Have you a flag? Wednesday, Oct 31 2007 

I just finished writing nearly 1000 words, summing up a whole bunch of stuff and sharing a new philosophy, bred of my recent bout of über-crankiness.  I post the damn thing, and those 966 words vanished, as if they never existed.  I believe the original post had something about a steaming pile of crap, which is a propos, as the fact that the orignial post vanished into the electronic ether is also a steaming pile of crap.  Grrrr….


Notes on my Thirty-Mmmmhmmm Birthday Monday, Oct 29 2007 

Today, I crept one step closer to middle-age (if I’m not there already), which is infinitely more depressing to me than old age.  Nevertheless, I had a pretty good birthday, even if Bad Influence and Puppy Mama had to take a pass on the Birthday Brunch, leaving KSP and I to go it alone.  I had some mimosas, KSP a couple of Bloody Marys, and, as always, a good ol’ time talking and laughing.  Appropriate to the occasion, we talked less about boys (as we have both been like giddy 14 year olds with our respective crushes) and more about careers and other grown-up stuff.  But it’s all good.  Added bonus:  we’ve started to hatch well-meaning but probably ultimately meddlesome schemes for the future.  A hint:  if you don’t show up to brunch, it probably involves you.

Older brother came over (his birthday was yesterday:  we are 6 years and one day apart) and we split some birthday pie (chocolate macadamia nut).  Some friends, a little family, and birthday wishes from school chums via Facebook.

And I have been taking inventory.  I’ve lived me some life so far, and although it has not always been what I hoped for (16 year old me would be very disappointed, but 16 year old me also made some very silly choices herself, so she shouldn’t be so high and mighty), it really has all gone into making me the person I am today.  And even if it’s me saying it, I’m a pretty interesting person.  But, I’m not one to rest on my laurels, so here’s a list of things I still want to do:

Get my PhD. (obviously)
Get married (but only if it’s right)
Have a child (again, depending on the circumstances, but if it happens….)
Spend a year in France (but that is related to getting the PhD, in theory)
Visit all the continents (well, maybe not Antarctica, but if I get the opportunity, why not?)
Write at least one book
Get a screenplay/play produced professionally
Have a photography show
Learn more languages (which ones?  who cares?)
Ride on the Orient Express (without the murder, preferably)
And whatever life throws at me, take advantage of it.

It’s actually a pretty short list, and although some of them require the indulgence of others, I can achieve a lot of this on my own.  I do wish I something a little more profound, but I had three mimosas today, and I can be forgiven for not being at my peak

Sending in an Expert Saturday, Oct 27 2007 

I was punchy today, as last night I did much homework/studying types of activities, fretted about these homework/studying types of activities, but also I dillydallyed as well, chatting (on the phone, yet – how retro) with KSP and writing (what I hope you found) a comical little story.  However, the extra homework paid off, as I was ahead of the game on today’s work, which was nice.  I also found the feared Phonology exam was not as scary as I thought (though this does not necessarily mean I did well on it, as I am a pessimist by nature, and can take that as a sign I did not do well on it).  Sadly, le Musée d’Ecureuil canceled our appointment, as they feel it is insensitive to bereaved families (the museum is located in a funeral home) to be exposed to ironic gawkers.  Imagine that.

Nevertheless, KSP and I soldiered on, deciding to enjoy a late lunch and a mid-afternoon beer, both of which I was in much need.  As always, we yukked it up, touching on various subjects, one (or two, depending on how you count it) of them being our respective crushes.  We, of course, dissected each interaction with precision, if not outright skill.  I told her that after our phone conversation last night (when I was convinced that GSS wasn’t interested), I reanalyzed the data (which is what I do in school these days – what works for vowels surely can work for men, right?  right?), and I have swung over to the slightly more positive side of the spectrum.  KSP agreed that it certainly is tough to accurately judge what’s going on right in the middle of things, as your perspective is skewed.  But then we joked that we needed to send in a trusted man to observe quietly, and report back.  Certainly KSP could analyze my interactions with GSS, and I her interactions with her crush, 2A; ultimately, as women, we are not going to see the same details that another straight male would see.  We needed a guy to come in and tell us like it was.  That was good for a few minutes of comedy, as we imagined one of our friends, lurking behind potted plants or behind pillars, studiously taking notes.  I also joked that, since nearly all of our straight male friends are in long-term relationships, we would have to get their significant others to recruit them.  We both had the image of one friend in particular, conscripting her husband into the task, as it would be the sort of thing she would embrace with enthusiasm.

