Saturday, July 22, 2006

Tests, Tents, Etc.

I’m supposed to be studying for a test in my class on changes in English over the last century, and I am bored out of my skull. Some of the topics I have found pretty interesting (like the formation of new words or changes in meaning for established words), but sound change is likely to put me in a coma. zzzzzzzzz... Fortunately, I don’t think it will come up on the test, because we didn’t go into great detail on it in class, and we’re also mainly dealing with written language. At least I have my fingers crossed.

John is feeling a little Hannah-withdrawal this evening, but not as bad as last night. Right after school yesterday, she went to hang out with a friend, and has basically only been home since then to get her stuff and to play on the computer/with her sewing machine with said friend. The friend’s parents put up a 3-room tent in their back yard, so the whole family slept there last night, and the kids are planning to have another go at it tonight. We got a refreshing little shower earlier, but I don’t think it will rain overnight again.

TMI alert!
I suspect I may have expelled my IUD. You’d think this is something I would have noticed, and not to go into too many details, I suspect it happened during Aunt Flo’s last visit. It was exactly like her visits to me a year-and-a-half ago before I got the IUD, and this month I am definitely feeling blue while she’s here. Which is really a drag. I have found myself occasionally acting like my father* (minus the cheating and putting down), and I want to shoot myself. But at least I am aware of it and can consciously force myself to STOP IT.

* John knows he has crossed the line into insufferable asshole-ism when I call him my father’s name, and I am cringingly waiting for him to return the favor.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Pinch of This, A Dash of That

The construction guys came by and finished dismantling the scaffolding around our Winter Garden (BTW, this is basically a sunroom, but ours happens to be not completely glassed-in, if that makes sense). So the inside (minus one light fixture) and the outside are done! We can now officially move back in. Woot! We actually wanted to use it last weekend, since one of John’s grad-school colleagues was going to be in town and we had invited her and her husband to coffee, so John called up the landlord to see if we could clear out the last of the workman’s stuff. (At this point, everything was done but the light fixtures.) No problem, he said. Then an hour later, after John had huffed and puffed up and down the stairs 5 or 6 times (did I mention we live on the fourth floor?) to take out all the tools and put the garden furniture back in, the electrician came to put in the lights. So we had to scootch everything around to make room for the ladder, then we had to dust bits of drywall off the tablecloth before we could set the table for the coffee. That’s typical around here. Anyhoo, I added the last photo to the yahoo album (link on the right), if you are so bored as to want to look at it.

In other local news, Europe is experiencing a heat wave right about now, but I have only found it oppressively hot when I have to get on a bus, or if I have to walk along the sidewalk next to the street here in our village (no shade most of the way). If you can get in the shade, it is really not too bad, as opposed to my experience in West Texas (you all know the 100F-in-the-shade-type summer weather there). Luckily, we don’t have to worry about water restrictions, so a tepid shower often does the trick when it gets too hot. Looking out the window now, it is starting to cloud up, which automatically knocks the temps down. We got up in the mid-90s yesterday, but I don’t know if we will today, despite the forecast for even higher temperatures. The other part of the forecast said something about bad thunderstorms, so we might actually be catching the edge of that.

I am down to one written final exam, one 20-minute oral exam (part of my qualifying exams), and one 15-page paper which is not due until September 30. I know I need to buckle down a little more on studying, but at this point I feel like I have a good head start on it. The wish for a sudden, speedy death that gripped me during the height of the paper-writing ordeal has gone, leaving me feeling giddily upbeat (except when I think about the grade on my paper, but let’s not worry about that until the grade actually comes in), but I can’t become blasé about my workload now.

On the occasion of an anniversary that marked the beginning of a period of her life that was, let’s say, interesting in a life-lesson kind of way, WesTexGirl recently posted about how that wild and crazy period actually helped to shape her into the person she is today. And it occurred to me that I am boring, and that I have probably always been boring. My wild and crazy? Can be counted on one hand in single events. Hers? In months. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have traded places with her for anything, but I’m thinking that maybe I have been in a middle-aged mind-set since I was, oh, 16. John would probably think so, but I hope only in the quiet, honest recesses of his soul. Oh, well.

Hannah has been an interesting study lately. One day she is formulating a theory that Betty Crocker was a space alien, and the next she is weeping over the fighting in the Middle East. She has already been begging to shave her legs (and arms) because some boys tease her, but at least one of her girlfriends sticks up for her and points out that she herself also has hairy legs (kid hair—that’s nothing!). I checked out Babette Cole’s book on puberty, Hair in Funny Places, for Hannah, and she has pulled it out of the book basket a couple of times. John finds Babette Cole’s books mildly repulsive, but I like them (as the aunts and uncles in my family can attest, because I think at least one kid in each family has gotten a copy of Dr. Dog.) Like I said, John is a little iffy on it, but I think it is a very straightforward and funny approach to explaining “your changing body.” Hannah’s friend is a little older and is already going through it, and Hannah’s turn is probably right around the corner (she hasn’t even lost all her baby teeth yet!), so I wanted to start introducing the topic gradually, and it seems to be working. She’s asked a couple of questions, and open communication is exactly what I’m aiming for. There’s no room for squeamishness.

As I sat in the English Department library while writing my paper, surrounded by the works of Nick Hornby and Herman Melville and Aphra Behn, I felt very sad that I couldn’t just pick up one of them and dig in. Plus someone on a email list not in any way affiliated with Harry Potter made a comment about The Half Blood Prince that has had me in a flutter of discontent that I don’t have time (at least until the end of July) to find what she was talking about and see if it says what she claims it does. So I am counting down the days until I can read for pleasure again (the stack of Terry Pratchett is calling to me...).

Monday, July 17, 2006

Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of fun had at the carnival to share, so here is basically the highlight of the outing--the port-o-head. The picture on the side pretty well says what it's for, don't you think? Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 16, 2006

This box contains every article, every handwritten page, every printed page of the paper I just completed. The paper itself ended up being only 15 pages + 2 pages of bibliography. Posted by Picasa

Rumors of my death were premature...

I survived the term paper and the written exam (parts 1 and 2 for admission to upper-division coursework)--passing is possibly a different matter, but I won't know for a while. Now I just have a translation exam (English into German), a seminar exam (ongoing change in English), and a 20-minute oral exam in linguistics (part 3) before the end of the semester in two weeks. After the first two things, though, I somehow feel more confident about the other ones. I spent several late nights last week working on the paper, which was due at noon on Friday, then had to cram for the exam on Saturday morning (I had actually already been preparing, but it had been a couple of weeks since I had worked really steadily on it), so by Saturday afternoon I was beat and barely even coherent. But I got a good night's sleep last night and have already pulled out my materials for the next round of tests.

Since my life has been terribly boring recently, I don't really have much of interest to post right now. I'll dig through my Palm later, though, and see if I can't cull out any notes I've been hoarding for the post-exam period. But to give myself a running start, I weeded all the gardening and construction photos out of this blog and put them in photo albums, so there are new photo links on the right.

After a bite of lunch, we're taking the afternoon off to go to our village's annual carnival, so look for more another photo album chock full of fun tomorrow or so.