Why Weird Doesn’t Faze Me… Friday, Nov 30 2007 

…tonight, coming home from work on the bus (no epiphany), I saw an older lady wearing an incredible hat.  While it really needed to be seen to be believed, I can tell you that it looked like the most outrageous wig in a drag queen’s wardrobe, assuming wigs were made from latch-hook rugs.

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Me me me me me me! Thursday, Nov 29 2007 

After a few hours wrasslin’ with the horror that is the Grad School Application Personal Statement, I printed it up and gave it to GSS.  This was yesterday.  Today, when I came in, he had it for me with some comments, some of which I asked him to clarify.  I’m not going to try to parse too much of his behavior (or maybe I am), though I did find it odd that he didn’t want to sit with me while I read his comments.  Also, I found it slightly strange that I had to ask him to go over some of his comments for me (I found them cryptic until he explained them, and then they were helpful).  He joked that he didn’t want me to beat him up, which I translate as “I’m afraid you’re going to be offended if I criticize your writing.”  Which I find odd; clearly he was the one doing me a favor.  I long for input, as the stakes are too damn high for just assuming, “I’m a pretty good writer, I’ll just wing it.”  Does this mean that he suspects me of bitchiness?  Arrogance?  I’m not sure.  It might not mean that at all.  I initially interpreted it as a desire not to talk to me; however, we did have a social conversation after, so I don’t know.

Under the influence of his maddening ambiguity, I did flirt with my Facebook Friend (aka…Cougar Bait?), which entertained me (and seemingly, him).  I also managed to get some work done, although I didn’t even try my second pass at the Dreaded Personal Statement, as I need to mull some things over and try to figure out the best way to put GSS’s sound advice in action.

It is hilariously ironic that I write about myself all the damn time (as I am just a self-absorbed as anyone else), and this personal statement nonsense has thrown me for a loop.  My best 5-cent self-analysis indicates that I am afraid of being rejected by these schools, and as the personal statement is…well…the most personal portion of the application, it feels the most emotionally risky.  I notice myself backpedalling, trying to think of reasons not to apply to the school with the first due date (December 11).  I wisely told myself that that was stupid – not applying to one school could easily turn into not applying to the next, then the next…until there I am with another undergraduate degree, yet still without any marketable skills (unless “will translate for food” is a marketable skill).  And then I’d be some loser, constantly babbling how I was “in the process” of applying to graduate school.  It would be one thing if I really didn’t want to go to grad school, but I do want to (very much).  That’s where the “loser” part comes in.

So I say to myself, “Suck it up, Senior Senior!  And write your damn personal statements!”

Personal Statement? I’ve Got Your Personal Statement Right Here! Tuesday, Nov 27 2007 

I am pretending to work on my personal statements for my grad school applications, but I have a lack of motivation, mostly because writing roughly 1,000 words on how awesome I am and how I’d be a way better choice for any given school than those other losers (I realize that isn’t really what they’re asking, but that is kind of the purpose of these damn things).  I’m sure I’ll be able to come up with something; I should do so soon.  I asked GSS if he would be willing to give me some pointers (as he has successfully done this before), and he’s asked me a couple of times if I have them ready yet.  Which of course, I don’t.

I was going to work on them this weekend, but napped and ate pie and worked on my presentation for my scary grad class (which was today, and despite the fact that I had the theme from Goldfinger stuck in my head all day, I managed to do a reasonably decent job on the damn thing [or so I hope]).  Tonight is a better night for it, as I have only this one task scheduled (actually, I was going to write an outline for a paper due finals week, but I decided it can wait a few days – I’m starting to thumb my nose at The Grid, which is a recipe for disaster).

I did take a break yesterday, and hung out with KSP for coffee and chit-chat.  I recounted my tale of woe about the student with the inappropriate crush on me, and mentioned that the young man from the Glame Adventures in Flirting story had friended me on Facebook.  Now, I am a veritable antique, even so I realize that just because the guy friended me doesn’t mean that he’s pining for me.  But I do think, in the context of our work friendship, that he may have a (little) thing for me.  As I said, both to KSP and in the relevant post, that it is a little maddening; I am one lazy, lazy woman, and it would be much easier if I liked him more than I liked GSS, as GSS seems both ambivalent and behaves in an ambiguous manner (probably due to the ambivalence).  But that isn’t how it works.  Plus, while the Young Man is no fetus, I feel pretty damn old in comparison (it is a marked age difference).  All the same, he is pretty cute – and it is nice to get that kind of positive reinforcement (which is less fraught than the situation with the student, so I can enjoy it more).  All this KSP and I discussed over coffee.  And of course, being a Facebook junkie, during one of her many daily voyages to Facebook, she may have lurked, and I may have asked her opinion.

