Yard sale or therapy? Or maybe neither. Wednesday, May 30 2007 

Since I have some free time leading up to my departure, I have been working on some spring cleaning.  I realize that it is a little belated, but I didn’t have time earlier.  It has been a daunting task, but I’ve been making real progress.  Part of the problem is that I’m always holding on to things, thinking that they’ll come in handy, or that I might eventually like that skirt again (even though they never do, and I never do).  But I have decided to be ruthless, and have chucked many worthless things, as well as making a sack of donatables (I’m guessing I no longer need five black pantsuits, now that I’ve switched to academia – especially since at least two of them are a size too big).  I have a small book from a bargain bin on Feng Shui.  In theory, getting rid of all this, er, crap should be therapeutic.  It should usher in a new stage of my life, at least until I accumulate more crap, although I would assume that I’ll want to get rid of the new crap when I move to wherever I end up going next year.

I wonder if it will really work, getting rid of the excess baggage (the literal kind – I figure the figurative type is a little trickier to jettison).  I do know that I have to keep my cleaning sessions short as I have been kicking up a lot of dust, which has been making me sick.  I bet that could be a metaphor as well, but I mean that all the dust makes my throat scratchy for a full day after a cleaning session.  Where in the hell does it come from, and why is it so difficult to get rid of it?  I have swiffered and vacuumed and it still pops up.  Like I said, there’s a metaphor in there, but I’ll leave it to you to interpret it to your satisfaction.

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Paniquer – to panic (colloquial) Saturday, May 26 2007 

As my (assumed) departure date looms large, and my passport is still “being processed,” as the fine folks at the State Department have been saying for weeks, I am starting to freak out.  It isn’t that I don’t want to go, hell no; I have no idea if I’m going to be ready (or, that matter, legally able) to leave the country on the appointed date.  Everything is making me nervous, as it all seems to be a house of cards.  I suppose everything is like that, but the familiarity of our regular lives keeps us from realizing that. 

Once I have my passport and plane ticket in hand, bags packed, I will feel much better.  Until then, je vais paniquer.

A semi-related bonus:  I finally got all my grades:  4.0.  Woo-hoo!

Too much city for one woman (and five days) Friday, May 25 2007 

As the date of my departure approaches, I’ve been trying to figure out a rough idea of what I’m going to do when I hit Paris.  I made a list of everything that seems interesting to me, and, looking at a map of Paris, tried to figure out the most efficient sight-seeing plan.  Today it occurred to me:  I simply have too much on the list.  I’m going to have to pare it down.

I knew there was going to be no way I was going to fit everything on the list, but I had no idea how unrealistic it was.  I’ll be able to enjoy maybe a 1/3 of what I wrote down, maybe more if I decide not to go to Versailles (but I think I’d rather drop more things off the list than to miss out on a biggie like Versailles – it would be like skipping Notre Dame, which clearly is staying on the itinerary). 

I guess I’m acting like this will be my only trip to Paris, ever.  And granted, it took me a long time to get to Paris; but I’m pretty sure studying French at the graduate level is going to afford me many more opportunities to (eventually) hit everything on my list, discover some hidden gems, and then do it all over again.

What to save for later?  That remains the question.

The healing power of gawd-awful movies Thursday, May 24 2007 

After the hustle and bustle of the semester ended, I found myself left alone with all the non-school related stress I ignore by dealing with my school-related stress.  The non-school related stress sucks because it encompasses all the crap I can’t control.  So today, I have found myself in a bad mood today, despite a humorous e-mail from Puppy Mama.  All was not lost, however, because my mom put me on to a perfectly ludicrous Lifetime movie.  My mom is a huge believer in the power of bad movies, and as I am her only daughter, she thought she’d help me out by prescribing a doozy.

