Wednesday, November 30, 2011

in which I perservere

R has been very sweet as I try to avoid panic over this keyboard situation, giving me evening pep talks and even calling me in the middle of the day both yesterday and today to inquire how I am managing.

Well, readers, I am managing surprisingly well. I detached the gigantic keyboard from the desktop computer that sits in my office, and I plugged it into my tiny laptop in order to log on and save all new files to my external hard drive this morning in case the laptop itself dies. (I don't think that it will. I think that once the new keyboard that Z helped me order yesterday arrives, and after Z so gallantly helps me to replace the tea-stained keyboard with it, everything will return to normal).

So, I've meanwhile been grading and typing up the proposed bibliography for my Victorian essay. Once I've sorted through all of the reading journals, I should be ready to dive right in to my discussion of Villette alongside Voyage in the Dark and Good Morning, Midnight! Can this lady write a 20-page paper by next Thursday? Well, yes. With ease? Mmmm... maybe not so much. At least not while also grading and attending my classes.

Yesterday's outfit:

boots: gifted Clarks
tights: H&M
dress: thrifted vintage Sears
vest: vintage from etsy
belt: thrifted
scarf: stolen from my mum


boots: gifted Clatks, again
skirt: thrifted vintage (so woolly and warm!)
shirt: Gap, ancient
vest: thrifted Urban Outfitters
necklace: thrifted vintage

Current grading playlist consists of Laura Veirs, the xx, Twin Shadow, Bon Iver, Trifonic, and two songs by Hercules and Love Affair that I can't enough of: Painted Eyes and Leonora.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

in which I ruin my less-than-a-month-old new keyboard

What a morning, everyone. The looseleaf tea that I brought in a travel mug to my office hours escaped its bag and was floating in all the mango mate goodness... so, I poured it out and made some Earl Grey. As I perused JCrew's 30% off all sweaters(!!) sale, I tried to take a sip and... well, spilled recently boiled water all over my left hand, and some dripped onto my keyboard.

Slight panic mode ensued. Quite right, too; the keys, little by little, ceased to work. I had to order a new one off of Amazon and use expensive expedited shipping because--gah!--it's the end of the semester and I am grading and writing term papers in a mad frenzy. I need my mini-laptop to NOT be out of commission. My large [old] laptop I really only keep around for the purpose of listening to iTunes. There aren't any important germane files on it. It doesn't even have Firefox on it, or my Pinterest password memorized. Worst of all, the Adobe program that I use to highlight and make notes on PDFs of academic articles is only on the mini-laptop. UGH.

Outfit posts to come soon, once I get things under control!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

in which I spend the morning on a lengthy jog around Town Lake

Well, I did it! I actually did go jogging. I walked R to work and then found the trail along the side of Town Lake. And--off I went! I'm not sure how far I jogged. I didn't actually know where I was going, evidenced by the fact that not once but twice I went down forks of the trail that no other jogger followed me down/up and ended up somewhere completely random and not where I had intended to be. And so I retraced my steps and was forced to backtrack and try again, as it were. But I eventually found myself on parts of the trail that I could recognize, and after about two hours I had looped around the lake under the highway and jogged back to the Congress Avenue bridge, which leads back up to R's abode.

I am of course now ridiculously sore.

dress: vintage, thrifted via Blue Velvet this past weekend
cardigan: JCrew, old
brooch: thrifted
necklace: from a street stall in Notting Hill, London

I've spent my afternoon at The Green Muse, a coffeeshop in south 78704, which is an area that I don't really frequent. But I thought I'd try something new/nearby, so here am. I typed up the introduction to my Victorian paper and have been trying to type the quotes from Villette and Voyage in the Dark and Good Morning, Midnight that I plan to use in my essay. It saves me so much time in the actual writing of my paper when I have all the quotes already typed up and do not have to go flipping through the pages of the books every couple of minutes.