And this is the thing – if I was 100% not interested, I never would have asked for her opinion.  That much is obvious.  So what, I beseech you, does this mean?  I don’t know.  It might have no more significance than, “hey, cool – some cute guy I know seems to like me.”  But it can also mean, “I’m bored, and the guy I really am interested in doesn’t seem to be paying enough attention to me.  I want validation, dammit!”  Which doesn’t make me a terrible person, it makes me human.  And considering earlier this year, I was eating my heart out over a failed relationship and feeling like a) no one was ever going to be interested in me and b) I was never going to be interested in anyone else, it is a boon to my emotional well-being.

Wow, this post is almost as long as a personal statement for grad school.  Somehow, I don’t think it’s what Stanford is looking for.

Great Expectations? Monday, Nov 26 2007 

I have done a fair amount of work this weekend, though not as much as I planned.  Part of this is due to the design of The Grid.  I have given myself early deadlines to discourage last minute all-nighters and sloppy work.  This is similar to my 6-minute fast watch/clock rule – I set all my clocks and my watch at least 6-minutes fast to give myself the illusion that I have less time than I actually do, to push me out the door faster.  The success rate of this strategy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; I’m well aware that I have a small cushion, and will dawdle given half a chance.  Still, setting my timepieces does work often enough that I keep it on as a strategy.  And so it goes with The Grid.  Only two of my tasks for this weekend were must-dos, and those will be plenty done in time for tomorrow.  A third task is 80% complete, and the fourth task, though not actually started this weekend, can be pushed back to tomorrow with little disruption.  It is important for me to remember that while I do have a fair amount of wiggle room right now, I still need to treat the goals on The Grid with respect – sure, I don’t need a week set aside to write my research paper (the actual writing part – I’ve been consistently doing the research for the past 3 weeks); however, writing in a foreign language takes at least twice as long as writing in English (for me), and I don’t want to make a lot of careless errors that I don’t have time to catch when self-editing (or bag completely the self-editing).  My ambitious deadlines are to prevent a whole mess of chicken-with-her-head-cut-off activity, though the subsequent lack of deadline pressure does make me less diligent.  I do want to do my best on these things, but I can’t help but feel that I may have slightly unrealistic expectations on how efficiently I work.

My expectations are pretty lofty – anyone who knows my grad school list knows I’m aiming pretty high; but I recognize that I have both the qualifications to succeed and the clarity to realize that someone can have all the qualifications and still not make the cut.  I joke about Bob’s Bait Shop and School o’ Languages, but there is a very real possibility that I will not be accepted to three of the schools on my list, even though I do have all the requirements they expect – because so does everybody else.  As for my classwork, the difference between doing A work and doing something perfectly is fairly great – I always shoot for perfection, all the while realizing that it is unattainable.  Nevertheless, I often do feel that I may be falling short (I am my harshest critic).

All this means that I am often beating myself up metaphorically for minor slip-ups.  I try to balance taking things seriously and not taking myself too seriously; or in other words, I try to recognize that as long as you don’t actually expect perfection, expecting yourself to come as close as you can is pretty healthy – in the past, I’ve been too content to coast.  I can see, though, that people might mistake my high expectations for myself as a universal set of expectations for others.  Which is a shame, as I have no desire to tell other people what to do.  Just because I’m bat-shit crazy doesn’t mean I expect others to drink the Kool-Aid, as it were.  I suppose that’s why I’ve spent most of my adult life single – men see the standards I set for myself (even when I was an underachiever, I expected to be an excellent underachiever), and assumed I was going to expect the same from them.  Which I don’t.  I mean, I’m not going to be treated like crap, but people need to live their lives according to their personal philosophies – and mine isn’t the only game in town.  But what do you do?  Wear a sign that reads, “Hey guys, I have exacting standards for myself, but if you’re ethical and true to yourself, I won’t judge you.”?  Maybe I’ll just stand out on the street with a sign that reads, “Nobody Sucks, Though I Occasionally Disappoint Myself.”

The subtext of shaving Sunday, Nov 25 2007 

I was in the shower this morning, when I was seized by the impulse to shave.  I have been notoriously lax about shaving, as no one has seen my bare legs (or rather, part of my bare legs) since capri season ended.  And yes, though it may mark me as a lazy, slovenly woman, I have not shaved above the knees since my day trip to Marseilles.

I could have used a weed whacker; instead, I used my regular razor and it took me at least fifteen minutes.  But here I am, newly denuded.  And the question is why?  I mean aesthetically, it was a mess, but during this time of the year even I don’t see that much of my bare skin (too damn cold).  And although I’m still engaging in low-level flirting with GSS, I really don’t foresee any action there.  In fact, there is nothing on the horizon.  So why shave?

