July 2008 Archives


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I leave for Italy this afternoon!

I came down to New Jersey yesterday with my small suitcase completely packed (I remembered underwear), and I picked up exquisitely comfortable (and cute) walking shoes so I don't spend the whole trip in plastic jellies. We even had time to go for a sail, which was wonderfully relaxing.

I'll be in somewhat limited contact while I'm away, but I will be back in about a month, by which time I must be able to read and translate French fluently. Hoorays.

Please enjoy the rest of your summer, and I'll see you in September. Ciao!

Precious blue vinyl

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Do you know how in some restaurants and stores the bathroom key is attached to a large and brightly-colored piece of wood or plastic? Or something bulky and unmistakable that can't possibly fit in your pocket or comfortably blend in with your personal items, should you absent-mindedly forget you have it with you?

I think about this a lot, with regards to the items I frequently lose. In the case of a bathroom key, the worst-case scenario would be the inconvenience of making a duplicate and knowing some stranger has unmitigated access to your toilet. Actually I guess it would be worse if that key were the only one, but even still, changing a lock isn't the biggest trauma in the grand scheme of things.

Why, then, are indispensably important items like, say, my passport, so incredibly easy - effortless really - to lose? Wouldn't you think that for a document so important that one cannot legally leave the country without it, they would at least make it larger than a postcard? I mean, my birth certificate is a solid half sheet, but I would not object to a neon pink A4 sized passport if it meant I were less likely to bury it on my desk or carelessly jam it in a pocket.

To be perfectly honest, I'd be on board with a giant foam finger emblazoned with stars and eagles that plays chants of "USA! USA!" if I said the right combination of words while searching for it. At least that way, it's more likely to double as a pillow than scrap paper in my purse, and I can't imagine misplacing it.

"Sweetie, have you seen my passport?"
"What does it look like?"
"Umm, the giant orange finger?"
"Oh right, I saw that in the kitchen cabinet next to the wine glasses."

I'd also consider something inflatable that could be compressed for actual travel, a buoy as it were, to guide my passport through the torrential sea of clutter that my life most frequently resembles. Some chimes and flashing LEDs wouldn't hurt.

For someone who has carefully kept track of every scrap of paper I've ever written on, every printed item ever deposited in my campus mailbox, and scads of useless and embarrassingly trivial ephemera, I have a real knack for hopelessly losing my passport just before every major trip.

Obviously today was no exception. I joked with my mother that I really ought to find it (seeing as I am leaving for New Jersey and then Italy in like a day and a half), and I was almost certain that it was located in the enormous cardboard box full of bills and very important papers that I've been using as a bedside stand since January. Yes, you read that correctly and no, I don't think it's time for an organization intervention. Yet.

To assuage my increasing anxiety, I figured it would probably be best to confirm this suspicion and actually get my passport in my hands since that and my ticket are the two genuinely indispensable items for impending international travel. I started digging, chuckling to myself as I found the e-tickets and boarding passes from every flight I've taken since 2006. I grimaced a bit when I triumphantly laid smug hands on my impossible-to-lose lime green passport-holder and ticket organizer, only to find it empty save for an expired MetroCard (which I distinctly remember loading with $20 last summer and never using, ouch).

I came to the bottom of this enormous box with no passport, and I started to actually worry. I thought back on the last time I had my passport on my person, thinking it was Toronto in September... no wait, I kept zipping it in and out of a down vest pocket on the way to Hawaii in January!

I searched my vests and jackets, every handbag, suitcase and pocket I could find. I rummaged through the piles on my desk, clearing down to the surface and thinking now would be a great time to have implemented an invention I came up with in high school (little electronic LED and sound things that you attach to frequently-lost items like wallets, keys and TV remotes, which could be paged from a wall-mounted unit the way I could page my cordless phone from its base).

Just as I was beginning to get genuinely panicky, chiding myself for my carelessness, facing the possibility of having to skip a month-long trip to Italy because I'm such a damn slob, and working out the details of rushing somewhere in Manhattan with my birth certificate and fistfuls of cash, I had a flash of intelligence. "Maybe it's in the important desk?"

