Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Andi Blogs Dallas

In an effort to diversify my blogging experience (and maybe make a little extra cash doing something I like), I applied to HotelsbyCity.com to be a Dallas blogger. In essence, I post at least twice a week about some of the goings-on in the Dallas area, and I get paid for the number of people that hit up my posts. SO, you'll be seeing little reminders about my posts in case you're feeling charitable and wanna help me pay off my student loans by clickety-clicking your way over.

Beyond the money (which is likely to be minimal), I also wanted to get some extra writing experience--another line for the resume--should I ever seriously try to get a job writing somewhere. Which is a distinct possibility given my disgruntled stance in regards to my educational life at this point. AKA, the great nervous breakdown/quarter-life crisis of 2007. That's what I'm officially calling it. Charming, eh?

And beyond the aforementioned beyond, I just like writing about stuff to do in Dallas. I love it, and everyone should come here and visit me so they'll love it too.

So, without further ado, check out my other bloggy home and my post on the Dallas Museum of Art's "Arts & Letters Live" series. Bookish peeps, this one's for YOU!

Click HERE.

Edit: And I've set a goal. A worthy, must-do-it-or-hate-myself-for-months goal. I am going to Albuquerque for a conference in 2 weeks. I WILL sit my ass down day and night if I have to between now and then in a valiant attempt to finish the bulk of my thesis. It will be in the hands of my director in two weeks and shortly after I hope it will go to the committee, and hopefully shortly after that I will defend. And I will be done. And I will coast like no one has ever coasted right into the end of my tenure as an M.A. student at Nameless Texas University. And I will do a happy dance, people. The happiest damn dance you've ever seen.

Listening: hard-drivin', thumping girl music

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Let's Nosh, volume 1


I've mentioned a number of times how much I like to cook. I do, I love to cook. I watch The Food Network constantly (it's always on, even if it's muted while I read or something), and I'm always thinking of how I could modify recipes to better suit my lifestyle. Unfortunately, given the fact that I'm not home a whole lot, I don't get to cook as much as I'd like. However, I do have a huge impact on the types of food that roll into the house since I'm usually attempting to eat right...whether I succeed or not.

SO, I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite recipes over the course of the "Let's Gnosh" blog series, if you will.

I've turned into a South Beacher, and before you roll your eyes and click away, contrary to popular belief, it's not your typical "no carb" diet. In fact, South Beach (beyond the first two weeks of the program) allows carbs in the form of something healthier than white bread and rice, urging the eater to choose whole grains instead of "enriched" flour and the like.

So, with that in mind, breakfast.

I'm a huge fan of frittata because it's insanely easy. Here's a recipe for Cheesy Frittata, and I'll add my own suggestions for variations at the end:

2 teaspoons of margarine (low-cholesterol, low-fat, whatever ya like)
1/2 a cup of sliced or chopped onion (I prefer all my veggies chopped)
1/2 a cup of chopped red bell pepper
1/2 a cup of chopped zucchini
2 small plum tomatoes diced
1 tablespoon of fresh basil (less if it's dried, or none if you don't like it)
Pinch of black pepper
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup of egg substitute or (and this is perfectly acceptable)...4 eggs
a bloop of milk...you be the judge
a generous sprinkling of the cheese of your choice...I prefer mild cheddar

While the official recipe says to start the veggies off in a skillet until they've softened up a bit, throw in the eggs, and broil the whole thing for another 2-3 minutes until done, I say screw that. I generally use leftover grilled veggies from the previous night's dinner, throw the whole mess into a relatively shallow, rounded baking dish and cook it for 5-6 minutes in the microwave. Be mindful of the frittata as it nukes because if you overcook it, you'll have a very rubbery concoction, and that's just not appetizing.

Additional additions that I find titilating if I have them on hand: artichoke hearts, diced ham, bacon sprinkles, mushrooms, asparagus (love asparagus), smoke salmon, purple onion holds a special place in my heart, and even yellow squash.

The recipe as we make it in my house serves two. A couple of slices each evens out to 2 eggs a piece and a slew of veggies.

The alternative:
If you're on the run and simply don't have time to cook, I recommend a bowl of Uncle Sam's Whole Wheat Cereal with Flax Seed. It sounds like donkey chow, but it's really good. The small flakes provide a bitchin' crunch, and I add a sprinkling of frozen blueberries, 1 packet of Sweet-n-Low, and a splash of lactose-free 2% milk (because "real" milk spoils too fast for our house).

Watch for lunch coming soon, featuring my recipe for "Unstuffed" Cabbage.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Estella Rising!


You may be thinking that Estella's Revenge is dead in the water, but I'm here to tell ya that it just ain't so. Heather, Amanda, and I have been scheming, and they agree with my inclination that Estella needs a new focus. A new face. A new purpose.

The new Estella is all about books.

