Saturday, August 04, 2012

"My dear Holmes!" I ejaculated.

I can't even tell you how many times that sentence, or some form of it, has appeared in the Sherlock Holmes stories that I've been reading steadily throughout the summer. And it doesn't matter that I am a serious scholar of Victorian literature, or that I am a mature adult--I must suppress a giggle every time. The reason is this: within the BBC Sherlock fandom, as I am sure no one who reads this blog will be even remotely surprised to learn, there is a gigantic collective of folk who support the theory that John Watson and Sherlock Holmes are in love.

And I am one of these people.

I'm not going to offer support or evidence in this blog post--that's just not what this blog is for--but I thought it was high time I did a post on Sherlock Holmes.

As I stated before, I've been making my way slowly through the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels this summer. I bought my father the complete short stories (in a nice hardback volume that includes the original illustrations, too) for Father's Day, because he zipped through a large anthology of short stories about Texas that I gave him for Christmas. He seems to like being able to squeeze in a story a day, and I thought it would be nice for him to read something that I myself am actually doing work in. We're not reading the stories together exactly, but I've been trying to keep up with him between the Victorian novels that I'm reading on my own.

It's no mystery that the BBC Sherlock was my gateway into the fandom. I'm not ashamed. But it did seem a natural direction for my interests to take as my studies in affect have led me to the sensation novel and subsequently into the detective novel via Wilkie Collins.

So, I've developed a bit of Sherlock Radar. Just in the past week in Austin, I've taken note of the following:

R and I checked out this pub yesterday. Unfortunately, as R phrased it, the inside betrayed it to be nothing more than a "glorified Applebee's." We did not stay to drink a pint.

I was camped out at Book People earlier this week, finishing up my syllabi and assignments for my Rhetoric classes this semester. Before I left I went to the loo and what graffiti should I find in the stall but this glorious scrawl. Ha.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Shiner, Texas

My mother and I took a mini-roadtrip to the brewery in Shiner on Tuesday.

We took this journey because I have recently been struck with a kind of wanderlust to explore my homestate. This always happens when I live somewhere that is not in Texas; I feel suddenly so much pride in being from Texas and want to explore the ins and outs of the state, to experience what makes Texas Texas and to develop as a native Texan.

I like Shiner beer; when I'm in Austin I drink quite a bit of Shiner Blonde and Shiner Hefe. In Iowa City they sell all the seasonal Shiner varieties, as well as the original Shiner Bock, but not these my two favorites. At the brewery after the brief tour, visitors are given four wooden nickels to exchange for small paper cups of different beers. These were some generous cups, let me tell you. I only drank three; my mom only had two. They were out of the only flavour I hadn't ever tried (the summer seasonal grapefruit beer?) that I wanted to try (was not interested in the very dark 'black lager' or the ultra-hoppy IPA), so I enjoyed my free Blonde and Hefe, made a stamped penny for my good friend Miriam back in Iowa City, and off we went back to Austin.

On the way to Shiner, we took a detour to Mt. Palmetto State Park in Gonzales County. My mom enjoys nature and camping, and she was curious about the area. I am more of a townie (give me an outdoor cafe any day), but in the spirit of engaging in being a Texan, I embraced the beautiful view of green (not drought-dead!) trees and rock. 

It's becoming more important to me to figure myself out, and part of that means investigating where I come from. I'm glad to have spent this extra time just exploring different parts of Texas (as much as I covet my status as an Austinite specifically).

Monday, July 16, 2012

When people ask me what there is to do in Austin, I often have a difficult time answering. Of course, there is much to do. There is a TON to do. But I'm not 100% sure what precisely there is to do, because of what I do. And what I do is camp out at a coffeehouse and read all the livelong day. That is just what I do for fun.

This past weekend, R and I tried a new coffeehouse in East Austin. And oh my lord, you know what? I don't even remember its name. But it is on east Cesar Chavez. I imagine that it would be a really nice place to go in the autumn--when temperatures sink back down into the 70s--due to the five or so picnic tables arranged neatly outside on both grass and zero-scaped gravel. Though there were several tables and chairs inside, the crown jewel of this coffeeshop was truly the long, elegant, velvet couch in the window that seemed to have come straight off of the set of Downtown Abbey. A matching armchair sat on either end, and an elaborate metal coffeetable in front of all of them.