Yeah, I have a second desk that I only use for daily important things like stamps and envelopes, our laundry card, my checkbook and so on. I had rifled through it before starting the passport search, but I only looked in its right-hand nook, where other card and document-looking things were kept.

With trembling hands, I went back to this desk and moved a stack of library books an inch away from the left-hand nook. Duh, there was my passport, on top and safe. It almost looked like a responsible person had put it there.

I'm willing to place odds that I will forget to bring underwear on this trip.


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I have made numerous references to where I will be spending the rest of my summer, and I think it's finally time to spill the beans.

I'm going back to Italy!!!

I am ridiculously excited!

The first portion of my trip is going to be two weeks traveling with my mother. We have spent weeks organizing and planning our itinerary, and I'm really really stoked for what we'll be doing.

I've made a Google Map of our trip, if you would like to view the sequence of cities, or you can zoom in to check it out below. I've marked our trip with a line which is obviously as the crow flies, but we will be traveling a less direct route by train.

View Larger Map

We begin with two days and two nights in Milan, where we will see da Vinci's Last Supperand begin our art marathon.

Next we travel for a day in Padua and a day relaxing in the spas in Montegrotto Terme and hiking in the Colli Euganei.

From there we enjoy two days and nights in my beloved Venice (where I will sneak in some invaluable thesis research too).

We arrive in Florence early in the morning so my mother can spend her birthday with herItalian boyfriend.

Then we travel down for a day in the tranquility of Assisi before two bustling days in Rome.

From Rome, we travel to Monterosso al Mare, one of the Cinque Terre, a group of linked cliffside coastal villages on the Italian Riviera connected by hiking trails. We conclude our trip with a day in Pisa, from which my mother flies home.

The same day my mother departs, I will be meeting up with a professor and my lab mates for a week of intensive study and travel to Pompeii and other points south, followed by a week of research on site in a medieval chapel in Volterra. We'll be doing intensely cool science stuff and working with another research group. Everyone involved in this project is thrilled beyond words, and I know it will be a phenomenal experience.

I'll be in Italy until August 25th (just shy of a month), and when I return Eric and I (and the kitties) will be moving out of this apartment and into an as-yet-undecided new residence.

While I have been feeling constant anxiety about logistics, money, and every possible disaster that may befall me in the coming weeks, I am overall ecstatic with all the upcoming travel and changes in my life. I have been looking for an adventure, and I have most definitely found it.


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I am changing things up a little around here. Ideally, I would be able to get this site to better match my art site in look and feel. That site is in bad need of redesign and updating, but since I put it all together by hand (1990s HTML for the win), it is pretty close to my personal design aesthetic. Sometimes.

(Fun anecdote: my art domain expired on June 18th, and there had been a bogus hotel advertising site squatting there until last night when I finally realized it. Color me awesome.)

I'm planning to clean up a lot of things around here. Since I am not the world's biggest fan of poking around php files and pretending I know anything about CSS, I can't say when I'm going to get it just how I like, but please be patient and let me know if I break anything.

In the meantime, I did want to share something. A few weekends ago I wandered around my mother's garden with my macro lens.

I kind of forgot how very much I love that lens.

I put together a Flickr set of Garden photos, which I will probably update periodically with additional images. If you'd prefer, here is a slideshow.


Hand it over to the Spinners

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The Spinners performing "Rubberband Man" on Burt Sugarman's Midnight Special:



Simply mesmerizing.

The root of all evil

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I don't know how I am going to pay to finish my degree. I am really, overwhelmingly discouraged and have no idea what to do.

I thought to myself "Fine then, I'll just take a leave of absence and work for a while," but I am in the eerily familiar position of having no master's degrees, no marketable skills, and few prospects for employment.

Jokingly almost, I thought to myself that I would have to sell some paintings. By rudimentary calculations, if I sold every painting at the most I've ever gotten for a painting, I'd have to sell about 60 to make ends meet. I do not have 60 really good paintings or even 120 halfway good paintings, and more to the point, I don't have any real way to sell paintings.