This evening: R and I are meeting my parents at Hut's, the best hamburger joint in Austin (in my opinion). Tomorrow, as you know, is Thanksgiving! Have a nice holiday, all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

in which I am disappointed by romanticized stuffed jalapenos

My long hair was starting to get out of control. If I didn't braid it, I shed everywhere. And even when I did braid it, while I was braiding it I shed ridiculous amounts on my bathroom floor. Too much hair! So, my mom made an appointment for me to get a trim in the middle of her color. She picked me up from R's apartment and off we went! Hair has been chopped. (though you shan't see it in these photos)

dress, cardigan, belt, sunglasses: thrifted
tights: Sock Dreams
shoes: Urban Outfitters
pin: Disney World

(note: it is difficult to take outfit photos and talk on the phone with one's mum at the same time)

Then we went to lunch at The Texican Cafe, a restaurant that I loved growing up. They have these amazing stuffed jalapenos as an appetizer that were just DIVINE. Well, at lunch, I have to admit that I was pretty underwhelmed by them. Had I romanticized the jalapenos? I mean, they were fine. But were they worth the (I suspect) hundreds and hundreds of calories? Or the $6? No. No, they were not. And my tacos were unexceptional, particularly after a weekend full of Amaya's Taco Village in NE Austin. Sigh. What a waste. I've been eating out an obscene amount upon my arrival in town, as I always do when I visit for a short amount of time. But I always justify it by saying that I will hit the gym when I get back to Iowa and by making each meal worth it. Well, this lunch was not worth it. I am disappointed and frustrated.

Tomorrow: I am going to get up when R does for work, and I am going to go jogging if it's the last thing I do!

Monday, November 21, 2011

in which I return to Austin and hit the shops.. or, Anthropologie

R plodded off to work this morning around 8, and I began my first (and only?) solo day in Austin. I took a long bath and finished sticking post-it notes in Villette before taking an admittedly less studious detour into Anthropologie on my way to a coffeeshop.

Oh, Anthro.

I tried on this beautiful skirt, which at its full price of nearly $100, is just not going to do it for me. But I'm going to keep my eye on it to see if it goes on sale any time soon. I have been looking for a shorter wool skirt to wear with colorful tights, and I think that the navy blue of this little piece would allow this.
And, I found the blazer on the sale rack. But being a little tight in the arms (this is usually not a problem for me, either), I couldn't bring myself to spend $70 on it. Even if it is really adorable, warm, and silky on the inside. Sigh.

I did snag this wool/cotton/alpaca cardigan for $19, though. I've been looking for a navy blue cardigan for winter weather (I promise).

And now back to my regularly-scheduled research; I'm burying myself in articles on Villette and Voyage in the Dark for the next couple of hours before meeting R after work. We're returning the rental car and then, I believe, going to Chuy's for margaritas and (in my case anyway) burritos.

And yes, you have seen this outfit before. But R had not (in person, anyway), so I brought it to ATX to try on for him.

top: thrifted
skirt: Anthropologie
belt and necklace: via my mum
shoes: Urban Outfitters
purse: Spotted Moth

Friday, November 18, 2011

in which I really do love Jane Austen

For the past few nights I have been reading fifty pages or so of Persuasion between my phone conversations with R and my sinking into slumber. I can't even remember what it was that made me pick it up off of the bookshelf when I have god knows how many unread novels on my shelves, waiting patiently in line. But picked it up I did, and upon finishing it this morning during my office hours I can attest to loving it as much as ever.

I took a Jane Austen seminar in the autumn of my senior year in college; by that time I had, being such as I am, already read the complete works of that esteemed lady. At the time I claimed Emma as my favourite novel, loving (as I do still) the hilarity of its minor characters and the intricacies of its plot(s). But after taking the course I began to flag in this decision. I was beginning to love Mansfield Park in all its subtleties and commentary on play-acting and performance (of various kinds). And yet, in the following year during which I began graduate school, I reread Persuasion and realized, certain events still bringing me to tears after at least 5 previous readings, that it must be my very favourite Austen novel.

