Thursday, 31 December 2009

Limping Into 2010

So because I'm theoretically on vacation this week, I decided that I would only do work from 10-2 and 5-6 and that in between, I could totally chill out enough to go ice skating in Central Park with David. Two things: David is a better ice skater than I am, even though I grew up on the prairie and am theoretically bred for excellence where flatness and subzero temperatures are concerned. Also, my skates ended up slicing into the back of my ankles, and now I have a bloody hole on one leg that had better not get infected because I have no idea whether I have health insurance and will probably just end up amputating it myself. Or I will make Joe Lieberman do it. But it did feel nice to leave the apartment and settle down for a little bit, especially because the north side of Central Park is beautiful in the winter. It kind of made me want to try running around the perimeter of the park in the spring - I already easily run from 59th to 80th and back again, so with enough practice, I feel like that is not an unreasonable goal. Or it is an unreasonable goal, but that is what New Year's Resolutions are all about.

Speaking of which, my resolutions for 2010:

1) I'm going to keep up the vegetarianism, which I am going to overlay with a greater emphasis on whole foods and fewer baked goods and artificial ingredients. The exception is Luna Bars, because I have about two dozen of them stashed in a drawer and my men's vitamins don't give me the estrogen I need to live my daily life.
2) I'm also going to try to be less self-centered - I'm going to be less self-promoting, do things where I receive absolutely no credit, and be more thoughtful towards others. This seems vague, but there are specific, actionable ways that I want to do this. (Joining Twitter last month seems counterproductive in this respect, but whatever.)
3) Try running around Central Park, because I'll either be proud of myself or learn an important lesson about not making impulsive, potentially grueling resolutions, and I basically win either way.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Silent Night

Nothing kills Christmas like when your grandmother causally asks how your job is going and you misinterpret this as an invitation to talk about genocide and homophobia in Uganda for a full five minutes. Merry Christmas, folks.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Quote of the Day

Somehow, I only do quotes of the day when I'm home in Fargo:

"You should try this juice. It's awesome."
"I don't believe juice can be awesome."
"Okay, fine. The major drawback is having to cover up your erection afterwards."

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The Fall of Man

I'm having a terrible day, and spent my morning laundering, vacuuming, bagging, and sterilizing everything in my apartment while trying to set up two events for work and then dragging everything across two boroughs only to get stuck in a bus door and yelled at by the driver. This is one of those days where every part of my life is kind of going badly.

Now, I'm at LaGuardia, where every flight so far has been overbooked and it sounds like we're being delayed for an hour, which will almost certainly make me miss my flight at O'Hare and probably spend the night in the airport. There is like no food in this terminal because LaGuardia was designed by M.C. Escher and the TSA, the airline employees are yelling at passengers and each other, a very loud and uncomfortable racial episode just broke out at Gate C11, the bathroom is so gross that I went in the disabled stall and justified it because I am emotionally disabled, and my 20 min. of free internet courtesy of Lufthansa are about to run out. If this is the last you hear from me as this devolves into presocial anarchy, know that it's been fun.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Why My Partner is Not a Rapper

My humps, my humps /
My humps are on fire /
Get into my trunk!

- Yesterday, on the subway platform on 59th and 5th.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

It Is Hard Getting in the Holiday Season When it is 100 Degrees in Your Apartment

I just bought $30 worth of baking supplies at Whole Foods and have spent the past two hours churning out sugar cookies like a Keebler Elf on crystal meth. Because I get carried away with things like this, I even ran down the street for a bottle of vanilla extract that was probably manufactured in the 1940s (it refers to "youngsters" on the bottle) to make my own frosting. I also bought organic magenta and neon green sprinkles, only to realize at the very end that I have probably eaten about a bowl's worth of frosting and that my little pot of green sprinkles is responsible for the odd, lingering scent of freshly mown grass that has been bothering me for the past two hours. I will force everyone at my holiday party to eat five of these things.

Monday, 14 December 2009


"How was your day?"
"I can't figure out if I have health insurance and I still have about 50 pages of UN documentation to read tonight to figure out what it's like to be transgender in Cote d'Ivoire."
"I spent all day with a registered sex offender."
"We should go back to our high school and show them what you can achieve when you work hard."

File This Under Things I Don't Need Right Now

Ugh, I hope I don't have bedbugs. This would actually ruin my life. I'm nervous because the apartment downstairs is getting sprayed tomorrow, and I noticed a bunch of tiny, itchy welts on my arm when I was in DC this weekend. This is the first time in my life that I've prayed that there's a nest of brown recluses in my bed.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

We're 1/10 of the Way to Victory!

So Uganda just dropped the death penalty and life imprisonment for homosexuality, which is objectively good for the human rights regime and also validates about 100 hours of my life. The downside is that the bill is still pretty terrible, and a lot of the groups who had been fighting it because it was crazy repressive might not be quite as invested now that it's just extremely repressive and not straight-up killing everybody. If you or anyone you know is a member of Uganda's Parliament, I'd like to go on record as saying that I still don't think this is a very good idea.

Monday, 7 December 2009


The most useful thing about having a lazy eye is that when someone at a party is like, "you have beautiful eyes," you can be like, that is objectively false and now I have to go because that's the tell that you're trying to get in my pants. This is especially telling when you've already made many, many awkward attempts to desexualize the conversation:

"You have such thick hair."
"I think it's actually just windy outside."

"I love that shirt on you."
"Oh. Blue is the only color that makes my skin look normal."

"You're so skinny - what size are your jeans?"
"Meh, I bought them abroad. I don't think they have a size."

I'm lucky that I'm dating David because I just realized that I'm kind of a bitch at parties.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Meh, Sounds About Right

I put all the bare facts of my life on Facebook, and this is what some supercomputer decides I need.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


I decided that today was my last day of running in the morning in Central Park, partially because a) it was cold and I can't be bothered to buy actual running clothes, and b) it is December, and running in December makes Al Gore cry. Instead, I'm planning to trade running for sleeping for an extra 45 minutes every morning. I'm not exactly sure how these things are comparable, except that bears seem to do this and I'm not about to pick any fights with bears.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

A Three Hour Tour

I tried making vegetable and barley risotto yesterday with portobello steaks. I accidentally bought wheat berries. Did you know that making risotto out of wheat berries takes approximately two hundred hours? Neither did I, until I served my boyfriend dinner just in time to watch SNL. In the meantime:

- My roommate watched a movie "with several breaks."
- My boyfriend designed a website.
- Someone arrived, unpacked, and moved in across the street.
- I sang the entire cast albums of A Little Night Music, Company, and Follies.
- I fogged up the apartment until everything condensed and it began to rain indoors.
- I ate two bowls of cereal because I was too hungry to wait for dinner.
- I washed dishes three times.
- I started to hallucinate in the sweat lodge I'd created over the stove.

I sort of resent any meal that takes so long that it would have been easier to work at minimum wage for a fraction of the time and just buy the stupid thing myself. It was kind of good, though.

Friday, 27 November 2009

That's a Dealbreaker

So I just found out that my boyfriend is not remotely interested in the Muppets. YOU THINK YOU KNOW A PERSON. He was not even impressed when I found the Muppets vs. Sesame Street soundtrack on iTunes, because it turns out that he thinks that Sesame Street trains children to be audiovisual learners and sets them up for a life of being zombies.

I, on the other hand, am more or less proving his point by giving up on all of my productive work this evening to watch old clips of Dr. Teeth and Janice singing blues standards on the Muppet Show. I'm doing this with headphones in, except it is not working because I am so tempted to sing along to Movin' Right Along because I still remember all of the words from when I was eight:

(My childhood was also profoundly shaped by The Muppets Take Manhattan, especially this part where Rowlf flips shit on the piano. Rowlf was always my favorite because even as a first grader I felt like he was totally underappreciated.)

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

"Whoever invented the iron needs to die."

- My boyfriend, worried that he is not hegemonic enough for Lee's Thanksgiving party and ironing a sweater.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Queer Thanksgiving

When I was on the board of the BGLTSA, we invented this holiday called Queer Thanksgiving which is basically like a traditional Thanksgiving except that it's a potluck and everybody brings foods they think are awesome instead of bringing food that conventionally invokes the end of November. (Past highlights have included kugel, fried plantains, and whole chickens.) For no apparent reason, I became obsessed with the idea of breaking in the apartment with our own Queer Thanksgiving this year.

And we did! I invited a bunch of my friends, and then Brady was coming home on Saturday and realized that a pair of twins that he went to college with just moved into the apartment below us in our seven-unit building. And he invited them, and I was like, good, because this is Queer Thanksgiving, and nothing says Queer Thanksgiving like an unexpected set of twins. (Preferably as guests, but a guest going into labor and suddenly and dramatically giving birth would be appropriate for the occasion as well.)

It was four hours of awesomeness with some of my favorite people ever, and a spread that was so shockingly good that I think I actually distended my belly. Because the foods are so unpredictable, the anchor for Queer Thanksgiving has traditionally been vegetarian chili, and I made a vegan chili recipe that is a) about the easiest recipe ever, and b) so good that even Brady said he liked it after vowing to hate it because it was vegan. David mixed a bag of blue corn tortilla chips with whole wheat tortilla chips that we made ourselves using such tools as "Pam" and "a microwave," and there were Queer as Yolk deviled eggs, a crazy delicious sweet potato and swiss chard gratin, pumpkin bread, a festive salad, hummus and brie and homemade guacamole, sweet potatoes and marshmallows, canned cranberries, a cornbread recipe that Mischa makes but Emma brought to Thanksgiving, fruit cups, and enough red wine to anesthetize a whale.

