Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The Opposite of a Birthday

It's time for my biennial opportunity to be totally obnoxious and ask all my closest friends to proofread a chapter or two (or, if you're really bored, six) of a disgustingly long piece of academic work in virtually no time whatsoever with absolutely no prior notice. Who's up for it?

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

In Which I Don't Deal Well With (The) Change

I'm suffering from acute five year plan anxiety syndrome (AFYPAS), which is a seasonal disorder that I basically get every March and April where I freak out about where I'll be spending my summer/following year/life. I'm kind of stuck until I hear from different host organizations where I might be able to do my DPhil, and very stuck until I actually find out if I get high enough marks on my thesis to continue onto the DPhil at all. This happens at the end of June, which means that I'm (predictably) alternating between a kind of "things will work out in the end" attitude and just cold freaking out and throwing myself into workaholic mode. Earlier today, I was like, "well, maybe the swine flu will kill everyone and it's not worth worrying too much until the bodies are cleared," and then I flipped out for no apparent reason and just spent two hours alternately blasting out shamefully needy emails and staring blankly at my computer screen. AFYPAS is a lot like annual menopause.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Welcome Back, Soup O'Clock

M: "How was Greece?"
R: "It was awesome. And then David and I lived together for the other five weeks and neither of us killed each other and it was fun. It was actually kind of sad when I had to carry all my books back to my apartment."
E: "Wow, you know you're a graduate student when the highlight of your break is realizing that you're not a total misanthrope."
X: "Or when moving your books is emotionally significant."

Sunday, 26 April 2009

The Last Starting Block

Today was the first day of what is quite possibly my last term at Oxford (eeeeeep), and I think I might actually be ready to tackle it. A proofread copy of my thesis on my desk, and I'm meeting with my supervisor this week to talk about any final edits before I turn it in on May 5th. (Seriously, this is so totally opposite to the way I did my undergraduate thesis that I barely know what's happening.) So instead of being like, "oh, yay, I've got free time to spend watching Parks and Recreation and passing out face-down on the various lawns of Oxford," I decided to learn Spanish over the next eight weeks. Yay, terrible ideas! Worse, this totally just detoured into me watching clips of Peggy Hill for the past twenty minutes.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

A Quick Public Service Announcement Regarding Body Memory

David's still finishing an all-nighter before his draft is due tomorrow, and I'm (conveniently) using the fact that the kitchen is empty at 2am to try the flatbread recipe that Mark Bittman blogged about this weekend.

The recipe calls for you to pour the batter into a skillet and bake it in the oven for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. It's almost done, and I've now firmly grabbed the handle of the skillet THREE TIMES, burning the palm of my left hand severely all three times. I'm clearly not used to using skillets in the oven, because every time it's a mixture of pain and confusion as I try to figure out why the whole skillet is hot and then remember that I just baked it for FORTY-FIVE MINUTES. The saddest thing is that I did this twice in the span of a minute.


My Own Devices

I turned in the last draft of my thesis to my supervisor after dinner tonight, and if anyone was wondering what fits under "call it good, day of rest" on my to do list, it involves:

- today's New York Times crossword
- Nina Simone
- a Cookie Monster from G&Ds
- last weekend's Doctor Who special
- putting all of my books in a large pile and hiding them

I'm extending this to tomorrow morning to justify french toast.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

An Update That Literally Zero People Care About

I just finished Chapter 4, meaning that I just have to retool the introduction and conclusion and add a couple of anecdotes tomorrow and my thesis will be off to my supervisor for last thoughts before I bind it and turn it in two weeks from now. This is pretty much the exact opposite of my undergrad thesis, which I finished in a 48 hour marathon that ended with me drinking one glass of wine and passing out for fourteen hours. I would like to take this moment to thank Amy Poehler and the cast of Parks and Recreation, who made this chapter possible when Toni Colette abandoned me. There is a 70% chance that you will be thanked in the acknowledgments.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Brought to You By the Number 3

I just finished heavily editing Chapter 3! My thesis is currently 33000 words! It's 3:30 in the morning! David went to bed 3 hours ago!

This is what Sesame Street would be like in Hell.

