Sunday, May 29, 2011

I'm So Sure There Must be Something Else I Should be Doing...

I think that being a grad student can best be encapsulated by this statement. Every morning I wake up and can't help but feel that there is something I ought to be reading. Surely there is a paper I should be skimming sources for. And, if not, then I have probably been doing those things so fervently that I have neglected the upkeep of my apartment and ought to be Swiffering the kitchen floor or Scrubbing Bubbling the bathtub.

I should relax. But when I do sit down on my yellow futon, cup of tea in one hand, bagel-with-peanut-butter in the other, and watch the latest episode of Doctor Who, I can't help but feel that I am somehow procrastinating.

Yet today that is appropriate behavior. This morning has been full of thunderstorms, with the rain pounding against my house so intensely that I needed to wear headphones in order to hear said episode of Doctor Who. What occasions laziness better than a soggy summer Sunday? Even my attire bespeaks this attitude:

shirt: Quack's
skirt: thrifted
shoes: Sperry Topsider
headband: via my mum

Sometimes, you just want to throw on a hippie skirt and a t-shirt and some comfortable shoes. Although, in case you were curious, this is pretty much what High School Lauren wore. Just replace the Sperrys with a pair of Converse All-Stars that had definitely seen better days.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

When You're Losing Your Voice During the Summer?

What a silly occassion to dress for! But out of pure spite, it had to be done. A couple of days ago I was startled to find that I was a wee bit hoarse. And then it continued. And continued. And got worse. When R left for work this morning I could only whisper a pathetic "Have a nice day." And I cough every now and then, but not excessively. My throat doesn't hurt. My nose is not stuffy. I do not generally feel ill, other than a strange ability to go for long periods without getting hungry. Not that I'm complaining about that one.

shirt: thrifted
skirt: American Apparel
belt: thrifted
tights: Sock Dreams
boots: gifted
locket: street vendor, Notting Hill

I finished the second volume of Anais Nin's diary and have since moved onto Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, in which I must admit I am rather disappointed. For one thing, I think it takes some weird liberties that aren't even entertaining--for example, Charlotte Lucas's being stricken and slowly turning into a zombie. I am not amused. Why is it that nobody likes Charlotte Lucas? But I was somewhat decided in my opinion of the book when in the first few chapters I realized that the characters of Mr. Bennet and Mary Bennet were being misrepresented. Mr. Bennet! One of my favorite characters in all of literature! Former members of my Jane Austen seminar at Hendrix College will remember how ardently I defended him. In the zombie version of the narrative, he lacks the dry wit so beloved by myself. Unforgivable. Capital offense. And Mary--Mary Bennet actually dances at a ball. Way to ruin one of the most hilarious characters in all of Austendom.

But, I digress. Perhaps it is better to get worked up over a novel, but let me list a few recent ISSUES that have presented themselves in the past several days.

1. Summer Employment
Loft did not hire me. I was about two seconds away from applying to walk someone's dog all summer for two hours a day when I received information from one of R's friends that she was leaving one of her three part-time jobs, this as a personal assistant to a realtor, and was giving the realtor my name and resume as a potential replacement. The job pays $12 an hour, with about 15-20 flexible hours a week available. I would be doing things like answering emails and putting data into spreadhseets. That seemed pleasant enough. But this entire week has been spent in a neverending game of phone/text/email tag with the realtor, who calls hours after she says she would, and texts me hours after I've gone to bed. She doesn't answer her cell or office phone and when I give her a convenient time to contact me she ignores it. However, it seems that we will FINALLY be meeting late this afternoon. We'll see how that goes.

2. Summer Classes
As you may or may not be aware, I have to learn a foreign language as part of my degree. I've been informed before that it's easy to pass the requirement, but I feel that I actually want to know French and be able to speak it, rather than merely read it. So I decided to go the long route and signed up for First Year French Review for the summer. Two days ago I received information that not enough students had enrolled and thus it was being cancelled. This was especially problematic because in order to receive my summer stipend I must be registered for a class at the University. This morning in a fit of desperation I signed up for the advanced reading course in French designed especially for doctoral students who need to be able to read the language rather than speak it. A a result, I ought to be able to read French quite well by the end of the summer. So I suppose I will be that far ahead in my requirements, and I will just have to learn to speak French on my own time. Bloody ridiculous.

So actually, summer could be going a little bit more smoothly at the moment.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

One Thing I Have Learned About This Summer

So, it would seem that now that it's summer and I do not tote my laptop around with me whenever I leave the apartment, I have become a rather poor blogger. Never fear, my loyal readers! I'm going to make a point of updating. For real. And I was going to type up an awesome update on Saturday but while Robert and I were downtown at Copacabana with our computers the tornado sirens went off and rather interrupted any work we were trying to get done.

(Actually, it was this very dramatic moment. I had gone two doors down to the public library to turn in R's book and pick a new one for myself when the sirens went off. Red lights began flashing in the library and a voice came over the loudspeaker saying that they were about to lock down the whole library. I made my way to the exit and then ran, cowboy boots and all, back to find R at Copacabana. The sirens here are a lot more dramatic than the Conway tornado sirens, and running with those blaring in the audible foreground felt very movie-esque).

