Spring Break – Day One Saturday, Mar 31 2007 

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Today is my first day of Spring Break (woo-hoo).  I woke up a little on the late side (but not as late as Saturdays have been recently), checked out my ankle (all the colors of the rainbow, and looking less like it swallowed a football – more like it swallowed a tennis ball).  I got up, made myself a cup of coffee (I used my last coffee filter yesterday, so I improvised with one ply of a two-ply paper towel) and mulled over my day.  I’m not mobile enough to meander, and I’m forgoing grocery shopping for a few days (luckily, I have enough food to wait it out).  Last night, I was perusing some guidebooks for France, and that was pretty entertaining.

Yesterday, after work, I went to my one and only class on Friday.  I predicted (and I was not wrong) that class would be sparsely attended.  It is a large class (large for an upper level class, to be sure) and he doesn’t take attendance – so it was inevitable that only 25-30% of the class would show up.  I like the class, and not having any travel plans made going to class a no-brainer – I’d just go home – so why wouldn’t I go?

I must admit, I do wish I had some travel plans (even if I’m not a fast-moving as I could be).  I’ve never had a Spring Break trip, and while binge drinking with complete strangers has never appealed to me as an activity, there are lots of alternatives.  Then again, I’m planning on spending five days in Paris before the start of the summer term and three to four days in Venice after the end of the summer term (I know, I know, I’ve heard Venice has a…distinctive…odor, but I don’t care – I’ve always wanted to go to Venice, and there’s no time like the present [or at least the near future]).

Actually, I know this blog’s audience is not huge, but there is one; so, for the handful of you out there, I appeal to you – Any recommendations?  I’ll be in Paris for 5 days, Venice for 4 days.  I’m going to be in Grenoble for the remainder (with possible side trips to Marseilles, Lyon, Avignon, Nice and Cannes).  I’m reading the guidebooks (I don’t have one for Venice yet), but you know how that goes – information overload.  A few suggestions, especially those off the beaten path, would be much appreciated.

Vive le printemps!

One more day… Friday, Mar 30 2007 

…to spring break!  woo hoo.

Yes, it is true that I am not going to be doing Jell-O shots on some tacky, overcrowded Florida beach; I am not going to Mexico to drink tequila and behave inappropriately.  However, I will have a week to rest and relax (and recuperate).  I will be doing some homework – I have three books to read (in English) and I need to get the first 50 or so pages of Confessions read (en français, bien sûr), and read another 40 to 60 pages of the Colette novel we are reading (en français aussi), and I believe I need to study some vowel changes over the break (vowels, you may not know, are slippery characters).  There is some other homework that while it doesn’t need to be done over break, probably should be done since the pace is going to pick up after break.  It is analogous, but not as severe as the race after Thanksgiving – 5 weeks instead of 3.

I am getting antsy on so many fronts: spring break, obviously, and summer in France (also obviously), and fall semester followed by my final (undergrad) spring semester, followed (one hopes) by an exciting new phase where I devote myself to my studies at the graduate level – all while living in a brand new city.  It is hard to imagine the future, since so much of it is up in the air.  And while I’m up for some adventure, it is disconcerting when you have nothing to hang your hat on, so to speak.  Sure I will be in grad school (barring some unfortunate grade/test score debacle), but where?  I’m pretty sure I’ve decided where I will apply, but I’m not applying to the same department across the board.  Where will I live?  Will I get a TA position?  I’m focusing on the uncertainty, which is kind of silly, since I have a year of certainty (well, as much as one can be certain) left to go, not counting the glorious whirlwind that is 8 weeks in Europe.  Funny (maybe “ha ha”, maybe “strange”) that 8 weeks of uncertainty thrills me to my core, but 8 years of uncertainty causes me in a never-ending spiral of self-questioning.

But on to more pressing matters… I have plotted my next semester out – and I sweet-talked (or rather, sweet-e-mailed) my way into a graduate class.  Contemporary French Poetry (La Poésie Contemporaine) – which sounded infinitely more interesting than the Medieval/Renaissance/Early Modern class I was going to take.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against the whole Medieval/Renaissance/Early Modern bouillabaisse, but I would only be taking the class because it was the only other undergrad lit class I had the time for (I’m going to be taking a class on Paris Noir from 1930 to the present – I’m very revved up for that one).  I wanted to take a class where I could get passionate about the material.  And truth be told, while I recognize the universality of earlier literature, I’m really a modernist (and, when overtaken by whimsy, a post-modernist) at heart. 

