Saturday, December 29, 2012

Week 15 Christmas and...wait...what day is it?

So you would think, considering that it is winter break and I don't have a lot going on, that I would be spot on with this whole blogging thing. Turns out, I'm never quite sure what day it is anymore. The only thing that keeps me mildly grounded in the real turnings of the world is Dominic's work schedule, but considering that he works weekends and nights and mornings etc. I still get confused...But hey, it's still week 15...

This past week was quite eventful, of course, because it was Christmas and we had visitors! Dad, Yvonne, Sissy, and John all arrived on Sunday and stayed until Wednesday. It was a good Christmas, without the running around characteristic of most of my previous Christmases, but it was definitely different and of course there were still some faces I missed seeing. This was my first ever Christmas Eve not spent with Granddad Naughty and the rest of the Cox Clan, and of course it was my first Christmas without my Mama! It was nice to have Joe, one of my new anthropology grad school friends spend the day with us this year. It is always good to spend the holidays with new friends! Thank you guys for coming out for Christmas in Columbia and helping Dominic and I have a real Christmas with wonderful food, family, and friends! Oh and I have really, really enjoyed Belgian waffles the past two mornings (we got a Belgian waffle maker for Christmas!).

Wednesday, after everyone left, the apartment felt so empty. It feels so big when it is just Dominic and I but with everyone else it felt so full and cozy and bustling. I spent Wednesday and Thursday cleaning and reading and mostly just doing a general cluster of things that all run together. Yesterday Dominic and I had a great time going to Barnes and Noble (one of our favorite past times!) and one of our favorite little stores downtown, Aardvark's.

So what have I been doing since my trip to Chicago and between Christmas and other things? Reading and screwing around, mostly. I have already finished one book- the fourth Sookie Sackhouse installment- but those are always quick reads. They aren't quality literature by any standard, but I can't help but enjoy them. I've started Mothers and Others, by Sarah Hrdy (that's not a typo- no "a"), to keep my mind turning in the anthropological sense, but I've read a lot more of Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren, which I only started yesterday. This book is weird but I like it a lot so far- though I really like weird when it comes to fiction. This one seems to be a kind of a cross between Murakami, a little bit of King's Gunslinger, and a whole host of other weird that I haven't quite picked up on is sci fi but the back of the book bills it as "magical realism" which is more accurate. It is not for the sexually squeamish though- the main character, who does not remember his name, has already had sex with two complete strangers, a man and a woman, in the first 50 pages.

Ah, reading fiction makes my brain feel so much better- refreshed.

Of course, it is imperative that I put a huge shout out to one of my greatest friends and send out a warm CONGRATULATIONS on your ENGAGEMENT Miss Morgan!!! Eugene is a great guy and you are a wonderful gal, you two are amazing together. This is such an exciting time for you- enjoy every minute of it!

So I am pretty freaking excited that Dominic and I are going to be having more visitors in the next few weeks! I just want to say, for the record, if I haven't said it before, that we have some pretty awesome friends. Mikal is driving here this weekend and arriving tomorrow to spend New Year's Eve with us! And Anna will be here from January 9-11. So we have plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks. Plus, Anna is flying into Kansas City so it will be fun seeing one of the cities I have been hearing so much about for the first time.

I know this is all going to go by quickly, just like every day of life speeds by faster than the last, so I am going to take my time and enjoy every minute of reading and visiting and relaxing before the bustle of the semester starts up again. I have some work to do (I like to have productive things to do so I don't feel completely like a bum) but I actually have plenty of time to do it that feels weird.

Okay, Christmas pictures (the first nine of which I snagged from Yvonne)!

Restringing the classical

Star Wars Monopoly!

Christmas Morning

Dominic working on his family's oyster recipe for Christmas appetizer...I'm working on Grandma Ginny's corn pudding. John made the ham (sooooo good) and the squash casserole, Sissy made chocolate pies, and Yvonne made potato salad and breakfast (oh and so many goodies and desserts!). Joe brought some really great Missouri wine and Dad made sure there was plenty of beer. It was quite the meal! 

This is going so well!


Enjoying the oysters

Mr. Kitty REALLY loved his Christmas present from Aunt Karma and Uncle John

Dominic liked his too :D 

And Ripley was reunited with one of her favorite laps!

Marti played until she needed a nap

Joe reading up on some Buddhism

I hope that everyone had a very merry Christmas, wherever you are and whoever you were with. And everyone have a great New Year's Eve! Party Hardy ;) 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Week 14 First Week of Break and Merry Christmas!

So I have no viable excuse for being late this week, except that yesterday I just...meh...didn't feel like posting. But no worries! I have watched enough Jenna Marbles videos today to get myself super motivated! She has quite the dirty mouth but I still love her. I also watched a few videos with the My Boyfriend Does My Makeup tag on Youtube. I think this would be a super fun thing to do but I would be somewhat afraid of getting my eyeball poked out...

