Friday, July 29, 2011

A Year in Photos

Overall, 28 was a good year. Of course there were plenty of ups and downs, plenty of mishaps and tears and visits to the therapist.
But looking back sure makes me smile.

Yes, 28 was a good year. Thank you to everyone (pictured here and not) who helped make it so. Thank you all for being a part of my life.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sweet Pea

I don't know why his favorite snack is flowers.

Monday, July 25, 2011


On Saturday night some friends came over to help me celebrate the fact that I am (begrudgingly) turning 29 tomorrow. It was fun! I have evidence to prove this.
First we had some drinkies at my house and inspected the latest issue of In Touch magazine.
Leah requested a fancy drink, so KC garnished it with a carrot. He also may or may not have garnished Jenny's rootbeer and vodka with an olive. He was a very, er, creative bartender. And then Daniel interrogated me, "So... why don't you have any actual garnishes? Limes? Lemons? Cherries?..." He had a very thorough list of all the items my bar was missing.

We headed out to the Holy Cow, where I distributed glow bracelets.

Jenny demonstrated her multitalentedness by (1) managing to get my hair caught in a glow bracelet, (2) managing to break open one of the glow bracelets and spill the psychadelic goo on the table and herself, and then (3) imitating Gabriel's dance moves
She also made me a killer glow bracelet necklace chain thing. Here's what I looked like with it on:
While we were all on the dance floor, some dude came up and put his arm over my shoulder. "Hey," he said, "do you know where I could get some glow bracelets?"
"Nope. Sorry. No idea." Like I would give up a piece of my magical glowing birthday chain!

We also hung out in the little outside area. I think Daniel might actually be a time traveler.
He did wear a hat, as promised. It got passed around a bit.
As did KC's hat.
 Hats are an important element for an evening at the Holy Cow.
As is ridiculousness.
Afterward we grabbed some food at the cafe next door. Daniel announced that he couldn't have a grilled cheese with bacon because he was doing a month without red meat. And then he ordered a cheesesteak sandwich.
We took a long walk and a short cab ride home (seriously, I don't know why it took FOREVER for us to get a cab but we did a lot of shuffling around on darkened streetcorners looking for one).
It was a good birthday celebration. I guess I'm as ready(ish) as I'll ever be to turn 29.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Flea Market, Barn Sale, Flea Market

In order to break up the seemingly endless monotony of working on my paper, I gave myself permission to do one of my favorite weekend activities-- flea marketing!

KC came to my parents' house with me for Fourth of July weekend and since he tends to be my flea market partner in crime we ended up going to the one near their neck of the woods on that Sunday. KC is currently on this succulents-and-interesting/unique/strange-planters kick so he got some of those and I bought a little wooden shelfy thing (that I actually left in my parents' garage because I intend to sand and paint it). I also, well, erm, ended up paying $3 for this little guy.
For some reason I've been recently liking fake animal head art (?) pieces. It probably has something to do with the fact that I want want WANT NEED THIS and would totally buy it but alas I've emailed the seller twice and she never got back to me and probably thinks I'm a crazy stalker lady (but, come on don't say 'email me for special orders' if you don't meant it)? ANYhow. I'm going to put the little cow up on a wall somewhere. I'm not quite sure where yet-- the man who sold him to me said he was for hanging towels or jackets but I'm not so sure. I think he's meant for staring blankly and wondering why on earth I buy such wonderfully tacky items.

On the way back from the flea market, we kept seeing these big, bright orange signs for a BARN SALE in town. Even though we were hungry and tired and it was way too hot we decided to stop. It was actually pretty cool-- apparently several different people had decided to combine their yard sales into one big BARN SALE. There were big pieces of mismatched furniture strewn about the yard, rows of tables holding glassware, rows of boxes containing who knows what, cartons of photos, doll clothes, appliances, figurines, handmade jewelry, bedpans, you name it.
KC picked out several bowls and planters, asked if the lady would take ten for all of them, and then offered a couple extra bucks if she would let him snap off a piece of her big succulent plant. She said she would take the ten dollars and that he could have a piece of the succulent for free, as long as he didn't think it was Aloe, because it WAS NOT.
I came home with these.
I don't know how well you can make out the orange and yellow flower pattern but I am a firm believer in bright orange and yellow and I do enjoy having different canisters for my various pasta shapes. I paid $5 for the two of them, plus a wooden spoon.