I think everyone had a blast. At some point, I tried to explain how I knew everyone and how a bunch of the guests knew each other, but it became too hard to do without a chalkboard and I gave up. Which was good, because then the twins arrived and it turned out that they were friends with the older sister of one of my guests, who I only knew because she's friends with my brother's best friend from Macalester (who was also there, and who I lived with in early September) and four years ago when I was living in New York, we saw Dar Williams and got pancakes together. This is how lifelong bonds are forged.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

I Should Grocery Shop More Often

David and I were going grocery shopping to get stuff for vegan chili for our Queer Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I glanced up on 9th Avenue and realized that I was looking into the face of Cheyenne Jackson. And then I spent the next five minutes gushing to David about how I think that people playing Canadians are inherently sexy and how his jawline is even squarer in real life than it is on TV or the Xanadu soundtrack and how maybe he lives in my neighborhood and we can become best friends. This can be filed under "Things Your Boyfriend Does Not Like During Your One Year Anniversary Weekend."

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Being a Grown Up is Kind of Exhausting

I've been working on this protest tomorrow like a crazy person, which is extra stressful because I have a major deadline at the end of the week that I want to meet so that I'm not totally intolerable when David and I celebrate our one year anniversary this weekend. I got back from meetings tonight around 9pm and was so tired that I literally ate two fistfuls of bon bons and fudge for dinner.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

A Very Paula Deen Birthday

The first sign my boyfriend knows me too well: David showed up this weekend with a box of Funfetti mix and a can of frosting in his bag. The second sign my boyfriend knows me too well: the next morning, we had a cup of egg batter left over from french toast, and he proposed making french toast out of birthday cake. You would think that the frosting would burn in the pan, but no. It just fuses with the egg to make a kind of hybrid awesomeness membrane. It was delicious.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

No Teflon Poisoning in 2010!

Me: "I just added 'digital recorder' to my list of depressing things I asked for for Christmas."
Intern: "What else is on the list?"
Me: "A jogging armband. Luna Bars. A frying pan."
Intern: "Um, a frying pan is important."
Me: "Don't patronize me."

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Birthday Success

I have been popping Advil like Pez today.


I turned 24 surrounded by drag queens at Halloqueen, and I turned 25 somewhere in Delaware on a seven hour bus ride from DC back to New York. Progress! I will probably turn 26 under a bridge.

But the upside is that camping was a blast - with enough fire and carbohydrates, you can withstand a surprising amount of cold. The campsite was like if Burning Man mated with a bear, and that bear was a member of a frat. We got out to the campsite and they were dishing up scraps of the 300 pound pig they had ordered, and they were like, "here, have the remains of this barrel of coleslaw and this massive pan of beans" and instead I had cake and s'mores for dinner. (The cake had bacon in it, which I studiously and successfully avoided.) We played some harmonica, I bumped into a guy I went to college with, we hung out around the fire and made s'mores, there was a bluegrass band, and there are photos of us riding a rocking horse at some point? The cake was half buttercream, and I woke up in the middle of the night and was torn between getting out of my sleeping bag and being exceedingly cold and staying put and possibly being $3 wine and s'more sick in a tent full of people. I decided on the sleeping bag and just focused really, really hard on contracting my stomach muscles selectively and eventually fell back asleep, and then in the morning we packed up the tent and had avocados and chevre and flax bread, because a) it turns out that we can put together a tent, which surprised me, and b) it turns out that it was the yuppie tent, which did not. (I had a tiny packet of Via and a couple of emergency packets of Sweet n' Low in my jacket that I did not have to use. I am a well-educated MacGyver.)

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The More You Know

B: "So where are you guys going camping?"
R: "I don't know, somewhere in rural Virginia."
B: "Didn't you learn anything from Eliza Dushku in Wrong Turn?"
R: "Honestly, no."
B: "It's Appalachia. The Hill People lay barbed wire across the road and then kill you when you walk for help."
R: "I'll keep that in mind."
B: (Sighs.) "If you blow out all four tires, call me immediately for help. Do not get out of the car. I'll be in the city, where it's safe. Hill People don't go into the city."
R: "Thanks."
B: "Oh, yeah, and have fun camping."

Friday, 6 November 2009

Things You Do Not Remember

I've watched V for Vendetta on both of the last November 5ths, but I blanked on Guy Fawkes day this year - partially because I met Emma for dinner at Roots and Vines and then saw Jemina Pearl and Islands at the Bowery Ballroom, and partially because I wasn't helpfully reminded by fireworks exploding directly outside my window. Literally the only thing you are supposed to do on Guy Fawkes Day is remember it, and I couldn't even do that. Sorry, Natalie Portman.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Seasons Change

I went to Starbucks on my way home from work, a focus group, and a very long and ambulatory conference call that I was on from 29th and 5th to 56th and 9th, and I looked around and all of the cups had turned red. And I realized that one year ago, I was walking back from a celebratory breakfast feeling good about the country but upset about a certain referendum repealing same-sex marriage, and realized that the cups had turned red. Well, turn, turn, turn.

I've thought about not blogging anymore, partially because doing fieldwork at a 9-to-5 job and writing a dissertation by night leaves precious little time for snarky updates about my life. And I feel like this blog has served different purposes throughout my life - exhibitionism, vengeance, bragging, self-promotion, preserving memories, communicating with friends, etc., etc., but I'm finding that as I grow older, I'm finding more nuanced and mature strategies for shameless self-promotion. It's been such a huge thing over the past few years that I'm not really ready to cut the cord yet, but I do always wonder why I keep blogging on the rare occasions that I go a week without it and don't miss it at all.

(In that week, I finished tons of stuff at work and I was a zombie for Halloween and there was sweat and glitter and blood and I saw a female Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ironically almost die in a sewer grate and I found a library to work at and wrote an pointed letter to the New York Times and was sad about the elections but still hopeful and today, I saw red cups. That is all.)

Monday, 26 October 2009

Learning to Embarrass Yourself in Public

Man: "You two really know Chicago."
Me: "We spent most of the summer of 2001 practicing approximately 400 times."

One of the skills that Brady and I did not expect to acquire at debate camp in Iowa was the ability - eight years later - to flawlessly and show-stoppingly belt "We Both Reached for the Gun" in a piano bar in Manhattan. Very marketable! (I'm including the James Naughton clip because we both do it so much better than Richard Gere.)

I'm Full of Good Ideas!

David and I went to see Kirsten Gillibrand at the LGBT Community Center yesterday. She was so likeable! We also went to see Sister Spit and I developed an intensely passionate crush on Michelle Tea. If Kirsten Gillibrand joined Sister Spit and they did lesbian-feminist performance art at the US Capitol, I would basically be the happiest person alive. (Sometimes I think this is what Tammy Baldwin is actually doing and it is deeply inspiring.)

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Marry Me

Cubbyhole is the best bar ever. Within fifteen minutes of arriving with Abby and Emma, I made friends with a woman who offered to buy me a hamburger, ruffled my hair, said that I don't have any body fat, kissed me goodbye twice, and told me she'd have to give me a job at her university when I finish my PhD. She literally found every part of my personality and made it feel good.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

PhD Quote of the Day

"This level of personal involvement is important to the direction that this work has taken - a less involved observer would be unlikely to appreciate the embodied thrill of participating in cooking in a communal cafe for a hundred people, building a sadomasochistic play space out of found objects, or facing a line of riot police dressed in pink and silver gender-ambiguous drag" (Brown 2007: 2686).

This will be a footnote in my methodology section if it kills me.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Hard Knock Life

The highlight of my evening yesterday was when Brady, Emma, and I were getting ready to leave Musical Mondays, and then this came on and Emma got so excited that she almost tipped over the table. Orphanages are so whimsical!

This can be filed with Hogan's Heroes, Oliver!, and Pretty Woman under "People Having Fun Under Objectively Un-Fun Circumstances." Appropriately, it was followed by Newsies, the most upbeat musical ever about striking child laborers. And I have obviously had this stuck in my head all day.

Monday, 19 October 2009

'Til Death

On Friday, I was getting ready to take Lee's poodle, Tabitha, out for a walk and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror across the hall from the elevator. As I stood there in my corduroy jacket, balancing the poodle tucked under my arm with a cup of coffee in the other, it suddenly struck me that this is exactly what I'm going to look like when I'm 30. I actually think that's pretty awesome - shortly thereafter, I had to restrain Tabitha when she tried to attack a woman in a fur coat in a Century 21 advertisement on the side of a bus, and then we went home and played tennis and I had the kind of good (if one-sided) conversation that I typically have with dogs. We have a lot in common, as I learned we are both afraid of jackhammers and sometimes run into walls.

The rest of the weekend was pretty much the same. David was up, and I did all sorts of domestic things like baking pre-fab cookies, replacing the batteries in my carbon monoxide detector, fixing my showerhead, and re-mounting a hook in my bathroom. (The cookies were the best part, although I'm not going to knock the ability to shower without a metal astroid firing off at your naked body when you least expect it.)

David brought a bunch of work, so we didn't really go out, but Emma and I went to Long Island City for a wedding reception for a friend of mine, and we saw Anna Deavere Smith's Let Me Down Easy at the 2econd Stage Theatre. (If you have a chance to see it before it closes in early December, definitely do. It's a great meditation on death and dying and the fragility and resilience of the human body. She's amazing, and she does a pretty convincing Reverend Gomes.)

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Balloon Boy Is the Hero of Our Apartment

"You hate children, and I watch the news. I think he did this to help us out at parties."

Thursday, 15 October 2009

America's Next Top Model

So on the magic that is my morning jog, I was running toward Columbus Circle the other morning and spotted two men standing by a coffee cart wearing matching black tee-shirts. And the backs of the shirts said something like "Cosmopolitan's Hottest Bachelor," and then I realized that the front of one guy's shirt said "North Dakota 2009." (The other one said Oregon 2009. I wasn't interested.)