Maybe I just got sick of acting like there was no hope.  Subplots on How I Met Your Mother aside, when a woman doesn’t shave (barring political/philosophical statements), it functions as a big why bother?, a sign that you find it impossible that anyone is ever going to want to sleep with you again (at least in the near future).  Maybe I just got sick of giving up.  I don’t know.  All I know is that this minor victory will be moot in a few days, since not only will the hair grow back (as it always does), I do not foresee myself having that kind of ambition in the last 4 weeks of the semester (counting finals week) to spend extra time in the shower, shaving my legs.  Hell, that would mean giving up five minutes of sleep.

Of pies and naps Saturday, Nov 24 2007 

I have big plans, you know.  And some of those big plans involved working like a rented mule this weekend; I was going (and still plan) to work on my poetry presentation (en français), my personal statements, my sociolinguistics paper (en français aussi) and my phonology assignment.  Yesterday, obviously, it wasn’t going to happen.  And Wednesday, I did do a little work, but I gave up early.  Today was going to be the day that I really dug in and started the hard-core work.  Instead, I ate some pie, napped, ate more pie.  Not especially productive, though there are still a few hours left today for some work.

I am not looking forward to next week for many reasons.  One reason is the impending presentation (on Monday), followed by the fact that I’m yet another week closer to the end of the semester, and I don’t feel I’m any closer to getting all my shit done.  Lastly, I have, in my best-fingers-in-my-ears-singing-loudly fashion, ignored an interpersonal problem, which has now kicked me in the ass.  Metaphorically speaking, I saw something in the grass and thought it was a stick, but when I got closer it turned out to be a rake, which I stepped on, and then it smacked me in the face.

One of the students that I occasionally work with used to joke that we were going to go away together.  I assumed it was all light-hearted joking, and never bothered to take a firm stand on the whole thing.  He had been flirting more and more with me, but I figured (again) that it was all just talk, and I ignored it.  On Tuesday, he told me that I was beautiful, and so on.  I was so uncomfortable, that I ended up laughing, which I’m sure sent a mixed message.  As it was happening, I realized that it was totally the wrong response to the situation, but in my defense, it was only then that it became clear that he hadn’t been joking this whole time, and I had kind of let the whole thing get out of hand.  I never encouraged any of this, but because I never overtly discouraged it, it got beyond me.  I mean, it wasn’t like he professed his undying love for me, but he did make his intentions clear.  While I have joked about my substandard flirting skills, my “rejecting of men” skills are even worse, as I often don’t find myself in the position of having to do so.  I’m sure I’ll be able to mutter something, but I feel bad all the same.

Oh, how ironic I find all of this – as GSS has never actually rejected me, I have been tacitly encouraged to keep flirting with him; all the while, my refusal to see the reality of the situation with my student has put me on the other side of the situation.  Freakin’ hilarious, no?

Enough screwing around!  I need to do some sort of work.

When Answers Attack Monday, Nov 19 2007 

I’ve spent the better part of the weekend battling Phonology, and I still have a bit more to tackle.  Nevertheless, I thought I’d dawdle some, as I have hit a wall.

I went to the library (again) after work today, as I find that I can usually get more done there than at home (that wasn’t the case today, but sometimes it works).  After giving up to go home to take some Excedrin and eat a snack, I saw the “Everyone Sucks But Me” guy on the corner.  I crossed the street.

TSS:  I’m sorry, but I saw you the other day, and I’ve gotta ask.  What gives?

TESBMG: Oh, I’m protesting those Evangelical Christians who’ve been on campus.

TSS:  Oh?

TESBMG:  I mean, I’m a Christian, but it seems like this (gesturing to placard) is what they’re saying.  I’m just making fun of that attitude.

TSS:  Ah.  But it’s just you, with a sign.

TESBMG:  Yep.

TSS:  Okay, thanks.

I was a little disappointed.  It was sort of clever, though a little too clever.  If people have to ask what you’re up to, maybe your message is a little muddled.  Certainly, there have been a lot of those Bible-thumpers on campus this fall, but there aren’t any right now.  And he was kind of removed from where they usually congregate.  And “sucks” was a little too vague.  Maybe “Everyone Is Going to Hell But Me” would have been a touch clearer.  It would have been funnier if he really was protesting that everyone sucks but him.  I could have imagined the series of petty annoyances that might have pushed them to placard waving.  Instead of a creative misanthrope, he’s just a well-meaning kid who needs to be a little clearer.

I thought I’d be enlightened by finding out what was up, but it was just a letdown.  It is, if I may say so, analogous to the trajectory of the flirting with GSS.  Sure, it was all fun and games at first, but then I wanted answers.  Unfortunately, they weren’t the answers I was looking for.  I usually want to know as much as possible – knowledge is power, as they say.  Maybe I should fight that impulse more often, because sometimes it’s just some humbug behind a curtain (with a balloon full of hot air).