That's right, kids, we're narrowing the 'zine's focus to books in an effort to make things a bit more purposeful and a little more manageable. So, we need you. If you're a bookish individual please contact me with any interest you might have in writing for us. We're looking for reviews (of your own books. We get books from publishers occasionally, but it'll take some growing to make it a full-time endeavor), features, columns, and fiction if you have it. We'd like to tell people about bookish goodies, bookish websites, bookish gathering places, and you can even take our readers on a reading tour of your town if you'd like! All things bookish are welcome. We might even republish your favorite bookish blog post if that's what you'd like to submit!

Please e-mail me at andi (at) estellasrevenge.com if you're interested. And pass on the word! If you're so inclined, use your respective web space to help us recruit writers. We hope to have a new issue online in March.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Changes...woa woa CHANGES!

Since my freakout post from Friday (and before I mentioned it, actually), I've taken some positive action. I went surfing for job openings that deal with writing and I found much more than expected. I actually found an amazing position as an editor for a museum. In between tweaking thesis chapters I've been working up a cover letter and resume because this position suits me perfectly. They're looking for someone with a Master's (almost check!), writing/editing experience (check!), a knowledge of scholarly writing (check!), a knowledge of art/art terminology (check!), and someone who's technologically savvy (check!).

In addition to the job front, I've been making over my finances. For a week or so now, I've been writing down every penny I spend every day. I've known for some time that the bulk of my money (after I pay car insurance, credit card bill, cell phone bill, and pitch in for groceries and cable) goes to food, booze, books, and other fun stuff. I generally don't buy clothes (although the pressing need is becoming more apparent every day as underwires pop out of bras, socks sprout holes, and my sweaters become littered with fuzz pills), I don't have an outrageous amount of bills (since I live at home), and my car is completley paid off (not bad for a sexy 3-year-old car). I should have more money in savings (without having to put my entire financial aid difference check in savings). I'm determined to be saving up a nice nest egg to pad the trauma of buying plane tickets for conferences this semester and the potential move to Illinois if I get in. If I don't end up in Illinois I should have a great nest egg suitable for getting a place and buying some furniture and beginning to diversify my money and invest a bit. After all the money recording this week I discovered that if I'd made a few small changes that would NOT have hurt, I could've put $48 in savings. While it doesn't sound like a lot, that adds up over the course of a month. Even moreso over the course of a year!

So, the plan right now is to implement small changes....
  • Stop eating out so much. There is no excuse for a $10 salad. If I do eat out, I'd like to eat appetizers more often because that's plenty of food, it's tasty, and it's cheaper than an entree.
  • Cancel my Netflix subscription--or at least bump it down to a smaller package. I don't have time to watch many movies at the moment, and we have a year of free Showtime, so I have a huge backlog of movies to watch on my DVR.
  • Take my lunch to work. I have office hours scheduled during lunchtime on Monday/Wednesday, anyway, so I might as well eat something decent, cheap, and NOT a huge portion.
  • Invest in a bicycle. First off, it's the only kind of exercise I like. Second, I could run around here in town on it (post office, grocery store, my mom's office) and save money on gas, be nice to the environment, and get some exercise at the same time. I want something plain vanilla, maybe used. 12 gears are not necessary.
  • Use my cell phone more instead of using a calling card or the expensive land line. I have a basic cell phone package and I still never even come close to using all of my minutes. I have an ungodly amount from all the rollover, so while it may be physically more comfortable to talk on the land line when I know I'm gonna be on the phone for a while, I must resist! The cell is MUCH cheaper in the long run.
  • Put my change in savings. I make it a point to hardly ever spend change. Why? Because do you know how fast you can save some cash by not spending change??? I have tons of it...in my car, on my dresser, in a huge mug where I toss it. I bet you I save roughly $80 in change a year. Now I just need to roll it and deposit it.
  • If I get an overwhelming urge to buy books, I will only buy from the clearance section. They're all $1 or $2 and I never buy more than 3 or 4 clearance books a month. That, my friends, is cheap. And I have a university library at my disposal, for God's sake. I can interlibrary loan ANYTHING I WANT. Not to mention the 300 unread books sitting right here next to me.
  • Buy nicer quality clothing and get it tailored. I am notorious for buying a piece of clothing and never wearing it. Horrible habit. I need to be more careful when choosing clothing (something I've gotten progressively better about in the last few years anyway), and be sure to get it tailored to fit nicely so I don't punk out and leave it in the closet because it "just doesn't fit right." It will cost more at the time, but the purchases should last me MUCH longer. And I have a lovely, affordable tailor that I take my stuff to. She's fantastic.

So, a sampling of the changes going on 'round here. What brought all this on? I have no idea. Call it maturity. Call it a quarter-life crisis. Call it whatever. I came to a few realizations. There are certain things I want out of life, and there are certain advantages to implementing these changes now.

The Goals:

Buy a house sometime in the nearish future (in the next 5 years or so)...preferably something a little older, with a little more character, and fix it up and sell that bitch! A decent profit could go a long way toward paying off my loans before I'm geriatric. And I love home improvements/projects.

Invest. Invest. Invest. I'm incredibly paranoid about not having an money when I retire. I had intended to begin saving and investing when I was 21, but we all know how that goes. I need to make up for some lost time. I might like to retire early even!

