all very self-contained. Unless I run out of groceries or there's a fire, I'm pretty much set - and even then, they've got food in Hall, and since there's really no fire escape from my room, I'd probably just sigh and stay put. If they ask me to start ringing any bells, though, all bets are off.

Today's Opening Salvo

"Firstly, a very warm welcome to everyone who has joined us in the paradise of attrition we like to call Oxford, and welcome back to everyone stupid enough to come back to this place."

I love that this is what greets me when I open my inbox in the morning.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Freshers' Fortnight, Check

Tonight was the JCR Bop, and for it to be a bigger success than last year, I had to:

a) not lose my jumper, and
b) not have the most awkward hook-up of my life.

It is 12:40am, I've succeeded at both objectives, and I'm back in my room with my kitchen and bathroom locked so that everyone who stumbles into the MCR by mistake will only puke on the landings and not in my fridge or shampoo. Really, all I had to do to pull this off was to stay fully clothed all night, but it worked and I'm un poco proud of myself.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Why I'm AWOL

See, this is why it pays to have Google Alerts for yourself, even if it is totally narcissistic:

First, I wrote an article for the Advocate on the way queer issues would be treated under an Obama or McCain administration - it doesn't go to print until the November 4th issue, but it's online now. (It's also the Advocate's poll topic for this month, so if you feel strongly about it, that's here.)

Secondly, the project I'm doing on Hannah Montana and the Suite Life of Zach and Cody made it onto a Disney fan site, but the actual advertisement for the colloquium is also up. How fun is that? I've stopped telling people that I'm watching three episodes of Hannah Montana a day, and when someone asks what I've been doing, I've started lying and saying I was upstairs napping. I have about two days until everyone begins to think I've got chronic fatigue syndrome.

Betty White for President

This is the best video, ever.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Up in Smoke

When I was flying through Duty Free in September, I spotted a carton of cigarettes for like $15, and I was like, hell, a pack of cigarettes costs like $10 in the UK, I would be a fool not to buy these. So I did, and now I've got 200 Lucky Strikes in my cupboard.

The only problem is that I don't smoke.

Occasionally - like, very occasionally - I'll have a cigarette if I'm out clubbing or with a big group of smokers at a bar somewhere. (Or if I happen to be in Peru, where I smoked constantly for no apparent reason.) But because I'm not a smoker, I only smoke when someone politely offers me a cigarette, which I never reciprocate, ever. I'd be that terribly obnoxious guy who's always bumming cigarettes off people, except I never ask for them and only smoke them when they're passed in my direction. But I had grandiose visions of me actually carrying half a pack with me out to a bar and then giving them to people and being like a cross between Santa Claus and the Marlboro Man. And with the rate that I smoke, that carton of cigarettes would probably last me for like two or three years.

Now it turns out that even social smoking is bad for you and messes up your arteries, so I should probably stop. I hope my family doesn't mind that they're all getting cigarettes for Christmas.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Pop Quiz

Ow. Tonight was Quiz Night in the MCR, where six teams squared away on rounds of African geography, washing machine symbols, cryptic pictures, taste-testing different flavors of crisps, Britain, incredibly obscure music trivia, general knowledge (and by 'general,' I mean 'defining words like hypocaust,' which is not the genocide of hippopotamuses), and bad teen movie dialogue. Guess which round I was in charge of writing!

So here are the questions, and the answers are below:

1. "Okay, so you're probably going, 'Is this like a Noxzema commercial or what?' But seriously, I actually have a way normal life for a teenage girl."
2. "You are cheerleaders. Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded."
3. "I feel just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. You know, except for the whole hooker thing."
4. "In America, we have laws. Laws against killing, laws against stealing. And it is just accepted that as a member of American society, you will live by these laws. In West Canaan, Texas, there is another society which has it's own laws. Football is a way of life."
5. "Love's a bitch, Duck. Love's a bitch."
6. "Don't mess with the bull, young man. You'll get the horns."
7. "I've been killing myself for eight days and I gained a pound."
"That's impossible. Did you deduct sixteen pounds for your shoes?"
8. "You realize we're all going to go to college as virgins. They probably have special dorms for people like us."
9. "Hello, Katarina. Make anyone cry today?"
"Sadly, no. But it's only 4:30."
10. "Whoever said orange is the new pink was seriously disturbed."