I jogged past, and then I was like, no, I can't let this one go. So I jogged backwards and stopped and I was like, "hey, sorry to interrupt, but are you Cosmopolitan's Sexiest Bachelor in North Dakota 2009?"

He was like, ", yes."

And I was like, "I saw the article in the Forum. Congratulations!" (In retrospect, I am so, so glad that I didn't remember his name and never uttered the words "Jesse Regan." I feel like that would have kicked it up from sort of creepy to being justifiably maceable.)

He asked if I was from Fargo and we talked a little bit about that, and then I was like, "well, anyway, keep up the good work," and then I literally ran away. I don't know what good work I was referring to - being attractive? being from a sparsely populated state? - but things like this really make the city feel smaller. It practically made my morning.

(What really made my morning was that there's this tiny man - and frankly, I'm only 90% sure of that - who walks his poodle along my jogging route every morning at 7:45 wearing a suit and ascot and he was there like clockwork and waved hello and winked and I was like, wow, jogging outside is fun.

One Take on the Balloon Child

"I wanted the kid to be in the balloon. Just think - twelve years from now, that kid would have had the most awesome college admission essays ever."

Monday, 12 October 2009

Action is Hot

There is something very adorable about hopping on a bus from DC back to New York and slowly realizing that just about every other person on the bus is coming back from the National Equality March. And there is something even more adorable about everybody else realizing that at the same time, and then starting to chat with total strangers about where they were from and what they thought of the march and which speakers they found really compelling. (It is less cute when the bus breaks down in Baltimore, but Emma and I ended up talking to this lesbian mom across from us and it turned out to be one of the highlights of my weekend. She was awesome.)

The march itself was a much more galvanizing, energizing, and all-around empowering experience than I expected it to be. It was also way more lefty than I had expected, and it was kind of refreshing to march with anarchists and sit with socialists at the rally at the Capitol. It was stuff like that that made this feel really different from any of the Prides I've attended, and part of the reason I really liked the energy at the march. (Plus, David was right - you can't have a march without anarchists, because nobody else remembers to bring the drum.) The warm fuzzies kept on rolling when a bunch of the speakers at the rally got all fired up about healthcare and immigration reform and social justice in addition to the usual laundry list of HRC-sponsored agenda items. I cannot emphasize how nice it was to not see a beer advertisement during the whole five hours we were there.

The rest of the weekend was a blast, too. I had the usual This Is Your Life moments as I hung out with my brother, my boyfriend, my best friends in college, a couple of friends from Oxford, and alumni and faculty I knew from Harvard at the mixer, and I kept running into people I knew from college mixed into the 200,000 people at the march. David and I also popped by a pre-march brunch with a bunch of the other queer alums of the scholarship that I'm on, and talking to them about the march and the pace of social change all added up to a surprisingly impactful and meaningful weekend. We'll see if it actually translates into any sort of political impact, but I think it's a mistake to focus only on that and not what it meant to the people who were there. (Also, I have never seen as much anti-HRC sentiment in my entire life. And then Cynthia Nixon spoke. It was fairly surreal.)

Saturday, 10 October 2009


"Ugh, we have so many forks. I'm telling you, when I have my own apartment..."
"You'll have one fork?"
"Yes. One fork. And one spoon. Ideally, just a spork."

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Foods I Can Make But Cannot Pronounce

So things like "adequate seating" and "skill" have never once stopped me from hosting dinner parties, and tonight was no exception. I managed to pull off a passable vegetarian gratin, which involved epic landmarks like:

- purchasing breadcrumbs,
- learning how to peel tomatoes,
- not fucking up an eggplant, and
- peeling a butternut squash without taking off a finger.

Victory! It was a little bland, but you can't really screw up something with roasted squash and feta, and nobody has thrown up yet that I'm aware of. I'm actually starting to get a fairly impressive repertoire of variations on vegetarian stir-fry. When Erika and I finally publish our cookbook, there's now a fighting chance that it will be more than a page long. If I may be so bold, I think we're getting into pamphlet territory.


You can tell when I'm having a stressful day at work because I go into the kitchen and compulsively wash all of the dishes in the sink. I think it reminds me of the days when my job partially consisted of making coffee and running to the post office, and knowing with certainty that I make excellent coffee and that I'm a fast walker who never leaves his boss's credit card on top of the stamp machine. I should probably just get a security blanket.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

In Which Filene Saves My Shins

I need running shoes because my Sketchers just do not cut it, and so I set out to find the cheapest ones I could find after work today. This is no small feat, since I bought my last two pairs of shoes at Sports World, which is always slightly overwhelming and would land on anybody's list for most incomprehensible and seemingly unprofitable chain in Europe. When I was in Belgium a few years ago, I got a pair of shiny black Umbro soccer cleats for like six euros, and those lasted me until I spent like five pounds two years ago on a pair of blue suede Everlasts that were so thin that you could feel every paving stone in Oxford. In New York, I figured it would be difficult for me to find comparably cheap shoes without a) stealing them or b) making them out of tinfoil and floss.

So I went to DSW and found a pair of New Balance shoes for $27. Success! They do look like a pair of shoes that my mom had in the mid-80s - in fact, they may actually be women's sneakers, so that's fun - but they are so comfortable I can barely stand it, and since the goal was to replace my Sketchers and not destroy my shins, I consider that a success.

Monday, 5 October 2009

The Last [Two] Years

It's been over two years since Lee and I lived together, and some of my favorite memories of that year took place in the kitchen. (Our homemade Thanksgiving springs to mind as being an epic success, while my pancakes-in-the-shape-of-your-initials where we ran out of milk and I had to substitute yogurt was decidedly less so.) And something about firing up the same espresso pot two years later in a totally different kitchen in a totally different city warms my heart a little.

But still, I think it's safe to say that we've both become better cooks over the past year. I mostly credit David with this, since our kitchen dates in Oxford were where we tried out falafel, ratatouille, and homemade bagels, experimented with various kinds of crepes and french toast, made up biscuit, cookie, and bread recipes, tried every conceivable form of vegetarian pizza and stir-fry, discovered parsnips, and made everything from stuffed peppers to candy pie to gigantic salads for dinner parties. In the meantime, Lee became the kind of cook whose food is on a food blog. And tonight, I met Sarah at Spitzer's for a beer and then ran up to Lee's for dinner, where we made cranberry and pear salad and reheated leftover Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding with one of his friends who I knew from back in the day and Tabitha, his poodle, who I did not.

When Tom arrived, we hugged and he was like, "So, how was... wow, the last two years?"
I didn't really know how to answer that, so I just said, "Um, you know. Ups and downs."

Which is true. But I'm realizing more and more that the ups of the past few years have vastly outnumbered the downs, and I think that realization is dawning on me as part of being around some of the people who have meant the most in my life. Going for a jog with your ex who lives eight blocks away is special, but so is living across town from your brother, getting an apartment with your best friend from high school, grabbing brunch with your best friend from college, going out with both of those friends together, getting drinks with friends from Oxford, introducing your boyfriend to all these people when he spends the weekend in New York, and then bumping into various friends from college in bars, on the subway, on rooftops, and in seminars that you crash at various law schools - and doing all of that in two weeks. You can't even script television shows like this.

(Incidentally, the bread pudding was so good that I ate until it hurt a little. Lee also made post-dinner espresso, which I pretty predictably drank even though it probably means that I'm going to get about four hours of sleep tonight. Despite your best efforts, some things do not change.)

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Ow, Fitness

So living in my neighborhood puts me within five minutes of Central Park, and I kept telling myself that I'd go running every morning instead of getting a membership at a gym. As anyone would have predicted, this has happened approximately zero times in the past month. I met up with Lee for brunch this morning, and after hacking up a baguette and making french toast with copious amounts of butter and Nutella, we decided it would be a good idea to go for a run in what is now our collective neighborhood. We did, and afterwards, I felt really good about myself, life, my neighborhood, the woman who overcharged me for biscotti at Whole Foods, the weird shape of my calves after two months of atrophy, the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and other things that endorphins make you feel very positively about. It was lovely.

A couple of hours later, I feel like someone took a hammer to my inner thighs. I really shouldn't go two months without doing anything more physical than walking to get cake at lunch.

Friday, 2 October 2009


So we went to Therapy tonight because, hey, we now live approximately four minutes away, and Thursday is when they do a double-header of Project Runway followed by Lavinia, who is terrifying. At about 10:50pm, Brady was like, "you have to sit on the outside of the table," and I was like, "no," and then went to the bathroom and found out that Brady switched our seats so I was sitting closer to the middle of the room. Fine. At about 11:15pm, I found out that this is because the people who sit on the outside of the table are the ones who get dragged on stage for the amateur go-go dancing contest. And the only thing worse than being forced into an amateur go-go dancing contest for like forty-five minutes is having to gracefully bow out of it, even if that does make you look more mature than the guy who is clearly out of the contest but refuses to get off the stage. The upside is that I got a free drink out of the evening; the downside is that I'd always hoped my dignity was worth more than $7. (I guess it's good that someone has clarified that, no, my dignity is worth exactly $7, and only in the form of a plastic token.)

Wednesday, 30 September 2009


With exactly $4 in my wallet and roughly $22 in my bank account, I got my first paycheck today - and that not only means that my net worth has multiplied a hundredfold, it also means that I can afford to go to Therapy and go to Marie's this weekend. Yay!