It occurred to me with no small amount of hilarity that if I could have supported myself selling paintings, there wouldn't have been much point in going to grad school.

My main reason for my current career choice is that I have a staggering amount of debt from school already, and I know I will need a really good job to pay it off and move on with my life. I don't so much want to do this job, as my hands are now tied and it seems the most realistic way of turning my degrees into solvency.

I hate tautology.

I am 26. I want a life outside of being a perpetual student. I want to have a husband and kids. I want to earn enough money to support myself, instead of taking low-paying assistantships that fit with a class schedule.

I just want to finish, and I don't know how to get from A to B. I am so sick of thinking about this, and I'm even sicker thinking of what else this could cost me in non-financial terms, very soon.


I have lots and lots of things to post about. I'll get some in first and then take my time with the rest.

- My grandmother has recovered and seems to be okay. She was hospitalized for four days with pneumonia and what was established as the beginnings of COPD (a result of exposure to incessant second-hand smoke from my grandfather, who smoked himself to death, may he rest in peace). Those who know my feelings on smoking can probably understand how upsetting it is to watch a husband kill his wife 10 years after killing himself. Through a combination of IV antibiotics and steroids, they got my grandmother's breathing and oxygen levels stabilized and by the end of her visit to New Jersey, she seemed to be back to her usual health. This is to say I am cautiously optimistic.

- I just spent the last week visiting with my parents and a bunch of family and friends. There were parts that were really lovely and wonderful and parts that provoked intense anxiety for me. The things I found distressing have caused me to do a lot of soul-searching, and I think the result is that I have more changes I need to make in life.

- The lease on this apartment ends August 31st, and for reasons I have not yet discussed, I will be out of town until August 26th. Eric is currently on a road trip across the US, and he returns about a week before I leave. The prospect of finding the perfect apartment in the perfect location and organizing our move in that week is more than a little daunting, and it is not helped by the sudden drought of promising real estate listings when there was an absolute glut of them just last week (she who tarries).

- I sat in a total stand-still traffic jam for about an hour and a half this evening on my way home from my parents' house because a truck had been overturned and there was a fuel spill on the highway, closing all lanes. An SUV that had been all up on my ass the whole time, getting way too close and then having to smash their brakes to keep from rear-ending me while pulling up three inches at a time, got positively incensed when I let a car merge in front of me. I think I was supposed to squeeze them into the guard rail as their lane ended, but considering I had moved twenty feet in the past forty-five minutes, I felt one car length would not break me. The SUV felt otherwise and after a barrage of cursing, horn-honking, and high-beams in my mirrors, actually threw garbage at my car. It took a lot of self-control not to get out of the car and yell at them because seriously who does that?!?!

- I figured out exactly what I want to get Eric for his birthday (September 7). I have decided not to second-guess myself or freak out worrying if he'll like it because duh, he will. In a strange coincidence, Eric has started wearing the same cologne I once picked out for my high school sweetheart (I thought it was the perfect boyfriend smell). Eric got it for a gift (he thinks) and just showed up smelling like it one day. I thought I was going to faint, and I asked if he was wearing cologne. When he showed me the bottle, I just about died laughing. I don't think he understands why it's so funny to me.

- I am going to force myself to start running, even if it means inhaling all the carbon monoxide in Brooklyn and feeling miserable and sore for the next however many weeks. I don't want to run, and I'm not looking forward to it. In fact, I was secretly happy that I'd gained enough weight to fit back into a pair of really cute pants that had become too big last summer... but enough is enough. I will probably have to go back on a diet too, even though I spent most of 2006 and 2007 on a diet. You can imagine how I feel about that.

- Considering the upcoming move has forced me to look around my life and recognize that I have way too much stuff and that most of it is junk. And by junk, I mean priceless treasure with which I am utterly unwilling to part. I have to fix that, or I will find myself less one cohabitant when it comes time to move.

- I am so exhausted that my whole body is sore and quivery, but my mind cannot shut off enough to sleep. This will feel awesome when I move my car in a few hours.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from July 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

June 2008 is the previous archive.

August 2008 is the next archive.

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