Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!

First of all, I just have to admit that I simply don't have as much time as I used to to post on this blog, and I also don't have as much time to write good blog posts. I think that some of the posts I wrote when this blog was in its infancy, particularly the one about the theramin documentary and the other one about when I had my wisdom teeth taken out (see September and October of 2006) are of much higher quality. You would think that with all the reading and writing I do in my everyday life that I would have become a better writer. Alas, this is not the case. Perhaps I am better at analyzing the subtleties of Othello, but otherwise my skills are not very practical.

In my classes, I'm always amazed at how geeky, socially awkward folks may not be able to introduce themselves very well but have poignant analyses of A Christmas Carol. This is the joy of being an English major. I wonder if Computer Science majors have the same joy. I've heard that those folks are just annoying all the way around, but this is mere hearsay.

I did want to share this uncanny experience that happened to me last weekend. Since I'm horribly out of shape too, I decided to go on a long walk in my beautiful little town of Moss Beach. My landlord told me about a great walk along the crest of the hills that border the ocean. Here is a photograph:

So I walked and walked hoping to find a nice, dry place to sit down and read A Christmas Carol for my Victorian Afterlife class. Near the end of the trail, I saw this bench, which overlooked a beach where a few people who managed to teeter down the steep cliff were surfing.

Not a bad place to do some homework, eh? I decided I'd sit on the bench and read a few chapters about Ebeneezer Scrooge's transformation from a stingy, cold miser into a philanthropic, jolly, Christmas-ian with goose drippings on his chin. As you may remember, this change is engendered by his visits by three ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. However, these ghosts are preceded by a visit from the grave from his old business partner, Jacob Marley.

So I went to sit down and this is what I saw:

Can you believe it?!?

(By the way, the title of this post is a quote from A Christmas Carol.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

O O O O that Shakespearian Rag!

Well well well.

My semester is officially finished. I just clicked "send" on the last of my papers. This last one was a doozy. At one point I compare Othello to a woman on her menstrual cycle. Oh, I'm not kidding. At least it was in the footnotes. Twenty-two pages of me trying to prove that Iago is the most honest character and Desdemona is a hussy.

Boy am I thirsty.

Hey, did you know that the term "the beast with two backs" is from Othello?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Good New Year's Resolutions are things you want to provide for yourself but need a little structure and discipline to do. I would never dream of making a New Year's Resolution that I wasn't excited about. Having once been an uber-ascetic Mormon, I'm over masochistically willing myself to do shit. I think if you really want to do something, it doesn't have to hurt.

My New Year's Resolutions for 2007 were:

1. Learn to play Leonard Cohen songs on the guitar
2. Save $1000
3. Study Korean or Spanish
4. Go to Hawaii

Here's how they panned out:

1. LC songs

After learning "Lady Midnight," "Famous Blue Raincoat," and "Take This Longing," I spent the rest of the year trying to train my left index finger to bar the F chord. What a bitch. I love Leonard Cohen and it's comforting to play these songs. It's especially nice to be able to play a song that's slightly more difficult than what I've been playing. I used to play everyday, but since I started grad school, I don't really have time to do that anymore. However, I did write two new songs this year, and I'm very happy about that. For about four years, I couldn't write a song and it was starting to drive me nuts.

2. Save $1000

For someone my age, $1000 isn't really enough savings. However, I'm notoriously terrible with money and I figured I'd start somewhere. I just wanted to have enough to be able to fix my car if something broke or pay my rent if I lost my job. I did save the money, but it about killed me. I kept it in an envelope on my desk (if it were in the bank, I'd spend it), and whenever I'd hit another hundred, I'd cross off another number. I kept having to take money out and put it back, whiting-out my progress and marking it up again. It really shouldn't have been so hard, because I was earning more than enough to live on.

However, when I realized I might be able to move to the ocean, I got my ass in gear and kept track of every penny I spent for an entire month. I realized that almost a fourth of my income was going to taking other people out to eat. I curbed that I re-budgeted and managed to save a bit more. This money came in handy when my Dad died. I had enough money to cover my plane ticket and the income lost when I didn't work.

3. Study Korean or Spanish

I ended up devoting the summer to studying Korean. I was working at the Korean center and everyday during lunch I would sit next to someone and ask them questions. I also had two private Korean students, so before and after our lessons, I'd ask them questions. I didn't learn basic stuff; I still can't say "I'm hungry" or even have a basic conversation. However, I can pretty much read the language out loud (though I don't know what I'm reading) and I can write too. When I lived in Oakland, I lived near the Korean section, and I spent a large portion of the summer walking around. I'd try to read out the Korean signs. One day I realized that one of the signs I saw everyday said "Karaoke." That was pretty cool.

I thought I might go teach English in Korea this Summer to help pay off part of my student loans. Also, as a part of earning a PhD, you have to study two other languages. I thought it'd be pretty cool to study Korean, since I love what little I know of the culture so much. However, I talked with some professors about this, and although apparently there are a lot of Korean scholars who write about modernism, ultimately romance languages are the way to go. So next semester I'm doing an advanced Spanish grammar review and I think I'm going to go to Chile this summer to teach English.

4. Go to Hawaii

Well I saved up enough money to go (in a separate envelope from my basic savings). I researched the trip and budgeted it and everything. I knew I wouldn't be able to go in 2007, but I was pretty sure I could swing it during the winter break in January. Then my Dad died and everything went all to hell. I deposited the last of that money in the ATM yesterday to pay my January rent. Even though I didn't get to go to Hawaii, I'm very glad I had saved that money.

However, I did get a fortune cookie last week that I shared with my grandmother, Nanny. It said "You will be crossing warm waters soon for a fun vacation." And there's a likely possibility that I'll be going on a road trip in the next few weeks down South of the border and swimming at Rosarita beach. We'll see.

So not bad for these New Year's Resolutions. There were other things I wanted to get done this year, like quitting smoking and making straight A's, but I didn't make them into New Year's Resolutions because I don't like being an over-controlling bitch with myself. I figured they'd be extras. I did manage to quit smoking and it was for good, but I claimed at the time "I quit, and I've really quit, but I just know that if something bad happened to someone in my family, I'd start again." When my Dad went into the ICU, I went to the corner store. Smoking is retarded, but for some reason it's one of the only ways I know how to get through difficult times.

I had to take an incomplete in one of my classes, but I did make A's in the other two. Not A minuses, A's, and I'm beaming.

My New Year's Resolutions for 2008:

1. Write an individual letter to 50 different people I don't see enough
2. Go kayaking (preferably in the SF Bay at night)
3. Go teach English someplace awesome this Summer
4. Scatter my Dad's ashes into the Pacific Ocean off the old helicopter landing pad in the Marin Headlands

There are other things I would like to do too, like figure out how to do yoga and be a grad student, make straight A's, and yes, quit smoking, but we'll just have to see how that all pans out.

2007 was equally as good as it was shitty. I'm too shy to tell you ALL of the good and bad things that happened to me, but life is certainly dramatically different than it was a year ago. And for some strange reason, It's so much easier just to wake up and move through life than it ever has been. I'm constantly grateful for that.