Of course, that was all beer-and-nachos chitchat.  We will never be able to get the sort of expert opinion that we need.  We are left to our own devices, which is always alarming, especially since both of us have taken probably one too many literature courses (hell, I’ve taken them in two languages); we see subtext everywhere, which is bad for parsing the male conversation.  Not that there is never subtext, but it is likely that it would be impossible to place that much of it in any one human conversation.

Which reminds me of a bit from one of my favorite movies, Barcelona, where two guys are talking about literature.  I don’t have it memorized, so this is only a paraphrase, but the one guy complains that people talk too much about subtext.  He then asks what they call the level above the subtext.  You mean the text?  His friend asks him.  Yeah, why don’t people talk about that, he asks. 

Wise words for me to remember.  What about the text, indeed.

Oh yeah? Take that! (A Glame Adventures in Flirting Story)* Friday, Oct 26 2007 

I really should be cramming in some last minute studying for my Phonology midterm, but with one thing and another (and tomorrow’s pending trip to the Squirrel Museum), I’ve decided to blog instead (I also took a break to call KSP and finalize our plans for the Squirrel Museum, or, as I like to call it, Le Musée d’Ecureuil).

I would like to take this opportunity to recount a little history, a fable if you will.

Once upon a time, there was a young(ish) woman.  She was once deeply in love, but alas, it didn’t work out, and she had decided to give up, as was her right.  Many (many) months passed.  She had two jobs, 16 credits, a high grade point average to maintain, and a deep love of naps, so her dance card was full (albeit full of nerdy things).  One of her jobs was working at a college.  One day, she met one of her new coworkers (for every semester brought new coworkers).  He was tall and blond, and had broad shoulders and a cute butt, but she was still sad, and didn’t really pay that much attention to the fact that he was tall and blond, with broad shoulders and a cute butt.  She did notice that he was easy to talk to, as he was very smart (spoke several languages and did calculus problems for fun), with a dry sense of humor.  They would talk every day, and after a week or two of this, the young(ish) woman notice a certain charge in the air when they talked.  She also noticed that she was less and less sad every day.  One day, she finally noticed that he was tall and blond, with broad shoulders and a cute butt; she also noticed that her heart fluttered when she saw him.  This was inconvenient, as she had two jobs, sixteen credits, a very high gradepoint average to maintain, a love of napping, and she was planning to move out of town the next year.  Still, the young(ish) man was very smart, had a dry sense of humor, and, lest we forget, he was tall and blond, with broad shoulders and a cute butt.  And she wasn’t looking for happily ever after (for which she had no time), but could squeeze in a little happily right now, if you know what I mean.  And the young(ish) man seemed to like the young(ish) woman, who wasn’t so bad herself, even if she did say so.

Unfortunately, it was almost as if the young(ish) woman had had a curse put on her, for once she realized that she liked the young(ish) man, the easy conversations they had had about languages, history, science, travel and varied intellectual topics became awkward, as she started to laugh nervously and babble incoherently from time to time (alright, often).  Plus, her hands would shake (even though she was not a chronic drinker).  The more she noticed her awkwardness, the more awkward she’d become.  It was a very sinister curse indeed.

For his part, the young(ish) man never asked the young(ish) woman for her number.  Although he’d respond to her e-mails, he never initiated them.  Yet he always made time to talk to her, and would come over and sit by her for a chat.  Still, in her experience, if a young(ish) man liked a young(ish) woman, he’d try to get to know her better.  And she didn’t always see that happening.  She found this disconcerting.

Also at the college was a young (no ish here, just young) man.  He was smart, too (he enjoyed doing calculus problems as well [at which point Puppy Mama shakes her fist angrily at the sky that nice-looking men who enjoy calculus are a dime a dozen at her pal Senior Senior’s workplace]).  He was average height and dark, with nice hair and perfect teeth.  It began to dawn on the young(ish) woman that the young man with the nice hair and the perfect teeth kind of liked her.  (She wasn’t too smart about these things – smart about school, yes, but not about things like gauging the interest of men or how to flirt.)  He’d break into a big smile when she came into a room.  Also, she accidentally overheard him tell another coworker that he thought the young(ish) woman was both pretty and smart.  Although the young(ish) woman thought the young man was a nice-looking guy, and an all around good egg, she wasn’t interested in him in that way.  (Which was annoying to her, as she was fundamentally lazy, and being interested in a guy who seemed to like her that much would have been a lot easier than being interested in a guy who kept that information close to the vest.)