KS(-P) refers to the Lifetime Movie as a “Good ‘Nuff,” after her imaginary down-market supermarket brand (as in Shur-Fine or Best Yet).  This particular “Good ‘Nuff” was about an arson investigator who suffered from a chronic case of EFS (Excessive Flashback Syndrome).  She also, if that wasn’t bad enough, had terrible luck with men, as all the men she loved mysteriously died in fires (get it? ’cause she’s an arson investigator!).  All in all, a tremendous howler of a flick.  It had it all – portentous voice-over narration, tedious flashbacks, a mystery so obvious I solved it within the first 30 minutes of the film (it would have been sooner, but some of the flashbacks went on too long and it was difficult to establish what the mystery was at first).  I especially liked how all of the characters were mere collections of clichés and unrealistic behavior.  The miracle of the Good ‘Nuff film is how it can turn competent actors into Guffmanesque performers, all through the magic of hackneyed scriptwriting.  Ah, the dialogue….

Of course, after the movie ended, and I had nothing left to mock, I started feeling crappy again.  I’d watch another terrible movie, but I can really only stand one awful movie a day.

Bloguez-vous français? Wednesday, May 23 2007 

Puppy Mama commented today, asking if I was going to be keeping up the blog while I was in France.  I had been toying with the idea, and I did decide to bring my laptop with me.  I am operating under the assumption that I will be blogging (in English, mes amis), but I am unsure of how often it will be, since I’m not sure how many hotspots I’ll have at my disposal (although I have it on good authority that McDonald’s, of all places, has free wireless at their French locations).  But don’t worry Puppy Mama, I will still be sending infinitive postcards from many locations.

And a Double French Bonus!  I got a letter from France today, from a brand new pen pal, which is spiffy, since any opportunity to practice my written French with actual native speakers kicks ass in my book.  In another groovy addition, I found out where I will be staying for the bulk of my stay.  I fired off an e-mail to my host, and I hope to hear from her soon. 

These France-related events helped to improve my (pissy) afternoon, the bulk of which was spent wrangling with the chronically (and most likely deliberately) unhelpful “customer care” (what a laugh) department of AT&T.  My new goal is to discover where the actual decision makers are (as opposed to subcontracted call centers in India, where no real authority resides), and explain to them that they may want to rethink their business practices, since they are a) illogical b) inefficient and c) ridiculous to the point of absurdity.  Tell your friends!

Hey buddy, can you spare a job? Tuesday, May 22 2007 

As the first full week of the summer begins, I am trying to a) organize my life as much as possible before I leave for Europe, so I don’t have to come home to the same mayhem I fled earlier (such a bummer) and b) find a short-term job, because not only am I too jumpy to just “hang out,” but considering the dent this educational excursion is going to make in my finances, it wouldn’t hurt to earn a few extra dollars before I go. 

I made some progress on a), although I found myself having to stop because the dust got so damn bad.  As for b), I had an interview today.  I am in full-on pessimist mode, mostly because I have had some great interviews lately, and no offers.  Fortunately, my old job will be waiting for me in the fall.  As for the interval, I plan to go to a temp agency tomorrow and sign up, but again, I am in full-on pessimist mode, and doubt there will be a short-term gig for me.  But I definitely won’t have a job if I don’t look for one, so I might as well look for one – who knows?  My string of not-so-hot luck might turn any day now.  If I weren’t such a nose-to-the grindstone goody two-shoes, my luck would be even worse.

So let’s not talk of luck, since I find it useless.

Ants in my pants Monday, May 21 2007 

I can’t help but wonder if I’ve already written a post titled “Ants in my pants” before.  It sounds familiar, it is a familiar sentiment, and one that I know I’ve explored.  So here we go again:  I am on the cusp of great adventures, but I have to wait for these adventures.  Sure, leaving for France is mere weeks away, but even so, I am in a holding pattern.  Do I have my passport yet?  No.  Do I have my plane ticket yet?  Again, no.   Although I have been thwarted before, I do plan on buying the plane ticket later this week; but as for the passport…I have been assured that I will get it in time, but it’s kind of important.  Without the passport or the plane ticket, it all feels a little unreal, as if someone is going to come up to me and say, “Sorry, change of plans.  Tough crap.”  What can I say?  Other than I am a bit of a pessimist at heart.

