Friday, June 02, 2006

Into the Mush-Pot

Rather than try to cram all the recent goings-on into some kind of cohesive narrative structure, I'm just going to throw them out there in no particular order.

After 9 years of fruitless paranoia, John and I were finally walked in on. Fortunately, Hannah's head was full of the incipient celebration of herself (i.e., her birthday party), so I don't think she caught on. But nothing kills a mood like feeling something thump down onto your pillow, only to find out it is your child and not your cat.

Speaking of Hannah’s bday, John and I went to Toys R Us the Friday before and bought everything for it in one go—gifts, party bags, candy, balloons. And toilet paper. John could not resist the lure of the winter-scented Charmin that for some reason was piled high in the center of TRU, and on sale, to boot. *One-tenth* of our birthday-shopping bill was toilet paper. He’s obsessed, I tell you.

I think that German weather is blighting my soul. It has certainly taken a toll on the plants on our balcony. An arctic front came through recently, so the temps for the last week have been firmly in the 50s. Today we broke 65F for the first time in ages. And last night we saw on the news that there was an overnight frost warning for Southern Germany. On June 1. Some foolish sorts have already put out geraniums. Hope springs eternal, eh? We're not bothering this year; we've pretty much given up on summer here.

What is with the connection between rodents and weather forecasting? In the States we have Groundhog Day: if the groundhog sees his shadowed, 6 more weeks of winter. In Germany, they have Dormouse Day: if it is raining on that day (June 27), bad weather for the rest of the summer.

I look in the shop windows, and they are full of sandals and sun dresses, and I wonder where the coats are. These shops are probably taking a beating right now (I got out my winter coat a couple of days ago), although you will still see teen-aged lemmings flocking to them. I don't know when they'll have the chance to wear skimpy tees, etc.; maybe when they go on vacation to Spain or Italy.

The thing I like about the shop windows is the mannequins. Most of them are your typical zombie super-model types. Some have wigs; others are bald; yet others come with their heads molded to look like hair. Some shops use dress-maker style mannequins (no heads or arms). One disturbing place has mannequins with their heads cut off *at the nose*. Why? Most of them are anatomically correct: the female ones have cleavage and nipples, and I saw a male one with nipples today. Equality among the mannequin-sexes! But my favorite is the trashy clothes shop with female mannequins sporting quite a busty, nipply style, but their hands are *flippers*. Whoever made them couldn't be bothered with making individual fingers after perfectly sculpting their chests.

Speaking of trashy, I saw a chic wearing these high-heeled sneakers the other day. Once again, Why? Sneakers should not go click clack as you walk.

We saw a segment on our favorite Mr. Rogers-for-adults show where they compared hot-pants and mini-skirts. Scientifically, of course. John says we need to hear more about such important scientific research.

Speaking of clothing, I saw a guy in an excellent t-shirt on the bus. The guy himself totally had “mis-placed Austinite” written all over him: shaved head, long bushy goatee, cool black t-shirt. On the front: „Punk Rock Catering.“ On the back: a skull of the Hannah-esque variety wearing a chef hat over a crossed knife and ladle. And the caption: “ACAB—All Cooks Are Bastards.” Hee! Reminded me of a certain chili-cook I used to know in Austin, as a matter of fact.

At a bus stop, I was almost driven mad by the virtuoso whistler. He was whistling classical music for 15 minutes straight while we waited for the bus. In a sheltered area to get out of the rain. There was no escape!

The psychology of the bus is endlessly fascinating to me. There are two tall-ish seats at the very front of the bus, and they are highly coveted by the older types, especially the women. It is funny to watch them out-decrepit one another to show that they are more deserving of those spaces, but you can spot them hobbling a little faster and more nimbly when they are getting on the bus and notice those spots open. Fascinating!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Mental Note: End Academic Career with M.A.

Yes, I enjoy learning, but I hate feeling like that is *all* I do. And when I'm not, I feel like I should be.

I have actually managed to finish the inch-high stack of articles for my paper, but tomorrow I will be hitting the library for a fresh stack. I feel pretty encouraged by the fact that I have finally managed to understand all of them, including the ones in German and the one that was a grueling exercise in logic.