Bonus: this coffeehouse has not only several of my favorite local Austin beers on tap, but ALSO (and this is a really big deal), of all things, Strongbow Cider?! Sold. We will be going back.

 I was also particularly fond of the yellow flowers that were growing amongst the extremely pointy bushes on the side of the shop, where we had parked.
I'm making my way steadily through The Mill on the Floss. I already know how it ends; it is probably one of the most oft-discussed Victorian novels and one of the most sentimental, so I've already had it ruined for me at least four times in various articles and book chapters on emotions in the Victorian novel. So it feels rather odd to be reading it now, and I must remind myself that I am not reading it for the plot but for the feelings. That is a thing.

On Saturday morning we went to the Farmer's Market in search of strawberry syrup. We found no such thing there (or at Whole Foods, subsequently, either!) but we did find some unique popsicles at this booth. You can see R here with a mint-lime popsicle, which was deliciously refreshing on such a hot and humid morning.

Friday, July 13, 2012


I know, I know. I just keep blabbing out these blog manifestos and nothing ever really comes of them. But here's the thing: I have an iPhone now, and I take a lot of photos. Maybe it's just time to make this an everyday life blog, complete with photos.

This move was 100% inspired by Elsie's quotidian addition to A Beautiful Mess, which in my abrupt departure from the fashion-blogging world is the only fashion blog I still try to read every day. And what better way to keep a record of what my life was like in my mid-twenties than with photographs and short descriptions?

I'm trying here; I really am.

 My mother and I road-tripped down from St. Louis to Austin in two days. We got some DELICIOUS (and famous) kolaches in West, Texas. I love stopping at little places like this one on road trips, but when you have to travel 18 hours in two days to get back home for a funeral, you can't make too many stops.

I've been cooking and baking a TON this summer, trying to hone my skills. This German Chocolate Cake was for my dad's birthday.

I went to see "Moonrise Kingdom" with Robert several weeks ago, and, in the words of my professor friend, "swooned." I loved everything about it. I felt as if Wes Anderson had gone into my brain and extracted all of my childhood fantasies about running away in the wilderness, and combined it with the obsessions of my older age: vintage, the color yellow, and folk-y music.

 My mother and I made fried okra. It was time-consuming, but delicious. I would probably only do this once or twice a year, and likely only for pot lucks or dinner parties.

I've picked up cross-stitching again! I started this TARDIS for my living room a year ago, but I actually did most of the work on it at the end of May (while listening to Benedict Cumberbatch reading a mystery novel aloud) and in the week I spent at my parents' house mid-June (while watching Mark Ruffalo movies with my mum).

 This Iron Man was for my friend Zach's birthday. I am actually quite fond of it, and am toying with the idea of stitching myself a Hulk about this size for my living room.
 Obviously, I have been trying to get some reading in! Although I have my car down here in Texas for the summer, I am making a habit of taking the bus to my favourite coffeehouses.
 Robert and I have (obviously) been spending a lot of time together. We like to grab a beer (or two) after he gets off of work. One of the things I am going to miss about Austin when I return to Iowa are all of the delicious local beers!
This is Baylee, my mama's beagle. She has discovered that I will give belly rubs for an hour, and has become very fond of letting me pet her while I read.

Thus, you have now caught up with my summer. Expect shorter, more frequent photo posts in the future.