The saddest part is that that was not even the highlight of my evening. Lee moved the last of his stuff from Cambridge to New York today, to an apartment about five minutes away from mine. He called me at work to say that he stopped by Hi Rise this morning and saw Holly, who literally brightened every morning that we stopped by for coffee - so basically, every morning of my senior year - on the way to campus. When I couldn't stave off the carb lust, I would get these tiny cookie stars with my cup of coffee, and Lee called this afternoon at work to say that Holly sent a present to New York for me. And it was a bag of cookie stars. And not only a bag of cookie stars, but a bag of cookie stars decorated with fuzzy stickers of whales, elephants, birds, and bunnies. There are some things $2200 can't buy, and that is one of them.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Christine Pedi!

Maria and I met up on this side of the Atlantic (for the first time ever, I guess) to see Christine Pedi, who was AWESOME. Her Angela Lansbury was actually terrifying, and she came upstairs to hang out with our table afterwards and we talked about how difficult it is to voice Elaine Stritch. (I almost congratulated her for wearing pants, because when Brady and I saw Elaine Stritch and she did the whole show in tights and a button-down shirt. From the front row, you notice when people aren't wearing pants.)

The night was made more enjoyable because my dinner consisted of a raw carrot and a glass of chardonnay after I misjudged the time that I'd have to get back to make dinner. Thank goodness for grocery-shopping over lunch and carting a bag of carrots and a zucchini in my purse all day.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Buses and Wine

Three things you do not want to hear on a bus:

"Everybody hang tight, because we're running about an hour late."
"It's just like when you stab somebody and run."
"The thing about being incarcerated - and I speak from experience - is..."

The girl next to me smelled like old sweaters and tomato soup and kept muttering for people to shut the fuck up and then winking at me, which was weirdly reassuring as the rest of the bus had a lengthy conversation about the penal system.

(The highlight of my weekend was when David and I came across a table of bottles of wine and Dixie cups when we were shopping at Giant tonight, and we were like, um, can we drink these? So we did, and this woman popped around the corner and was like, "oh, I hope you two are 18!" and we laughed and reassured her that we were, and then she poured us another round of free samples. It was not until we were retelling the story six hours later when we were like, wait, 18? In retrospect, she may not have been an employee.)

Friday, 25 September 2009

Drinking, Liberally

Luckily, Lee and I took about 45 minutes to catch up over the phone before meeting up at this event last night, because it was not especially conducive to catching up after like nine months. We bumped into each other right by the door, which was lucky, because I promptly beelined to the bar, where they were like, um, registration is the other way, and then I got my wristband and charged for the kitchen, where they were like, the party is downstairs. We both killed our drinks with stunning rapidity and Lee got another round while Cleve Jones and Christine Quinn told us to go to DC and generally fired us up for equality. (I was like, "that guy in the corner is totally Lance Bass," and Lee was like, "pay attention.") And then we got a third round, and a little voice in the back of my mind told me that three drinks every twenty minutes is not an especially sustainable rate.

So then we went upstairs and I saw Sean (who longtime readers will remember as the Republican, which I can't call him anymore) and I more or less zoned out while Lee and Sean chatted about law and politics, because a) it was deafening and b) they've both dated the same guy and I think they'd heard a lot about each other, and I couldn't tell how weird it was that they were meeting for the first time and I was just standing there. (I began to think about the Camp David Accords, but I couldn't really change the topic of conversation.)

We ran into a couple of Lee's friends from law school that I hadn't seen in two years, and then a guy I knew who I literally hadn't seen since my first year of college. Two people I didn't know came up to me and remembered me from queer activism in college, and I was like, lovely, you're really seeing me in top form tonight. Then I bumped into my friend Andrew, who was one of the many people I was supposed to catch up with. And we did, and then I met a couple people from Columbia and NYU Law and harassed them about their programs and whether they liked them, and then was like, ha, I'm suddenly conscious of the fact that I have to go home and pack for a trip to DC tomorrow, and that I have to get up for a human rights conference in like six hours.

With all the people I bumped into, I think my plan to meet five people for drinks at once backfired, as I'm now having drinks with like eight people over the next two weeks. And this is after I kept telling people we should hang out on the Mall and then getting blank stares and then laughing uproariously.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Eating Bagels for the Next Week for Equality

As a present to myself for a day-long scavenger hunt through the footnotes of obscure UN documents, I bought a ticket to tomorrow night's fundraiser at Elmo for the National Equality March. I wasn't planning on doing this, mostly because I'm insanely poor until my paycheck arrives at the end of the month and this event costs more than I'm spending on groceries this week. But then it turned out that like five people that I've been meaning to grab a drink with are going to be there, and that actually makes it a fairly economical night on the town, especially when you factor in the open bar for Grey Goose cocktails. It's practically a MasterCard commercial, what with all the vodka and good friends and the somewhat flimsy pretense of striking a blow for justice. Which is good, because that is how I pay for these things when my checking account has dwindled to the double digits.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Glad We're On the Same Page

Bouncer at Splash: "I'm going to need to see your ID, because you look like you're twelve."
Me: "And I will give it to you, because that is the look I'm going for."

Monday, 21 September 2009

One Great City!

I'm not sure whether this is because my work keeps me legitimately busy or because I'm in a city that does not shut down at 5pm, but I feel like the pace of my life has increased tenfold since I got back into the swing of things in New York. On Thursday, I went to Williamsburg for the Weakerthans concert and it was MAGICAL. As I was waiting for the concert, I stopped to read at a cafe where this guy was like, "would you watch my bike?" and I was like, "sure!" because it was neon yellow and hey, that's pretty easy. When he came back, he was like, "what are you reading?" and I said "Proust" and even though that is maybe the most toolish possible answer to that question, I think I recovered when he asked how the book was and I confessed that I had made it as far as page eight. We had a really good chat about Proust, and folk rock, and Brooklyn, and realized that we live in the same neighborhood, and then he invited me to his gallery opening and said his name and I was very calm but inside I was like, holy crap, even I know who you are. And we were like, hey, let's run into each other at our local bread store and basically he's my new best friend.

The concert was pretty good, too. They pretty much played every good song ever, including a singalong to One Great City! that more or less made my life. And one of the last songs in the second encore was Watermark, which is one of the five songs on my Top Five Self-Defining Pop Culture Playlist. WIN.

So I left with a glow, and then on the subway platform I ran into this girl named Jenna and the night just got better. (Everyone at Harvard will know who I'm talking about when I say that we hugged twice and that I suspect that she has not stopped spelling her name with two exclamation points at the end and that she's AWESOME.) She is like the most carbonated person I know, and maybe the most fun person to bump into on a subway platform, ever.

And then we amped it up with Brady's birthday on Friday. And David arriving for the weekend, and shopping for curtains, and spending the day studying in Central Park. And then our first dinner party, complete with brie and wine and everybody sitting on the floor because the Emmys were on but we had no chairs. I'm worried that I'll keep finding that I don't have time to blog, and not worried for precisely the same reason.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The Month of Transience: A Conclusion

I got off work today and picked up mattress padding, got cash to pay the movers, met Brady to get my keys, stopped by our broker's office to pay our fee, went up to Amy's and grabbed as much as I could drag onto the subway, ate four cookies for sustenance, unpacked as much as I could at the new place, bought food for our kitchen, and just got back up to the Upper West Side for my last night with Amy and Duck, my favorite dog with ambiguous genitalia in the whole world. (We became quick friends this week.)

It was mostly an epic day because I tipped off Wonkette, and it involved publicly making fun of Nancy Grace, which knocks one and possibly two items off my bucket list. It probably helps my karma, too.

I was going to catch up on Gossip Girl and Glee, but I'm going to bed, because the mover is coming in like eight hours and I have to be somewhat alert because I'm serving as the other mover because it's half as expensive and I'm very rapidly burning through my savings account as I wait for my first paycheck. Also, I spent $25 I don't really have to see the Weakerthans tomorrow. And also, there is a $5 psychic next to my building and I kind of think that she's going to be my guru this year. Her name is Natalie, which means that she's clearly a real psychic.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Blockbuster Weekend

I don't know what my most exciting purchase was today - the pillows and sheets I purchased for $45 that do not match each other at all, my half of the pumpkin scone I shared with Emma as we dorked out and did work at Espresso 77, or the ticket I just bought to see the Weakerthans on Thursday. I think I might go with the last one, because I put it on my parents' card. Yay!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Epic Win!

Today, I mailed off a copyright agreement to a journal, picked up six cupcakes for Brady's birthday, finished all my projects from the first week of work, and - wait for it, wait for it - SIGNED THE LEASE. (We signed that, plus a rent stabilization form, plus a statement promising that I don't have children, plus a statement promising not to eat lead paint, plus a waiver related to maintenance work, and at least two or three other documents.) This took an hour, largely because our landlady accurately noted that we had written the date "9/11" approximately one million times. This turned into a 45 minute discussion about 9/11, then national security, then privacy, then healthcare, then Iran, then abortion, then back to healthcare, then back to privacy and civil liberties. When a break unexpectedly surfaced in the conversation, she slid another form in duplicate across the table for Brady and I to sign, as I sat too terrified to agree or disagree with anything because the lease was still unsigned and I was still hostage.

But I'm moving to Hell's Kitchen on September 15th. And that called for margaritas. And that is why I just got home after my first week of work.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Ring the Alarm

I got to work early this morning and nobody was there, and instead of just going into the office, I stood outside for forty-five minutes looking anxious because I was afraid I'd set off some kind of crazy alarm and force a mass evacuation. I made the mistake of blurting this out when the first person arrived, thereby winning the award for most awkward new employee ever. (I didn't force everyone to flee the building, though. Success!)