But that’s next semester.  Spring break starts (for me) tomorrow at 2:10 pm.  If I need to feel all wild and crazy, I’ve got a bottle of Two Buck Chuck.  I could chug that and tell my cat how “freaking awesome” he is.  “I mean it, you’re the best, dude.”

Or, I could do some homework; and, if my ankle can take it, maybe some laundry. 

Woo Hoo.

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Rain clouds Thursday, Mar 29 2007 

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Day 3 of crutches.  It feels like day 30.  I thought about going without them, as they are a colossal pain in the ass (and armpits and shoulders).  Getting ready to go to work this morning, it hurt to go crutch-free.  Of course, by the end of the day, my back and shoulders are killing me – Oh, how I long for spring break!  I will lounge around, ankle propped up – reading Crystal and Rousseau.

The glorious weather is gone, probably to the East Coast.  In it’s stead is chilly rainy weather.  Standing in the rain, on my crutches, I was reminded of Daffy Duck.  I can’t remember if it was only one cartoon or a series of several, but Daffy is tormented by a rain cloud that rains on him (and occasionally strikes him with lightning) and only him.  I’m not saying I felt like that today, but that I thought of it makes me wonder about my own state of mind.  It isn’t hard to feel blah when the weather is bad, and your ankle and arm both hurt, and you find yourself hobbling uphill on crutches.  I just have to repeat to myself, “Spring Break, Summer in France, Grad School, Spring Break, Summer in France, Grad School…”  Things to look forward to.

Speaking of Grad School, I’m falling more in love with my number 1 choice lately.  I hope I don’t get too attached – I have the qualifications to get accepted, but they do have to turn down many qualified applicants.  I just have to do the best I can, and give myself enough options that I can live with.

Time to read some Colette and type up some homework that is due tomorrow.  Ah, spring break, I need you so.

Vicodin is not for school Wednesday, Mar 28 2007 

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Last night, I did some homework, but did it feebly, I’m afraid.  When I went “splat!” on Sunday, I braced myself with my left arm (I assume that if I had not, I probably would have done an impressive face plant and would now be sporting a shiner).  Starting last night, but certainly continuing through today (and, I assume, beyond), my left arm hurt like the dickens.  Using said left arm to support myself on crutches hasn’t done it any favors.  I’m sure I merely strained the muscles and all I need is time.  The problem is that I am a lefty, and I need that arm.  I am, to a certain point, ambidextrous; not to the point where I would be able to write pages of lecture notes with my right hand.  This is the state I am in.

Yesterday, I boldly took a Vicodin before I went to class, which I would not recommend.  The pill, along with the heat, made me extra dopey; I fear I did not retain the majority of yesterday’s lecture.  So today, I stuck to some ibu-faux-trin; I was still in pain, but at least I remained conscious through most of today.  However, I could have slept better – I kept dreaming I was falling, and I must have been flexing my feet (to land better, I assume); each time I flexed, I woke up from discomfort.  Stupid falling dream.

I did get some mid-terms back.  Thankfully, the Syntax midterm was curved – I made a fair amount of ticky-tacky errors.  Since the final is the bulk of our grades, he merely talked about the letter grades in terms of “what if” – by his curve, I got an AB.  I’ll take it, don’t get me wrong – but I’m such an incorrigible grade grubber that I divide grades into As and grades I do not want.  At least I get what’s going on in class – the type of mistakes I made are easily correctible.  As for Sociolinguistics, I got an A – but I’m such an incorrigible grade grubber that I’m annoyed with myself that I didn’t get a higher percentage on the exam.  I’m not a perfectionist – I recognize that perfection is an unattainable standard.  I just don’t see why I can’t get closer to that unattainable standard.  So I’m not completely out of whack, am I?

Back to our regularly scheduled anecdote Tuesday, Mar 27 2007 

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On my crutches, I hobbled to class today; otherwise, I iced, elevated, medicated and napped.

Since today was just as beautiful as yesterday (without all that falling and injuring), I thought I might share the tale I was going to tell yesterday (before events became “event-y”).

