Because I was sort of devastated about missing St Patrick's Day this year, my parents and brother got together a very special feast for just the four of us last night, featuring corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, homemade Irish soda bread, a delicious cake my brother baked, and Killian's Irish Red.
It was incredibly tasty and lovely to be with my family when we were all laughing, joking, and not mad at each other. Quite a nice send-off.
Unfortunately, it didn't occur to me to pack before celebrating, so it looks like I still have quite a lot of things to do now that I passed out for most of the night in blissful drinky sleep. As I mentioned, I have lots of things I wanted to talk about, so I'm starting this entry now and will work on it periodically while I pack. Yay diversion!
I made a deal with the universe that when I get back from Italy, it will be spring. For my part in this, I've tried really hard not to bitch about the weather and instead to embrace it, like by going skiing and by dressing (mostly) appropriately to the season.
Therefore, I want sundress and bare leg weather. I am tired of tights (however much I love them) and dressing in layers. I want thin floral cottons, fly-away skirts, and tiny little prints on blouses. I've even been growing my hair long just for the occasion, and I'm going to resist cutting it so I can have a long hair and sundress kind of spring.
Also, my spring shoes are really cute. Yesterday I got adorable yellow flats and these peep-toe stacked-heel slingback tan leather situations that I would really like to break in.
I keep knitting little shrugs and cardigans to wear over a white linen dress that I love (but don't wear enough) and floral dresses. I am actually sort of sad that I don't get to bring all that stuff to Italy this time, as I find myself packing jeans and sweaters instead. But the universe will deliver! Early spring, I say!
When I get back from Italy, I have opera tickets to see Rigoletto at the Met (totally ridiculously excited about that). I've never seen this opera before, so I downloaded thelibretto and mp3s of what is supposed to be an exceptional performance.
I have this knack for arriving in Venice (or last summer in Milan) within days of the close of the opera season, so I have never seen an opera in Italy, much to my dismay. It figures that the one time I will be in Venice during La Fenice's season, they don't have any opera performances, just concerts.
I've decided I probably need to marry someone who is either an opera-lover or musically-obsessed enough that they'll go along with me. My mother and I are weighing the pros and cons of buying subscriptions for the '09-'10 season at the Met and coming up with almost all pros. I feel like an opera subscription is not the kind of thing you'd ever regret, and I'm thrilled I finally have someone who enjoys it as much as (or maybe more than) I do.
Vaguely related, Bat for Lashes is playing April 30th at the Bowery Ballroom and May 2nd at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Tickets are only $15, and she's supposed to be excellent live, so I will probably go, but it bums me out that I can't think of anyone who would want to go with me. This happened years ago when TV on the Radio were first playing gigs in Brooklyn, and I'm still pissed that I didn't just go anyway. It's also looking unlikely that I'll get to the Siren Festival this year, but I'm going to try my damndest.
Ahem, ditto on the Mermaid Parade.
I used to think that having a boyfriend was like instant concert-buddy, someone who, even if they didn't like the music, was somehow contractually obliged to go with you anyway and vice versa. I was quite incorrect in this assumption, and it bothers me to think I could someday find myself married to someone who won't go with me to a concert. Therefore, I think "musically-obsessed" is going to have to move much higher up on my dating requirements for men, maybe even above beautiful eyes or intelligence.
(Lingering hope that if I attend enough concerts by myself, I will meet musically-obsessed single guys doing the same. Realize this hope is absurd.)
Dating-wise, I recognize that I like to keep people at a distance, but you'd be surprised at how few guys want to sign up for a long-distance relationship with me. Even if I quote "Radio Cure" at myself ("Distance has no way of making love understandable"), which I always misheard as "Distance has a way", I still can't give up on the notion that it makes more sense to pay complete attention to someone every once in a while, rather than occasional or begrudged attention all the time.
I am a huge fan of the TV show Bones (and JUST remembered that I had a wonderful dream about David Boreanaz last night!), and one of the characters is an artist named Angela Montenegro. She has kind of non-traditional ideas about love and romance, and inone episode, she is visiting this boyfriend Kirk who lives out in the desert. She does this every year, for 3 weeks, and then they kind of leave each other alone the rest of the time. When people question the sincerity of this kind of love, she responds with something brilliant (which of course I can't find to quote directly) about loving completely in the moment, sincerely and with all her heart, for 3 concentrated weeks out of the year, without all the day-to-day monotony that makes you take the person you love for granted.
I know there is something to be said for actually seeing someone regularly, for having conversations where the other person understands your daily existence and has even met the people you talk about... but I feel like some of my most special and wonderful friendships are with people I see once a year if I'm lucky. Because of the internet, we talk regularly and keep up with each others' lives, we have jokes, we share feelings... I dunno. It seems okay to me. There is a line from Eternal Sunshine that I think of often: "Constantly talking isn't necessarily communication."
I think it should be okay to have separate lives and every couple months or so, make time to see each other, really pay attention, say the things you need to say and do, and go back to your own lives. It feels a lot better to miss someone than to wonder if it's a mistake and feel suffocated.
I still am not surprised to have no takers on this front.