And so I have read it again--for the what, 7th time? And I think I must have been correct. Persuasion is my favourite Jane Austen novel. For now, at any rate!

When considering Austen novels, I inevitably find myself wondering--which Austen heroine do I most resemble? When I was 17 I wrote an admissions essay to Lewis and Clark in Portland proclaiming my many similarities to Marianne Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility. At the time I was a very rash, impulsive, romantic type of girl who filled the pages of composition books with (now, I believe) rather silly love poems. Six years later, I find myself comparatively thoughtful and mature, though still at times grievously sensitive and admittedly sentimental. I'm not nearly shy enough to be a Jane Bennett, though I share her absurd optimism and determination to see the best in every one and every situation. Possibly I have gone from Marianne to Elinor.

coat: thrifted LL Bean
scarf and skirt: thrifted
suspenders: Amazon
top: H&M, old
necklace: via my mum
OTK socks: Sock Dreams
boots: gifted, ancient

Onwards to Austin! Where my pleasure-reading shall be necessarily broken up by workworkworkwork as I race against time towards the end of the semester. Bring on the breakfast tacos and the Bronte criticism!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

in which I struggle with the shade

I had a hard time taking outfit photos today. I had to run to the post office to send off a return to Ruche after class, and thought I would stage my photos in the little grassy area beside the building. But with the sun being at odd places at 3:00, I was hard-pressed to get good lighting.

boots: Clarks, gifted
tights: Sock Dreams
dress: thrifted
belt: Ruche
long sleeve tee: street vendor in Brussels
cardigan: Gap
necklace: thrifted via my mum

You can kind of tell what I am wearing, right? In any case, the couple of photos that look odd do so because I was trying to make the lighting better with my shitty free photo software.

In other news, I am about halfway done with grading the student essays. Then I have 38 reading journals to sift through--and those are mostly handwritten. But! In two days I'll be eating a late dinner at Kerbey Lane with R! (I hope the pear-bacon grilled cheese sandwich is back on the seasonal menu; that with sweet potato fries and lime-cilantro dipping sauce is heaven).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

in which a student actually uses the phrase 'go forth and fornicate' in a paper

It's been a bit of a day, let me tell you. Between a handful of student papers still missing--and excuses accumulating in my email inbox--and the grading of the papers that actually did get turned in ... let's just say that I totally deserve the butternut squash lasagna that is in the oven right now and the wine I am planning to drink with it.

Thus far the highlight of my student papers has to be the one on three perspectives on the subject of free condoms being made available in schools. The student discussed the perspectives of parents, the perspective of schools who DO distribute condoms, and those that do NOT. The perspective of many parents, he claims, is that when schools make free condoms available to students that they are saying "go forth and fornicate."

Oh my goodness did that crack me up. Who gets to read that sentence, ever?

boots: Clarks, gifted
skirt: Coldwater Creek (no, really), old
top: thrifted BCBG, Buffalo Exchange
cardigan: Gap
necklace: thrifted ring and chain

Other noteworthy events of the day: I've started listening to Laura Veirs. Also, I booked my airport shuttle for Friday afternoon. Back into the land of 70 degree autumn in two and a half days!

Monday, November 14, 2011

in which my legs feel naked, even with tights

I usually wear boots with a short(er) skirt or dress. I'm not sure why this is exactly; is it from some unwritten fashion 'rule,' or perhaps some notion that I can 'hide' my legs with them? Whatever the reason, when in autumn I break out the skirts and dresses that are too short for me to wear comfortably without tights or leggings during the summer, I tend to hide any flats that I own behind the small collection of boots.

Today I defied my habit, and paired my shortest dress with some oxfords.

dress, belt, necklace: thrifted
cardigan: JCrew
tights: Sock Dreams
shoes: Urban Outfitters

I felt pretty naked, let me tell you. And self-conscious! Yet while I sped down the hill from my apartment to campus on Alonso, there was something liberating in the lack of weight on my feet. Will I dare try this feat again? I have no idea. It will probably be to cold to even consider it while I'm in Iowa until March or April. But when I'm in Austin next week for the fall break, and two weeks after that for winter break (5 weeks!), I just might.