Early in the last decade, when I was a young, naive Communications/Poli Sci double major living in the dorms, I was walking home from either the library or the TV or radio production labs (not that it matters much).  It was a night much like tonight, unseasonably warm – a May or June evening transplanted to March.  It was late (I was a lot less cautious then), and I was alone with my thoughts, as usual.  Every window in every dorm was open, or so it seemed.  I heard the usual sounds, TVs, stereos, conversations.  Then some kid howled out of his window.  I remember laughing – the winters can coop you up, so when spring really hits, it seems like freedom.  Then another kid howled out the window.  Since nearly every window was open, and the campus was compact, the howls traveled well.  Soon more howls were heard.  It became viral – all around campus students were howling out their windows.

This is what I thought of yesterday.  I suppose it doesn’t make any sense if you’ve never lived in a cold climate.  The change from winter to spring does things to people.

Splat! Monday, Mar 26 2007 

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In honor of the fan-freaking-tastic weather today, I decided to bust out, to go someplace and enjoy the day.  So I went to campus, found myself a spot and started to read some Voltaire (hey, just because it was a gorgeous day didn’t mean I had carte blanche to ignore homework).  But it was too noisy, and when I read French, the jibber-jabber of English is too great a distraction.  So I packed up my stuff and went walking.  Campus really is spiffy, especially if you know where to look.  Unfortunately, everyone knows where to look, so a quiet spot was damn near impossible to find.  It took me nearly an hour, but I did find one.  I sat down, got out my Voltaire, and finished the reading.  Then it was on to Collette (for my other French Lit class).  After I read a couple of chapters, the sky started to look as though it might spit a bit; seeing as I was far from shelter, I decided to pack up and, if the spirit was going to move me, go to the library to dispense with Collette (well, the remainder of the assigned pages).  I walked, and it was a lovely, but long, walk.  And, as it often does when I let my mind wander, I thought about what I might write today.  I remembered something that had happened way back in the last decade, when I was a young lass living in the dorms.  As I turned over the details in my mind, I figured since I was still on campus, I might as well go to the library and finish the reading.  I approached the library entrance when…

Splat!  My wobbly right ankle, which has been giving me grief since I was in the single digits, gave out.  I tried to correct myself, but it was too late, and I went down like a heavyweight with a glass jaw.  I may have hollered an obscenity – its all very hazy.  I fell completely down, sprawling everywhere, my sunglasses and keys skipping across the pavement.

As it was a glorious May-quality day in the month of March, the place was packed – and not just with students.  People huddled around me, looking concerned.  Was I okay?  I decided I was going to shake myself off and collect, along with my keys and sunglasses, the remaining molecules of my dignity.  Except, I felt my ankle bone shift in and out of it’s assigned position.  Could I put my weight on it?  Apparently not.  Eventually, a guy about my age and a couple in their 50s helped me to a bench.  The couple filled a bag with some snow (it goes to show how much had fallen that there was any left after the weather we’ve been having).  After assuring the kind bystanders that, if nothing else, I had my cell phone and I could always call someone to help me out, I was alone on the bench, a sack of filthy but soothing snow on my ankle.  It was time to plot my next move.  Calling someone did not seem to be the best plan.  I was in a pedestrian area, and figuring out the logistics would have been difficult.  Besides, it was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon.  Who was going to be home?  I checked the bus schedule.  I had twenty minutes to walk five blocks and catch a bus.  It was going to smart, but I could do that, and I figured getting home was going to be my best move.  Which is what I did.  I got home, iced and elevated, popped the Advil-like pills that I buy (since I can’t afford name brand OTCs – I’m a student, not a millionaire), and tried to relax.  But the movement of my ankle bone concerned me.  So, after awhile, I had my mother take me to the ER.  They X-ray-ed my ankle, told me that the swelling was “impressive” (and if you’ve impressed the ER, you’ve really done something).  Eventually, the PA came in and told me I had done in my last remaining ligaments, but that I had not broken my ankle (this time – apparently I had broken it before and never noticed).  I got a prescription for some Vicodin, the suggestion I go through physical therapy, and the knowledge that, due to my history of messing up my ankle but good, I was starting to develop arthritis in my ankle.  And I got a new set of crutches.  Hobbled, but still mobile – that is me in a nutshell.

I’ll save the story I was originally going to post for some other time.

If you’ll excuse me, the Vicodin is making me sleepy.

