Monday, July 30, 2007

I've Packed Myself into a Corner


(I have since managed to clear a path out of the study. The trouble is that I'm selling my bookcases to my bartender, and they're being picked up today, so I had to move them out of the study--past the mountainous boxes of books--then move the books back into the study so that the bookcases can be moved down the stairs. It is all very complicated.)

Oh, but yes, how I do hate moving. I used to love moving. Can you believe that? There is something satisfying about purging the old crap--I still like that part--but wrapping up and lifting every single item that I own, now that I own a fairly large number of items, is less than pleasing. Yeah, that must be it. I used to like moving because I didn't own anything, and moving was basically just an exciting new re-decorating activity. Not so much these days.

This move is complicated by the fact that I have to keep three sets of boxes separate: the boxes that will go into storage (by far the largest pile), the boxes + cello that will go into my mom's house (not such a large pile), and the boxes that will move with me to Field Town. They're all labeled, obviously, but I don't trust the movers (which I will have for exactly 2 hours, including their travel time, so I don't know how much they'll actually get done) to carefully check each label before setting the box into the truck. Because I'll need to remove things from the truck in a fairly specific order, so--oh, I'm giving myself a headache.

This post is pure procrastination. I have never worked as inefficiently as I have lately. I will pack one box, making a careful list on an index card, which will then be taped to the side of the box, of every book contained therein (I think I've gone a little crazy this week, too), and then I will sit on my floor or in a chair staring at the wall for approximately 15 minutes. There is nothing in this apartment that I want to deal with at the moment. And the movers come on Friday. And between now and Friday, I am having 1) lunch with my advisor, 2) a drink with an old professor, 3) dinner with two friends, 4) dinner and/or drinks with a different friend, 5) at least one yoga class, and 6) whatever I'm forgetting. I may have actually planned more dinners than there are nights this week. Time is short; it is short indeed.

Ugh! Send motivating thoughts my way, please please!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Inexplicable

Because I can't be bothered to pack, I decided to do this quiz that I saw linked on New Kid's blog. Here are my results:


Your Score: Older Futhark


You scored




Language of the Norse, Older Futhark! Thirty symbols, all told. And no hardier, more warrior-like tongue has ever graced the longships of the Viki or left the Celts and Saxons in such quivering fear. There's only one drawback, that being you died 800 years ago.




Link: The Which Ancient Language Are You Test written by imipak on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Oddly enough, this is what NK scored, too.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Oh, the Astonishment!

This morning, I am awash in a peculiar mixture of delight and alarm.

Alarm:
because in less than one month, I will be teaching full-time.
because I begin moving one week from today.
because the summer feels effectively over--at least, the nice relaxing putting-things-off part of the summer.

Delight:
because I actually seem to be on top of things.

Maybe I just set my standards really low, and that's how I've been able to check off most of the things on my to-do list; even the un-checked-off things, like the conference paper draft, are well in the works and should be finished before courses start. (In fact, I do have a draft; I just don't feel it's good enough to get credit yet. Soon, soon, I tell myself. I've been researching for a few hours a day all week and with luck can beef it up before I actually move. Wait--I move in a week. Who am I kidding?) (See! Delight and alarm at work, within the text itself!!!)

Yeah, so, things are strangely under control. I have two of my three syllabi; the third is supposed to be determined by committee before we start teaching this fall (everyone teaches the third class), but I'm a little nervous about it because it's a comp class, I've never taught comp, and I wish someone would just send me the syllabus already. But anyway. That class actually shouldn't require too much advance-reading time, so it'll be okay. I have a reasonably well revised draft of my book proposal, which I hope to show Advisor early next week. I've updated my CV and job application cover letter template. I still need to review my writing sample, which has changed somewhat since last year, but that shouldn't take too long, I don't think. And I might redo my dissertation abstract--wait, do I even need one? Now that I've graduated? See, those job search workshops in grad school don't tell you how to do round 2 of the job search! It's very annoying.

The move is mostly coming together, too. I'm in the Metropole, formerly known as the boyfriend's city (I decided that it needed a more concise name), until Sunday afternoon; not the best timing ever, but I had to get in one last visit before leaving this quadrant of the country. Yesterday I packed up the Kitchen Cupboards of Mystery, which actually contained far fewer mystery objects than I'd expected. I have not yet undertaken Pandora's Desk Drawers or Cornucopia Closet, which will doubtless leave me utterly boxless and panicked, but my books are mostly packed up and perhaps I'll even get everything done in time to go to one last yoga class next Thursday night. I hope!