Last weekend we headed over to the local SF flea market. I don't usually buy books, ever, actually. I just don't have room for any more in my shelves, plus the closest Borders went out of business and the library is now closer than a bookstore. And free books are better than books of any price, usually.
But then this one caught my eye and it was only a dollar.
Plus, is pretty and actually has a lot of good information and tutorials and I like its old-timey look.

I also picked up these two Breyer horses for $5 total.
That was probably the best deal I've gotten on Breyer horses-- usually they run between $5-$20 each, depending on whether or not the seller knows what they are and how stealthily I can check for the Breyer stamp on the underside of the horse. Also, I would like to point out that I HAVE been giving them to my nieces as gifts and they get particularly excited about the vintage ones. I buy them as GIFTS... I just happen to have a backlog of them on my shelf at home.

While KC picked up a couple of records (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, The Sugarhill Gang), it was apparently container day for me at the flea market. I got all of these for a total of $7.50.
Six dollars for the poppy ceramic jar (with no lid) and the yellow and white metal canister, one dollar for the daisy cup, and fifty cents for the avocado and yellow canister. I've put the poppy jar on my countertop, for holding wooden spoons and whatnot (replacing the jug in this photo). I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the other canisters. I might use one of them to hold electronic cables that aren't in use (but I'm saving JUST IN CASE), because right now they're in a basket and it is kind of a tangled mess.

At $10, this matryoshka doll was the most expensive thing I purchased.
But! She has four other dolls inside her, so that's really like two dollars per doll! ... which I guess is still kind of a lot (especially since she's purely decorative). But matryoshka dolls seem to be kind of expensive, from what I've seen. Recently they had a matryoshka (if I type it enough, maybe I'll learn how to spell it) doll display at Costco and the cheapest one was $30. Although I did enjoy the fact that the really expensive big ones had many many little dolls inside them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Looks like I'm the asshat.

Now that I am at my sister's house, I am happy to report:

1. She doesn't use paper plates on an everyday basis. She uses regular dishes.

2. She recycles.

3. She uses rags for cleaning instead of paper towels.

4. She uses cloth napkins. I saw them sitting on the table tonight, all pretty and flowered and soft from repeated uses and washings and, ding!, I remembered: I started using cloth napkins a few years ago AFTER I SAW MY SISTER USE THEM AT HER HOUSE.

Monday, July 18, 2011

giant paper v 2.0, feelings

I turned in my Giant Paper Thing v 2.0 (or my New Giant Paper Thing, whichever you prefer to call it) today. People keep congratulating me. The lady at the desk where I turned it in gave me a big smile and a "Good luck!"
And while I appreciate the support, really I do, I can't help but feel rather... meh about the whole situation.
The first time I turned in that paper I felt a flood of nervous relief-- I was done! Huge weight lifted! Let's go out for happy hour and celebrate! Annnnnd then it all blew up in my face.

I couldn't even begin to imagine how I might go about writing that paper ALL OVER AGAIN OMG. I met with my advisor, Peg, and basically just argued with her the whole time. She'd tell me I didn't have such and such requirement covered in my paper and I would point out that she had originally told me I didn't need it or that what I had written was fine. I left that meeting more angry and frustrated than when I went in, plus I still had no idea where to start as far as the rewrite went.

 Then, on a whim, I emailed the director of my program, Sandra, and asked if she might have time to work with me at all on my rewrite. So I ended up working only with Sandra and not Peg. Which, spoiler alert, turned out to be a very good idea.

Sometime in early June Sandra calls me into her office and tells me that she figured out that the big issue with my original paper was actually the topic I chose-- all of the other problems stemmed from this one. I put my head down on the table and cried. Once I collected myself Sandra and I came up with a new topic (basically refocusing my old one), found the new articles I would be critiquing, and figured out a rough schedule for my writing. "What else do you need?" Sandra asked me as we were wrapping up.
"Um. Could you just, uh, tell me I'm not a complete idiot for writing the paper the way I did it the first time?"
"Oh!" said Sandra, "No no! You're not. There's no way you could have known that the topic wouldn't work without doing all the work you did."

