Saturday, April 30, 2005

I’ll Just Take the A380

I have yet to find a reasonably priced plane ticket to France, so I have decided to forget frugality and buy a seat on the new Airbus, provided it’s flying east the day I need to leave.

But seriously…

I think I’ve made this plea before, but nonetheless, I need to find a cheaper ticket. If you have any hints as to how to find a good fare to Paris in mid-June, please let me know. Serious scrounging will commence the week after next, once I’m finally done with this monster of a master’s exam.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The letters are swimming right now...

Tonight my dad asked me how many hours a day I spend reading now. I couldn'’t even answer that. Of course it depends on the day, but when you add up all the little bits I do here and there plus all the long library benders I’'ve been going on, I’'m kind of scared to even guess. And yet at the end of this massive glut of word-consumption, I won'’t even have made the tiniest dent in all there is to read in this world. And yet people keep writing. Like me. Right now. And people like... Dr. Phil. Except he gets paid millions to “write.”

I wish I got paid to read. Even at a nickel per word, I would be a rich, rich woman.

Monday, April 25, 2005

My Bathroom Hates Me

Last night, I had a Seinfeld moment. Needless to say, I’m headed to CVS this moment to remedy the situation.

Which means my bathroom troubles continue. My bathtub now drains at the rate of about a gallon every 3 hours, so showers have been quick and dirty. (Unfortunately, I mean that quite literally.)

I wonder what exactly I did to deserve this treatment from my salle de bains. I keep it relatively clean and, unlike some members of my gender group, I don't spend hours primping and preening in there. All I want is free-flowing water and a little protection for my various personal hygiene tools. Is that really too much to ask?

1:09 - Polish guy from management company bangs loudly on door.
1:10 - I show Polish guy into my bathroom.
1:11 - Loud banging, running water, etc.
1:13 - Polish guy says, "Excuse me? Is done." Exit Polish guy.
1:14 - I test drain to see if it's really fixed. Is.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Please Pass the Ritalin

I have ADHD. Or ADD (if that still exists and has not been subsumed by the preceding acronym.) I know it’'s cliché now to make this joke, but sometimes it just feels so true. And since I don’'t believe the symptoms of ADHD constitute a real disease, I think I can legitimately diagnose myself with it.

It’'s just that... well, let’'s follow my train of thought for a minute or two here to see just how serious this attention problem has become. Frustrated that none of the usual blogs I read had been updated today, I decided to seek out new ones, which I knew would be dull and unsatisfying, but, well I need some outlet for procrastination. I found the blog of a fellow U of C student (one who happens to be in one of my classes) and after overcoming the creepy stalker feeling, I read until I found a link to a New York Times article of which I then read the first paragraph and a half or so. Then I remembered I had Lifesavers in my purse, so I pulled those out and peeled down the label until the next available candy was accessible. Then I realized that there was some sort of contest going on in those spiraled shreds of label. So I carefully pried the outer label off to see if I'’d won. (I hadn'’t.) Then I finally turned back to the computer, rediscovered the New York Times article I’'d started, and wondering what had possessed me to follow a link to a story about 12-year-old figure skaters from North Carolina.

Argh. And of course what I really need to be doing is reading more poor little strained peepers off. I guess I'll get back to that now.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Floral Deep Freeze

I’m not sure what’s going to happen to my precious tulips and hyacinths when it SNOWS tonight.


Monday, April 18, 2005

Spring at 32 ft/sec squared

We'’re past the halfway point in April. There are actual little leaves on the trees in place of the tightly closed buds that clung to the tips of the branches two weeks ago. Not just daffodils but also hyacinths and tulips are blooming. It'’s really spring.

And this is about the point at which I realize, every year, that I'’m about to jump. It’'s like I'’m standing at the edge of a cliff, my toes hanging over the edge. I know that I’'m about to dive off, and I’'m staring down at the ground below. Wha't’s waiting for me down there? Oh, mid-July, I’'d say.

On my way down I’'ll free-fall past the last week or so of April, all of May and June, until I finally land flat on my face in the middle of the summer. It’'s not really until that first hot and humid spell in July that the world slows down.

It’'s a shame, really, because 4/5 ths of major family celebrations occur during this free-fall period, not to mention events like Mother’s' and Father’s' Day, ends of school years, and simple beautiful, sunny days. It never fails, though. Every year, these few months fly by at the speed of light, and it’'s all I can do to look around once or twice and blow out a candle or two on my way by.

And this year, I will actually be out of the country for the last several weeks of this period. That will be different. I’'ll miss certain things (including 3/5 ths of those big family days) but that'’s not such a big deal. I’'ve learned that any major holiday can be assigned a new time and place without losing much of the essential celebratory value.

I do lament, however, the sheer passage of time. It'’s impossible to deny the force of gravity, yanking me through all these moments I wish I could hold on to a little longer. I guess all anyone can really do is savor the millisecond or two we get to spend suspended at any one altitude. I hope I find a way to do that at least as I plummet through the rest of the season.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Four Eyes

For most people, it'’s tax day. For me, it’'s glasses day.

Well, technically, glasses day will be Monday, when I pick them up, but today is the day I have been inducted into the glasses-wearing population. The doctor said it wasn’t bad yet but it would probably get a little worse over the next few years. “"Graduate school will do that to you,”" he said. So for now, I’'ll just wear them when I drive and when I want to be able to see the chalkboard.

I was expecting to have to shell out fistfuls of money for the privilege of being able to see, but I managed to come in at under $200 for the whole shebang. I did, however, ignore my mother'’s advice.