At the moment I'm rather sleepy, having awakened at 7:30 for the last two days after not going to sleep very early, and am trying to stay awake and alert for an upcoming yoga class at noon. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I would just like to say:

--that getting the proofs for my first article gave me a very nice feeling. The kind of feeling that Anne of Green Gables would have called a "thrill."

(Even though I'm not terribly thrilled with the article itself anymore. What's that thing that familiarity breeds, again?)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It Was Bound to Happen

The wireless that I've been stealing for the last 5 months or so has disappeared.

Well, if it was going to happen, the timing was pretty good--I'll only have about 7 days of an internet-free home. Already I feel my productivity increasing (although it's annoying, I confess, and I spent the morning haunted by the feeling that there was a Really Important Email Or Something that I didn't know about. Of course, there wasn't. The only even remotely interesting email I got today was the proofs for my first article--which was exciting, but hardly required immediate attention).

Blog-reading will probably be light, though, at least until this weekend, when I'm back in the uber-wireless Metropole.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Resolutions

A few years ago, my dad's new year's resolution was to quit grunting every time he straightened up (or stood up--I can't remember which). He kept it.

In that spirit, my resolution this year was to stop standing around in the shower after I'd turned off the water, kicking puddles towards the drain. I assume that I developed this habit as a way of postponing the chilliness attending my lunge out of the shower and towards the towels.

Anyway, here we are in July and I've successfully changed my post-shower behavior. I don't know why it mattered to me so much--it just really irritated me, how I'd dawdle in there.

I like this approach to resolutions. No huge, vague "Must get in shape!!!!! Will be more productive!!!!!"-type things, just identifying some little habit that irritates you and putting an end to it. Now I need to find another one for next year--shouldn't be too difficult!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bored, Bored

I am sort of trying to work on my conference paper and am feeling...unmotivated. Here's the thing. The conference is in November, so I don't feel the enormous fear/urgency that usually prompts me to get my act together and fix the weird sentences, read secondary stuff, etc. All I feel right now is the obligation to get some kind of rough argument and analysis down on paper. Well, the "rough argument and analysis" currently fills 9 pages, which means I only have one more page to write. (Yeah, okay, I'm going to have to delete all of that vague waffling that I always do for two pages at the start of any writing project, as well as at least one utterly pointless section on page 4, but I'm not doing that yet. Allow me my illusions!)

So the point is that, while I'm not thrilled with my superlative academic achievement in this paper just yet (witness the following sentence: "A textual aside by [Some Guy] reinforces this view of his role as seeking to control his reader by arguing against a more cynical interpretation of the events of [This Person]'s life"), I'm still very proud of myself for having produced nine pages of prose four months ahead of time. And therefore I'm spending a lot of time screwing around on the internet.

For one thing, I just ordered the last book in that series that everyone's talking about. I was going to wait; I felt no urgency at all earlier in the summer, when I still hadn't read the penultimate book--which I didn't think much of, to be honest--and was going to hold out until it came out in paperback. But I'm too afraid of having the ending ruined for me if I wait that long! So I've ordered it, and I should get it right before I move, which ought to give me enough time to read it before classes start.

But, well, so my bloglines are empty right now, and writing this little post constitutes the next phase of Internet-Time-Wasting. I really ought to go undine's route and cut myself off from the 'nets for a certain number of hours per day; the fact that I'm widely publicizing such content-less ramblings is all the evidence I should need.

Friday, July 20, 2007

My Biggest Accomplishment of the Week

In yoga class this morning, I got both feet behind my head.

Whooo!

Enlightenment, here I come!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Okay, I have this friend...

...this very, very unhappy friend.

[Note: I've edited this a bit since I posted it 24 hours ago (so most of you probably got the general idea). It was good to vent and get it all out there, but I'm a very paranoid blogger, so I've removed or changed all potentially identifying information--even the stuff that was already veiled.]

Let's call him Nate.

So, I don't really know Nate very well. We met at a conference a few years ago and have only met in person a handful of times. But we've had a sporadic email correspondence and meet up when he's in town, and he's a pretty fun guy, if given to the occasional melodramatics.