This past week has been really, really awesome. Most of what I'm going to share is kind of trivial and probably boring to most people...but...hey it's my blog so...there. I can do what I want! Actually yeah that's not really a super true statement...but you know what I mean...

Friday Ripley and I drove to Chicago for the weekend. Going to Chicago is ALWAYS a fun trip and Sissy and John are the best hosts. It was a great recharge/celebration trip for the end of the semester. And it is exciting for me to be this close to Chicago and to have the opportunity to spur of the moment visit Sissy! It is a 6 1/2 hour trip, but compared to the 16 hour drive to Richmond it is a breeze. It is also quite scenic. I ate fantastic food all weekend (John made this Texas chocolate cake which was really, really bad news for me because I COULD NOT STOP EATING IT). Sissy and I even got to do a little Christmas shopping at Lincoln Square which I always enjoy, and I went with her see some of her students sing Christmas songs. I checked Facebook once Sunday night but other than that the weekend was a complete detox. It was perfect! For some reason I didn't take many pictures, but I do have one of Dude in Ripley's bed:

Monday night I drove home to Columbia and the drive was a lot of fun. Chicago was gray but southern Illinois had some light snow. Missouri was gorgeous. There were so few cars around that I managed to get some really cool (at least I think) pictures. Here are a few...

When I got home Monday night Dominic and I went out to eat at Outback with our neighbors Andrew and Steph. They are some of the nicest people I have ever met and they are quite an adorable couple.

Tuesday I spent about four hours cleaning/getting ready for family that is coming on Sunday. Yeah that's alllll gonna be dirty again by then. DOH. Then Tuesday night Dominic and I spent quite a bit of time finally working on our Christmas cards. Tis the season!

Wednesday Dominic and I had lunch with Jeremy downtown. Then Dom headed to work and I went Christmas shopping. This included spending some money on myself because I had a 30% off coupon at Kohl's and I needed some new clothes!...I got a shirt that looked kinda ugly on the rack but I put it on and though "Dang that's actually kinda cute!"(for $3 too!). Teehee. Yeah I'm sure you didn't need to know that...but here a purple shirt I snagged and of course I have wasted no time wearing it:

I went home wrapped presents and got so excited that there are a lot of Disney movies on Netflix now that I watched Pocahontas. Totally forgot that Mel Gibson was John Smith in that movie...

I also got a package yesterday that was so charming and pretty when I opened it that I had to share!

Oh and Mr Kitty wants some too:

Thank you Miss Morgan! It made my day :) And you should have heard me squeal when I saw COOKIES. I need to get better about sending my packages out at a reasonable time. You know, so people get stuff around the actual holiday/birthday. I'm not a huge fan of New Year's resolutions, but that's going to be mine (seems pretty doable too, right...?).

Today we woke up to snow! I was very excited about this until I took Ripley on her walk. Um, snow is less fun when that Missouri wind kicks in. I had my Popeye face going most of the walk.

However, Ripley LOVES the snow, so after it stopped today we went out in the field and she enjoyed running around. Here is an action shot! 

The rest of the day I have been reading and watching Youtube videos and just generally screwing around. This is my screw around day. I will get back to doing productive things tomorrow. Or at some point. Meh I have things to do's break and stuff.

Also I discovered this article this past week that I think is a really good read for just about anyone: 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person

OH and Dominic has trimmed his beard this week to a beard of absolute perfection. He was already getting weekly compliments on it before he shaped it up so beautifully! I tried to snag a picture but it was hard getting him to stand still...

Well, that about sums up the highlights of my first week of break. Next week will be even more exciting because we are going to have so many visitors! I am very excited :D

Since I won't post again until after Christmas, I hope everyone has a very merry one, with lots of love, family, friends, and good food. And safe travels to those hitting the road!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Week 13 Observations

I have always actually liked the number 13...I never really found it to be unlucky.

Except perhaps...I wrote the bulk of this blog four days ago, and was going to wait to publish until Wednesday. Yes, I realize it's Thursday night. Whoops (again).

Dominic and I went to a great party/get together tonight with an excellent group of anthropology students/professors, hosted by Gretchen and Martin Daly. It was an absolutely excellent end to the semester. We both really enjoyed ourselves.

In the spirit of reflection, I decided to focus this post on some of the things I have learned/observed this semester, or more generally, the past four months. A lot has happened in a short amount of time and I have learned A LOT, but I haven't really been able to sit down and process it all. So this is the beginning of trying to process all of what is in my head, and to share it in the hopes of helping further my own mental processing, and, perhaps, to help anyone else who might need help processing their recent thoughts/experiences too. It helps me, at least, to get a taste of other people's reflections.