However, one day, after a particularly maddening round of “is he flirting with me or not,” the young(ish) woman was a little irritated with the young(ish) man for being either inscrutable, clueless or cruel (she wasn’t sure which he was).  When she returned to work, the young(ish) man had gone home, which wasn’t entirely unexpected, but entirely annoying.  The young man, on the other hand, broke into an enormous smile, showing his perfect teeth.  That’s when the young(ish) woman decided, “I’m going to flirt with the young man.”  But she had a change of heart after she saw how readily he responded to her flirting.  It also bears mentioning that because she was not interested in the young man in that way, flirting was a breeze.  She did have pangs of guilt because she put herself in the young man’s shoes (which was not hard, as she was already kind of in them).  If the young(ish) man was aware that the young(ish) woman liked him very much, and was only coming to sit next to her and to talk to her intently just to make himself feel better, the young(ish) woman would be very disappointed.  She may even feel used and insignificant.  So she decided that maybe she’d give the flirting a rest, as she was not skillful enough at it to control it properly.  But not before she had sort of promised to bake the young man cookies.  She was pretty sure that was the guilt talking.

*Glame was a neologism coined by Puppy Mama when she was in the middle of using one un-PC elementary school insult and decided it might be less offensive to switch to another.  I have found it useful ever since.

The Reverse Samson (or, That’s a Pretty Nice Haircut) Thursday, Oct 25 2007 


Last weekend, after slowly beginning to resemble Cousin Itcousin-it.jpg, I scheduled an appointment for a haircut.  I had been meaning to do so for quite some time, but with one thing and another…you get the picture.  So last night, I went to my favorite haircutting parlor, plopped down in the chair, and let the stylist at it.

I have long adopted a sort of zen attitude about haircuts.  While it is true that I have had some bad ‘dos, and I have shed a tear or two over some of them*, I have shed that type of reaction.  I no longer get attached to particular stylists (as they have a tendency to move on), but instead have chosen a place where the level of styling skills seems consistent (beware the salon that has one great stylist and a bunch of mediocre – or worse, bad – ones).  I also don’t go in with a set-in-stone idea of what I must have, since everyone will interpret things in their own way.  I occasionally bring in a picture, but more for the general “feel” of the ‘do.

This is all for the set up that the stylist did something completely different than what I had asked for.  It isn’t the first time (though it was the first time she had done my hair).  You see, I have a very 1920s type of face.  And that compels most all hairstylists to bob my hair.  They can’t help it – they see me and think Louise Brooks or Clara Bow, and they bob the hair.  I had had a modified shag, which grew out, and I had asked her to basically take the same look up three inches, to about chin level.  And she heard me, and I’m sure she understood me, but once the scissors got into her hand, she couldn’t help but give me the bob.  And if I had gone in, expecting something specific (although you could argue that I had – I had wanted my hair to look like it did 8 months ago), I probably would have freaked out.  But I’m not super attached to a particular style.  I do like to change it up from time to time.  And I do think bobs are cute. 

Ultimately, the new haircut fulfilled two important requirements:  flattering? yes, I think so, and out of my face? yes, completely.

So I was happy.  In fact, I always feel refreshed after a good haircut.  The stuff they chop off is from the year before (it is for me – I don’t get haircuts very often), and it is a little like feng shui – I’ve had the old hair removed, and I have only the new hair left.

New hair = new beginning.

*Quite possibly the worst haircut I had ever received from a professional (which would exclude any bowl cut given to me by my mother, and one ill-advised intentionally asymetrical haircut I had given to myself) was one where I had gone in to a salon, asked for a pixie cut, and came out with one of those “Caesar” cuts that were all the rage (for men) many moons ago.  What would possess this guy to give me a “dude’s haircut”?  Ignorance, one would assume.  But it was bad, and I cried.  But it grew back, and I think that might have been when I realized that since hair grows back, all cuts, good and bad, are temporary; so there’s no point getting attached.