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Arrival Narratives

Today was my first day of work, which is also the first day of fieldwork for my PhD. It struck me that most field notebooks start with some kind of arrival narrative where the ethnographer is lonely or ill or disoriented, while I arrived and received my new email address, a code for the bathroom, and directions to the office coffeemaker. It also made me remember how much I missed being involved in queer activism, and made me realize that there might really be something to this whole studying up approach. When your biggest dilemma on your first day is that you could only find a vegetable sandwich at Subway for lunch, you are probably not doing so bad.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Never Say I Didn't Give You Anything

David's visiting for the first time since we left Oxford, so this has been a fairly jam-packed weekend of cooking and culture, both high (the Howl Festival and La Boheme at the Met) and low (binge-watching the entire first season of Summer Heights High). But to tide everybody over, here's the fractional turtleneck, as promised, from last week's Choice Cu*ts:

Bonus: Where's Waldo? Hint: He is throwing his hands up like he just does not care.

(Thanks to MissMaro.)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Blind Item

The details are unimportant, but I just spoke with somebody who was like, "lots of people like your project, including this person whose name you might know," and I almost blurted out "I do, because I've memorized all of her commercials and came this close to listing her as one of my interests on Facebook!" before managing to restrain myself. Still, file that under people who pretty much single-handedly salvage a bad day.

Boy on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

I've spent the better part of this afternoon working on my first set of reports for work, trying to transfer funds from my massively uncooperative bank in the UK to my bank in the US, trying to figure out flights, hotels, and registration for this conference in Detroit at the end of October, getting documents faxed to finalize my lease for mid-September, and figuring out the logistics of getting David to NYC and finding one or both of us places to sleep in three different apartments over the next week. I don't have a reliable internet connection, so I've mostly been popping out to cafes whenever I need to check on something and then darting back to the apartment to call and yell abuse at my bank. The net effect is that I'm not only on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but so caffeinated that it's going to be a doozy when it happens.

(I think I've got the housing figured out, at least. Indefinitely subsisting on the $300 in my bank account and slowly realizing that this conference in Detroit is going to cost twice that amount are proving more daunting.)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Muppet Cupcake Tragedy

Sigh. I kind of hoped that by the time I was almost 25, I'd be able to walk past a bakery without looking in the window, being like, you guys, that cupcake has a Day-Glo Muppet dinosaur coming out of it! and bursting in to buy and eat it immediately. That is a mistake, especially when you have just eaten a metric ton of curry and rice it is made of solid marzipan. It hurts because I'm quite possibly in glycemic shock, but it also hurts because I have clearly learned nothing over the past, oh, 22 years of my life.

PS. Emma and I decided to apply for the Amazing Race. Details forthcoming.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Our House Parties are Going to Be Ridic

Brady and I just belted "Take Me Or Leave Me" at our table at Musical Mondays at Splash. We used to sing this at the top of our lungs in my minivan in high school, with Brady as Maureen and myself as Joanne. (We always sang it that way - ostensibly because Brady can nail a falsetto and I can rock the alto part, but also possibly because Brady's actually the diva and I'm actually the anal-retentive geek in our relationship.)

Not to brag, but it turns out we've only gotten better with age.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Nomad Update

Yay for being temporarily not homeless! My brother left town for work for a week, so I'm apartment-sitting his place in Murray Hill. He just moved to the place and hasn't set it up yet, so I'm still cutting up Gatorade bottles to make cereal bowls and nursing a cup of coffee for two hours to jack wifi from every independent cafe in a ten block radius. But still, sleeping in a bed is a fairly massive improvement.


Emma and I went to this party last night where one of the female go-go dancers was wearing underwear, a bra, and then the neck and shoulders of a turtleneck.

I'm so determined to popularize the sixth of a turtleneck look, it is not even funny.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Yay, Nomads

I haven't seen Lawrence for two years, which is sort of unacceptable when you consider that a) we lived together for two years during college, and b) this made us friends instead of driving us to hate each other. So that ends now! Lawrence came up from DC yesterday and we met up with Emma for the afternoon, and I remembered why I liked being in Lowell so much. (Oddly, Lawrence, Steve, Emma, and I will all be in Europe a year from now, so cross your fingers and hope we're as awesome in diaspora.)

We went to Penelope for lunch, then wandered downtown to Momofuku Milk Bar for banana cake and compost cookies. (Emma flagged the compost cookies, which have pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, and chocolate chips. They are basically the bakery equivalent of my garbage can salads and garbage can stir-fry, and they are delicious.) We wandered back to Queens to watch some 30 Rock, and then Lawrence took off back to Manhattan, Emma's roommate made mojitos, and Emma and I whipped up some basmati rice from her government-sized bag and made some Thai vegetables in peanut sauce and then we all sat down for a stereotypical rum-laced family dinner.

(I was going to spend today at Spike Lee's celebration of Michael Jackson in Prospect Park, because why not? but that and the chihuahua races were cancelled due to weather. I can't believe I left England for this.)

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

No Place Like Home

Well, that was a crazy weekend. David (the brother, not the significant other) had to wait for someone to come fix his air conditioner on Sunday, so I took Kelly to brunch at Vynl, Madame Tussauds, and 9 to 5, all of which were so much more fun than I expected. Madame Tussauds is the kind of place that I'd never really planned to see on my own, but then a friend got us tickets and we spent like two hours taking racy and generally inappropriate pictures with wax figures of famous people. Despite the fact that we kept yelling "SHA-RON!" across the house at each other the whole time I was home, Kelly refused to sit next to the Osbournes because they looked too real. (She loosened up after that, though, and was sure enough that Woody Allen was not actually alive that I got an excellent picture of the two of them that I really, really hope my parents will use for a Christmas card.) 9 to 5 was even better (Allison Janney is quite possibly my favorite person, ever), and then after that we basically went back to David's apartment and basked in the air conditioning while I did the NYT crossword. (I'm too poor to splurge on things like "cabs" or "meals," but I somehow still spent $5 on the NYT. I'm going to pretend it was because I needed to have a copy of the magazine's special issue on women and development.)

On Monday, Kelly really, really wanted to go to a taping of It's On With Alexa Chung, and I somehow got us tickets to the taping and stood in line with Kelly for two hours so we'd be sure to get into the audience. I'd never heard of the show, but it's one of Kelly's favorites - to the point that she was so giddy that I had to tell her to calm down multiple times as we went up to the studio and got placed directly behind Alexa. (If you watch the episode, I'm one of the five young men in the audience - specifically, the one who is at least a foot taller than everyone else there.) I was mostly having fun watching Kelly having fun and feeling old because I literally had no idea who any of the guests were. But then Alexa ended the episode by showing off her new Mac and giving a free iPod Touch to everyone in the audience. Sometimes, it literally pays to be a good older brother, and since Kelly talked me out of selling it so that I could afford food and weekend editions of the New York Times, I've spent the past two days downloading apps so I can listen to NPR and play Mrs. PacMan. It's basically the most useful tool ever.

The whole trip was a blast - we went to MoMA and I took her through Chinatown and Little Italy for lunch, and we spent a lot of time hanging out in the apartment watching South Park and Futurama. It was actually kind of sad yesterday when I dropped her at La Guardia and sent her back to Fargo - the trip confirmed that I'm way too high strung to be a parent ("Look, someone dropped grapes on the subway!" "Kelly, don't... why would you stomp on that?"), but also that my little sister is turning out to be pretty terrific and a ton of fun.

It was also kind of sad because the rest of my day was more or less disastrous. I spent four hours taking Kelly to La Guardia and staying at the gate until she was airborne, went to the Apple Store and realized I couldn't afford a $30 sleeve for my iPod, found a RadioShack and bought a sleeve for $20, walked all the way to David's and realized that I'd bought a sleeve for the iPhone that protected my iPod about as well as wrapping it in a plastic bag, and had to trek back to exchange it for a $10 sleeve that said on the box that it was for "the 2th gerneration iPod Touch." ($10 does not buy you spelling.) I got back and collapsed on the sofa, and then got a call from Brady with good news and bad news.

The good news is that we're scheduling an appointment this week to sign a lease for an apartment in Hell's Kitchen that is more or less perfect for Brady and I. The bad news is that the lease begins September 15th, which means that I'll have spent a month sleeping on the couches, futons, and vacant beds of various friends, relatives, and very loose acquaintances in New York before I actually move into my apartment. If I have any friends left by the time I have a housewarming party, I'm going to consider this a success.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Hello, Brooklyn

First of all, AMY RAY WAS SO GOOD. The rest of the day was fun, too - Kelly and I met David for lunch at Two Boots, then I took Kelly up to Central Park and to the Met, where all she wanted to do was sit on the steps like the girls from Constance. (She is so clearly my sister.) We got on the subway to go to MoMA, but the sky somehow darkened while we were underground and we resurfaced and were like, wow, it sort of looks like the apocalypse. We're usually pretty hardy, but we estimated that we would be spending about forty-five minutes in line, and that we had about five minutes until it started pouring rain. So we decided to go on Monday and went to Sugar Sweet Sunshine for cupcakes instead. (We've basically been alternating between pizza and frozen yogurt, so this was dietary variety.)

And then I dropped Kelly at the apartment to wait for David and booked it to Brooklyn for the Amy Ray concert, which was AMAZING. Toshi Reagon was opening, which is why I got tickets for the Friday concert in Brooklyn instead of the (much closer) Thursday concert on the LES, but I didn't know that Gail-Ann Dorsey (!) was playing backup for her or that Melissa York (!!) was playing drums for Amy Ray. It was like four queer rockstars for the price of one. And Amy Ray not only played all the songs I like off her new album, but did Blender, Sober Girl, and Put It Out for Good off of Prom, which are like my three favorite tracks from that album. (In keeping with my habit of developing a massive crush on people's drummers, I now have a huge crush on Melissa York. To the point that I almost threw my underwear on stage.)

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Best Text Messages: Wednesday Edition

The frontrunners are:

- a text from Brady saying he found the perfect apartment for us in midtown Manhattan,
- a text from David notifying me that my name can be anagrammed as "synchrotron diarrhea,"
- or a multimedia text from a number I didn't recognize, which turned out to be from my littlest cousin, Emma, and just said "i got side banges" with a picture that she attached herself. It is easily the cutest thing I have seen all week.

The best part is that all three of these things are verifiably true.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Triple the Fun

I move to New York tomorrow (ack!) with my just barely fourteen year-old sister in tow (ACK!) for some triple-duty bonding with my brother, who's been living in the city for almost a year. (My even younger brother, who's between the two, is starting college this week, so that's kind of a big deal and preventing him from joining us.)

I'll be in charge of the budget leg of the trip, which will involve as much window shopping, museums that take donations, and eating-while-standing-up as I can fit into the days that my brother is at work. I will be doing this with the kind of enthusiasm that might make you believe that a public bus is fun like a rollercoaster, even if someone is peeing. I think we'll go to the High Line, though, which I think she'll like, and I told her I'd take her jogging and go up to Morningside Heights with her so she can see Columbia. (She's decided she wants to apply there for college, and I'm not doing anything to disabuse her of that idea even if she's likely to change her mind about five thousand times over the next three years.)

So basically, I'm taking recommendations for fun things to do with a fourteen year old who is blessedly into shopping, theater, and eating things that she is skeptical of. And this will relieve my guilt on Friday, when I have tickets to see Amy Ray and Toshi Reagon and will either a) leave her with David, b) lock her in the apartment with a sandwich, or c) put her on stilts and say she's 18. Options!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Your Education Dollars at Work

You really realize what you've learned in six years of post-secondary education when your parents have finished an entire crossword puzzle and then stopped with the clue "Marx collaborator," where they got as far as ENG_LS. What kind of Communists are these people?

Literary Dilemma #2: Hero Versus Nature

I'm in my room trying to sleep, and I can't, because there's a suicidal vole who's repeatedly throwing itself against my window. (Lo, the perils of living in a basement.) Usually, I only sleep in this room during a time of year when every living creature is a) indoors, b) hibernating, c) migrating, or d) dead. I'm too lazy to put on pants and go upstairs to steal the empty bed in my brother's room, so instead, I'm lying awake trying to remember if voles are nocturnal, because that fact makes all the difference when I'm torn between trying to outlast it or lying here and feeling only 75% sure that it can't suddenly hurl itself extra forcefully and land on my sleeping body in a cascade of broken glass.

It sounds like it's using tools now.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

(500) Days of Summer

Natal and I spent tonight at the mall (because we are fifteen) and to (500) Days of Summer (because it's an angsty fifteen). I don't think we've both been in town for the summer since we were in our teens, so that is my excuse. (Also, I refused to see the Hangover, and Zooey Deschanel has great hair to the point that it's almost hypnotic.)

I thought the film was a little too precious, and the ending was a mess - in the last five minutes, they're like, surprise! this is a movie about destiny! even though it's not, and it's not immediately clear what fate has to do with any of the ninety minutes you've just watched. I mostly thought that sucked because the rest of the movie is likable precisely because it doesn't follow a straightforward narrative arc, and I liked it because only half of the experience was watching what happened on screen and the other half was evoking the ups and downs of every time you'd ever been in love and it didn't work out. I thought it was good, but maybe you either have to feel really good about the person you're with to see it, or else have to be so emo about your tortured relationships that it becomes enjoyable in a masochistic kind of way. (Or both.) And this is why I already know that someone is going to ask me if they should see it and I'm just going to freeze and look awkward and not know what to do except say something dumb about Zooey Deschenel's hair.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Dr. Teeth is a Jazz Muppet

Article, fine. But I'm going to find a way to work the phrase "Muppet Diplomacy" into every conversation that I have today.

In Which the Debate Heats Up

Tonight, I had a long conversation about how attractive it is when your significant other is passionate about the same politics and values that you hold dear. As if on cue, I got back and found this clip from the 11 o'clock news in North Carolina, in which my boyfriend can be seen videotaping while Josh schools this guy for being an idiot about for-profit healthcare. Swoon. It is maybe weird that this is a total aphrodisiac.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


Tonight, I managed to successfully juggle a birthday party for my cousin, settling on an apartment in NYC and getting the application rolling, and picking up Natalia for a double-header of coffee at Atomic and drinks at the HoDo, all within a five hour period. I'd say that this was all in a day's work, but then I remember that most of my days involve considerably more work and that this is actually not that impressive as far as crazy days go, and I have to remind myself that it is all in a (vacation) day's work. And then I feel pretty awesome.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Bringing the Town Halls to You

Well, I just volunteered to go stop by Rep. Pomeroy's office to let him know that I'm a fan of universal healthcare, something that I wasn't aware I felt passionately about until I almost got into a fistfight with my grandmother within six hours of landing in Fargo. We've had political disagreements before, but this was the first time that I actually started shaking, and also the first time that I ever used the word "racist." (The two things were very much related.)

Natalia needs to get back from camping soon, or she's going to come back to find me erecting a free clinic in my front yard.

Saturday, 8 August 2009


In spite of last week's episode of Weeds (I'm traumatized!) and a bunch of accidents on the M40 that delayed my bus to the airport by an hour, I actually made it to Heathrow and said goodbye to England for a year. Epic! And after a layover in Iceland and a fairly impressive performance dragging most of my earthly possessions through JFK, onto the E, and into Jackson Heights, Emma and I went out for biryani and I basically died on her futon.

And the next two days were kind of amazing, not least of all because I could finally sort of envision what the next year is going to look like and I liked what I saw. I dropped by my office to meet everyone, Brady and I looked at apartments, I spent all sorts of quality time with my besties, and within the first twelve hours of being in the city, I bumped into two of the people I taught with this summer and a guy I went to college with, who was selling real estate in the seat next to me at Starbucks. I didn't get to catch up with a ton of people I want to catch up with, but the upside is that this time, there wasn't the same kind of urgency and I could be like, "yay, let's have coffee in two weeks." And this morning I slipped off to LaGuardia under cover of darkness and made it back to Fargo, where I'm now doing the crossword with my parents and watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I use the term "watching" very loosely here.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Joni Understands

I was just packing dress clothes and listening to Joni Mitchell, and caught this lyric from "My Old Man":

"But when he's gone, me and them lonesome blues collide /
The bed's too big, the fryin' pan's too wide."

...and thought that Joni Mitchell really understands me, because this morning I definitely made a gigantic saucepan full of oatmeal and bananas and then was like ...right, I have to eat this all by myself.

I'm extremely full right now.

Monday, 3 August 2009

My Own Devices

It turns out that my tolerance for Oxford after finishing my job, saying goodbye to all my friends, and putting David on a bus to Heathrow is approximately ninety minutes. I made a gigantic loop around the city for packing tape, my last paycheck, and approximately six vegetables, then deposited all of my uncashed checks at my bank, dropped off my ethics forms and a library-ready version of my thesis at my department, and bought a blank scrapbook, and then sat in my room all afternoon pasting ticket stubs in a scrapbook while half-watching Empire Records on my laptop. It took very little time before I was like, "yep, ready to peace out on Wednesday." And then I packed up all my stuff to put it into storage, to the point where I'm deliberately not packing my suitcases because then my room will look actually depressing.

So basically, Oxford is weird without the people, and I think Oxford and I can part on good terms for a while.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

So Long, Farewell

I really, really hate goodbyes, and also I am terrible at them. The last night of our program involved a 25th Anniversary Ball where all the students and teachers were tearfully bidding each other goodbye, and the best I could manage with any of my students - who were fantastic, and who I will actually miss - was "um, have a safe flight back, and I'll catch up with you on Facebook." And my kids were like, "and thanks for teaching us to be socially awkward, Ryan."

(The kids on my staircase were the polar opposite, and gave me a tub of my favorite kind of ice cream from G&D's and all wrote goodbye messages "to the best staircase advisor/the sexiest man in the program to wear a dress." They are more emotionally developed than I am.)

Anyway, then last night I was free from the tyranny of knowing that I would almost definitely pass a student of mine no matter what pub I was at, and so I messaged a handful of people who I know are still at Oxford and went out to All Bar One for a last night out before David leaves tomorrow and I leave on Wednesday. And, as usual, I was like, "um, I'll probably see you guys in New York, or else I'll be back in a year." And Chase shrugged and was like, "well, have a good life," and I was filled with a warm fuzzy feeling because this is why I am friends with these people.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Thanks, Possibly

"Thank you for being such a good staircase monitor."
"You're welcome."
"You were really permissive."
"That's not exactly what I like to hear, but glad I could help."

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Pop Culture as Knowledge

In honor of my pop culture class ending with an epic session of culture jamming today, my favorite Wonkette clipping of July:

"America could use a few calm pictures of its president and a white person and black person drinking outside, and later, when it rains, going inside to play some Mario Kart 64. Can our president land the secret shortcut jump in Wario Stadium on all three laps? The future of the public option & national racism depends on it."