But in the last few months his life has basically become terrible--at least, as he tells it to me. (For I have long suspected that Nate is in the habit of exaggerating things for dramatic effect. He's a good storyteller, and good storytellers, in my experience, seldom hold fast to the truth. Not that I think he's outright lying or anything.) Anyway, here's where my problem comes in:

I don't know what to tell him.

We've been emailing more regularly this summer after being out of touch for most of last year. And he writes these long miserable posts infused with this kind of bitter, self-deprecating humor, and I don't know what to say. I know, it's hard for me, isn't it? But when I write back trying to be supportive and encouraging, he basically tells me that the supportive encouraging things I say aren't true. News about my life only seems to spark more bitterness on his end, and I honestly don't know him well enough to know how to respond. It's starting to feel as though no subject is safe. It's grim. And combined with the fact that he answers my replies almost immediately--well, I've always got a message from him in my inbox, waiting to be answered. (It takes me a while to answer them. But when I wait too long, I feel guilty, because he's so miserable, apparently, and I don't want to add to his unhappiness.)

As I write this, I realize that I'm painting a pretty wretched picture. Of co-dependence, among other things. Am I enabling him? Well, maybe, but an email or two a week hardly seems morally objectionable. Also, in all fairness, he's not as bad as I've made him out to be. He's actually a very funny, bright person, even if his humor (in the best of times) is generally at his own expense. But I dunno...I'm feeling a bit sketched out by the whole thing, and I sort of dread answering his emails. At the same time, it costs me so little to maintain this tiny shred of support that I'm offering him. So I'm torn between wondering what I can do to cheer him up (or at least not make things worse) and wishing that his problems would go away for my own sake, which isn't a very pleasant feeling.

He's going to be in town right before I move, so I've promised to see him at least once then. Which will be fine, because I'm moving away right after that, so it's not like we can start up some kind of pattern. Also I think that I'm pretty good at keeping people at arm's length (whether I want to or not, unfortunately), so I'm not terribly worried about getting too sucked in (witness my 5-day response email response time!). I just feel kind of crummy about the whole situation, and that ain't good.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rainy Day Poetry

by Edith Sodergran, 1892-1923. Translated from the Swedish by Stina Katchadourian.

Love

My soul was a light blue dress the color of the sky;
I left it on a rock by the sea
and naked I came to you, looking like a woman.
And like a woman I sat at your table
and drank a toast in wine, inhaling the scent of some roses.
You found me beautiful, like something you saw in a dream,
I forgot everything, I forgot my childhood and my homeland,
I only knew that your caresses held me captive.
And smiling you held up a mirror and asked me to look.
I saw that my shoulders were made of dust and crumbled away,
I saw that my beauty was sick and wished only to--disappear.
Oh, hold me tight in your arms so close that I need nothing.

I saw a tree...

I saw a tree that was taller than all the rest
and laden with pine cones out of reach;
I saw a great church with open doors
and all who came out were pale and strong
and ready to die;
I saw a woman, smiling and painted,
throw dice for her fortune,
and I saw that she lost.

A circle was drawn around these things,
which no one can cross.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

La La La

I haven't been in the most bloggerific mood lately. I'm reading other people's blogs, and all (of course! How else would I avoid work?), but don't have a whole lot to say here.

Which is not to say that I haven't been busy, or getting things done; I have been. They just aren't terribly interesting things, and I'm not having interesting thoughts about them. (That's arguably always true. I guess a more accurate statement would be that I haven't been believing myself to be having interesting thoughts about the probably uninteresting things I'm doing.)

So:

-H and I had a yard sale on Sunday and got rid of a lot of crap. Then we went to the beach, and had soft serve and got covered in seaweed, and that night we saw the new Harry Potter movie. And then I had to take yesterday off to recover from all the fun.

-I actually made some headway on my book proposal today. I am apparently in one of my modes where I can only get work done at the library. Sometimes I can only get work done away from the library. The game is figuring out which mode I'm in.

-I have not started packing. I will not start today.

-My blog's very nice wallpaper has disappeared! I'm disappointed. [Addendum: I have found some new wallpaper. All is well again.]

That's all! La la la!

Friday, July 13, 2007

The New Town: Pre-Impressions

I've been gathering some more pre-impressions of my new town. Everyone I've had any contact with at all out there--my new landlady, the car rental agency guy, some random faculty member I don't remember meeting--has been insanely welcoming and sweet. For example, when I called the car rental agency to find out how much a three-day in-state rental would cost, I ended up mentioning (because AgencyGuy asked me when I would need the car, and I had to explain why I was calling) that I was going to start work at the college in the fall. "Oh!" he said. "What will you be doing there?"

