29 March, 2014


my fabulous roommate and i have this ongoing thing - he watches sports on television and i make fun of him for watching sports on television. we also have a disagreement wherein i say i don't care about hockey, and he says i want to not care about hockey but in my secret heart of hearts i do, in fact, care about hockey. the truth is, i used to care about hockey, but i no longer do. my heart was broken too many times. i have moved on. as it is, he continues to inform me about games featuring the edmonton oilers (the team that broke my heart all these years ago) even though i don't care.

case in point, this morning:

mfr: the oilers beat one of the nhl's best teams last night!

moi:(skeptically) how'd they do that?

mfr: by scoring more goals than the other team.

oh lord…

28 March, 2014


my fabulous roommate and i were watching the last two hours of the godfather II (we started the 3h 20 min movie last weekend). halfway through, i went upstairs to pee. having noticed that my toenails were getting unreasonably long, i decided to grab the bull by the horns, as it were, and cut them right then and there. because i happened to be in the wine, i stabbed myself in the finger. i came downstairs, bleeding.

moi: i stabbed myself.

mfr: oh yeah?

moi: aren't you gonna ask how i did it?

mfr: how did you do it?

moi: cutting my toenails.

mfr: yeah. i like to do that during a break in a movie, too.

moi: well, they were getting so loooong!

mfr: well, it is a long movie.

later, we were discussing my pen situation (i.e. good pens, versus floor pens). mfr mentioned that the mysterious, almost brand new bic floor pens i kept finding in studio were likely planted there by bic as a marketing ploy. if so, i said, it failed; i prefer my fancy 4$ pens.

moi: i am a penisseur!

mfr: (laughing)

moi: … that's not what i meant.

mfr: (still laughing)

moi: i meant a connaisseur of pens and you know it!!!

26 March, 2014


in our killer class today, we were sitting around in our group and parcelling out the massive amount of work we still have left to do until this is all over. suddenly i looked over and saw that c was writing with one of my good pens.*

moi: YOU! you have one of my good pens! you know you're not allowed to use my good pens! you can only use floor pens! what are you doing?

c: …but it feels so goooooood!

everyone erupted in laughter though c most certainly did not mean it in that way.

moi (after the laughter died down a bit): yes, it does have a very smooth tip, don't it?

new laughter. man, it sure felt good to guffaw at stupid stuff.

*there's a story in this: people are always borrowing my pens. always. and then they hardly ever return them. because i have two pens that i LOVE and do not want to lose, i have started to pick up random floor pens, keeping them as spares. people are allowed to borrow my floor pens. they are not allowed to borrow my good pens. you wanna borrow a pen? them's the rules.

the tale of feral belly and the mountain lost and the mountain gained

while i'm waiting for my gigantic document to load, i figured i might as well get you up to snuff with my goings on…well, some of my goings on. no time for all. nor the inclination. nor, to be perfectly honest, the interest. you're welcome.

the most exciting news happened weeks ago (months? years? who can tell?!?!) but i forgot to mention, but should, because it's a sort of part B to a part A that i bitched blogged about a wee while ago. so - in the face of increasing/continuing/fluctuating/ongoing stress, my stomach has gone rogue again. essentially it returned to the feral state in which i found it all these years ago, wondering the woods, growling uncontrollably, fangs bared, twigs and dirt in its hair,*fiery anger in its little beady eyes, ready to pounce on anything and anyone.

despite what you may think you know about me, i tend to stay calm…ish in the face of (some? most? occasional?) adversity, but the price of that is the stress goes to my feral stomach. so yeah, lately, it's been pretty damn bad. finally got diagnosed with IBS, which is really no diagnosis at all, but a half-hearted shrug that means "listen, lady, you ain't got this, you ain't go that, and you most certainly ain't got that, so what you does got is IBS, unless we can come up with some better acronym or give you a test that actually shows something." fine with me. explains a lot. like years and years a lot.

so, short story looooong, as is my wont, to tell you that i have not been happy in the middle regions and the thought of heading to the dubious plumbing facilities of nepal was not helping. then again, facing my dad and telling him i would be bailing on his most precious and beloved dream was kinda unfun too. but eventually something's gotta give and i called the man…

…who was kind, understanding, supportive and absolutely fine with me not going. he even added that yeah, the place might not be the best vacation spot for a feral belly. WHAT. THE. WHAT?!?! he said he didn't want me to go to please him if it was going to mean i would be unhappy. ok, who is this man?
at any rate, i breathed a sigh of relief and promised to join my parents in utah in october for a marathon.**  this sounded fabulous, as i love the desert and my parents have always been raving about the many stunning national parks of utah.

two days (one day? three days? who can tell?!?!?) i get an email from my dad informing me of another marathon in utah. in may! i.e. during the very time of the proposed nepal expedition! he was bailing on his dream so that we could spend family time together, hiking the red rocks as a family unit!

and so, darling poultries, one irritant is removed, and i can now rest easy knowing that my feral belly and i will actually have the vacation we are looking forward to after school is over: two weeks in poland (with a long overdue jaunt to prague and maybe to berlin or warsaw or whatever, cause IT'S MY DAMN TRIP AND I CAN DO WHAT I WANT, BITCHES!!!) and then two weeks in a spot strategically located to be close to all the gorgeous bits of utah! then, if they ever call me the hell back, a job? please little baby jebus, a job…well, THE job (more on that later).

now to get this school thing over and done with.