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

It is D Day

Tomorrow is D Day - the day when the kids in my major debate in the Oxford Union take their final (in which they have to do impromptu speaking, extemporaneous speaking, or deliver a monologue, and for which they will forever loathe me) and when the kids in my minor get black markers and instructions to culture jam an issue of Cosmo while listening to the giant 75 track mix tape that we made to illustrate habitus (for which I will be either knighted or canonized). And then we wrap the program up on Friday, take the kids to the airport on Saturday, I get a 24 hour intensive date on Sunday, put David on his IcelandAir flight on Monday, pack like hell and close down everything on Tuesday, and fly back on Wednesday. It is like the Twelve Days of Christmas if there were only seven and Christmas ended at JFK.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

You've Got Fail

I should not be allowed to use email lists, ever. Luckily, I never send mean or inappropriate things out to whole email lists when I intend to send them directly to one person. Unluckily, I do frequently send out messages that make me sound like a total tool.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Awkward Highlight of the Week

I had my students give impromptu speeches on Saturday, and one of them got up and started clicking a pen in her left hand as she previewed the points she planned to make. I'm trying to get them to drop the nervous habits before they do their exhibition, and being polite about it is not working that well. So I just barked "drop your pen!"

Her eyes got really wide and she stammered, "...Mr. Ryan!" which is what she calls me to be ironic and funny because I am clearly not a Mr. Ryan. Except she seemed genuinely terrified. And then she glanced down at her pants, and I was like, "oh, ack, pen, not pants, drop your pen." It was pretty much traumatic for both of us, but I think everyone else in the class enjoyed that.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Oxford Idol

My random act of kindness for the day was exposing 300 teenagers to drag, because the program needed a Paula Abdul for the talent show and because I have a difficult time saying no to my friends. I didn't really look that much like Paula Abdul - for example, the only brown wig I could find with four hour's notice was a bob - so I was lucky when it turned out that only about a quarter of the audience said they watched American Idol. I did effusively praise everyone and call their acts magical, though, so that was more or less accurate. And the important thing is that I looked hot and made a few racy jokes, and I got applause from two clusters of students as I walked back with my face still painted on. I also learned how to play Texas Hold 'Em, courtesy of my students. All things considered, it was a pretty educational day. (I drew the line at borrowing a bra from a girl in my class, though.)

Monday, 20 July 2009

Palin as Orator

I'm using Sarah Palin's speech at the RNC and resignation speech in Alaska as examples of how one person can be one of the best and worst orators of contemporary times. This edit of the resignation speech by Vanity Fair is kind of priceless.

Aporkalypse Now

So remember how I got this suite while I'm teaching this month, and I have it all to myself because they didn't want to stick some poor kid in the spare bedroom of a faculty member? They just put a kid in quarantine in there, as they are running low on spare bedrooms with the spike in kids with flu-like symptoms. I'm now basically living in the pig flu equivalent of a leper colony.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Idiocy Strikes Twice

Yesterday, David and I went to a chocolate-themed birthday party where we drank wine and ate obscene amounts of chocolate in the form of pie, cheesecake, cookies, and molten fruit casing, and then on the way home we both commented that we were about to vomit but in the best way you can be about to vomit. (Happily, and not quite.)

So today, I was like, wow, better give my stomach a break, and promptly went off to a garden party where I had a lot of quiche, shrimp, crayfish, and eclairs. I deserve to ache everywhere.

Saturday, 18 July 2009


One of my students asked to leave the class after about fifteen minutes today, and I was like, "okay, do you really have to go?" and she was like, "it's... a... woman thing." And I was like, oh, fine, and it took her like two minutes and I thought to myself that woman things generally take longer than two minutes if you do them in private and I hope she did do them in private because I'd definitely get fired if she did them on the quad. I thought about giving a short speech about how the magic of female biology should not be used as an excuse to get out of class and emphasizing that I am in no way embarrassed by something that is perfectly natural and should be celebrated, but then about an hour later, they all stood up and gave me a graduation card and a cake from the Covered Market. And then the student apologized for telling a menstrual lie and explained that she was getting the cake, and they all clapped, and I got all verklempt because my class is totally awesome.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Dear Alanis

Today, we did extemporaneous speaking and I asked my students to outline how they would approach topics like "What can be done to stop the spread of swine flu?" I was planning to hand them back tomorrow, except that in the past twelve hours, one of my kids was quarantined.

If I get swine flu from grading that paper, I'll have a much easier time explaining irony to next year's class.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

To London!

So I'm supposed to take my speech and debate class into London tomorrow for a fun-filled day of experiential learning, which is ideally going to be related to speech and debate but will probably also involve lessons like what to do when you get caught in a downpour or separated on the Tube or peed on by a drifter. Last year, we made it through the entire day and then Maria got pickpocketed on the Tube on our way back to the bus. This year, I'm lowering my standards and saying that if I get the same number of kids onto the bus with me that I arrived with in the morning, I'm going to call it a success. They do not even necessarily have to be the same kids. I'm not picky.

Friday, 10 July 2009

All I Want

My first week of teaching ends tomorrow, and I'm marking the occasion by teaching my class and then dropping off the map for the next twenty-four hours to spend quality time holed up with David and not thinking about lesson planning, writing articles, packing and canceling everything for my return to the US in less than a month, or putting the last wheels in motion to get started on a DPhil. I forgot that teaching eats my life. And I've been listening to Jay Brannan's new cover of Joni Mitchell's All I Want, and I'm pretty much at the point where I'd kill whoever stood in the way of making cookies and having a sleepover.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

My Last Twelve Hours of Being the Likable Teacher

Tomorrow, we're trying impromptu speaking. About half of my class is going to hate my guts after I make them stand up in front of the class to argue for or against smoking bans, then ask the next person whether they would or would not choose to be invisible if it meant they had to stay invisible for the rest of their life, then ask the next person about trickle-down economics. My winning streak ends here.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Teachable Moments

1. Do not wipe up a coffee spill with a sock. It is impossible to wash coffee out of a sock, and that is why I look like I'm wearing some sort of cowhide on my left foot.
2. Do not let students pick the topics when you're trying to challenge the idea that some things are simply undebateable. I let them pick the things that their opponents would have to try to defend, and they fired off things like genocide and child prostitution. It seemed for a minute like we were going into Lord of the Flies territory, and then they made it as classy and inoffensive as an exercise like this could possibly be. It doesn't change my suspicion that they would emerge as the rulers if this program was put in some sort of state of nature scenario, but I was still impressed.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Those Who Can't

Urg, I forgot how much teaching high schoolers kicks my ass. I figured that teaching a speech and debate course in addition to my pop culture course wouldn't be that bad, because I debated in high school and whatever, I can decently structure an argument. I took Expos, what more do you want? And then today, I found out that three of my students are from the US, and the others are bringing the forensic traditions of Pakistan, Cyprus, China, Northern Ireland, Germany, and Taiwan to the table. So now I have to find some kind of common ground and find a bunch of snappy examples that have nothing to do with American politics, and pray that we survive to Week 2, when I'm going to make them recite monologues from Clueless and I'm back on solid ground. If the past three hours of studying up on Thucydides is any indication, I'm get the feeling that this month is going to be as educational for me as it is for them.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

The Last Weekend of Freedom

I woke up today with a killer sunburn and a massive headache after spending all of yesterday visiting David, who's in London for a long weekend of Marxism 2009 and Pride. We spent the morning with a speaker who covered anticapitalism ten years after Seattle, then I dragged David to David Harvey (swoon!) who I thought was brills but I think David found totally boring. We fled from there to the parade route along Oxford Street and got free juice boxes, and I realized that the two things that were totally absent from Pride in London were a) any sort of political message and b) beer companies, which basically own Pride in the US. We stuck out the whole parade, and I think the highlight was when one of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence came over and asked if we were together and gave us a condom and told us to go have fun, because being targeted by globally famous sex-positive drag nuns was one of the higher items on my Bucket List and now I've checked that one off.

We then trucked to Trafalgar Square to see a special show from the cast of Avenue Q and nicked as much free stuff as humanly possibly, which is why my room for the summer now looks like a gay flea market. And then we went to Leicester Square, where Boy George did three songs somewhat enthusiastically but didn't stick around for an encore, and I was happy because he sang Karma Chameleon and that's basically the only song of his I know anyway. The only thing that could make the day better was food, so we went to GBK and I got a shockingly good puy lentil burger and a cup of hot chocolate from Apostrophe that was the consistency of pudding. And then we saw Zizek and I would have peed with excitement, except that I was saved by the fact that that hot chocolate moves through your system about as fast as molasses and will probably hit my bladder sometime in October. And then I sprinted to Paddington, because I had to be up at the crack of dawn to collect all the students for this summer program from the airport.

The highlight of the afternoon was when I realized that I had to check out Modern Art Oxford today if I was going to take my kids there on Tuesday, and thought I'd swing by to check the hours and make sure there was something neat going on. And there was. Except it is a Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective.

So that's a dilemma.

On one hand, the first week of my pop culture course is structured around a fieldtrip to the museum and debate about aesthetics, so I can't really delete it from the syllabus without totally upending the narrative arc of the class. On the other hand, photos of naked men and bondage. My compromise has been to sit at my desk and map out a very careful route through the gallery and hope that they only look at the walls that I steer them across, until class ends and I tell them that I'm leaving but that there's a whole gallery of material upstairs that is inadvisable for children. Knowing the seventeen year olds I'm teaching, that should about do it.

Quotable Quotes

This is precisely why I love Lily Allen.

Friday, 3 July 2009


I procrastinated tonight by taking a bootleg Meyers-Briggs test after it came up twice in the past two days. This should surprise just about nobody. Hell, I've always thought that being controlling, judgmental, and ruthless are among my nicer features.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Why I Spend Summers Living Abroad

To celebrate the Fourth of July this year, I'm going into London to see Slavoj Zizek at the annual Marxism Festival and Boy George at Pride. I'm pretty sure the Founders would endorse this wholeheartedly.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

The Politics of Hair, Remembered

I let my hair grow unfettered between December and the end of June, and after it passed the awkward mullet stage, it suddenly curled out into a kind of Farrahesque style that actually looked kind of good. (It was hot as blazes and I almost bought a matching headband and wristbands for the gym that would have changed it from Farrahesque to Tennenbaumesque, but it looked pretty sexy nonetheless.) Anyway, everyone kept being like, "you look like Farrah Fawcett" and I decided that when she died, I would probably have to cut it off.