Are You Sure? Sunday, Mar 25 2007 

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I’ve been trying to pick up my mood, but I’ve been hampered by the fact that I have absolutely no idea how to do that.  I’ve been bumbling around like the Barney Fife of breakups.  Much to my everlasting chagrin, I thought I’d try posting a profile on a couple of dating sites.  I’m not really interested in starting a new relationship, even if I weren’t still in love with the Ex – two months in France and my plans to pull up stakes and move to a new city (probably in a new part of the country) makes it foolish in the extreme.  I did think that the mere possibility of meeting someone new might make me look to my emotional future, instead of to my emotional past.  Again, foolish in the extreme.

I suspect that much like intelligence and test scores, personalities fall out on some sort of bell curve; by and large, most people are relatively…well, let’s say vanilla.  And then there are the rest of us.  Once you separate those who are truly troubled, the rest of us are, for lack of a better phrase, mildly eccentric.  The thing is, we don’t see what the rest of the world finds so strange.  Eventually we get that people find us different, but we don’t get what the fuss is all about.  To my mind, I’m pretty damn normal.  Sometimes I’ll make a joke about how I’m wacky, but as far as I can see, I’m just a touch nerdy and maybe a little highly-strung.  I’ve never really fit in most places, although I’ve been lucky enough to find people who get me.  (People probably find them weird too, but I don’t see that either.)  What I’m getting at is that these dating sites are designed for the majority.  I’ve looked through the men on these sites (the machinery of these sites has not done well by me – scientific, my ass), and they’ve suffered in comparison to the Ex.  There were signs that these guys weren’t for me.  Suspect taste in literature, for one.  This might be some of my intellectual snobbery coming out, but there is a practical side – if I’m spending a good portion of my life studying Voltaire, Proust, Foucault; is a man who thinks The DaVinci Code is great literature really going to be happy with me?  I have serious doubts.  Another red flag is the desperate cry of “I’m a nice guy!”  I can guarantee that I am not spending my time with jerks – I have come too far in life to put up with that crap.  But really, if the best you can offer – if your “I’ve got 50 words or less to sell my strengths” pitch is only that you’re a “nice guy,” I’m here to tell you, I’m going to need more than that.  Related to that is the whiny undercurrent of some of these “nice guys.”  They seem to be under the impression that women are rejecting them because we are hypocritical about our desire for “nice guys.”  This whiny undercurrent seems a little misogynistic to me.  Third is slipshod grammar and spelling.  Now, I feel the need to qualify this.  It isn’t just snobbery at play.  As a student of linguistics, I really do believe that non-standard varieties of a language are just as valid as a standard.  That said, if you don’t believe that people judge you on how you present yourself, you are either naive or deluded.  Considering that you are putting a profile online to get people interested, one would think that you would do your best to put the best version of yourself out there.  So why wouldn’t you capitalize the pronoun “I” or run spell-check?  The fact that these men don’t bother leads me to extrapolate that they won’t bother about anything else.  Remembering your birthday?  Too much trouble.

If it seems judgemental, well it is.  Sure, I’m not in the market for a husband; I’m not really even in the market for a relationship.  However, acting as if I am unworthy of being choosy is really an insult to me and everyone who cares about me.  If I felt one of my friends was selling themselves short like that, I would try to talk some sense into them.  And you can bet that the men are no less judgemental.  In fact, they seem to be deeming me not worth a second look for whatever reason.  And this is where the ridiculousness blossoms.  That I am being rejected by men I have rejected is both ironic and, in the deep, dark petty corners of my soul, humiliating.  Compounded with the the harsh truth that I am still in love with my ex-boyfriend, this whole exercise has been a bust of colossal proportions.  Has my mood improved?  No.  Am I speeding up the healing process?  Obviously not.  Should I stop this crackpot scheme?  Immediately, if not sooner.

So this is what I did.  I went to the sites and deleted my profiles.  Each site felt that I was making a mistake, and in one instance, felt that my only road to happiness was theirs.  Each site tried to offer me a chance to come to my senses and keep my profile up.  Are you sure? they asked.

Yeah, believe me, I’m sure.

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Film at 11 Saturday, Mar 24 2007 

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After having a slight case of writer’s block, I am back with a slightly amusing tale.

Today was Test #3 of 3 – it turned out to be a little easier than I anticipated (at least, I think so).  I ran a couple of errands, rented a movie, and caught the bus to go home.