Monday, June 25, 2012

in which I break a somewhat long hiatus

Guys. This whole blog thing, I suck at it. When I am not an angst-ridden high school student, I suppose I must place less value on my thoughts and daily experiences. The idea of keeping a fashion blog died out fairly quickly. The concept of morphing my outfit blog into a kind-of fashion/mylife blog lasted maybe two weeks. So, screw it. I don't even know what I am doing any more. But have a post. Not a manifesto, or new blog mission. Because we all know I'd abandon it. If you take one thing away from this post (and that includes Future Me who might be reading this after I don't post again for multiple months), it should be this: salami and gouda on a baguette with a tiny bit of mustard is just really delicious. Are any of those ingredients imbibed with even the remotest amount of nutritional value? Don't care. Have begun to care less about this. Because honestly, what's the point? Each time I try to throw myself onto some kind of a diet and exercise regimen, nothing happens. But during the three months this past spring that I never went to the gym and ate an abundance of peanut butter and bread and macaroni and cheese, I lost something like 8 pounds. So I say to you: it is all so bloody arbitrary, that I am going to just eat what I like and work out on a vaguely regular basis out of desire and not guilt. And pretend that I'm training for the Avengers. With Steve cheering me on.

The problem with summer has always been that I devise these ambitious plans for productivity, and that I ultimately do little other than eat out and read fanfiction. For example, I packed an entire box full of books into my car to bring down to Austin for the summer. I intend[ed?] to read my way through a long list of Victorian novels and a frankly absurd amount of nonfiction books from the library about affect, the sensation novel, and random bits of Victorian culture that piqued my curiosity (read: Victorian honeymoons). Since my arrival in Austin over a week ago, I have read about one hundred pages of Basil by Wilkie Collins. At this rate, I'll be lucky to read one novel by Eliot, Hardy, and Dickens apiece. So I am going to have to make some kind of a plan. Otherwise, I am going to spend my days lusting over recipes that I could not possibly actually make in R's tiny kitchen with literally no counter space, and only one rickety card table to use for chopping ingredients. And scrolling down Tumblr ever few hours, pinning every other fan rendition of Sherlock and John Watson together to my Pinterest:

(Okay, but, Sherlock and John Watson, guys...) (And... I just spend 45 minutes choosing the Sherlock image I wanted to include here. I got side-tracked by Tumblr. And I decided I wanted to learn how to draw comics on my computer. And I looked up how much Photoshop costs. WHICH brought me back to reality, and here I am to finish my blog post--do you see now why this is such a problem?) Right. So-plan. I need one. I need to read, write letters, jog, cook, and spend very little money. How hard can that be? I mean, right? So here goes. Well, sort of. I'm at Book People and I somehow forgot to bring a pen/pencil, so I can't write any letters. And I finished the book I brought with me! So all I have is the Internet. OKAY fine, I'll go hunt through the fiction and start reading something in a squishy armchair for an hour that I can pick up at the library later. Watch me go be productive. Just you watch.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Music Monday: in which I love my laundry detergent

I did a load of laundry, and half of the clothes are hanging up to dry all over my apartment. With the windows open and the breeze blowing through all of my rooms, the smell of lavender is carried forth from my clean clothes and into... well, my nostrils. And I am loving it.

lately4-8 by Laur on Grooveshark

These are a small sample of the songs that have been recurringly making it onto various different mood playlists of mine. I'm not sure I can say what they have in common. They feel crisp and fresh, just like recently laundered clothes or a Midwestern spring breeze. That must be it.

[blazer: thrifted, dress: thrifted, vest: vintage, thigh-high socks: Sock Dreams, tights: Sock Dreams boots: gifted, necklace: via my mum, shoulder bag: via my mum]
Working Weekend: in which I go back in time

When I was in college, my English classes did not stress historical context. My training lies in extended close readings. Until a year ago, it never occurred to me that one might (should?)consider anything outside of the text itself in a piece of literary analysis. Incidentally, I know very little about history. I took one history class on British Empire when I was in London--but of course, I was concentrating much more on being in London than I was on Empire or anything else that I was supposed to be learning about. My semester in England was more of an emotional and psychological education than an intellectual one.

Almost everything I know about American history I learned from the American Girl books growing up. Almost everything I know about world history I learned from Simone de Beauvoir's memoirs--or Doctor Who.

But suddenly I am a graduate student, and regardless of poststructuralism, I cannot ignore history. (For a million reasons, some intellectual and some ethical).