You know what's amazing? Most groups got like 6 of them, but one of the teams got 10 out of 10. I don't even think I could do that, because I would almost definitely trip up on the love's a bitch quote. (The rest are semi-intuitive, if you're one of the rare people who would give these a lot of time and careful consideration. If that's the case, I think you're wonderful.) I wandered over to their table and was like, 'so, um, which one of you knows a somewhat alarming amount about the worst films of the 1980s and 1990s?' and two people raised their hands and I was like, right, you are my new best friends.

And then I went to bed early because I didn't feel good, and now I'm completely awake at 4:30am with a generalized ache all over my body, which may be from kicking my ass at the gym for two days in a row after a three month hiatus, but may also be because I haven't shaken whatever almost killed me in the Philippines. I figured I just had the persistent cold that everyone in Oxford eventually catches in autumn that you just learn to live with until spring, but now I'm like incapacitated. Ow.

Meep, here are the answers:

1. Clueless
2. Bring It On
3. She's All That
4. Varsity Blues
5. Pretty in Pink
6. The Breakfast Club
7. Romy and Michele's High School Reunion
8. American Pie
9. 10 Things I Hate About You
10. Legally Blonde

Why Grad Students Shouldn't Be Allowed to Hook Up

"A year ago, I had that disastrous hookup with the first of the Dans."
"Which one was the first one?"
"I can't remember his last name."
"No, pretty sure it wasn't Cruickshank."
"Well, it was something between Cruickshank and Panopticon."

Rock and Roll, It's... Tuesday.

Because Tuesdays are when everyone on the Rhodes goes to the Turf and when LGBTSoc has its weekly drinks, it tends to be my night on the town every week. (And this is the perk of being a graduate student and being able to wake up at 10 or 11 on a Wednesday morning. Or 1 in the afternoon.)

But yesterday night was jazz and cocktails, one of the biggest draws on the MCR's calendar. They hire a jazz band, make sexy cocktails that nobody has heard of since the Wilson administration, and generally make it a classy affair. Clearly, this takes precedence. I showed up and reluctantly decided on an El Diablo (it was tequila-based, which is a bright, bright red flag, but it was one of the only cocktails that didn't have something weirdly savory like basil or sea salt), but then dodged that bullet when I changed my mind and ducked out for a few minutes with Brian and Chase to go over and see the incoming scholars at the Turf.

I met one of them. Check!

For the rest of the time, I caught up with everyone - like, everyone - who I hadn't seen since I got back to Oxford. I sat with Brian and Chase and talked about how-we-met narratives and Middle Eastern anthropology and Sarah Palin. I saw Leana and got to hear about her trauma rounds in South Africa, which sounded sufficiently traumatic. As we were being jostled around in the stairwell, Taylor and I talked about the difference between having to be in the middle of nowhere and choosing to be in the middle of nowhere. And I gave a lot of man-hugs and overzealous embraces and it was great.

But then the Turf closed, and I remembered that Debs was coming back to visit before going to York for her PhD, so I popped back to jazz and cocktails to see her before it ended. The band was just finishing at that point, and the cocktail bar had closed, so it turns out that I got all glammed up in my jazz and cocktails attire (copious midnight blue and black and silver! minimal buttoning and rolled-up sleeves! ankle boots!) to go across the street to a pub and drink cider all night, then roll upstairs at 2am to watch the presidential debate. But by every objective metric, the night was a success. (My metrics include: it was like a This is Your Life of my favorite people, I inherited a bunch of peaches from the cocktail bar, and I learned a little bit about tax policy. Not bad for a Tuesday.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Because Disney, Like Cockroaches, Will Survive

As the global economy collapses and everything generally goes crazy, I'm doing a project on the ideological underpinnings of Hannah Montana. I think it's too kind to even say that this is like Nero fiddling while Rome burns, because I'm just watching somebody fiddle. And by 'fiddle,' I guess I mean 'possibly just lip-sync and gyrate energetically.'