Noteworthy events of today: my students handed in their last essay of the semester, in which they 'map' a controversy and discuss three separate perspectives. I'm about to dive into an intense week of grading in hopes that I can complete it before I leave town on Friday. I'm spending next week with R, and while he is at work during the days I want to devote all of my time to my Victorian essay while rediscovering my love for various ATX coffeehouses. So, let the grading frenzy begin!
in which I return from Minneapolis triumphantly

So, I met R in Minneapolis this weekend! It was about a 4.5 hour drive, though I was admittedly speeding. I didn't take any photos on Saturday, despite downtown Minneapolis proving to be full of fantastic spots. I fell a little bit in love with the parks here and there amongst the big buildings; with yellow leaves along the sidewalk, it felt a bit like London again. R is very much into green spaces in cities as a planner, and so we both enjoyed taking a long stroll on Saturday.

On Sunday we ventured into St. Paul for a late brunch. We hit up the Uptowner, where I rediscovered a love of biscuits and gravy. I wanted to get back into Iowa before dark (unlit highways), so we spent the afternoon taking a walk along Grand Avenue and taking in the nice balance of shops and cute apartments until I had to drop R back at the hotel and once again brave the open road.

boots: gifted, old
cardigan: Urban Outfitters, old
tights: Sock Dreams
dress: thrifted vintage
scarf: borrowed from R

It was a lovely weekend, a nice breath of fresh air after weeks upon weeks of stress-filled teaching and researching.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

in which I get free tea in the mail!

I ordred three Tiesta tea blends with a very old Groupon last week, and they arrived in the mail today! However, they were also accompanied by three smaller packages of tea that I neither ordered nor was charged for. Free tea! I suspect they are samples of some kind. Expect tea reviews in the near future! I am about to make the Nutty Almond Cream with a dash of milk. It seems like an appropriate treat to sip as I make my way through Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys for the remainder of my evening in pursuit of a topic for my Victorian Lit essay.

Jean Rhys? Victorian Lit? How do these two topics go together, you ask? Stay tuned to find out in later blog posts.

shirt and skirt: American Apparel
belt: thrifted
cardigan: thrifted JCrew
tights: H&M
socks: Hue via Dillard's
boots: Naturalizer via JCPenney
necklace: hand-me-down via a friend

Tomorrow is my Victorian Lit professor's birthday, and we threw her a bit of a surprise party today, the vast majority of the class bringing in food and drinks of various kinds. I went out and bought some yellow lillies for her before class and had them wrapped in some green paper. I ought to have taken a photo. I love yellow flowers of all kinds! And I think that Professor FB was pleased. We all signed a card for her. She said, "I hope that you all live to have students like this."

Me, too.

In other news, I took a cue from Chelsea over at Bright Side Dweller and took part in this Hipster Paper Doll Maker. I'm not going to lie; if I lost about 20 pounds and had better luck with brushing my hair, I think this would pretty much sum me up:

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

in which it snows for the first time this winter

Well, friends, can you still call it autumn if it's snowing? As I type these words in my living room, I can look out my window and see snow falling from the sky. And, thankfully, not sticking to the ground, which is wet from rain. I believe the correct term for this is "wintry mix," which was probably that which was the most unbearable for me last winter here in Iowa. It's cold; it's wet; the snowflakes aren't even fluffy. This experience of wintry mix is not too bad, however, because I am assured by that the temperatures will rise into the upper 40s today. Imagine it not leaving the 30s.

So I finally caved in and turned on the heater at my apartment. I was traipsing around this morning in sweatpants, fuzzy socks, a t-shirt, and a fleece blanket draped over my shoulders and wrapped tightly around my torso--it was time. When it is snowing outside, one should have the heat turned on. That's just one of those nuggests of common-sense.

rain boots: old
tights: Sock Dreams
skirt: Anthropologie
shirt: handmade, thrifted
belt: JCrew
necklace: antique shop-ed

In other news, I had a request for the recipe of the sweet potato cookies!