She told me to avoid cheap frames. “"How will I know they'’re cheap?”" I asked. “"Pink plastic,"” she said. I didn'’t exactly go pink plastic. Purple is more like it. But they'’re fun... and they were inexpensive, which made them pretty damn attractive.

Now I can fully incarnate the stereotype. In my turtleneck sweater, hair pulled back, glasses pushed up on the bridge of my nose, I am the girl gone mild par excellence. But that'’s all right. For those who really care, it should be a welcome change. After all, guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Gym Rat

Have you ever been so repelled by the smell of the person next to you at the gym that you got off the machine you were using in order to get away from said source of repulsion? I did that the other day. This guy got on the elliptical and, literally within 30 seconds, was emitting putrid waves of B.O. in all directions. I unabashedly stopped striding, stepped off my elliptical, picked up my bag and walked away, even though I was only about 3 minutes into my own workout.

Despite the sometimes smelly company, however, I remembered today that there is something I do like about the gym. Even though the only real reason I go is to prevent running burnout and to avoid cold and rainy weather, I do enjoy being in the weight room from time to time. I like feeling muscles in my arms and back (which sadly I hardly ever really use) work. I like feeling strong, and I like being in there to represent the feminine population, even though we're always drastically outnumbered.

I’m not going to give up running any time soon (or rowing evidently - I just agreed to fill in for a U of C rower who has to miss practice on Thursday morning, which starts, by the way, promptly at 5:15) but I hope I continue to be motivated to show my face in the gym from time to time. It’'s a stinky, testosterone-filled world, but it’'s a world in which I’'ve grown to feel comfortable.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Your Friendly Neighborhood Library

In an effort to extract motivation from any available source, I spent the day downtown moving randomly around the city reading in different locations. I was outside, inside, at Starbucks, at a nearly deserted café and finally at the big, bad Chicago public library.

Actually, to be more specific, it was the Harold Washington Library Center I ventured into when it (finally) opened at 1 p.m. today. And, a vrai dire,* I was disappointed from the minute I walked in. The whole place was very sterile and very early 90’s - rounded edges, pastel colors, extreme fluorescent lighting.

But I found a secluded corner and hauled out my gigantic volume of Montaigne’s Les Essais. No sooner had I cracked open the book then a policeman began banging chairs around behind me.

“Morning,” he said. It was 1:15.

“Uh, hi.” I looked up from Montaigne. (But who am I kidding? A piece of lint could have fallen from the ceiling, and I would have gladly been distracted by it.)

“I don’t mean to scare you…” he began, but scare me he did. He basically told me if I stayed where I was, I was just asking to get mugged or raped by a homeless person. “Let’s just say, things have happened.”

So needless to say, I followed his advice and hauled all my junk to a table nearer the information desk, in plain site of several library employees. But the policeman seemed to reappear every 20 minutes or so, banging chairs again as he did his rounds. I don’t think I’ll be making any special trips back there anytime soon. So much for that idea.

*i.e. "truth be told"

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Lost in Translation

Today I attend a conference on translation called Le Mot Juste at the Alliance Francaise. Despite the nagging feeling that I should really be reading instead or at least doing something outside to take advantage of the good weather, I’m looking forward to it.

It’s always strange to go back to somewhere you once worked though. I doubt I’ll see any of my supervisors, since it’s Saturday and they’re not usually there then. But there’s always the possibility of that. Awkward small talk. Faking interest in each other’s lives since last summer. Gotta love it.

Meanwhile, the engagement of friends seems to have become a weekly phenomenon now. All this marriage among people I know just adds to the “jeez I’m getting old” feeling that’s been haunting me lately. That’s not to say I’m not psyched for the upcoming weddings. Just as long as you don’t wear a hat like this, I am more than happy to partake in any and all festivities.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Bobo Cool

Don’t you love it when you find clothes you bought in high school at the back of your closet and realize they’re actually coming back into style? Well, it’s a bittersweet realization. I feel hip and cool, and smart for holding on to these clothes, while at the same time I feel really darn old.

Anyway, today I’m wearing a skirt with no tights for the first time since, oh, September, and gosh does it feel good. I’m even kind of boho-chic in this black skirt that I bought at Urban Outfitters in 1997.

I can never decide about me and trends. There’s always the sneaking suspicion that I really can’t pull them off and that I really look pretty pathetic trying to dress like the women in fashion magazines. But I suppose all that really matters is that I have fun trying.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

... And Boy Are My Arms Tired!

I found out this past Friday that I was accepted (with partial scholarship) to a summer program in Avignon, in the south of France. I’ll be going there for six weeks, taking classes, watching plays, and eating real cheese for the first time since I left Paris four and a half years ago. (Well, with one notable exception: the homemade blue cheese Baker got as a present from a Berkshire parent this past Christmas.)

So this is fabulous news, right? The problem is money. (I mean, when is money not the problem?) Fortunately, I have loving family members who are willing to give gifts and to make interest-free loans so that I will be able to participate in this program. But that’s not really the point. The point is that I’m an adult and I want to be responsible for myself.

But how does a responsible adult in graduate school actually afford such an extravagance as is a luxurious academic program in the south of France? I don’t know. The airfare alone nearly caused me to choke on my cereal. Anyone want to tell me why it has to cost over $1000 to fly to Paris in June when it costs half that much to fly there now? I mean, I get the whole economics of it, the supply-and-demand aspect, but give me a frickin’ break!

Any suggestions as to where I might find a cheaper student fare are more than welcome. In fact, I’m begging you. I refuse to pay over a grand to get across the Atlantic. I will strap a pair of flattened cardboard boxes to my arms and flap myself on over there if it comes to it. I have my dignity to protect, not to mention my bank account.