"Teaching in the English department," I said.

"Well, congratulations! That's wonderful!" he said. He then promised me a special, slightly discounted rate and gave me his name, so that I would know whom to talk to when I do reserve a car.

And then there's my landlady, whom I had to call last night with a question about the lease. She sounds exactly like my father's 87-year-old cousin, by the way, which predisposes me to find her benevolent. Once I'd straightened out what I needed to know, I said something conversation-ending like, "Okay, well, great! I look forward to meeting you," or whatever. But she wasn't ready for me to get off the phone. She asked me a few questions about how I was moving, etc., and then at the end of the conversation said, "Well, I think you're going to like Field Town. And I think they're going to like you. So I'll bet you'll be staying here more than a year."

Which was very sweet, if a little awkward.

All of this, on top of my department chair's exceptional generosity (and the fact that one of the other English profs was actively recruiting me for his indoor soccer team on my campus visit--fun!), is giving me the sense that the upcoming year will not be terrible, at all. It looks like there will be plenty to compensate for the heavy course load and the distance from the boyfriend--at least, in part.

Friday Update

This is my 100th post. I realized that I was delaying blogging today because I felt that I should say something momentous; that being silly, I've decided to fill this post with trivial details.

I've resumed my habit, developed in Cambodia last summer, of washing my feet when I come home. It's pleasant on a hot day, but really I do it because I wear flip-flops all summer and it's nice not to track so much dirt around. In Cambodia, the washing is a necessary act: American immune systems aren't equipped for the kind of thing that can get into a cut or a scratch out there. Back home, it's just sanitary.

I'm also having to do some extra vaccuuming these days--well, today--because it's windy, my windows are open, and my plants (I'm looking at you, Benjamin!*) are spewing dirt all over the place. Their dirt-spewing has the additional effect of getting me to water them more often, the passive-aggressive little so-and-sos.

(*Yes, I name my plants. Benjamin was a little puny ficus when I first got him; hence the name. Once I stopped trying to make him into a bonsai, he started doing well, and is now a sizeable little tree; however, a name's a name, and I'm not going to change it just because he's bigger. Besides, his breed is actually a ficus benjamina or something like that. Then there's Jenny, the ponytail fern, and Horace, the jade. Oh, and Baby Horace, whom, I just realized, needs a proper name. Baby Horace is a cutting from Horace--there were two cuttings, but we lost one to last year's sublettor. And finally, not to be forgotten, we have Marilla, the monster amaryllis who refuses--refuses!!--to go into dormancy. Her gigantic leaves are a little droopy right now, though, and I'm hoping that she falls asleep in time to be packed away into a paper bag for the big move.)

I've actually been getting some work done on my conference paper these last few days. I'm not really at the draft-writing stage yet, but I have a lot of notes, and I think I know the text and even the passages that I want to focus on. This makes me feel much better.

And my cold--for cold it was--is gone. Huzzah!

And that's the news from jb.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Careful what you ask for

So the other day I sort of implied, or suggested, that I'd like to be tagged for squadratomagico's Eight Wonderments meme, in which you're supposed to list eight things that you wonder about. And Medieval Woman subsequently tagged me. So here goes--sort of a mix between the semi-significant and the extremely insignificant. Enjoy!

1. Why is it that there isn't a more concerted, public effort to make significant changes in US policy and administration? Maybe there is, and I just can't see it from where I am, but as far as I know there hasn't been much in the way of rallies or marches since something like 2003 or '04. There's been a lot of online activism, obviously--as my frequent updates from MoveOn and PFAW remind me--but that's not the same. And so, a related wondering: Is online activism sort of replacing public action and activism? Online activism is obviously not a bad thing, but it's so much easier to sign an online petition and feel like you've "done something" than it is to actually show up at a public event. And while it is doing something, it's doing something in a fairly invisible way, and it's a mode of activism that is denied to a large segment of the population. So I wonder if a) it is the case that online activism is replacing public activism, and b) if there aren't some major drawbacks to that trend.

Of course, it could just be that I'm oblivious and there's plenty of public action going on; that's entirely possible.