While the bus was waiting at a stop, the doors opened, and a local newscaster popped on the bus with his cameraman (male camera operator – I would have used a gender neutral term had it applied).  The newscaster said, “Mind if we shoot a little bit here?  We won’t keep you long.”  The bus driver agreed, and the newscaster sat in a seat, you know, just like a regular guy.  But I kid.  He recorded a couple of takes of his lead-in; and they left.   After they left, the cameraman shot some footage of the bus from the outside; when the light turned green, the bus driver drove off, and we were on our way.  After the reporter and the cameraman got off the bus, everyone on the bus giggled (or chuckled) a bit.  I guess when you ride the bus on a daily basis, the idea of filming on a bus seems funny.

As for the title of this post, it seems weird that I would choose “Film at 11,” since that only applies to the East Coast, and I am a life-long Midwesterner.  I guess that shows the pervasive influence pop culture has on a person.  Film at 10 just sounds wrong, even if it is accurate.

Working for the weekend? Thursday, Mar 22 2007 

(Don’t you dig my shoutout to the 80s?  Ah, the 80s….) 

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As I was mulling over possible topics, I thought, “Well, the week is half over.”  And that is true (although I still have two tests left this week – Modern French Lit tomorrow and Romance Philology on Friday).  But what does the weekend bring for me?  Not much, these days.  I pretend that I’ll do some studying, and maybe I will, halfheartedly.  Last weekend, I rented some movies.  Maybe this weekend, I’ll see a movie.  What I’m getting at is that I am not breathlessly anticipating the weekend anymore.

I’ve tried to keep my plaintive sighs about my ended relationship to a minimum, since I can imagine how tedious it might get for everyone other than me (and even to me – I wish I could just get over it already).  The fact is, that there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about the Ex and get sad.  It is just such a long, drawn-out, one might say endless, process.  And it gets worse on the weekends.  Because we used to spend that time together; nothing fancy or elaborate, or strictly speaking, date-like, but just together.  I have no problems being alone (and a good thing too, since that is how we live our lives for the most part).  I don’t miss having a boyfriend, because for most of my adult life, I’ve been without one.  No, much to my dismay, I miss him.  And apparently, there’s to way to get over that with any increased speed.  Damnation.

So maybe I’ll go see Zodiacthis weekend.  Nothing like a movie about a notoriously uncaptured serial killer to lighten one’s mood.

*Image courtesy of www.stylewalker.net – which seems to be some kind of a Euroblog, and not an image of a washed up 80s rock band from Canada, which was my other image choice.

Ah, what the hell….

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Tests of all sorts Wednesday, Mar 21 2007 

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There is something very comforting about the academic calendar.  You know when it begins, when it ends, and which weeks are going to be full of tests (usually).  This week (midterms-a-go-go), I have plenty of tests; this afternoon was the Battle Royale with Syntax.  On the whole, I think it went pretty well.  That said, I was walking to my next class and while I was outside, in transit, I realized I’d made a mistake on one of my trees.  I hissed “Dammit!”  It was a foolish mistake; I even thought there was something funky about the tree.  I erased that section of it, and redid it in exactly the same way, because I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong.  The irony was that I needed to draw two trees for that sentence and the other one was correct (or at least I assume it was correct).  However, what was done was done.  I couldn’t go back into the class, grab my paper back and fix it.  I have to console myself with the fact that I do know how it was supposed to be treed.

After an exam, I like to stop thinking about it.  I’m not one of those people who goes through their notes or texts, checking up on my answers.  It doesn’t make any sense to do that – you can drive yourself crazy with it, and you are relying on your(imperfect) memory of both the questions and answers.

It is the tests in the “real world” that I am having issues with these days.  I’ve been melancholy lately, and it is starting to cause me actual discomfort (not sleeping well, eating chocolate when I shouldn’t, being more melancholy because I’m not sleeping well, being more melancholy because I’m eating chocolate when I shouldn’t….).  I realize that it isn’t the end of the world – if I can maintain my natural stubbornness (I will not give in to bad habits and self pity) and maintain a forward motion, I’ll be fine (eventually).  But, unlike Syntax, I really can’t study for this test.  Unlike Syntax, I will not be assigned a grade, so there is no quantitative way of knowing how well I did.  That is probably one of the reasons I enjoy school so much – you know when “this too shall pass,” and you know how well you did when it passes.  In the outside world, there is no report card, no Dean’s List; just temporary happiness and sadness.

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