And in other other news.... I finished my Adrienne Rich paper! 21 pages. What a relief. Now I just have to write two other 20-page essays in three weeks. No big deal.

This is the Snoopy sweatshirt that is keeping me toasty on these long autumnal wintery nights. I love love love it and it was worth every bit of the $18 that I paid for it at Buffalo Exchange 5 years ago!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

in which I discover the "office delivery" option at the library

I am a little bit pampered. This weekend I was going a search for sources on Jean Rhys and Virginia Woolf for two of my remaining papers, and I fouund a handful of book chapters via the MLA Database that sounded quite helpful. As it turned out, the library here at Iowa had several of these in stock. I was about to copy down call numbers when I saw a highly intriguing button that was labeled "Office Delivery."

Buttons are made to be pressed, right?

So, as it turns out, I can have books delivered from the library to my office. Sort of. I found that in all actuality, the books (five hefty volumes, one a dissertation!) were not delivered to my personal office (despite the presence of a mail slot on my door?) but instead to the Graduate Studies in English Office on the floor below. I received a little pink slip denoting that there were packages for me to pick up in the overflow room, so off I went to gather them, juggling my coffee, my shoulder bag, and several layers of coats/jackets/sweaters (it is flogging rain today and rather chilly to boot).

So I've spent my morning office hours requesting more books to be delivered to me. Because I can do that now!

rain boots: old... I forget from where
leggings: thrifted American Apparel, also old
dress: thrifted via Buffalo Exchange
belt: JCrew
cardigan: Gap
necklace: via my mama

Monday, November 07, 2011

in which I am affected

At the beginning of my Gender and Language seminar today, I told a colleague that I have always rather liked his pencil case (a fuzzy green hippo who zips open!). He blew me off. I mean, he didn't even look at me or acknowledge that I had spoken. I probably shouldn't have been surprised. He is one of the many folks I've encountered in graduate school who has displayed signs of thinking I am a flighty idiot.

When I speak, I do so effusively. I feel something about everything. And I do not hesitate to begin my observations or my theories with those very words: "I feel." "I feel like George Eliot means to make the quotidian into the epic." "I feel like Cixous is almost giving a confession here." "I feel like JSF isn't advocating vegetarianism so much as informed consumption." That's just who I am. It's probably the main reason that I am pursuing affect theory as a specialty.

I've noticed an increasing amount of blank looks from my classmates. In my Victorian seminar I swear I've seen some of the other students exchanging 'looks' when I speak. And today, this young man totally ignored my compliment of his own fuzzy green hippo pencil case. And THEN, when I brought up Judith Butler in a question, he neglected to answer it--when, less than 30 minutes later in a presentation about his paper, he brought out a text by Butler and proceeded to quote from it. It was as if my question was not worth answering just due to the simple fact that it had come from me. Me. The gal in the flowery dress reminiscent of the Swiss Alps, her hair in gratuitously childlike pigtails, and bright fucking orange knee socks poking out of her boots.

dress: shop in Brussels
cardigan: Gap
belt: Ruche
leggings: American Apparel
socks: Sock Dreams
boots: Clarks, gifted

I'm not going to apologize. I am the way that I am. I get excited about texts. Deal with it. If you don't get excited about texts, what the hell are you doing in a program dedicated to the meticulous probing of--le gasp--texts?!

Sorry y'all--[/end rant]

Saturday, November 05, 2011

in which I go to the gym for the first time in weeks

I think I might have reached a/the point where I've just accepted that if I want to continue to eat Mexican food on a fairly regular basis and do not want to start every day with a two-hour retinue at the gym, that I will simply never be a size 6.