*stomach hair? ew.
 **because it's always for a marathon. any other reason for travel is deemed frivolous

22 March, 2014


my fabulous roommate and i recently finished watching true detective, a dark, brooding HBO series with the prerequisite gratuitous nudity, creative violence, really good writing, and absolutely stellar performances by the two leads. the show takes place in a louisiana rarely shown in travel brochures: expansive fields of sugar cane, dying towns, monumental spirals of highway interchanges, swamps punctuated by the odd spanish-moss festooned oak, oil refineries looming over the mississippi (never the prettiest of rivers in that part of the country). overall, it looks very little like the gorgeous and vibrant place i know and love.

mfr, looking at the vast fields, proclaimed that it looked like kansas and this very quickly became a Thing. every time a shot of a bayou or a decidedly non-kansas-like bit of geography appeared on the screen, i'd nod sagely and say, yup, that's kansas for you. since then, every film or show we have watched, every shot of outdoor scenery (italian hillside town, ireland, whatever) has been kansas.

last night we were having a little late night chat about life, the universe and everything:

mfr: it's all kansas, really.

moi: yes! it's the chicken of geography!

14 March, 2014


astonishing how quickly a person gets used to a frenetic pace, to constant demands, to an almost utter lack of free time. grad school, as i've often complained, has been an intellectual disappointment in many ways. even though i've been ridiculously happy here, i really wish there'd been more of a challenge, beyond the self-imposed ones, and the ones that came from working with some awesome self-motivated people. well, in the last several months that wish has come true, and, as such things are wont to do, it came true with a vengeance.

my final project course is being taught by a new professor, still full of vim and vinegar and robust expectations nourished upon the fertile soil of ivy league schools. we disappoint him, but still he pushes us. he pushes us past the point of breaking, and we do not break; he pushes us past our abilities and we miraculously find hidden stores within ourselves; he pushes us past the limits of time and we manage to get things done and often early. we are almost done, feeling done with learning, and find ourselves, in the space of the last several months having learned so much new information and skills that they rival the first semester. i am exhausted. i am spent. i am tired of staying at school till 10pm every night, clickety-clacketing at the keyboard, creating graphics that just 2 months ago would have seemed impossible, making peace with programmes that used to bring me nightmares: i'm just tired.

 but i am also excited to finish with a bang and not the whimper afforded by the other two classes in this semester, classes whose presence registers only as an annoyance and time stolen from the final project which consumes us. aside from shiny new computer and graphic skills, we are also being pushed intellectually, discovering new ways of seeing, thinking, planning. despite a stress-induced blow-out a week ago (two weeks? three? who knows anymore?!) where i told him a few choice words and he responded by calling us lazy incompetent bureaucratic paper pushers (the first two words were implied; the last three painfully explicit), things are moving along and we have made peace with each other. i like him a lot - he can be pompous, does not deign to listen to opinions contrary to his own very well, he can sometimes bludgeon with the strength of his convictions, but i just really like the man, and a big part of this is the feeling of being given my degree not on a silver platter, wrapped in gratuitous A's, but earning it after a long hard slog through a battlefield.

we are ⅔ of the way through the course, and have a rather important presentation today, following which will come a weekend without an assignment. having spent the last (insert reasonable number here, i no longer have any idea) weekends armpit-deep in project work, this feels like an unprecedented and unhoped for luxury. crusty juggler asked if i wanted to go on a shopping trip - for once (having bailed on dinner plans weekend after weekend), i might, i just might be able to do it. what joy!

one last thing to note, though, is that in light of the way this semester has played out, the thought of spending 6 weeks in poland and then nepal feels far less like a dream vacation than a sentence. i am going to plead for leniency with my dad - maybe we can postpone nepal to another year (cannot postpone poland - one does not postpone a trip to see a 93-year old woman) and instead do something easy. something that does not add to the stress that has turned by gut into a gigantic mess (hello IBS! how nice to be finally diagnosed!).

at any rate, this is my life, for better or worse. i do miss you. hang in there. i think i might be back at some point.