But you may wonder what I have been up to for the past nearly three weeks!

I finished my paper on Mrs. Dalloway and The Mezzanine and gave a very mediocre presentation on it.

(shirt: Urban Outfitters; belt: via my mum; cardigan: JCrew outlet; jeans: Gap; necklace: gift; boots: gift)

I managed to scrape two A-minuses in my courses for the semester. (Remember, I also have one Incomplete as I have been given the summer to write the seminar paper).

Since then, I've mostly been enjoying the absolute abundance of dandelions in Iowa City!

The weather has teetered between ideal (65ish degrees and sunny, 70ish degrees with a breeze) and just a tad too hot (80 degrees and sunny with little to no breeze). I've taken to sitting out on the pedestrian mall on a bench with iced tea and a book. If R is working he usually joins me when he gets off and we sit in the sun until we get hungry for dinner. This past weekend we managed to find a nice shady bench to enjoy the live music out on the ped mall as well.

I zipped through Sarah Hall's most recent novel, How to Paint a Dead Man, which I thought was beautiful and at times poignant, and reread Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys) to remind myself of my love for Mr. Rochester. At present I have about 30 pages left of the second volume of Anais Nin's diary.

I also baked my first apple pie!

The crust was mediocre, but the filling was quite good.

In perhaps most important news, I finally found an apartment for next year! It is a wee bit pricey (particularly considering the fact that no utilities are included and I'll have to pay for a parking spot), but the location is perfect and the interior gigantic and beautiful. Yay! Obviously there is more to say on this matter, but I'll save that for another post, perhaps when I can post a picture of the outside.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Quick Post: Motivation Check

Yesterday I wore bright colors to try to make myself feel like doing work--which was silly! I'm struggling over this American lit paper. I was having a Bad Face Day, too. May today be more productive!

shirt: thrifted
skirt: Anthro
belt: JCrew
tights: Sock Dreams
boots: Clark's

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Yesterday Evening Somebody Called Me a "Woolfie"

And I don't hate it.

Do you all have any idea how much I love Virginia Woolf? Let me tell you. I was so happy to be writing about Mrs. Dalloway last week that as I steadily composed pages of my rough draft I almost burst into tears. It felt so amazing to write about a book that I love so much, to be putting quotes into an academic paper that I have scribbled down again and again in notebooks and onto Post-It notes:

"She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day."

In fact, you may [hopefully] recognize the name of this blog as a reference to the first line of Mrs. Dalloway.

shirt: thrifted
skirt: American Apparel
belt: via my mum
tights: Sock Dreams
boots: old Christmas gift
necklace: thrifted

There is a line in the film Almost Famous where one of the Band-Aids says that the new girls "don't know what it's like to be a fan. To love some silly bit of music so much that it hurts." I think of this quote when people ask me why I decided to do graduate school. Because I love some books so much that it hurts.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

So Close

It's coming to the final countdown, friends. The final draft of my Sentimentalism paper (15 pages) is due on Monday by 5pm. I must present a 10ish page paper on Saturday for my American Lit and Mass Culture course. This is the last week of classes, and I have only two introductions to anthologies to read for Thursday. And then? I have the rest of May to do what I wish before my summer French class begins in June, and before I will probably start to think seriously about my seminar paper (20+ pages) that I imagine I will turn in come August.

I still need to find an apartment for next year.

I still wish I had a cute, vintage bike.

A girl just walked into Copacabana wearing my Dream Anthropologie Skirt that I Still Wish I Had Bought.

I still think I need to lose weight.

But let's forget all of these negative "still"s for a moment. This weekend the yards of all the houses in Coralville near R's place were full of beautiful, bright yellow dandelions. He picked one for me and I wore it in my hair while we made Moroccan Chicken and Orzo (though with riso rather than orzo, to save $5).

We walked to Hy-vee to buy the necessary groceries and I loved the dandelions and the sun. The meal was delicious, and I still have leftovers to heat up for lunch tomorrow. Summer is coming--even if it feels like November and not May--and there is much to look forward to: cooking more ambitious, delicious meals; reading memoirs and letters and literary biographies; reading novels; running; watching people walk their dogs.

"There will be time, there will be time..."

Monday, May 02, 2011

In Which I am Sick--SICK, I Tell You--of Tights

Yeah, you heard me right. The Texan cowgirl who couldn't wait for the autumn, specifically because she longed for tights weather, is pretty much OVER leggings, tights, stockings, ALL OF THE ABOVE! It's May. It's May and yesterday I was so happy to walk to the grocery store near R's place in a knee-length dress without stockings that I just about cried.

Unfortunately, we woke up this morning at 7 and when we left the house at nine it was somewhere around 45 degrees and I not only had to step into some tights but in addition had to borrow a jacket from R because I was equipped only with a cotton cardigan. Good god! It's May!

Today, however, I have decided that I am done with tights due to the fact that I am suffering from excruciating outfit remorse. My skirt is sticking to my tights and bunching up both in the front and in the back and making me feel painfully frumpy. I can't wait to get out of class so I can CHANGE CLOTHES. How very sad.