And it's not that I don't like working out. However, when I reach a certain point in every semester, I cease to have extra time in my budget to spare. Furthermore, when it is in the 30s (or lower!) in the evening and in the morning, I have a supremely difficult time wanting to pile on layer over layer and walking to the gym in the cold. This obstacle is a very unfortunate one, because quite honestly I tend to enjoy running once I get past a certain amount of initial windedness and muscle protestations. I like the feeling of my frisbee shorts flapping productively against my legs. I like the imagined urgency with which I run when certain songs come on my ipod and I imagine myself thrust into a dramatic scenario where running is necessary.

I did go to the gym yesterday evening. After I feasted on Chipotle for lunch on Thursday and then had a juicy hamburger (with bacon and chipotle mayo on it) and fries for lunch yesterday, I felt that I could not be happy with myself until I worked off--what, 350 calories of it? The math doesn't make me feel better, but I feel less gluttonous if I follow-up such meals with some amount of gym time. It is all very psychological, I grant you.

But before I pranced off to the gym in my silky frisbee shorts (no, seriously, I love Five Utimate shorts) I camped out at Teaspoons with Z to make further progress on my Adrienne Rich essay. I'm on page 19, folks! I am so close.

cardgian: JCrew, old
belt: via my mum
skirt: Megan Nielsen
tights and socks: Sock Dreams
boots: hand me down from a friend
beret: Forever21, old
shirt: American Apparel

Thursday, November 03, 2011

in which a countdown is nearly all that keeps me going

It was just one of those super 'blah' days yesterday. I planned a lesson for the wrong reading assignment in my afternoon section and had to improvise--very very poorly. I hate feeling like I am wasting my students' time, and I certainly was yesterday. But we aren't allowed to merely let them go; I don't even think we're allowed to let them go something like 10 minutes early. And in my morning section when a group of students were leading discussion I finally realized how obnoxious some of the students are during discussion when they talk out of turn and only tangentially on topic. When I'm at the front of the room almost any discussion seems good, but as a participant I was struck with... well, very strong negative feelings. I would hate my class if I were in it!So that needs work.

Luckily, there are only 8 days until I meet R in Minneapolis, and plenty of work to be done on various papers before then to keep me busy and productive.

cardigan: Gap
dress and necklace: thrifted
belt: JCrew
tights: H&M
shoes: Urban Outfitters

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

in which the weather pulls a 'London'

It rained for most of today. And, for most of today, the wind blew something fierce. Consequently, the temperature has dropped drastically from yesterday's 70+ degrees down to 44 degrees. Yikes!

I felt a little like I was in London again. Sporting my olive green full-body raincoat from Land's End and my somewhat lacy pale yellow umbrella, I recalled chilly mornings trekking to the British Museum in the same attire. Most particularly, I remembered how silly I felt in retrospect, not having thought it prudent to bring some type of a winter coat to England. As if a raincoat would be enough? Oh silly silly 20-year old LNR. Even the security guard at our favorite doner kebab joint made fun of me during one frigid midnight doner run.

But! I shrugged off my coat and left my umbrella in the car, just to take these outfit photos for my loyal readers on my way home from the grocery store.

boots and necklace: gifted
tights: JCrew
skirt and vest: thrifted
shirt: street vendor in Brussels

As you can see, it was quite a struggle to get a halfway decent photo! For one thing, the camera kept being blown off of the playground equipment by the wind. In addition, the wind kept catching my skirt and/or my vest at the worst possible moments. Well, you can tell by my face that it was quite an ordeal, yes?

Update on the Adrienne Rich essay: 14.5 pages down, about 8 more to go!

This evening I warmed the apartment by baking sweet potato cookies to take to my Victorian Lit seminar tomorrow. Half the class is going to be gone to a conference, so I thought that I would try to keep up the morale with some baked goods. I am also sporting my cozy vintage Snoopy sweatshirt around the apartment. I made these cookies a couple of years ago for the English department after I had completed my thesis, and received rave reviews from various faculty members. Hopefully I will enjoy similar success with them tomorrow! I would have included a photo, but to be perfectly honest the cookies don't look delicious. My food usually tastes pretty good but looks slightly less than appetizing. I wish I knew why this was...