This weekend I have thrust myself back in time to the 18th and 19th centuries for two different assignments. I am writing a 5 page cultural history essay on hair jewelry in the 18th century, and a 5 page essay on three different reviews of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall from 1848. Meanwhile, I am reading a book on emotional discourse in the 19th century--which seems to tie everything together, in that I am investigating what feels like one giant cloud of sentimentality that set over Britain in the early 18th century and did not dissipate until the onset of Modernism in the early 20th century. That's me: feelings in literature. I'm that gal.

[cardigan: Urban Outfitters, dress: Modcloth, belt: vintage tights: Sock Dreams, boots: gifted, bag: Iowa City Public Library]

Friday, April 06, 2012

Food Friday: in which I make pizza

About once a month or so I traipse down to the co-op a few blocks southeast of my apartment to see if there are any outstanding deals on things like sweet potato chips, organic avocados, lavender goat milk soap, or Wensleydale cheese. Usually none of these things are on sale, but a couple of other desirable items are. Last month I needed a cucumber for some peanut noodles and did not feel like driving to Hyvee, so I walked to the co-op and paid about $3.50 for an organic cucumber.

But I am not here to complain about paying over 3 times the regular price for a cucumber at the co-op.

I happened to find a whole wheat pizza crust for $2.00. These things, even at normal grocery stores, can cost about $5--at the co-op, they usually run about $7.50. I bought the pizza crust and it sat in my pantry until earlier this week when I decided to make two pizzas with it.

1st Half of the Pizza: Jalapeno and Pepperoni
2nd Half of the Pizza: Pineapple and Pesto

I used an organic canned pizza sauce for the 1st half, added a pinch of basil, and topped the sauce with shredded mozzarella (um, how the hell is that word spelled?) before adding pepperoni and jalapenos from a jar. For the second half, I topped the crust with pesto (instead of pizza sauce), and added shredded mozzarella (??no seriously) and then chunks of canned pineapple. I baked the pizza according to the package directions for the crust, and voila!

And--spring! Please note the lack of tights.
On this particular day, I found myself not entirely disappointed that I had left some grading in my office and needed to ride my bike to campus and back. Alonso and I enjoyed the fresh pre-thunderstorm air, so crisp and somehow... fizzy.

[dress: vintage, cardigan: JCrew, shoes: Urban Outfitters belt: vintage necklace: hand-me-down, bag: Myopic Books in Chicago]

Monday, April 02, 2012

Music Monday: in which I am lame and pass up seeing Antlers live

This weekend, I was at a conference here at the university, where I chaired a panel on Revolutions in Feminist Aesthetics. This weekend was also the Mission Creek Music Festival, a sort-of multi-venue music fest that is held every almost-April here in Iowa City. On Saturday evening, after the conference reception, I had two choices.

1. Walk home in a thunderstorm, call R, wrap my wet hair in a towel, and go to bed.
2. Go to see Antlers, one of my favorite bands, at 11:00.

I opted for the first.

And, oh, friends. I used to be the kind of gal who drove 6 hours to Dallas and 6 hours back to Conway in the same night just to see a band that I generally liked.I braved ACL Fest in 110 degree heat and nearly danced myself to death from dehydration in 2004 for Franz Ferdinand. I, who hail from the Live Music Capital of the World. I went home.

So I know now that I am officially lame. Antlers, I'm sorry. When I saw your abbreviated set at SXSW two years ago, I was blown away. I'm sorry I missed you this time around. Come back to Iowa City--just make sure to play before 9, please.

Last of the photos from my old camera. RIP old camera. You served me well in 7 different countries.

[dress: vintage shop in Paris, cardigan: Anthropologie, leggings: American Apparel, boots: gifted, necklace: thrifted]

Friday, March 30, 2012

Themeless Thursday on Friday: in which I play catch-up

What an odd week. Without excuse, I offer in one post

Music Monday: Bob Dylan and spring

When I was in high school, I had a bit of a mania for mix CDs. Part of the reason for this was likely the fact that I had either a 45 minute to one-hour bus ride or car drive to and from school each day, and felt the need for music to suit my specific moods that I might enjoy the pleasure of utter absorption. I had mix CDs for every mood, every weather condition, every time of day. I had mix CDs for the windows being down, the windows being up; driving on the highway, driving through neighborhoods, not-quite-being-able-to-drive in traffic.