2. Why is it that I put off or simply don't do tiny, slightly annoying things that would nonetheless save me significant annoyance in the long run? Like, for example, moving my box fan to the window of the room that I am in rather than always leaving it in the kitchen. True, it's kind of a pain to move the fan because I've got bars on the bedroom and living room windows, but once I've set it up and it's running in the room where I'm working my life is SO MUCH BETTER.

3. Will I ever get a second tattoo? I sometimes try to design them for myself, but I never come up with anything I'm willing to commit to. I got my first one when I was 19, without giving it a great deal of thought beforehand, and I'm glad I did it that way--I probably would've talked myself out of it otherwise. Of course, I also got it in a usually invisible location (the middle of my back), so that's gone a long way towards preventing regret.

4. Since when do children need to be entertained with electronic gadgetry every single minute of the day? I despise the whole DVD-player-in-the-back-of-the-SUV trend, and I promise you, the blogosphere, that I will never succumb to it, no matter how irritating my future children may be. You can hold me to that. Seriously, when I was a kid, we just stared out the windows on long car rides and daydreamed and stuff. I'm sure we whined plenty, too, but I still remember some of my daydreams from those days. I think that that's important. Kids need to learn to entertain themselves, don't they?

5. Is there even a remote chance that I'll finish a draft of my conference paper before the fall semester begins?

6. Why is this kind of thing, that I'm doing right now, called a "meme"? My understanding of memes (which were explained to me a couple of years ago, in a different context) doesn't explain it to my satisfaction. Hence, I will label this post ""meme"", rather than "meme."

7. When did "different than" become an acceptable phrase? And how can I stop its creeping into my own speech?? I try to use only "from," but sometimes "than" just jumps out of my mouth. Curses!

8. What would life have been like if I had gone into the Peace Corps after college, as I originally planned? I got pretty far along in the application process, but there was some holdup with my medical records (nothing wrong with me medically; they just didn't look at my records until more than 6 months after I'd sent them in, at which point they were all expired and needed to be redone, and by then I'd found a job and an apartment and all that). I sometimes regret not sticking with it and going off to Africa, which was where I was headed, but then I certainly wouldn't be exactly here, right now. I'd probably be somewhere equally good (or so I like to think), but I can't even imagine where, or what I'd be doing. Maybe I would've had a much more exciting life. But would I really trade in what I have right now on that kind of gamble? No, I don't think so. Which raises another wondering: Why do we regret anything, if we're happy with our current lives? It's incoherent to want to have done something differently when the only way we can get to our current position is by doing everything exactly the way that we did it, and yet regret seems perfectly natural, in some contexts. Just further evidence of the irrationality of our brains, I guess.

Hmm.... Whom to tag? I think that the following people occasionally read this blog and weren't in the original tagging: Sisyphus, Bardiac, Dr. Virago, and Another Damned Medievalist. Anyone else?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Maybe it wasn't the loud bar after all

That sore throat I had from talking over the music on Friday night? Well, it seems to be spiralling out of control (--if you'll permit me to use such a phrase in reference to a sore throat).

I've been plagued by an irritated spot in my throat for four days now. I could just have a cold, but I feel pretty much fine otherwise. Is it possible that I developed some kind of raw spot on my epiglottis, or whatever, and that it's still healing?

It's not a hugely big deal most of the time. I just need to swallow and clear my throat a lot. But when I try to sleep, it's a whole other story--because you don't swallow when you sleep, of course. So I'll start to doze off, and then there'll be this horrible tickle, and I'll wake up choking and coughing and spluttering.

The only way I've managed to sleep for the last two nights has been by taking Sudafed (after lying awake for an hour or two, of course). Either the Sudafed reduces whatever minimal congestion is causing the throat-tickle, or it just knocks me out.

If it's the latter, this really can't go on.... But what are my options, here?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Things Seem to be Proceeding Apace

Not a lot to report this week. I've been visiting the boyfriend down in the Metropole, so I haven't been able to make any headway on moving stuff--that's probably for the best. It's been good to take some time off from staring at my books and thinking, "Do I really need you? or you? How would I feel without The Mill on the Floss? What if I need to recollect some essential fact about Maggie Tulliver? What will its absence do to Middlemarch, which will then be the lone Eliot on the shelf (Silas Marner having already received the axe)? Oh god, oh god, I don't know if I can give it up!"

For the record, I plan to keep The Mill on the Floss.