13 Observations

1. This is number one (though the others do not come in any particular order) because it has, honestly, been a source of deep and interesting thought for me: I think this is a natural part of the progression of life. The number of people I can relate to and who, in turn, can relate to and understand my life, has decreased considerably. I'm quite certain that most of the people in my life who I know very well have no clue what  my daily life is like or, really, what anthropology really is. I find that most cannot really understand the trials and tribulations (and the benefits) of going for broke in graduate school in anthro. And I find that I can relate a great deal more to people I know a great deal less. Such is life I suppose. Welcome to academia! No one you know understands you anymore. Except for other academics...

2. Other academics, at least other anthropologists, can be, curiously, socially awkward. I include myself in this (at least in the occasionally socially awkward part of this observation). Yet anthropologists are also some of the most interesting people you will ever talk to. I love them. Dominic has pointed this out as well- anthropologists are used to being observers and when you put a bunch of them in a room together it can make for some awkward interactions because no one is "the" observer anymore and everyone knows they are being observed. It can be strange and awkward, but it can also be really fantastic when everyone really starts talking and sharing- especially when you end up hearing great fieldwork stories or learning unique things about everyone. Anthropologists/academics are often (I think) introspective because we do so much work independently, yet they all have so many fascinating stories to tell! 

3. I greatly prefer the graduate school schedule to any other. Sure there are late nights and some hefty chunks of hours reading or writing, but there isn't much better than attending class maybe 10 hours a week and the rest of your work hours are completely under your control. You can work from home or the library or the coffee shop. You can drink wine while you work. There is the feeling that you should always being doing something, but I will take it any day over the 9 to 5. 

4. It's unfortunate, but credit cards are a grad student's best friend. There is no "extra" money for when you need to get your car fixed, or take your pet to the emergency room, or, I don't know, move across country. And some months there is a need for a little extra help when it comes to groceries or gas, especially when trying to get started in a new town (though a supportive family is a HUGE help!). 

5. Of course, relying on credit cards is foolish (even when necessary). Soooo...silly simple ways to cut costs: refrain from buying separate face and body lotion, cut back on makeup purchases/wearing makeup, buy cheap shampoo and conditioner (or none at all...this sounds super cheap, but I've been using watered down shampoo and conditioner for two weeks...diluted conditioner works just as well and lasts a lot longer), don't bother getting haircuts, make more soups, stews, and chili, layer clothes with the shirts with holes and permanent stains on the bottom, if you absolutely feel the need to go on a shopping spree, take a five dollar bill to the Dollar Tree. Oh, and don't leave home. As soon as you walk out the door you are dooming yourself to spending money. Duh, I guess.

6. I really enjoy small accomplishments and they keep me going. Like finishing my stat homework and feeling confident that I got everything right (I attribute this to having an excellent stat professor). Or knowing where to go in our rather complicated library for the book I need without looking at the library cheat sheet. Or cleaning up the living room. Or entering all my sources into Endnote. I LOVE Endnote.

7. Designing your own research is FUN. It can be time consuming and there are often a lot of setbacks and redos, but the design process is fun.

8. One of the phrases I hate more than any other (which Dominic now knows, so I hear it ALL THE TIME), is "You aren't done with that yet?" or, another simple variation, "Are you done?" NO I'M NOT DONE. In fact, I WILL NEVER BE DONE. 

9. I love the smell of Swallow Hall.

10. Sometimes people will do things that you don't understand. Actually, this will happen a lot. As someone being trained to observe and explain people, this is sometimes extremely difficult to get over. But sometimes you just gotta let it go. 

11. Every once in a while, people can surprise you. I've been pleasantly surprised a lot the past four months.

12. Ripley is the best late night study/work buddy ever, and she always knows when it's time for a break.

13. Maybe Wednesday isn't the best day for a blog post...

It has been a whirlwind semester, but it has been great in a lot of ways too. I have met some really fantastic people, and I look forward to getting to know all of them better in the months (years...) to come.

Until next week!

These are FANTASTIC. I made these for the anthropology department potluck last week and I am so glad there were leftovers. Turtle bars. Can share the recipe if anyone is interested :D

A little eggnog is a good season opener...

Watching The Dark Knight Rises with our eggnog. The tree has actually been fully decorated now. I will post pictures later ;D

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Week 12 I will return...

...when this week is over!

Brain is numb. Lots to do. No freedom til Friday.

Can't come back until my coffee table no longer looks like this:

At least I have the Christmas tree up for a little holiday cheer! Haven't had a chance to decorate it yet. Just lights and the star. 

Sorry for the lame blog posts...I promise I will get better after this week...

Oh, and since it isn't a complete blog post without a critter pick, here's Ripley in a coat, just for good measure: