Thursday, March 31, 2005
So I've gone to the little postal shop on Broadway the last couple of days since I sold some textbooks on Amazon (muuuch better pay than the NU bookstore buyback). Jenny had been telling me about her since day one, since this woman is quite a character. She's a wee little Asian lady and apparently is 200% sassy. Jenny commented that every time she had gone in there in the last few years, no matter what she was doing (buying boxes or mailing a letter), the Asian lady had something to say about it (ie, "why not mail it via such and such way, it's cheaper?" or "that box you're buying is all wrong for whatever it is that you need to pack up).
Indeed. On day one, I was mailing a book expedited mail since the buyer requested that. Tha Asian lady tsk-ed over the price difference between that and media mail, urging me to go media...it was much cheaper! I assured her that I was being compensated for the expedited mail, and that seemed to satisfy her.
Today, I was mailing another book, this time media mail. I handed it over, and she cocked an eye, and then said "You know this is going to take two weeks, right?"
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
So I was sure that this first week back would be an easy one with things getting heated up later on, but it was not to be so. As soon as we walked into class, it was totally hit-the-ground-running and there's no rest for the weary! I have my first session with my client this Friday and then another on Monday! I'm excited but extremely nervous and know that I'm going to spend about ten trillion hours planning for these sessions when someone with experience would spend maybe an hour. The learning curve is extremely steep right now, and I know it'll only get better, but it's excruciating in the meantime. But, as my mom likes to tell me ad nauseum, you have to eat bitter before you can taste the sweet.
So, my goals for the quarter are:
1. stay on top of classes
2. stay on top of lesson planning
3. try not to get trampled under the self-inflicted pressure of it all.
But, the good news is that it's been warm and lovely in Chicago. It's raining right now, but warm and feels and smells like spring.
Monday, March 28, 2005
...of freedom! Classes start tomorrow. It should start pretty easy since I don't have class till noon, we had today off, and (so far) I don't have classes on Friday. Next week will be sure to be busier with labs and a client and all of the trimmings, but week one is always manageable.
Anyhow, the rest of the weekend was good. I spent some of it in Bolingbrook helping/mostly-watching Todd pack up his stuff. It's kind of amazing, because he doesn't have much really, and it looked like a relatively painless affair. When I'm in that position, there's a whole lot more caterwauling and hair pulling and teeth gnashing and a whole boatload of complaining. That night we went out for his roommates' goodbye shindig (they're loading up their truck to drive to Denver tomorrow), and yesterday I drove out with him to Wilmington for Easter lunch at his parents' house. Let me tell you: there was some lamb to die for present.
Today is my day of productivity. It's sunny out so I feel invigorated and ready to tackle the list of things to do before classes begin again: grocery shopping, coffee bean buying, laundry, cleaning, bill-paying, email writing, call making. Although I'm not thrilled about starting into the grind again, I'm glad to get back into a routine and get back to a regular workout schedule. I also vow (for real this time) to stay on top of my classes. No more cramming, people. It just can't be that way no more.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
I came back to Chicago and snow last yesterday. Okay, so the snow didn't stick, but it still cracks me up that it was gray and snowing in the city. My flight out of DC sat on the tarmac for an hour before taking off due to weather conditions in Chicago, but I am grateful that it was only delayed an hour, since it could have been much worse.
It was a good visit back to DC, but sad of course. I was grateful and thrilled to be able to see friends (Suzi, Anne, Christie [!], Des, Jonathan, Clarence, and Matt) as well as family and it was good to recharge my DC batteries. Still, driving on the GW Parkway on a nice day and looking over the Potomac at all of the monuments...nothing matches it.
The service for my grandmother was touching but very sad. Silver lining: it didn't pour the day of the burial as it had done the day before, so it wasn't messy like it could have been.
On more uplifting notes, some highlights of the week:
I had lunch with Des, Clarence and Jonathan at my favorite cheap Malaysian place, Malaysia Kopitiam, on M Street. By their doorway they had a whole slew of chairs with Asian type fabric and plastic coating on top of them. As we were putting on our coats, the following exchange occurred:
Jonathan: What dynasty do those chairs come from?
Clarence: The Kitsch Dynasty.
(You might have had to be there, but it cracked me up for about 20 minutes).
Afghan feast with Anne and Christie on Wednesday might. Enough said, really, but it was good to break naan with them.
Matt's place for Italian dinner on Thursday night. It was my first time seeing Matt's new loft condo which was swanky and very nicely painted. I also got to see my favorite baby angel, Spike. It must be said that Spike is looking a lot more svelte these days. He even felt lighter when I picked him up. It's the stairs in the loft; he didn't have to climb stairs for several rounds of apartments beforehand. I also suspect that he's mellowing in his dotage because he just lay there on the ottoman scanning the scenery despite a whole hubbub of new people in the place.
I got back yesterday at around one when Todd picked me up at the airport (very seamless, as soon as I was coming out to the pick up place, he was pulling into O'Hare). Last night we went to see Slint at the Metro, a club close by that I had never been to before. Slint was impressive and seriously intense (no on-stage banter, total concentration during all of the songs, relatively quiet crowd). It was a sold out show, too. The Metro is a cool venue, though. Its size reminds me of the 9:30 Club, which is a good thing.
We had to go back to Todd's to retreive the show tickets and on the way back we passed Navy Pier on Lake Shore. Navy Pier is a big touristy playground right on the lake with a big old lit up ferris wheel and lots of other tourist-attracting stuff. Something like the following exhange happened as we drove by:
Todd: I've never been to Navy Pier before.
Kristin: We should go. Isn't it something that you can at least you that you experienced?
Todd: No, I don't really need to say that I experienced Navy Pier.
Kristin: But, don't you want to experience it before you judge it at least? Even if you'll probably dislike it?
Kristin: Besides, you can probably have cotton candy there.
That also made me laugh for about twenty minutes.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
It's good to be back in DC again. There's something about coming home, and while it's still a little chilly here, the skies are crystal blue and it's sunny and it's a nice departure from the grayness of Chicago. I like my parents' house and I love the purple room that I normally sleep in and I adore the perfect mattress on the brass bed in that room and I eat up the quietness of Great Falls.
For those who don't know, my grandmother passed away earlier this week. I was actually planning on coming back to DC for a few days to see her and missed her by a day. Wretched timing, that. But, my family seems to be doing okay, and it's the end to her suffering, so there are some silver linings to be found. Another lining is that now I will get to see a lot of my family that I normally wouldn't, including the California contingent and Robin who's flying in from Texas late tonight.
The service is going to be on Thursday, and I extended my stay till Friday. During these three days, I'll be able to spend time with family and also get to see a lot of friends. I was telling Anne this morning that it sounds extraordinarily self-centered, but I can't help but be relieved that my grandmother passed this week while I'm on Spring Break. Otherwise, I don't think that I would have been able to skip class and come home.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Friday, March 18, 2005
My first St. Patrick's day in Chicago, and I missed the famed green river. Apparently, all of the big parades were this past weekend, which time was spent in convalescence and studies, so I missed all of the fun and the greenness.
Last night, however, I walked over to Southport to the Mystic Celt and joined Katie, Hillary, Lauren, Laura, and Megan for some St Patrick's celebration. The place was packed, and by the time that I wandered up at 7:30, there was a line that went halfway down the block. It was fast-moving, thankfully, and it took me only about 10 or 15 minutes to get in the door. The doorguy checking IDs inquired about my Virginia license and I found out that he was actually from Alexandria, went to West Potomac high school, and worked at Faccia Luna in Oldtown for about seven months. Small world.
The Mystic Celt itself was full of festive 20-somethings, blared U2, and served overpriced green Miller Lite. It was crowded, but manageable and a good time altogether. I left around 11:30 when the party was still raring. And I didn't even have anything to do today except to wait for the gas guy to come and check our meter. Most of those other people at the bar probably had to work today. I suspect there are many sorry looking worker drones hanging around the office today.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
I didn't get a chance to report on stuff that happened earlier this week until today, what with studying and all, but I need to tell about the date that I went on with Jenny and Pam on Sunday. They picked me up on the cold sunny Sunday and we drove over to Humboldt Park, the Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago. Jenny's mom is from PR so we were in search of some Puerto Rican food. There are these enormous metal Puerto Rican flags that line the street there, which Jenny commented made the neighborhood seem like a "Puerto Rican Busch Gardens."
We wandered into a restaurant we saw and it was clear that we were the newcomers. Thumbs up to Puerto Rican food: I had pork and fried plantains. yum.
Humboldt Park is close to where Todd's new place is, so hopefully there will be more Puerto Rican food in my future.
After lunch, we drove over to Bucktown to find some coffee. An excellent afternoon full of Chicago sightseeing. And no studying.
Wow, this has been a crazy past week. I finished my last exam yesterday afternoon, and was absolutely wrecked afterward. An exam on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday each. By the time I reached yesterday morning, I was worn out. I managed to eke through, though, about which I'm thrilled. That past quarter gave me a mighty good drubbing. Daaaaamn.
Yesterday morning, Jenny moved out as well, which is very, very sad. We loaded up her little UHaul in uncommonly beautiful weather, and I believe that she is now safe and sound in Ann Arbor, although I should call and check. The apartment is cavernously empty and bare without her and all of the furniture right now. I need to get on hanging some pictures to cover up these bare walls. I positioned my lone red armchair in the living room yesterday, and it's a hilariously lonely scene. When I was telling Hillary about it last night, it occurred to me that the living room looks not unlike a set from a play.
I also need to acquire some kitchen stuff stat. Lee moves in within the next month or so, and I'm sure that she is going to bring supplies, but I can't live as an ascetic till then.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
I just watched Bus 174. It was incredible: powerful and riveting and tremendously sad. The movie details a hostage situation that happened in Brazil in 2000 where a mild-mannered street kid held up a bus, had the robbery go awry, and the entire thing ended up as a long, drawn-out hostage situation. Because the entire thing was filmed live by what seemed like billions of journalists, every single part of it is on film. The entire thing is pretty devastating, but the end...Jesus.
I'm knee deep in going over notes from language disorders tonight. One of the disorders we talked about in class is Williams Syndrome: one where the kid has a low IQ but relatively good verbal skills. Williams Syndrome kids tend to be super friendly and love to chatter, dropping in fifty cent words in various places even if they don't know the meaning.
Examples from a presentation given in class:
1. ) One statement from a WS kid: "The snow is making all different colors of the rainbow in the trees! It's like SHINY RAINBOWS in the trees!"
2.) When talking about bees leaving the behive, "The bees abort the beehive."
I love it.
Last night's goodbye party for Jenny was a success, I am happy to report. The organizing was headed by Pam, and contributed to by Amie, Abby, Brendan, Jenny, and myself. Besides everyone seeing Jenny off, each of the organizers invited others that they know, so the party was kicking full blast most of the time. People started trickling in at 9 and things didn't die till 4. I can't remember the last time that I stayed up till 4; I don't know how good I am at it anymore. Anyway, we ordered a keg, two cases of beer, a case of wine for the evening and people brought wine and beer as well. To my surprise, we kicked the keg, and finished most of the beer. And people devoured the loads of snacks that Abby and Amie had brought. I was amazed.
No complaints about noise either from the neighbors, and one of our neighbors even stopped by, graciously toting a bottle of wine.
Amie organized a contest in which people tried to name Jenny's new car. The winner? A combination of two:
"Lady Brendan: Four doors and a dream."
I woke up this morning feeling run over. I went and got lunch with Jenny and Todd and then came back home and went back to sleep. Now I'm staying in for a quiet night and trying to get some studying done. I foresee an early bed time. Thank God.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Awww, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang are going at it again, The Washington Post reports. But there are some problems, apparently.
In past years, they've shown excellent sexual behavior but have been a bit out of sync," Lisa Stevens, the zoo's assistant curator for giant pandas, said today. "We're very concerned about the lack of synchrony."
Translation: The male giant panda is eager, Stevens said, but has "alignment" problems; the female cries out to him loudly and displays other come-hither behavior, but then lies flat on her stomach.
Also, you can watch their mating habits on the panda cam!
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
I had the most deliciously productive morning. For once, I didn't have to be on campus super early, so I took advantage of this occasion and, in the following order, accomplished the following:
1.) slept in till 7:30 (luxury!)
2.) Ate some kashi good friends cereal while stripping my sheets
3.) Trekked down to the laundryroom, loaded three machines
4.) Made my way to Jewel, bought much needed groceries and got some quarters.
5.) Mailed a letter on the way back and then put stuff in the dryer.
6.) Walked over to Strange Cargo with Jenny. Obtained some cutie-smartypants clinic shoes. They are too much.
7.) Walked back. Dragged clean laundry upstairs.
8.) Put away clean clothes, put on clean sheets, ate lunch.
9.) Worked with Jenny to make invitations/warnings for our neighbors for the Friday night soiree. Then taped them to their doors.
11.) Loaded up my bag and left.
Incredible! Anyway, class today was surprisingly good and shorter than usual, even. I now have two more days left (yaaaay!), but an artic project to get done in the meantime and studying to try to get ahead on. I just spent the last couple of hours typing up notes.
I'm pretty psyched for Friday, though: Last day of classes (hooorraaaay!) and also the big good-bye party for Jenny.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
My brothers and I have flat heads in the back: it's kind of like someone carved out a part of our skulls leaving a little slanted flat spot. It still weirds me out a little bit when I run my hand over the back of my head: it's kind of mutant-like. I don't know which of us has the most pronounced flat head, but I know it's because we slept on our backs and our little soft, baby heads flattened out when resting on the flat crib surface...and then hardened, like cement. Awesome!
Well, apparently, more kids are turning out like we are since more kids started being put to bed on their backs. And there are helmets for this now to correct the problem! The Post has an article about it today in their Health section called "Baby's First Helmet." The helmet is pretty sweet looking: maybe I should explore one for myself.
Monday, March 07, 2005
Sunday, March 06, 2005
That was the high today. It was glorious in Chicago. Sunny, blue skies, warm air: it oozed of spring. It's a trick, since it's supposed to get chilly again later this week, but it was tremendous to have it even last a day. Sadly, I had to spend the bulk of the afternoon inside, working on this articulation group project, but I did get to pop out as the afternoon hours waned to run a few errands. It was lovely.
I'm doing homework right now as the windows are wide open and the breeze is coming in. It makes doing the homework almost-not-a-chore. Almost.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Man, Friday was so very long. I normally get out of class at 11, but yesterday we had to stick around campus for a meeting that occurred at 3. It was brutal. But, the good news is that Lauren, Hillary, Nikki and I had the f-f-f-Friday lunch. A few of us normally try to go out and get some sort of /f/-inspired food item (in the past: pho, frijoles, fish). Yesterday was falafel. We went to this place called the Pita Inn, and it very well be one of my new favorite places in the Chicagoland area. Tons of good food for so cheap. They knew the way to my heart.
Last night was super, super chill. Jenny, Amie, Todd and I sat down and watched "The Story of the Weeping Camel." This past summer, my dad had been telling me about it and urging me to see it, not in the least because there was an unbearably cute kid in it. This was very true, but in actuality, there were two unbearably cute kids in it. There were also lots of unbearably cute camels, baby camels, and baby lambs. It was too much. The movie was beautiful and moving and highly recommended. The story revolves around this one baby camel who is abandoned by his mama, so there were several scenes of the baby plaintively mewling for her all by his lonesome in the Mongolian desert. A more pathetic sound you have never heard.
Afterward, everyone else fell asleep, but I stayed up to watch some quality television, including the program "I Married Sebastian Bach." Enough said.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
It's freezing in Chicago. Last night was in the teens, and I saw two separate people on my way home from school who were wearing shorts. Let me repeat that: there were two separate people wearing shorts. Lauren's Asshole Rule was definitely in effect. Meanwhile I'm all layered up and rocking some sexy long underwear.
It's "Cookie and Candy Thursday" in our MA room again. Three people are assigned to bring in some sort of treat for everyone, and it's a pretty awesome idea. Today someone brought in a big box of Peet's coffee, which was the best idea yet.
I finally got around to trying to register for classes next quarter and one of the classes I need to take I can't get into because the system reports that it's above capacity. I probably can still get in (I hope!) since there are so damn many of us this year that most classes will be above capacity, but this is what I get for sitting on this task for awhile. Dizzamn!
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
I'm clawing my way through the last few pages of this paper. I'm going to have to carve it down at least three pages since it's kinda bloated right now and I'm not even finished. I just talked to someone else in my class who's struggling to get to five pages.
I received the following suggestion from todd on how I should begin it:
"Man has pondered many questions throughout the ages, but none so much as the eternal question of why dudes have nipples. Seriously, WTF? But somewhere down the list, if you keep reading it for quite some time, you'll see man's question of why some kids can't talk for shit but some are awesome at it."
And really, isn't the basically what this entire graduate course is about?
Anyway, I'm going to work on this paper for 45 more minutes, and then go get me a fountain diet coke as a reward.