I realized I was regaining my sense of smell when I kissed the top of Smokey's head and I could smell his spicy little brains. I love this cat so much, and I'm going to miss him terribly while I'm away.
It was observed by my labmates last summer that I was considerably more excited to be reunited with the cats than my boyfriend, friends, and family. I think this is because my relationship with cats is purely physical, tactile, and experiential. I mean, you can exchange emails with people or if you really miss them, call and hear their voices. You can't exactly dial-a-purr or conjure up a squishy gray belly when you need one to pet.
My parents have promised to love my little Butter Chubs while I'm away, but I worry he will be sad and feel abandoned yet again. He sleeps with his head on my shoulder like a little bear snuggled in my arm. He purrs when I enter a room because he (rightfully) just assumes he's going to get pet. Ah well, it's only 20 days. I think I - I mean he - will survive.
My relationship with my parents is getting a lot better. I realize that a lot of the things that drive me crazy (unsolicited advice, snippy comments, judgment, accusations that I must be on meth when I don't sleep, and so on) do come from a place of love and concern. I need to just get over myself and recognize that this is a relatively short-term arrangement that will help me get on the path to a better life.
I wrote a little bit ago about how much I'm looking forward to escaping my life here, but I am also looking forward to coming back to it in improved spirits. With spring comes sailing, rowing, running, more swimming, gardening, painting outside, barbecues, going to the beach, tennis (if I can find a partner), and all the things I really love to do outdoors. For better or worse, I do live in a vacation spot, and I can think of worse ways to spend a summer than living at the Jersey shore.
On the topic of barbecues, I seriously want to roast a pig for my graduation party. I don't even like roast pig that much, but I just want to do it for its own sake. The rest of the food will probably be Italian, and I am willing to trade the vision of kegs of whiskey for a bottle or two, plus beer and wine. (Will save whiskey for wedding plans). This party (which really will be awesome) all depends on me completing my thesis and degrees, and it's a little embarrassing how much motivation the thought of a bitchin' party provides in that direction.
It's absolutely time to finish and get on with my life though, lousy prospects or otherwise.
(Two notes on that article: 1. Ha, good thing I'm only getting two masters'! 2. None of the candidates seem to have considered personal limitations or lack of meaningful experience/research as reasons why they shouldn't be hired straight out of grad school. There is an overall tone of walking across the commencement platform and accepting one's tenure-track position with all its natural entitlements that I do find rather laughable).
I have a five-year plan, which I will outline in excessive detail when I return from Italy. Hint: it involves a lot of chemistry and even more school.
15 Beautiful Microscopic Images from Inside the Human Body on Environmental Graffiti.
I always find these kinds of images mesmerizing. I don't mind admitting that part of how I came to switch from Neuroscience to Studio Art in undergrad was when I found myself so entranced with sketching SEMs of neurons that I was no longer following the lectures. I had a total Talking Heads moment where I looked around the classroom and was all "Who are these people? Why are they in my studio? Why is this guy talking about pharmacology??"
Periodically I revisit an idea I had a long time ago for a series of paintings based on disease, tissue irregularities, infection, etc called 50 (or sometimes 100) Small Things That Can Kill You. They'd be painted in exquisite detail, finding the intense beauty in natural order run amok. I have a folder of reference SEMs that I keep on my hard drive for when I get around to it.
My thesis involves rows of flowers found around the bottom of a cycle of paintings, as they relate to herbal medicine and the history of botanical illustration. There's much more to it, but one of the core exercises is in identifying these plants, and now matching them to manuscripts that I'm almost positive Carpaccio referenced.
I put them online so I could print them from my mother's computer, but it occurred to me that I might as well share them here too.
The photographs are lousy (since I had to sneak them while the guard stepped out of the room for a minute), and the paintings themselves are not in the best shape, but if you recognize any of these plants, please don't hesitate to speak up. This whole project started from what I feared was a trite observation, but it turns out that just looking at things is the best way to see what's going on.
Also, isn't it fun to help me with my thesis? Yay!
I haven't actually talked about it that much, but it really boggles my mind that our research is going to be in Pompeii and the Herculaneum. The eruption of Vesuvius was in AD 79, 1,930 years ago. The mosaic we're studying was made by people who lived more than 19 centuries ago. My hands will be setting up equipment where theirs worked. I will be measuring their mortar, standing where they stood, under the same sun. It's an absolute honor.
I am constantly amazed by art's ability to bridge cultures, to make present the lives of those who died long ago. I love studying art history because it gives me a sense of what it was like to be alive at the time the artists were, and not just through words, numbers or events, but I can see, as a fellow sentient being, what it felt like, how they went about their days, what they held sacred, what they considered exciting, how they got by. I will be seeing so much amazing art on this trip that I am positively giddy and tearfully excited about it, and that makes it worth all the stress, anxiety, planning, fretting, cost, worries, research, and everything else that I've put into this.
I have some other things I did want to touch on, but I guess that will all have to wait for my return on the 31st.
I may post a bit from Italy, either here or on Twitter, and I will be reachable on and off byemail or through Facebook (boy did that sentence feel dorky).
Have a safe and happy March, and I will see you in April!