Fail, Fail, Repeat

Oh, it is not a good sign when you copy and paste the entirety of Friday's to-do list into Saturday's.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Total Eclipse of the Heartland

Look! Here I am on Mother Jones, bitching about how everyone stopped paying attention to the square states. It will be nice to get back to writing my thesis instead of making ten calls a day to every state in the Midwest, though.

(Also, I wanted to call it "Total Eclipse of the Heartland" but they wouldn't let me. I think this is tragic.)


I finished the first season of the United States of Tara as a reward for finishing the heavy edits on Chapters 1 and 2, and now there's nothing to encourage me to finish editing anything else. Perversely, I need to start watching a new series or I'm not going to be able to finish my thesis.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Welcome to Thesis Hell

I'm sending the very final draft of my thesis to my supervisor on Sunday, which means that this is my week in Thesis Hell. In a creepy echo of my undergraduate thesis, this means setting up a desk at my boyfriend's house and sitting in a blizzard of papers and dirty dishes and staring at my laptop for roughly fifteen hours a day. (The difference is that David is in Essay Hell in the room next door, which would be cute if we weren't both getting our asses kicked by academia.)

I feel gross. I only get up to pee and forage for cereal downstairs. I haven't been to my gym since Saturday. Today, I got up and went to work at a cafe, but I was so overwhelmed by the presence of other human beings that I only wrote three paragraphs in the two hours I was there and decided that I can't afford to do that anymore. Except I'm secretly worried that I'm going to fuse to my chair, so I might break that rule.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Why Writing My Thesis Is Actually Kind of Fun

"The feminists have Vagina Monologues. Butterfly Brigade produced Analogue, an original BB play revolving around a gay anus' journey towards safe sex and protection." - a manual I brought back from fieldwork last summer.

Monday, 13 April 2009

OMG, Manizer.

You know how I said that Lily Allen busting out with Womanizer was the best thing ever? I lied, and this is quite possibly the hottest thing on YouTube, ever.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Happy Easter

"Am I the only one who thinks that rescuing people who get attacked by pirates is a waste of taxpayer money?"
"But it does probably cost the government millions of dollars, and we're in a recession."
"You should write a letter to the Times. '2000 years ago, Christ died for our sins. Today, it's Richard Phillips' turn.'"

Easter Greetings From Abby

Saturday, 11 April 2009


I don't really think bagels are a standard food for Easter, but that's what we spent two hours making tonight. As a result, I'm slightly worried that Mel Gibson is going to break into our house tonight and kill us both.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

When Tragedy Strikes

Half the point of staying up late for conference calls is that I can secretly watch awful television while David is sleeping instead of getting judged for streaming Gossip Girl in the library. My very last call of the month is tonight, and in a cruel twist of fate, Megavideo has picked tonight of all nights to cut me off for excessive viewing. What the hell is the point of doing advocacy work if I'm not rewarded by finding out why Toni Colette is putting on a poncho and peeing on her family members in the middle of the night? Hmm?

(And yes, I've already watched this week's L Word interrogation tape. Twice.)

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

From Kansas With Love

I'm working on an article that required that I spend my entire afternoon on the phone with people in the Midwest. It singlehandedly reaffirmed my faith in humanity.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

It's Grocery Day Tomorrow

So we've taken to going to the farmer's market every Wednesday to stock up on fruits, vegetables, nuts, and eggs, because it's ridiculously fresh and happens basically on our doorstep. I thought we had a bunch of vegetables left over from this past week and I was going to make a bombastic stir-fry to get rid of them tonight, but then I opened the fridge and we had:

- two carrots
- one sweet potato
- half of an onion

Foresight is not my strong suit. But! We also had four tortillas left, so I carmelized half an onion, peeled and then carmelized two carrots,* and microwaved a sweet potato within an inch of its life before mashing it with milk, honey, and nutmeg and stirred it all together to make a radioactive kind of root vegetable pudding. And then I lightly fried two tortillas, scooped the spread on top of them, and covered those with two more lightly fried tortillas, and it totally made two yuppie enchiladas. And I liked them, although that might be because I'm like a five year old who doesn't think anything's gross as long as he makes it himself.

*This may or may not be real.

London in Twelve Hours

One way of getting to know the center of London is to sprint across it on foot approximately 20 times. David wanted to use the library at LSE and I wanted to go see A Little Night Music, and Tess agreed to be a middle aged homosexual with me. Secretly, I think we all miss Greece and wanted to pretend to go on vacation again, but whatever, it worked.