I mention this because this past weekend I believe I invented a new category. “Songs for Spring Evenings when the Windows are Open and I Sit in the Living Room, Able to Feel a Determined Breeze.” As it turned out, a large percentage of the playlist was made up of Bob Dylan songs.

I feel like so many people who like Bob Dylan are really into Bob Dylan. I’m not one of those people. I couldn’t tell you the names of almost any of his albums, or describe to you any of the phases that his music has gone through. But I do like Bob Dylan. Here are a few of the songs by Bob Dylan that found their way onto my narrowly-defined playlist:

bob d by Laur on Grooveshark

Teaching Story Tuesday: absences

I had a student who was mysteriously ill every week. She missed more class than she attended. But she always had a doctor’s note to explain why she had missed 7 days of class at a time, so the absences were technically excused. She emailed informal assignments to me, and was very diligent in her inquiries regarding what she had missed.

My question was going to be how on earth I could grade someone who was never in class—but was always excused—with regards to participation? She hadn’t been in class for two weeks before we started doing speeches last week, and she continuously emailed me with requests to change the date of her speech. I didn’t know when I should start subtracting points from her grade for lateness.

But, just after I emailed my teaching advisor with these questions, I sent a mass email to my class about homework. I noticed that 19 students had suddenly become 18. She must have dropped the class early this week and neglected to mention it.

Moral of the story: some problems solve themselves.

Wishlist Wednesday: shoes for summer

It has probably become apparent through my outfit photos that I wear cowboy boots about 95% of the time. I love my cowboy boots. I firmly believe that there is no outfit in my closet that my cowboy boots would not complement perfectly. The only problem with my cowboy boots is that they are quite warm—which is only a problem for a few months out of the year, admittedly. I can wear these boots in the snow, but woe to me when I wear them in 95-degree heat and 90% humidity in the Iowa summer.
This summer, I will probably be in Austin for three months. Forget 95 degrees. Now imagine 110 degrees. I simply cannot wear cowboy boots this summer.

I am on a quest for summer shoes. I have one pair of cheap light brown Oxfords from Urban Outfitters that are falling apart on the inside, and one pair of brown basket-weaved flats from my mother’s closet that are also falling apart (and squeak obnoxiously each time I take a step). Something must be done.

These mustard sandals are $54.99 from ModCloth. When I get paid for April, I might have to invest. Mustard goes with everything, and if I can have at least one pair of shoes to share the burden of warmer weather with my failing Oxfords, that would be a great deal helpful.

It is so bloody windy in Iowa in the spring. My poor potted plant does a swan dive off of my coffeetable almost every evening that I have the windows open. The wind is probably the main character in the following photos:

[cardigan: JCrew outlet, shirt: thrifted JCrew, skirt: American Apparel, belt:
JCrew, tights: JCrew, shoes: gifted Clark's, necklace: via my mum]

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Working Weekend: in which I average midterm grades

At this point in the semester, my students have done a myriad of informal assignments, written one paper, and given one speech. They still have one more paper and one more speech, both worth 20% of their grades—so, now would be the perfect time for them to really buckle down and try to improve, if they see the need to do so.

This is also the point in the semester at which I can’t help but wonder whether or not I am a “tough grader.” Do tough graders know they are tough graders? Do easy graders know they are easy graders? (Crazy people don't know they're crazy, right?)

I've graded 12 speeches. So far, not one student has received above an 88. Does that reflect on them, or on me? But no one has failed. No one failed the first paper. No one has received a grade lower than a 70 on any assignment. So... again, what does this say about me, if anything? I suppose if I weren't asking these questions, it would be impossible for me to be a good teacher. But how do I know if I am a (too) tough grader? Fellow TAs and instructors (surely at least one TA must read this blog), what say you? How do you know if you are too tough of a grader versus whether your students are just unspectacular?

And yet another leftover outfit from the cold weather... I promise, this week, warm weather photos will commence!

[sweater: JCrew, skirt: Megan Nielsen, tights: JCrew, socks: Sock Dreams, boots: hand-me-down, necklace: Ruche, belt: via my mum]