09 March, 2014

say wha?

last night, a conversation that could only happen between me and my fabulous roommate, or possibly at an igor household in a terry pratchett novel:

moi: i lost your foot! i put it on my head and it fell off!

05 March, 2014

things that go pffft in the night

did i mention i was celebrating a small little tiny deadline completion and a great mark on an essay? so i had 2 and a half glasses of wine. as usual, i should have stopped at two.

moi: blather blather, blah, blah, blah, stupid tired/drunk stuff...i really shouldn't have had that third half glass of wine…

mfr: you mean the fifth half glass?!

moi: yes. that one. so, you working tomorrow?

mfr: yes.

moi: but it's my birthday!!!

mfr: i checked the company website. they don't even know about it.

moi: assholes!

mfr: i know.

i am flabbergasted, because google knows about it! i know it's marketing and all that, but come on! how awesome is it to have the entire interwebs celebrate your birthday!? wait…what? what do you mean you didn't get my birthday google doodle? 


words! words! words words words! also, hi.

moi (doing one of my favourite time-wasting activities that don't involve stupid television shows. i.e. looking at the movie trailers on apple trailers): gah! why do things always have to take a "dark and unexpected turn?!"
my fabulous roommate: because that's what life is like.
moi: NO! it is not! and you know it!
mfr (in the most dejected tone imaginable): oh. good.

i have been silent for far too long. but it's all coming to an end, and the end, being nigh and all that, is filled with all sorts of scholarly activities that keep me in school till waaaay past my bedtime (ok, 10:30, but still…). it's been busy. it's been so busy. so so SO busy. but good. busy and good. but SO busy, what with all the busy and all. and did i mention how busy it's been? yesterday (i.e. tuesday) felt like the longest week ever, as a result of which i kept thinking today is the day after friday, if the day after friday was another type of weekday. so. yes. busy.

in the one allotted week of non-busy, i went on a parental-sponsored trip to phoenix and las vegas, though not at all in the way you think when you hear phoenix and vegas, i promise you.

as per usual, part of the trip revolved around my dad running a marathon (he would likely spontaneously combust if he were to go on a trip unrelated to running a marathon). he ran the marathon in phoenix, badly, too, because practice and stretching are concepts foreign to the man, as is the idea of aging and no longer being able to perform insane feats of physical endurance without the proper preparation, but whatevs. my mom and i dropped him off before the sun rose, and had our morning coffee in a local macdonald's filled to the brim (THE BRIM, PEOPLE!!!) with elderly men in various stages of decrepitude. bucking the statistics, the women were outnumbered roughly 54,721:1, and my mom and i were the hottest, youngest things in the 'hood. which would have felt nice if the general population wasn't hovering in the very near vicinity of the triple digits.

still, the majority of the trip consisted of hiking in the desert, which is the most peaceful, gorgeous and silent place imaginable, especially in mid february when spring is just starting to poke its green schnozz outta the sand; evening glasses of cheap wine (oh, trader joe's - if there was one reason for me to consider moving south of the border, you would be it! you, with your glorious selection of dried fruit and wine starting at just $3.99 a bottle…sigh…); occasional walks along the las vegas strip, which is one highly efficient way to get really really depressed about the state of humanity in general (scooter? check! obesity? check! oxygen tank? check! cigarettes? check!) and american humanity in particular; one or two semi-successful shopping trips; and a whole lotta not-writing of an unfinished essay. overall, the trip was great. i love liking my parents. i've always managed to love them, but there was a particular dry spell in the early years of my marriage in the liking area, and things are back to good, if not better!

i drove, and demonstrated my newfound courage by driving in phoenix itself* and las vegas. my dad drove back in the evenings when my sight grew dim, to quote the eagles.

one of the most astonishing things about the desert is that it makes me fall asleep like nowhere else. yeah, yeah, you say to yourself (enough with this talking to yourself! it's getting weird. you really oughta see someone!), it's the physical exertion. blah blah blah. i've been running almost every day. i've hiked places. i've stridden, marched and plodded, and never, NEVER, i say! have i slept as well as i do in the desert. i fall asleep, get this, within 15 minutes of my head hitting the pillow! this, my darling poultries, is unprecedented! miraculous! dang good, even!

so yes, this is what happened. and then i came back, fell back in the bottomless bucket of work, and so i'm working. tonight i finished an assignment and am celebrating with glasses of portuguese** wine and watching the aforementioned apple trailers.

so yeah, i'm still alive. but busy. you know? very, very busy. almost done school, and all that, but we don't talk about that, on account of the busyness and all. talk to you when i next come up for air. might be a while.

*no big deal as the city is essentially one big interstate punctuated by occasional strip malls, subdivisions, and really really good and cheap mexican restaurants.

**still find that second "u" really odd and unnecessary. i mean, really! why is it even there? it's not like there's an invisible "q" lurking on the premises…is there?