The Flight of the Bumblebee Wednesday, Oct 24 2007 


It has been said that the bumblebee, aerodynamically speaking, cannot not possibly fly; the bumblebee knows nothing from aerodynamics, and flies anyway.  I suspect that this is crap – that would mean that the laws of physics are that of Wile E. Coyote, and as long as we do not look down, gravity will not apply.

Whatever this little cliché (look ma, diacritics) may lack from a natural/physical sciences perspective, it probably does have some validity from a psychological one.  I warn you, this is going to be a GSS-related post, so if you are sick and tired of me blogging about him, I guarantee you that you are not alone.  I too have had it up to my eyeballs in GSS-related topics, but I can’t seem to quit them entirely.  But to proceed:  so he’s back, and I experienced the whole bump-a-dump-dump heart-rattling reaction (which has become increasingly inconvenient to me).  I tried to open with a witty greeting, but pretty much sucked wind on that one.  He responded half-heartedly, and I slunk off to my table.  Fortunately, one of my regular students was there, and that gave me something to do instead of fretting about his lack of enthusiasm for seeing me.

This is where the aerodynamics of the bumblebee come in.  Back in those halcyon days, when my crush was wedged in the back of my subconscious (along with what’s left of my knowledge of Polish, the ability to sight read and all knowledge related to trigonometry), I flirted like the wind.  I had game.  A-game, as a matter of fact.  But like the bumblebee and Wile E. Coyote, the moment I had any significant conscious knowledge of what I was doing, I became my nerdy self again.  Today, I flailed so badly, I could have sworn that I felt the strap of my head gear, and could hear the faint plucking of my rubber bands. 

Just when I thinking about what a socially awkward doofus I, GSS comes over and sits next to me.  We have a lovely conversation, and I’m feeling that all is right with the world.  But then he switches tables (to work with a student), and all attempts by me to engage in a little mild flirting (only when appropriate) had me wishing that it was not a physical impossibility to kick my own ass.  But I soldiered on, working with students (which is, after all, what they pay me for).  Until it was time for me to go.  You would think that someone of my level of perception would have told themselves to let it go and just slip out as discreetly as possible.  But that would imply that I have the ability to control my flirting skill level, which I may have mentioned before, er…sucks.  So I stood there, babbling, and I got the “hook,” albeit subtly and discreetly from him.

If you are not familiar with old movies, you may not be familiar with the hook.  I don’t know if it really existed, but in movies depicting the vaudeville stage life, a tanking performer, after much booing from the crowd, would be removed from the stage via a giant wooden hook.  And that, dear readers, is what I got this afternoon.  It pains me to admit it, but there you have it.

And this is why I wish I had the ability to drop the whole thing, and pretend as if I never had a crush on the guy.  I’m willing to give it the old college try.  After all, this is too much work.  Do you know how the Ex and I started going out?  We met at a mutual friend’s party (KSP’s, to be exact), had a conversation.  A few weeks later, he asked KSP for my number.  Within the space of 2 weeks, he called me up, asked me out, and we went out on a real date.  That’d be nice.  This shit…I’m too old for it.

Clarity Redux? Tuesday, Oct 23 2007 

Friday, I had been ruminating over some stuff we had covered in Phonology.  By the time I got home, I decided to e-mail some of my questions to my Phonology professor, to see if I had lost my way.  It turns out that I may be having my moment of clarity after all, and about damn time, too.  So all is not lost (actually, all is not lost until the final is blown, but I doubt that would have happened).  As a matter of fact, I got my midterm back from my big scary grad class – I got an A (a low A, but ultimately that does not matter).  Maybe this is all a crisis of confidence, and I need to go out and prove to myself that I actually have some (confidence, or maybe brain power – probably both).

I would also like some confidence in matters not pertaining to academia – confidence regarding GSS.  What’s that, you say?  You’re mocking me because I have not yet said die, though lately there has been nothing but a series of ambiguously-quasi-flirtatious e-mails, the last two to which he didn’t respond?  And you have every right to mock me.  I should be mocked.  What possible indication do I have that he is even thinking of asking me out?  More to the point, other than an appreciation for his conversational skills and the recognition that I find him good looking, what actual attachment do I have to him?  Very little, but I am stubborn, and it is unlike me to give up the crush now.  Which should also be mocked, since it almost seems as if I a) developed a mild interest b) was intrigued once this mild interest worked its way from my subconscious c) worked my mild interest into moderate interest due to some slight reciprocation d) developed a never-say-die attitude when confronted with minor obstacles.  Seems?  That’s exactly what has happened.  This thing has gotten away from me, and I need to bring it back to where it should be.  Which is this: there is this guy that I work with from time to time.  I think he’s kind of cute, and we seem to have certain interests in common.  It’s fun to talk to him.  Maybe sometime we can talk someplace other than work.  That might be a pleasant way to pass the time.

