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.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Operation: Life Skillz

So this is creepy, but I realized that I'm more self-disciplined when I classify mundane things as tactical battles. I started calling my attempt to regain a six pack Operation: Stop Getting Fat, and I totally started going to the gym again and put a self-imposed ban on buying cereal, which I tend to eat fistfuls of all day long with no self-control whatsoever. (I suffered a strategic loss when I went to a picnic on Wednesday and Chase pointed out that we had suddenly become the Girls at the Dessert Table. Still, it's going pretty well.)

Anyway, I'm toying with the idea of Operation: Fiscal Discipline and Operation: Rule the (Exam) School as I try to make it through the rest of June with a) a positive balance in my bank account and b) a halfway decent score on my last exam at Oxford. As a result, I've been doing odd jobs and making flash cards like nobody's business for the past two days. I'm as uneasy as you are that I can only succeed at life when I frame it in blatantly militaristic terms, but there you go. When I start using euphemisms for things like Operation: Glorious Success, I'm going to enter counseling.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

In That Nobody Knocked Out All My Teeth

I woke up this morning with a tiny chip in the corner of my front tooth, which somehow apparently happened in my sleep. What am I supposed to do now? Do I have dental insurance in the UK? Can this maybe wait until I get back to the US so that I can entrust it to Connie, my dental hygienist since age 5? Should I stop opening bottles with my mouth?

Luckily, the day went uphill from there.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Killer Bees are Coming

One of the nice parts about cohabitating in two separate apartments is that when you turn on the light to find that one is filled with literally thousands of gnats, you've got someplace else to go. I suddenly understand why it took seven plagues to get a polygamous population out of Egypt.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Take It Away, Freud

I think it's a sign to stop working when you reread the latest part of your study guide and catch yourself referring to the structural-functionalism of Radcliffe-Frown.