Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Need Your Spare Boxes.

I'm trying to pack a tiny bit each day so that come the end of July, I don't have to go crazy with moving stress. So far I have packed three boxes full of the contents of about 85% of one of my two floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Hey, it's a start.

In the spirit of 'hey, it's summer--we should be doing stuff!' Robert and I went to the Cedar Rapids BBQ Round Up last Sunday. Having seen on their website that one of the booths was going to be from Memphis and another from Amarillo, I thought, "YES. Real BBQ!" And who doesn't love a downtown festival with plenty of people-watching? However, when we arrived at the Round Up, we found that it wasn't even downtown. It was in what I believe to have been a glorified parking lot. The booths were these incredibly tacky phenomenon; the order counter was surrounded by flamboyant sign after sign proclaiming that particular BBQ company's ribs or pulled pork or sauce to have won first or second place at some other festival in another town in a different year. Three 'taster' ribs were $4. A small pulled pork sandwich was $7. We settled on splitting one sandwich to begin with--I think it was from the stall from Memphis. Then we paid $5 for a Budweiser and sat down. We were unimpressed--even with the people-watching. My shoulders began to slump in disappointment. "We could get better and cheaper BBQ than this at Jimmy John's in Iowa City," R commented. And I knew he was right.

So, what did we do? In a fit of determination to stay cheery, we purchased a snow cone and decided to head back to Iowa City and do just that--eat better and cheaper BBQ at Jimmy John's. My dear friend Zach, who until that afternoon had been waylaid in Indiana with the ordeal of getting his wisdom teeth pulled, joined us.

I know that Iowa will never be Austin with all of its festivals (Austin City Limits Music Festival, the Zilker Kite Festival) or other quirky exciting events (Annual O. Henry Pun-Off, Shakespeare at Winedale). I knew that before I moved here. But I'm a firm believer in making the most of things. So the Cedar Rapids BBQ Round-Up was a disappointment? There's always the Jazz Fest this weekend here in Iowa City! I'll be downtown in my small collection of strapless dresses, sipping margaritas or Blue Moon, reading Luce Irigaray and playing travel Scrabble. Sounds pretty great, doesn't it?

Friday, June 24, 2011

So, it's still summer.

That's really all you need to know. It explains my lack of updates, because clearly without an abundance of assignments to avoid with procrastination I am not able to update a blog regularly. Well, I also plead that I've been spending a bit of time in Coralville at R's place, and I never take a computer over there. Besides, let's be honest. You can all guess what I've been up to: reading.

Yup. Give an English PhD student some spare time--genuine spare time--and what will she do? Bury herself in about three books at a time, of course. I finished Force of Circumstance, the 700-page third installment of Simone de Beauvoir's memoirs this past weekend in South Dakota, and meanwhile have been slowly making my way through The Fountainhead (yes, you read that correctly; I am reading it on both R and Zach's heavy recommendations) and two days ago started to reread Wuthering Heights. Before that I sped through Jean Rhys's unfinished autobiography. Have I done any of the ambitious career-related reading I had every intention of doing? Have I opened any of the important feminist texts that were recommended to me by my Sentimentalism professor, or the "Introduction to Everyday Life in Cultural Studies", or the many, many, MANY books of essays by Roland Barthes that already live on my bookshelf?

No. But I will.