Actually, before burying myself in new material, though, I should probably nail down exactly what it is I intend to write about and figure out what gaps I need to fill. Damn.

Hannah the Inventor

Hannah and her friends are very creative when it comes to inventing items that no household should do without. They have moved way beyond the de rigeur lemonade stand of childhood. The first item (with friend Sinya) was paper towels. But not any old paper towels! These were soaked in a mixture of dish soap and food color, making them both attractive and messy. They were pretty sure they could get 2 bucks a pop for them, but I talked them out of trying to sell them door-to-door.

Now Hannah and Katharina have jumped on the wagon with their party hats. These are hats in a variety of shapes and sizes that Hannah excavated from her dress-up box, tied some twine to, and added a balloon to the end of the twine. You can kick the balloon, hit it with a ping-pong paddle, whatever. And they talked me into starting a blog that is basically advertising space for their hat. I finally got around to trying out YouTube, so they even have video ads! I put in a link on the right under "Friends". Enjoy.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Little Old School Bitchin’ and Moanin’

My dear friend, WesTexGirl, was just bemoaning the fact that she didn’t accomplish enough (in her opinion) during her semester break. I think that if you have to deal with giving and grading final exams, and then turn around and start teaching again in 14 days, you are entitled to a little down time. There’s nothing worse than going back to work after a vacation and feeling like you never stopped working.

I can see the mountain of work ahead of me for this semester and often feel overwhelmed by it. The worst offender is my term paper, because I know that it will take a lot of time and effort—both of which I will also need for my regular classwork, my exams (not including finals), and the translation job that is hanging around our (mine and John’s) necks like a millstone. So I am trying to get the paper out of the way as soon as possible, which means I have spent every extra minute during the last week reading the pile of articles I copied last semester. There’s a certain momentum I’ve gained, and I feel like I’ll be right back at square 1 if I don’t grab onto it now and keep forging ahead. Besides, my advisor is *still* waiting for something from me.

Part of the delay is that I haven’t quite sorted out what it is I’m going to write about. A paper is supposed to be an answer to a question, and I think my question is “How does suppletion arise?” Different authors have given different reasons, some of them overlapping, but one mentioned a particular reason, but then said she couldn’t go into it further in her article. I had thought I was done with the research phase, but now it seems like I have to hit the library again.

Yesterday it was my turn to do the grocery shopping, but we also needed some stuff from the electronics store, so I hauled myself across town to the big all-in-one shopping center. I hate going there, because I always spend a painful-to-me amount of money. Somehow I feel like I’ve gotten ripped off, and by the time I’ve run my small errands but haven’t even set foot in the grocery store, I feel barfy. Seriously. Low-level nausea the whole trip. I swear, I could go in for bread and milk, and still spend 100 bucks.

So I’ve spent most of the weekend nauseated at the thought of the grocery shopping, and the term paper. Not so much the presentation I’m giving tomorrow, but I will definitely have to organize my info a little more this evening.

Hannah is out of school for 2 weeks, but John and I aren’t, so the next 2 weeks are going to be stressful, just because we have to tote her back and forth to the university with us, which is also no fun for her; at least she can entertain herself pretty well with a book or drawing. I hope it dries up a bit, then she can spend some of her down time on the playground, but otherwise we will try to squeeze in trips to the library and maybe the museum. And a lunch or 2 out. Fortunately, June 5 is a holiday, and John doesn’t teach on Fridays, so that’s a bit more free time for at home. *sigh*

The weather hasn’t been helping my frantic mood. It has been raining off and on for over a week (it was “on” for about 3 days straight), and today is the first time we’ve seen the sun in ages. It still isn’t warm (our ranges have been in the 50s and 60s), but I’ll take “not raining” for now, particularly since the ceiling was leaking again in the dining room under the construction site.

I keep swinging back and forth between not wanting to eat anything and only wanting to eat chocolate and Pringles; seeing how I can’t afford to be sick, I have to pay attention and make sure I wash down the Pringles with real food (a peach at the moment). Luckily, the only sweets left in the house are a few mini-packs of mini-gummi bears, but the fruit dish is full.

Ok, next time less bitching and moaning. Maybe.