The car-purchasing frenzy has also sort of died down. I may still buy my friend's car, but I haven't test-driven it yet, and I'm leaving tomorrow, so that'll have to wait for my next visit. In the meantime, I'm going to look into the possibility of renting a car for an occasional weekend (thanks to Hilaire and Sisyphus for that suggestion!). Once I Crunch the Numbers, I'll have a better sense of whether paying for a car + insurance will really be a good idea.

So what I've been doing, for the last few days at least, is reading some of the stuff on the very end of my survey syllabus. I recently bumped into a friendly acquaintance on campus who'd just finished teaching her first-ever course, and she said that in the future she planned to prepare her last classes of the semester well in advance--ideally before the semester even begins. Because by the end of the semester she found herself just too worn out to thoroughly prep her lectures. Now, I'm not going to go that far; it might turn out to be a waste of time, after all, because presumably the concerns etc. that I'll want to highlight in December will be shaped by what we've done in September through November. But the tail-end of the survey course--which is one of your typical lit surveys, running up to about 1800--is the end that I know least well, and I'd never actually read one of the longer texts that I want to assign. So it seemed highly sensible to take a look at them.

I must say that I'm enjoying this. It reminds me of reading for my comprehensive exams early in grad school, a process that I also much enjoyed. I came across that poem of, um, Cowper's, I think, that's quoted all over To the Lighthouse--you know, "We perished, each alone"--and it was just such a pleasure to finally see what it was that Mr. Ramsay was always mumbling to himself. [It is Cowper; I just checked.] One of the things that I really wanted to get out of grad school was breadth of knowledge, as well as depth; while the dissertation is excellent for promoting depth, breadth sort of gets lost in the shuffle, especially once coursework is over. And, in my grad program at least, I fear that increasing budget cuts will limit the opportunities for reading widely outside of one's stated field even more. Ideally, perhaps, one should see undergrad as the time for reading widely, and grad school as the time to focus; but this isn't terribly practical, I don't think, as I was still developing the critical reading skills that I needed to understand and appreciate a lot of this literature when I was an undergrad. Or rather, I would have understood and appreciated them differently at that time: not inadequately, necessarily, but differently, and in a way that possibly wouldn't have been useful to me in grad school or beyond.

But perhaps the same could be said of my reading now. That is, my understanding of the literature I read for my exams back in '02 or whenever it was might not be terribly useful to me now, and I really ought to go and reread Milton and Spenser and so forth in order to "get them" in a way that's appropriate to my current interests and--for lack of a better term--scholarly "level." And should read them again in another 5 years or so. It's kind of like how, at the end of college, I thought that I'd be better off if I could start it all over: I'd have taken a better range of classes and ultimately gotten more out of my education. But then I realized that, if I could have done so, at the end of Round 2 I very likely would have had the exact same feeling.

Luckily for me, however, I'll have to read bits of both Milton and Spenser for this very survey class. Maybe that's one good thing about teaching: returning to the same texts again and again can, in a funny way, keep you fresh.

I guess I'm thinking about this in part because I spent some time this spring re-reading favorite books from about 10 years ago, to see whether they were still good (and because I'd pretty much forgotten a lot of what happened in them). So I read Ullman's The Day on Fire, Nabokov's Ada, and Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage. All three were, indeed, excellent, and it was a real pleasure to discover them anew.

****************
On a totally unrelated note:

Although I haven't formally been tagged for Squadratomagico's new meme, I do have one wonderment: Why on earth do bars equate "loud" with "fun"? We were out somewhere on Friday (for a free happy hour courtesy of boyfriend's workplace) where we had to speak so loudly to be heard over the music that my throat is still rough and I'm still a little hoarse two days later. Decidedly not fun, I assert.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Is this really such a big deal?

So I'm thinking of buying a car.

I am, I confess, rather alarmed at this prospect.

Not only because I haven't driven in five years, or because I don't know how to buy a car (never having done it before)--these are scary factors, yes, but a) I'm going to have to drive to my new town anyway, and b) Boyfriend has promised to go with me to do all the car-checking-out stuff. (He's not particularly mechanically inclined, but he did buy a used car once, and he's also a generally calming person.) I'm also alarmed because not having a car has been sort of my thing for the better part of the last decade, and I kind of identify as a carless person. I didn't set out to develop a sense of self that had anything to do with car ownership, but as time went on I was increasingly glad that I didn't have the hassle of a car, of paying for insurance and gas, or of trying to park in extremely parking-unfriendly (but almost car-requiring) GradCity. And I really liked the fact that I was leaving a smaller environmental "footprint," as they're calling it these days. I don't contribute to traffic and I'm being slightly less detrimental to air quality and suchlike.