But you know who probably SHOULD HAVE KNOWN that? My advisor, Peg. Apparently I had been stuck trying to do a PhD level analysis of a difficult topic when I should have just scrapped the whole thing and focused on something more straightforward. I can't even imagine how it would have gone if I had been stuck working with her AGAIN on my rewrite. Actually, I can imagine it: lots of weeping.
"But, I mean, hasn't she advised people before?" Jenny asked me when I told her that story.
I paused for a moment as I thought it over. "You know what? No, actually. She usually advises PhD students."

So. I had to write the whole paper all over again. And it was annoying and it sucked but it wasn't as PAINFUL a process as I thought it would be. I guess it was a lot easier since I had some real guidance and, you know, someone who actually answered my questions with a bit more than just "Well that's probably fine...."

Last week I went to my parents' house since my sisters were still in town and even though the house was loud and zooey at times with all the kiddos it was preferable to writing alone in my apartment all week and slowly going stir crazy. Plus, the kids were really cute and my sister made sangria every evening. On Wednesday night I stayed up until 4 am writing, editing, and writing some more. I was trying to get a draft of the whole paper together and email it to Sandra, since she had only seen the various pieces of it separately. I sent the email off at 4, then I ate a little snack and hopped in bed. I probably fell asleep at about 5, but Bowie woke up at 6ish, and jumped around until I put him in another room. And then kids started making noise at about 7 so I guess what I'm trying to say is that I didn't get a great night of sleep. And then at 9 am Sandra calls and asks me if I can drive an hour and a half to come meet her so that we can go over a few last things before I write my final draft. "What time should I come?" I asked. "How about 10:30?" says Sandra. Oh! Awesome! So I'll leave RIGHT NOW!
I shuffled into the kitchen, feeling cranky and sad. I whimpered at my mom for a minute. "Go take a quick shower," she said. "You'll feel better."
I took my shower and gathered my things and as I was heading out the door my mom handed me a little bag. "I packed you a lunch." She had made me a sandwich and added several little bags of nibbley foods (carrot sticks, chips) so I could much away and not fall asleep on my drive. Aren't moms the best?

To make a long story, well, longer, I finished my paper and I turned it in today.

I know that I worked as hard as I could on it and that I had good people helping me and Sandra gave the green light for everything in the paper. If it doesn't pass this time, well, I guess that's that. I got so worked up and DEVASTATED before when I didn't pass that now it just seems like a waste of energy. No, not a waste of energy. But like I used up all my Strong Feelings about this and now I'm just down to... meh.
Of course I WANT to pass. I want my degree and I have worked my arse off on this firetrucking paper TWICE, FTLOG and haven't I suffered enough just let the dang thing pass!
But if it doesn't? Life will still go on. I'll still get a job. I'll still be content with my life. I'm not letting this one stupid paper control my happiness, that's for sure.

The Giant Paper Thing doesn't own me anymore.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Paper Plates & Siblings

Today, I have found myself going in obsessive thought-loops about paper plates. A few things you should know:

1. I dislike paper plates. And styrofoam plates. And those flimsy plastic meant-to-be-used-once-and-thrown-away plates. And cups and bowls made out of those materials. Basically, I dislike single-use dishware of any sort. I find it wasteful.
1a. I understand that there are some cases in which convenience trumps environmentalism-- if you are hosting a child's birthday party at the park, I'm not going to scold you for not bringing your own sturdy plastic dishes and washing them at home later. I can be a reasonable person, however it may seem!
1b. I understand that it is not always my place to ask someone to change their lifestyle. If I don't know you very well and you offer me a drink in a plastic cup or I see you serving dinner on paper plates, I won't necessarily say anything OR judge you.

2. I WILL judge you if I see you using single-use dishware on a regular basis. My Crazy Ex's dad used, I shit you not, STYROFOAM plates as his everyday dishes. He had a pile of styrofoam plates in the cupboard, SITTING ON TOP of the regular dishes. To me this just represented EPIC laziness and whenever anyone used one I felt like crying. Or yelling at him that THIS is what is wrong with the world: when people use something and throw it away and it festers in the landfill for centuries but meh, who cares, it's easier than washing a dish and I'm just one person so it doesn't matter. It DOES matter, asshat.
2a. I understand that everyone can't do everything. Some people recycle. Some people use those fancy newfangled lightbulbs to save energy. And maybe these same people are hanging on to their high-flow shower heads and driving to work every day. Not everyone can do everything, but I think we should all do something. If you're the guy who doesn't recycle AND tosses cigarette butts in the street AND waters the lawn on rainy days AND uses throwaway dishes? A pox on you.