That said, Phonology answers would be most helpful about now.

Saturday Night’s Alright (for laundry and homework) Sunday, Nov 18 2007 

Ah yes, my whirlwind lifestyle.

7:01 am:  Alarm goes off.  Obscenity muttered.  First attempt at hitting the snooze button – hey, why am I sleeping at the foot of the bed?  Never mind.  Snooze button hit.

7:09 am:  Alarm goes off again.   Another obscenity muttered.  Snooze button hit.

7:17 am:  Third alarm.  Third obscenity muttered.  Third snooze button smack.

7:25 am:  Fourth alarm.  Fourth obscenity.  This time, I actually turn off the alarm and get up.

7:29 – 8:00 am:  Coffee.  Breakfast.  Muttering.

8:10 am : E-mail check.  Skim the paper.  Get dressed.

9:00 am – 2:30 pm:  Work.  More pondering on the mysteries of Phonology while scrubbing toilets.

2:30 – 3:00 pm:  Trip to the library.  I went in for three books for my paper on Pidgin French, came out with six.  This can’t be a good sign.

3:00 – 3:40 pm:  Waiting for the bus in the drizzle.  Stupid bus is late.  I hate the stupid bus.

3:40 – 4:30 pm:  In transit – going home.

4:30 – 5:00 pm:  Visiting with older brother.  Some watching of football (as we were playing for the Axe).

5:00 – 5:30 pm:  Sorting of laundry/wash cycle.

5:30 – 6:00 pm:  Dinner (chicken pot pie!).

6:15 pm:  Put laundry in dryer.

6:30 pm: E-mail check, light surfing.

7:00 – 10:00 pm:  Phonology homework.  Maybe some reading on French Sociolinguistics.

Like I said, a whirlwind.

The Senior Squirrel Saturday, Nov 17 2007 

Last night at work, I have to admit there was a point where I was getting annoyed with myself.  It was buried under getting annoyed with Phonology, Phonetics, French history and whatever else was annoying me (and believe me, that was plenty).  There was a point, where I kept talking and talking, and I could feel my voice getting tenser and tenser (and thus higher and higher).  I’m a nervous talker, in that the more jittery I am, the more crap comes out of my mouth.  The effect would best be described as being a human squirrel.  In the back of my mind, a small voice (which fortunately, has always given me good advice, even if I don’t always take it) said, “for the love of God, shut up.”  Sadly, I may not have heeded that voice in time, as I have the distinct impression that I was talking too much.

I really didn’t think too deeply about it on the way home last night, I merely felt, in the back of my mind, that I was behaving in a way that was almost a parody of my ordinarily tolerable characteristics (quick-witted, raconteur, etc.).  I had other fish to fry, if I may get all cliché-y.

This morning, after the third day in a row of early-morning potty-mouth (BEEP!  BEEP!  BEEP! “Shit.”), I got ready to go to work, as I always do on Fridays.  In transit (bus epiphany alert), I realized that I was merely cracking under the stress – I could only take so much, before my personality started to show the signs of strain.  Of course, the damage has already been done.  I suppose I could send a mass e-mail to everyone who had to deal with my acute case of nerviness (as opposed to my chronic case of nerdiness), but that would merely draw more attention to my weird behavior.  The truth is that I suspect people (if they thought about it at all) just thought I seemed a little “off” the past few days.

Now that I’ve identified the problem, I hope I can tackle it in a proactive fashion.  Because I’ve got another 4 weeks to go, and I don’t want to relapse into squirrel-like behavior.  I may end up in a diorama at a funeral home, and that’s not very dignified.

Everyone Sucks but Me Friday, Nov 16 2007 

Now in general, I don’t think that, but today, as I was riding the bus (sorry, no epiphany today), I saw some guy holding a big sign that read “Everyone Sucks But Me.”  He was walking down the street, carrying it, as if he was protesting something.  Well, I suppose he was protesting that everyone sucks but him.

In other news, I’ve got two very nice recommendation letters in the pipeline, so I’m feeling good about that.  I have not yet started my personal statements, but that is the plan for next weekend (along with working on my dreaded presentation for my poetry class).  On tap for tonight (after I finish this update), making sure I have as much of my notes on France in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries crammed into my head.  Damn Frenchies kept doing stuff.  If they had only discovered la grève back then, my life would be a lot easier today.  However, if I were trying to get from Grenoble to Paris tomorrow, it would totally suck for me.  But I’m not trying to get from Grenoble to Paris tomorrow; tomorrow is just trying to get an A in Wisconsin (and getting to the bottom of the Phonology homework, which was cheesing me off earlier tonight).

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