So why buy a car? Well, I will be living in the middle of a field, and while I'm only going to be about 2 blocks from my office and pretty close to a grocery store (I assume), it might be nice to get out of town now and again. For example, I'm not sure that there's a yoga studio in my town; I will in fact be surprised if there is one, particularly a good one. I'll also need to drive to the airport, and maybe to Big City to the North now and again.

And also a friend of mine is selling his car, which makes me feel less mistrustful.

I'm nervous, though. Is this a terrible decision? Or will it mark my entry into some kind of Land of the Grown-Ups? (Never mind that I did have a car--well, a family car--from the age of 20 until about 23. That was just a trial run; this will be adulthood for real.) (And really, at what age will I stop thinking of myself as somehow not quite an adult? My mother has frequently remarked that she still feels about the same as she felt at fourteen or sixteen or something. Perhaps I'm pursuing an illusory state of being. Of course, since I'm only jokingly pursuing it, I don't think that it matters; I'm as grown-up as I need to be, and really quite responsible. I swear!)

And mixed with the fear is a little bit of excitement.... Won't it be kind of nice to buy the groceries I actually want, instead of thinking about how much they weigh? The latter system--which I've used for so long now that it's second nature--results in pretty healthy purchasing; I can't buy ice cream if I'm going to buy pasta sauce and yogurt, and the latter are more practical, so the ice cream gets the axe. Vegetables are light and easy to transport. Etc. Not having a car also means not going to the mall (the only clothes-shopping venue in GradCity, more or less) and therefore spending less money on my wardrobe and other frivolous things. There are a million benefits to not having a car.

But of course, I've been living in an actual city, even if it is a rather modest one. FieldTown has a population of about 5,000 (and it really is in the middle of a field--it's very pretty, but isolated). While I'm sure that I could manage without a car--and a part of my hesitation in buying one is this kind of Spartan sensibility that I only adhere to at certain times but that causes me a great deal of anxiety and guilt at others--it might just be okay for me to have one.

Do other people go through this much anxiety and nonsense? About anything??

Monday, July 2, 2007

Still More Boring Details

I may have figured out a way to move out on a Friday instead of a Saturday, thereby saving myself upwards of $100! Woo!

Okay, I do realize that discussing the details of my move is one of the most boring things that I could do. But it's really all that I think about lately. That's the problem with moving, for me: it essentially takes up six full weeks of brain-space.

The good part about the expense of the move (yep, here I go again) is that it's really motivating me to get rid of as much stuff as I possibly can. Those (out of my field) books that I'll maybe someday read, and have been carrying around for the better part of a decade? Out. That shirt that I keep thinking I'll want to wear, but that I always change out of before I leave the house? Bye! And that's a very satisfying feeling.

This Move is Going to Break the Bank

Did you know that movers charge extra to work on a Saturday?

Which is funny, because I'd think that most people would want to move on a Saturday.

Also, if you hire them to load a truck, many companies require a minimum of two hours' pay. So even though I only really need movers to deal with maybe 3 pieces of furniture, I might be out $300. (There's one company that might not have a minimum; I have to check. In which case, as long as they don't hit traffic coming to or going back from my house, I may manage to get their help for only $164. But they start the payment clock the minute they leave their headquarters, and don't end it until they get back! So even if I make sure that they only actually work for 30 minutes, if they loiter and take an extra 10 minutes to get back, I could end up paying $328! Good God! Why oh why do I have to keep this stupid heavy dresser that has to go out a window??) (I'll tell you why. Because it was my mother's when she was a little girl. And I got it into this building, so I have to get it out.)

Then there's the U-Haul: $164 (an odd coincidence) + gas.

Then there's the rental car to transport me from the storage unit near my mother's town to my new abode: approx. $500 + gas.

So we're talking, what, a minimum of about $900 + gas?

I guess that's not too bad; most of it will be reimbursed. But not all! Oh, why is life killing me?

No but actually things are pretty good. I've been very productive today, making lots of necessary phone calls and finishing a book that I've been meaning (and needing) to read for years. And my Scary Syllabus is almost done, thanks to Tiruncula's excellent advice! Also the weather is stunning and perfect and has been for the last 4 days. So, okay, my move will put me out a few hundred bucks; there are worse things, right?