3. At my parents' house I have seen my sister consistently reaching for paper plates when she goes to offer her kids a meal. This bothers me. I understand that they are on vacation and that she is overworked and overwhelmed, but I guess it doesn't fall into one of the 'exception' categories for me. This feels less like items 1a or 1b and more like item 2: repeated, unnecessary use. We're not talking about using paper plates for a big party or an outing, just a regular dinner.
3a. I ask her to please not use paper plates; I offer to wash all the dishes myself. And she huffs at me and rolls her eyes and says things like "They're already BOUGHT, Julia" and tells her daughter to just not use a plate AT ALL.

It's an odd scenario, when someone you love does something that bothers you AND acts like you are purposely trying to inconvenience her by asking her not to. It's a situation I'm not sure how to handle, because she seems unable to hear me out and I also don't want to make a HUGE DEAL out of this when it needn't be one. The problem is that I'm bothered by the paper plate usage and ALSO by the antagonistic response I have been getting when I make what I feel is a reasonable request. It turns the situation into a Sibling Fight rather than just two humans who disagree about something attempting to compromise. And in a Sibling Fight I will ALWAYS be the little sister, the one with less life experience. I'm the one still in school, the one who doesn't have any kids, the one with big silly ideals that will vanish once I get out in the REAL world and see how hard it is. And since I know I'm perceived that way, it is unlikely I'll come out on top in any disagreement.
But I still think I'm right about the paper plates.

Friday, July 1, 2011

every lady needs a mixer

I used to say that every lady needs a Kitchenaid mixer and, well, that might still be true. Because: PRETTY! They're just so pretty! I've had my eye on one for years but I figured I wouldn't get it until I got a house or got married or had some other Big Life Event.
Recently mixers have been even MORE on my mind because several people I know are getting/have gotten married and a pretty, colorful Kitchenaid mixer seems to make it onto every registry. It's almost like it's not even a discussion anymore. No one questions the need for a three hundred dollar mixer; you just put one on your registry because that's what people do. I don't want you to misinterpret my tone here, dear reader. I am FULLY ON BOARD with the Kitchenaid mixer and its placement on one's registry. It's been on my imaginary registry for YEARS. And because of a timely blog post, I've recently found myself daydreaming about what color I might get.
Like Tangerine.
Or Buttercup.
Ahhhhh. Such bright, vibrant colors. I heart them.

And then, out of the blue today, I fell in love with this.
Pictured below its shiny new counterparts, that little mixer sure looks like a hunk o junk. I honestly don't know why I love it so much. It's a dusty, mustard yellow color with big chunky buttons and that whole top piece is vaguely reminiscent of an iron. But it caught my eye, sitting on the appliances shelf at the thrift store amongst coffee makers and food processors. I fondled it for awhile and then bought it. It was $8, marked off from $16.
It didn't come with any of its accessories (of which, according to several ebay searches, there are apparently MANY) so I had to order a pair of replacement beaters online for $10 and I'll probably just use a bowl I already have. Again, I hope we aren't misinterpreting my tone here. I'm not listing the amount of money I spent as a "neener neener my mixer was dirt cheap!" but more of a "look at the interesting vintage find I happened upon today!" sentiment. Because, again, I'm a lifelong supporter of the Kitchenaid mixer and the republic for which it stands.

But back to my drab lil mixer. I love how it looks in my kitchen. I've got a bit of a retro flava thing happening in there.

A bonus I discovered when I tried to pick it up by the handle and thought it broke: it's also a blender, apparently.
Maybe someday I'll get my hands on the blending attachment.

Also, when it turns on it smells like my grandmother's mixer. That probably means it is a fire hazard, but it gives me a pleasant grandma association: grandma baking cookies, grandma letting me lick the bowl, grandma giving me a little cup of cookie dough to eat. (It's a wonder I never got salmonella.)