So I did. Or, more accurately, David did. And my new hairstyle is starting to grow on me, because I was staring at it in the mirror this morning and trying to figure out what it reminded me of and I realized that it reminded me of this gang of queer women I sort of knew in college who always had these short, androgynous haircuts sticking up in different directions that I was always kind of jealous of. And now I have one, so there.

Go To Hell. Love, the New York Times

As if on cue, Room for Debate ran a piece today about what a master's degree is actually worth. The highlight of the debate comes from Richard Vedder:

"Not all degrees are equal — a master’s in anthropology or art probably has less incremental earning power than a M.B.A. or advanced engineering degree. If graduate enrollments soar as more decide to stay in school, the newly minted master’s graduates may find the job market not all that much better in a couple of years than at the present, and end up taking a relatively low paid job — and facing much larger student loan debts than otherwise."

On the one hand, this is not great news the week that you finish your master's in anthropology. On the other hand, if you're racking up advanced degrees in anthropology because you want to earn a lot of money, you probably deserve it.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009


My grades went up today, and I got a distinction on my thesis! What!? (As crippling as my fear of inadequacy can be, the upside is that it also makes things like this exciting every time.) I got all giddy about it until I started calculating how many days and weeks went into each point in my grade, but then I went to Moo-Moos for a raspberry and Jaffa Cake milkshake before I killed the buzz entirely. It worked, because I am very good at distracting myself like that.

Monday, 29 June 2009

As Famous As Who's Her Name

D: "She's going to be famous. She's the new Jennifer Doyle."
R: "Who?"
D: "You know, Jennifer Doyle. From Britain's Got Talent."
R: "Susan Boyle?"
D: "Whatever."

Sunday, 28 June 2009


I'm having a really hard time readjusting to being a productive member of society. Today, I sat in bed and read the entirety of Miranda July's "No One Belongs Here More Than You," made pasta and bread with David, did the New York Times crossword, and got a haircut in our bathtub. If I had one more episode of Weeds, this would basically have been an introvert's paradise.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Ryan Does England

The past two weeks were insane, and made me realize why normal people take vacations without appending the word “working” to them. Emma and I drove from Oxford to Liverpool to Edinburgh to York to Chester to the Wye Valley to Oxford, stayed for three hours to go to a dinner in Worcester with David, and hopped a train to London to meet Doris and go clubbing. The next morning, I pried myself out of bed to pick up my mother at Heathrow, took her out for pies, and dropped her off in my room to nap off the jetlag before leaping on a boat for a nautical edition of This Is Your Life with Emma, David, Brian and Chase, Erika, Abby, Mark, Debs, Jamie and Ed, R. Dave, and basically anyone else I ever talk about at Oxford. The boat party turned into a pub, which turned into a bar, which turned into a club, which turned into Emma and I crashing on my floor at 2am. And then all three of us woke up for a surreal breakfast of yogurt and crumpets on the floor of my room in our pajamas before Emma left and I hung out with my mother for a week.

And then the next week was basically insane. When I pitched this visit to my mom, I was like, hey, come to Oxford and it'll cost you like $10 because we'll just hang out and I'll cook stir-fry all the time and you can crash in my room. This did not happen. We went to the Natural History Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum, walked to the end of Cowley Road, went punting, went to gbk and walked around Worcester's gardens, went to London and hit the National Gallery, Covent Garden, Westminster Abbey, and the British Museum before seeing Avenue Q, went to my viva and had lunch at Gee's, went to St. Mary's and the Bear for the classic cathedral/alcohol double-header, went to a dinner party, had french toast for breakfast, went to the Botanical Gardens, Christ Church Meadows, tea at Cafe Loco, and Christ Church, and made huevos rancheros with David, went to the Turf, went to Blenheim Palace, came back for shakes at Moo-Moos, went to my department's garden party, watched some Little Britain, visited Rhodes House for a breakfast, then spent a day in London at the British Library, Spitalfields, lunch on Brick Lane, evensong at St. Paul's, fish and chips at a pub (she felt obligated), and then went to the Tate Modern and crashed before I took her back to Heathrow because getting to Terminal Four was intimidating.

And now I start teaching in a week. Yay!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

This is (Literally) How We Roll

Emma and I are leaving for Edinburgh tomorrow. She arrives tomorrow morning and we're picking up our rental car, and then we have absolutely nothing planned until we return the car on Friday. I met Emma and Doris in London on Saturday and we half-jokingly mentioned sleeping in the car, and then both admitted that we were planning to pack warm clothes because of the likelihood that this will actually happen. We know what art exhibits we want to see and what foods we want to make sure to eat, we just haven't planned any driving routes or made any hotel reservations. Priorities!

Friday, 12 June 2009


I know I should have been a ball of jubilation and norepinephrine in the last exam of my degree today, but I looked up at the clock halfway through and all I could think was, "I think I might stop writing now." I resisted that impulse and actually finished my exam, but I did bore myself so badly that I ended up writing 3/4 of each answer, then going back in the last fifteen minutes to write a trio of concluding paragraphs that each began, "Ultimately..." This is the danger of having nothing else to study for since March; it turns out that I've read and picked apart and flashcarded each of the 80+ readings so many times that none of them seem remotely interesting anymore and my essays were basically just descriptive bibliographies of thirty years of theory about the state.

I did earn my freedom, though, which is why I partially disrobed and I'm currently drinking a very large iced americano from Starbucks and eating a peach and raspberry muffin roughly an hour before dinner and watching an MST3K short from what appears to be the early 1990s. Behold, these are my basest instincts.

The Day of Reckoning

I'm not very good at working hard and then playing hard, because I usually finish working hard and then feel a weird sense of postpartum depression about whatever I've just finished and feebly look for random assignments to fill my time. I'm perfectly aware that I do this, except I didn't want to do it after finishing my MPhil and figured that I actually deserve a two week break that I can't escape at will. So basically, I'm taking my exam in two hours, getting changed and going to dinner, and then going into London tomorrow to intercept Emma before we spend a week roadtripping to the Cotswolds, Liverpool, Edinburgh, and York, sprinkling in a formal dinner, night of clubbing in London, and boat party on the Isis, then dropping off Emma and picking up my mother in London for another bombastic week of sightseeing and trying to persuade my mother that it would be culturally insensitive for her to not drink at noon with me. And the upside is that if I fail my exam, I have 24 hour supervision to make sure that I don't do something crazy like join a roller derby. Everyone wins!

Thursday, 11 June 2009


I'm anticipating this movie so hotly that I'm contemplating a drug-induced hibernation to make the summer go by faster.

(And this is grainy, but I can't wait to see Penelope Cruz do A Call from the Vatican. Sara Gettelfinger did it when Michael and I saw the show in 2003 and it's still the best song about phone sex I've ever heard.)

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Post Traumatic Soup Disorder

I'm pretty sure this is not supposed to happen, but I opened my microwave halfway through nuking a bowl of soup and lifted the plate off to stir it around and it blew up all over me. Like, not when the microwave was on, not when I opened the door, but five seconds later, pretty much immediately when I lifted the plate off the top. I stood there for a second with my glasses, face, and upper torso spattered with vegetable soup, and then I turned to open the door and Abby was just coming in to borrow a knife and was like, Jesus, what happened to you? and I almost tackled her to the ground to safety but took a deep breath and went to wash my face. When I got back to the kitchen, I started microwaving it again but was too scared to keep it going and had lukewarm soup and toast for lunch instead. It wouldn't have been so bad, except a bean basically burned itself through my shirt and now I'm going to have a bean shaped scar over my left nipple as a reminder of the danger of doing anything for yourself.

Monday, 8 June 2009

The Subtle Racism of Being a Terrible Speller

I ran through my flash cards for the exams and these were the three names that I fucked up no matter how hard I tried. This was supposed to build up body memory to keep me from screwing up the names on my exam, but there is a pattern here that makes me feel very self-conscious. This is what happens when you grow up in Fargo and anything that doesn't have a Scandinavian suffix blows your mind. (The worst part is that I will lose sleep over whether or not I'm racist and I'm still going to spell all these names wrong on the exam.)

Happiness You Can't Explain

I roadtripped down to London yesterday to see Po' Girl play at the Half Moon in Putney, and I realized that the degree to which I like a concert is directly related to the number of arcane or unconventional musical instruments they play on the stage. Laura Viers played a couple on the banjo, Jay Brannan had these pseudo-castanets that Bitch taught him how to play, and Po' Girl brought a banjo, xylophone, accordion, clarinet, gutbucket, and a bunch of bicycle bells. Win! (I think they should have a search feature on ticketing websites that lets you restrict your results to shows with banjoes.) And although this is maybe a little weird, I totally have a crush on JJ Jones and want to be her best friend.

So this is Sarah MacDougall, who was a good enough opening act that I'm probably buying her CD.

And Allison Russell and Awna Teixeira...

...and Awna Teixeira and JJ Jones.

Swoon! I think it might be because when JJ drums really hard and gets blurry, the red hair and vest sort of reminds me of one of my favorite college professors. Sarah MacDougall told a story about being really embarrassed about once grabbing Bruce Springsteen's ankle, and I caught myself wondering if I could touch JJ's ankle if I got close enough to the drum set. I made myself stop thinking this for the sake of everyone involved.

And this was the end, when Allison Russell flat-footed the last song on the edge of the stage and I almost peed a little.