Let’s see if I can maintain this even keel for the rest of the week.  I have to maintain my strength and my sanity for my impending thirty-mmmhmmm birthday.

But first, Godot’s midterm needs finishing.

The Precipice and how I’m learning to love (or at least like) it Monday, Oct 22 2007 

I have been laid low by midterms and just general exhaustion.  I had to leak out on KSP, who understood (of course), but even after all the sleeping, I am still exhausted.  After Hated Job, I went to the library and studied for several hours.  I went home and decided to take a break (although the studying still calls me).  I suppose I could have dinked around with YouTube or something similar, but instead…

…I started my grad school applications in earnest.  Which I should have gotten on a little sooner, but truth be told, I just did the easy stuff (biographical information, test scores, GPA, etc).  I still need to draft my personal statements, figure out my writing samples, hit up professors for recommendations….

…again, all the things I really need to get on the stick about, as Stanford (the first deadline on the list) wants all this crap 8 weeks from Tuesday.  And then Northwestern and Berkeley; fortunately, Washington and Texas at least have the decency to wait until after the holidays to say, “gimme.”  But I’ve got to factor in all the time I’m going to spend doing all my work for this semester (which still has to match my “kick ass and take names” standards).  Plus, I’m guessing that all these kindly professors who (hopefully) want to sing my praises have many other things on their respective plates.  For example, turning me slowly insane with the seemingly impenetrable nature of Phonology.

It was a lot easier when I was just preparing to prepare to apply to grad school, with my comical lists and whatnot.  But now that I’m here, ready to leap into the unknown, I’ve got to tell you, I’m more than a little nervous.  But what can I do?  I have to move on, and just because failure is always a possibility, that’s no excuse to not lay it all on the line.  It is also true that just because I’ve set up my electronic applications, that doesn’t mean I don’t have the potential to shoot myself in the foot.  But that’s an underachiever’s trick, and I’m no longer the Junior Junior (who was an underachiever of great underachievements), I am (God help me) the Senior Senior, and I am truly an ambitious pain in the ass.

So yeah, the chances for failure are there.  But I’ll be damned if I fail by inaction.

Melvin Van Peebles is my Franglais hero! Friday, Oct 19 2007 

We had a munity today.  I was pretty impressed.  In one of my French classes, we were supposed to have a midterm e-mailed to us last night, and we would e-mail the response back tonight.  But the midterm never arrived.  By the time we got to class, I was convinced that he was going to be shipped off to some nameless prison (he had flown to some conference), due to some technical glitch, and others thought his plane had gone down.  Luckily, he only had technical difficulties, according to the grad assistant he sent to show us the movie.  However, we were all of a mind that if we had given such a pathetic excuse, we would get a “tant pis,” and little to no leeway.  So, as a class, we drafted an e-mail, explaining that while we understood, we had rearranged our schedules for the midterm, and that changing the plan after the fact was not acceptable.

On the plus side, we saw an interesting film.  I’ve got to admire the franglais stylings of Melvin Van Peebles.  As a franglais speaker, I was duly impressed.

Phonology hurts my brain Thursday, Oct 18 2007 

How I long for the days of Syntax, where it was only difficult – not demoralizing.

I’m serious – I read the textbook, and I think I get it.  The previous homework, I totally got it.  Then we worked on another problem, and it was like I was seeing something else entirely.  I literally developed a headache during lecture, I was so baffled.

And the week 9 epiphany seems less and less likely.  Maybe I should start riding the bus, reading my phonology textbook – to encourage phonology-related epiphanies.  I have often blogged about my frequent moments of clarity while riding public-transportation.  Or I could just get carsick – that has been known to happen, too.


I am currently waiting for a midterm, which is to be sent via e-mail.  Yet it refuses to show itself.  Which sucks, as I would like to do it now, when it seems that I am not especially busy at work.

Midterms suck.

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