We got to Paddington in the morning and everything was sunny and kind of idyllic. Tess and I picked up our tickets at tkts after just over ten minutes, then I trotted up from Leicester Square to LSE to find David in the stacks. I never thought I'd appreciate this, but I got kind of nostalgic studying in a library with fluorescent lighting and open, perusable stacks instead of one in a castle where everyone can hear you sniffle and there are signs reminding you not to set anything on fire. I miss that.

For lunch, we took a break to meet David's friend for lunch and went to RedVeg, which Genevieve recommended as her favorite ethically sourced communist vegetarian fast-food restaurant in London. (And probably the world, although there's an off-chance that it has a competitor or two somewhere in the former Soviet bloc.) I had a mushroom burger and fries, and even though it wasn't that communist and they made me pay according to their menu and not according to my means, I was satisfied. And then afterwards David went back to LSE and I went to the National Gallery, where I was planning to spend a low-key, uneventful couple of hours until dinner. And then my phone rang, and it was David saying that he found a missing book I needed for my thesis, and I basically threw my map of the gallery in the air and sprinted to the Tube. I saw approximately four paintings. On the way, I called Tess and was like, "I might not make it to dinner!" and she was like, "we already made reservations!" and I was like, "OKAY DON'T PANIC." I raced across town, photocopied approximately 250 pages in like thirty minutes, then turned and bolted back to the other side of Westminster for sushi with Tess and James.

And I made it to dinner with two minutes to spare! And I wasn't even panting or crying or bleeding a little from my nose! The sushi was amazing, especially after it occurred to me that I haven't had sushi in the UK possibly ever. From there, we hightailed it from there to the Garrick Theatre, where we arrived at 7:31 and were stuck in the back of the balcony instead of our seats in the orchestra. (The seats in the balcony turned out to be better, which we learned after intermission. Oops.) So that was tremendous - the woman who plays Leonora Armfeldt totally stole the show, but I thought the leads playing Frederik and Desiree were also excellent, and Charlotte was pretty good. I could take or leave Anne, who is supposed to be annoying but I think she was annoying on too many levels.

And then we got out and realized we had fifty minutes to get from Leicester Square to Paddington and figured that was plenty of time, but definitely got there about ten minutes beforehand. Which was just enough time to grab coffee, because I had only had one cup that day and the fact that I did all of that on one cup of coffee is nothing short of astounding. I just figured that my heartbeat is too irregular to do that much running, but it turns out that I was wrong.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

It's a Hobby, Not an Addiction

"I brought us coffee!"
"You don't look excited."
"It's kind of like a drunk husband coming home from the bars to his wife and bringing her liquor as a surprise."

Thursday, 2 April 2009

I <3 VT

So I'm watching the live feed from Vermont's House of Representatives as they debate the same-sex marriage bill, and I just tuned in to a legislator reciting the lyrics to "Nature Boy." This is the most effective tourism campaign ever.

The Little Things You Do Together

A Little Night Music is still playing in London! It's like my favorite Sondheim musical after Company! I'm totally going to go see it this month to justify being in Oxford writing my thesis over the break instead of lounging on a beach in, say, Greece.

The worst part is that I might go see it alone, for two reasons. First, because there aren't many people who I would blindside with an Ingmar Bergman inspired musical in waltz time. I don't have very many archnemeses. And secondly, because I remember thinking that seeing Raul Esparza in Company was a dream come true, but that it might have been a bad idea to bring my boyfriend to a musical about someone who can't commit to anyone in a world of failed or dysfunctional marriages. (Fact: in one production, Bobby doesn't show up at his birthday party in the last scene because he kills himself.) A less terrible example is going to Sweeney Todd and watching an unrequited love end in someone being burned alive in a furnace, although that was also kind of a downer. Anyway, I would say that in the Family Feud round "Awful Date Musicals by Steven Sondheim" the one about Scandinavian infidelity would rank just above the one about people who have murdered a president. Barely.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009


I like that I went to Greece and one of the only things I brought back was a stovetop pot for making Greek coffee. And now I'm making it for my conference call at 1:30am, which will basically ensure that I never sleep again. Someday, I'm going to have to get an addiction counselor and I'm going to wish that I scrapbooked on my vacations instead.