Monday, 6 October 2008

The Graduation List

I'd like to stay at Oxford for another two years after this to do a DPhil, I think, but it's still quite possible that I'll bomb my thesis and they'll show me the door to the real world in June. With that in mind, I've been thinking about stuff I want to do this year while I can still chalk things up to Getting an Education and Not Just a Degree.

- impulsively visit Greece
- learn to read tarot cards
- meet fifty fascinating people
- successfully cultivate a warm, womblike living space
- publish
- get a solid grasp of all the theorists I've faked knowing for years
- learn to do cryptic crosswords
- do something political that feels like it makes a difference. Bonus if it's militantly political and involves placards, rallies, or the possibility of arrest.
- finally see Ani DiFranco in concert, in a yet-to-be-determined city
- read at least two books a month that have absolutely nothing to do with my degree
- learn about and/or drink a lot of pretentious wines
- write my thesis

I feel obligated to put that last one on there.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Nostalgia, Much?

I can't believe I forgot to delete this.

To Italy, With Love

In my early, early days of blogging - like, about five years ago, using Xanga before I was even on Blogger - I backpacked across Italy for eight weeks as a researcher-writer for Let's Go. It was pretty much the best job ever for a scrappy, bright-eyed nineteen year old who'd never left the country. I got to see a ton of tiny towns along the way, but the tradeoff was that I missed Milan, Florence, Turin, and other big cities that weren't on my route.

This weekend, I had a retreat outside of Milan, in Stresa, at the hotel where most of A Farewell to Arms is set. (And now I have to read A Farewell to Arms, but whatever.) We got a bit of free time, but mostly we stuck around the hotel and learned stuff. This was fine, as it was a totally sweet, totally five star hotel, and everyone at the retreat was lovely.
So we got to spend a grand total of two hours in Stresa. My mission for the weekend was to hunt down gelato - straciatella or bacio, preferably - to relive my summer of eating gelato, oh, twice a day, sometimes instead of meals. I went hiking up through Stresa with a couple of the other people on the retreat, then ducked away as we reentered the city center to find gelato. (It was probably better that I did it alone. I was kind of a man possessed.) Anyway, I found it, and I got a scoop of each and I devoured it along the shore of Lake Maggiore and I was basically totally and completely content with my life and the universe and my existence at that moment. And that, for only two Euros.
So this was Lake Maggiore. Totally beautiful.
And this was Isola Bella, where we had dinner on Friday.
I like this guy. Way to drink at noon, sir.
I spent most of the working portion of the weekend in this villa. We got the room on the terrace, which was great until we were attacked by a single bee who drove us all inside. We're a pretty rugged bunch.
The chandelier in my room, which was pretty much never on because I was a) out, b) enjoying my bathtub, or c) watching post-VP debate updates.
Sigh. I think I need to go back to Italy at some point.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

"That is Friggin' Hot!"

Also, I've been all morose for the past couple of days about everyone leaving, but the incoming grad students are actually pretty awesome. Proof? Yesterday, this guy who lives across the courtyard from me invited me over for raspberry echinachea tea and we hung out, and then I went to President's Drinks (albeit in my pajamas and drinking a screwdriver, because I'm sick and I think orange juice is still supposed to help when it's combined with one part vodka) and spent about an hour talking with this girl about Flava of Love, the Hills, Hogan Knows Best, and the Girls Next Door. Like, not just reality TV, but the dregs of reality TV. I told her this in a moment of frankness (too frank? too soon?), but she reminds me of Anna Farris. And that is magical.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Empty Threats

If my bank in the UK and my bank in the US can't figure out which of them lost $150 in that inexplicably botched wire transfer in July (both are currently blaming Wachovia, because hey, why not?), I'm closing out my accounts on Monday. And being $8000 richer, I plan to spend it on iTunes downloads, because Jay Brannan, Dar Williams, and Jenny Lewis all have new(ish) CDs I want. I cracked and bought the Jay Brannan one today, but I will buy it twice, because you can do that when you have $8000 dollars. And just to be a bitch, I might tell everyone I did it because of the financial crisis and spark a bunch of bank runs and a generalized sense of panic. You deserve it, jerks.