A jarring realization Sunday, May 20 2007 

Something occurred to me, something that I have found disheartening.  In the five months since the Ex and I broke up, I have toyed with the idea of “moving on.”  It has not gone well.  I have formulated some excuses which have sounded pretty good to me (the pickings out there are slim, I needed time to grieve, I will be leaving town – first for a few months, then permanently, etc.).  The jarring realization is that I don’t really want to move on.  That doesn’t mean that I want to sit home and wallow in my sorrow; and while I hold out some hope that the Ex might reconsider marriage and family, I recognize it as being in the 5% range – so no, I don’t expect him to be at my door, asking me back.  I also know, much to my everlasting chagrin, that I am not built for casual dating.  I tried to rebel against that when I was younger, and it was a disaster; now that I know that I am not a dater, I’m in a much better place, although it means I spend way too many nights at home, watching documentaries on the History Channel.  Which, for those of you who remember The Breakfast Club, is “demented and sad,” but unfortunately, not social.  So let’s assess the situation:  I am realistic about the “overness” of my former relationship, yet I don’t do well, psychically speaking, with dating.  I know that I am likely to be living in another part of the country next year.  All of this seems to add up to one thing – I am destined for months of staying home nights, watching the History Channel with my cat.  This does not fill me with joy.  However, like Bartleby the Scrivener, I would rather not, so to speak, do anything.  So, instead of moving on, I’ll have to settle for moving, for changing my scenery.  For the summer, that is right around the corner – and that’s good.  For grad school, that’s over 12 months away – and I am impatient.  If I can’t seem to “move on,” why can’t I just “move?”  And why does that have to take so damn long, anyway?

On the plus side, I (predictably) logged in to check my grades.  I got another A (hooray), although my nerdy glee is tempered by my knowledge that I was most likely getting an A in that class.  It is the classes where I am hovering on the A/AB border that I need to know about.  Give me my grades, dammit!

As irritated as I seem to be, I really am in a good mood.  Well, a decent mood.

Drips and drabs Friday, May 18 2007 

Technologically speaking, this is a weird time.  Things happen at a different pace they used to.  Way back when (in the 90s), when I was the Junior Junior, you had to wait two weeks for your grades, while the professors logged them in their books, calculated their averages, and then reported them to the registrar.  The registrar’s office and the room-sized computer programmed to do its bidding, would compile everyone’s grades, and then, on carbon paper, no less, printed out the grades of every enrolled student, sealed them up, and mailed them out.  Frankly, it’s a miracle it took only two weeks.  Things, of course, have changed.  Some professors may record grades in a book, but I suspect most of them have Excel spreadsheets (I know I would).  They log in, report the grades, and then the system updates daily, sending the information to each student’s personal portal.  That way, students find out no more than 24 hours after each grade is reported.  This is not better or worse than the old system, just different.  For example, I found out a grade today (an A; and yes, I did a little dance).  Tomorrow, I may find out another one.  Or I may not; professors have until the middle of next week to report their grades.  I, as the Junior Junior, would wait for the self-contained envelope from school, knowing that it wouldn’t be for another two weeks, but I would know all of my grades at once.  My father would hover, in case I tried to pull a fast one and hide my grades.  Now, I might find out my grades over the course of a week, checking my portal incessantly (even though the grade reports are updated only once a day).  And, if I choose not to print, there is no paper record.  These days, I do choose to print, as I am no longer the slacking underachiever I once was.  I even post them on my fridge, because I am that big of a nerd.  There is nothing for me to do now, but to wait.

And that A?  Freaking Syntax!  This might be the sweetest A ever.  At least, until next semester.

Spring Semester 2007? It’s history! Thursday, May 17 2007 

A few hours ago, I finished my last final.  There was a proportionally large number of multiple choice questions, which was a good thing, since I am no longer accustomed to quality thinking that early in the morning (8-ish).  But yes, everything is done; I didn’t find myself running out of time – I paced myself well.  Now on to other things!

One of these things is laundry – not so very glamorous, but to have clean clothes, you have to clean your clothes.  Also, I don’t want to leave the country without putting everything in its place, so spring cleaning will be in order.  I’m also looking around for a short-term temp job.  A lot to cram into 3 weeks, I know, but I can do it.

But first, a well-deserved nap.

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