Travel. I like to go. But if I'm gonna go, I've gotta get my $$$ a-growin'.

The Advantages:

I'm young and single. The bottom line is that I don't have anyone else to worry about. Just me. I don't have to split a living with someone, I don't have to support anyone, etc. It doesn't take a whole lot to support my lifestyle if I do things right. I can still enjoy myself, my surroundings, have nice things, etc. and save money. I love to cook and I'm good at it, so I should always have affordable food sources and plenty of leftovers. I'm not a clothes horse. I don't like having an overabundance of stuff cluttering up my living quarters. If I can get my vices (food, travel, booze, books, miscellaneous entertainment) under control I'll be in business.

Thank you all for the kind words regarding my disillusionment with the PhD. It means ze world to me! I have some blog catching up to do. This week was nuts.

A Novel Meme!!!

If it's good enough for Amanda A. and Heather, it's good enough for moi!

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback? I definitely prefer trade paperback. They're comfy, easily carried around, and the print size is just right. I abhor hardbacks in general since they're harder to carry around and uncomfortable to hold, in my opinion.

Amazon or brick and mortar? Either. I love Amazon for the recommendations and ease with which I can flutter around between genres with a simple click. And I adore my wishlist. I love bookstores for the ambiance. I like fondling the books, wandering around, and if there's a coffee smell wafting, I'm even happier.

Barnes & Noble or Borders? B&N. I can't say that I've ever even been to a Borders.

Bookmark or dogear? If it's a book I don't plan to keep, or if it's already been well-loved, or if it's a school book, I don't mind the dogear approach. I generally use receipts, sticky notes, and some proper bookmarks for bookmarking.

Alphabetize by author or alphebetize by title or random? Random. I generally group my books into zones and genres. For instance, the 3 bookcases in my living room are for my mom's books as well as my classics and my keepers. The very large bookcase in my bedroom is for books I haven't read yet, and it's somewhat organized by genre: classics, children's/young adult, literary fiction, graphic novels, brain candy, etc. It works!

Keep, throw away, or sell? I keep all classics and the books I think I'll re-read. Otherwise I generally donate them if possible or sell them to Half-Price Books so I can start the mad cycle all over again.

Keep dustjacket or toss it? Keep! Who seriously throws away the dust jacket? Why would someone throw away a part of a book? A pretty one at that!

Read with dustjacket or remove it? I take it off 1) for comfort 2) to preserve the pristine condition.

Short story or novel? Although I do enjoy short stories, I generally prefer the novel. I like something that I can get totally involved in, and short stories generally don't fulfill me.

Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)? Meh. Doesn't really matter, as long as I'm in the mood.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? Harry Potter all the way! While I think Lemony is charming, the books are too formulaic for me to read them in any sort of quick succession (re: more than 2 a year). Harry is charming and delightful and suspenseful and fantastic. Long live Harry! At least through Book 7. Please don't kill him, J.K.!

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? I try for chapter breaks. It just feeeels right.

"It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"? Once upon a time! I am a fairytale specialist, ya know. (Actually, I rarely mention my academic interests, but one of my specialties really is the oral tradition. Shut up Todd and Os.)

Buy or Borrow? I love to buy, but I neeeed to borrow.

New or used? It really doesn't matter, as long as it's in decent shape. I like buying used for the simple fact that the book has a history, and sometimes I find little artifacts from the previous owner.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse? All of the above. Although, I have to admit that I read far fewer "real" book reviews anymore (from reading publications and whatnot). The reviews I favor are those of close friends and bookish peeps from blogs and my online groups.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger? The messier the better! I love ambiguity and all things unresolved.

Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading? I rarely read in the morning for the simple fact that I'm usually not aware enough to do so. I favor afternoon reading...sprawled out on my bed with the TV on mute. Evening reading is a rarity if I'm tired or before bed. I guess that explains why I get so little reading done during the semester.

Standalone or series? Stand alone. I have loved a great many series in my time (Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc.), but they're a rarity for me in the grand reading scheme of things.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? I Am Madame X, by Gioia Diliberto. It's sort of in the same vein as Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring. It's the fictionalized story of the subject of one of John Singer Sargent's most famous paintings, Portrait of Madame X.

Favorite book(s) read last year: The New York Trilogy (Auster), The Book Thief (Zusak), The Road (McCarthy), Twilight and New Moon (Meyer), and a bunch more.

Favorite books of all time? An assload. A few include: What I Loved (Hustvedt), The Hours (Cunningham), Great Expectations (Dickens), The Waste Land and Other Poems (T.S. Eliot), Cider House Rules (Irving), The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien), Pride and Prejudice (Austen), and a bunch more.

Listening: "Ice Age"...Pete Yorn

Friday, January 26, 2007

15 Minutes of Serious Reflection

There's been a serious bout of self reflection going on in my neck of the woods, and the outlook is gloomy.

While I realize I should be happy that graduation is fast approaching, I'm disheartened because I am absolutely positively burned out. It's to the point that I cannot physically make myself sit down and work on my thesis. I know if I knuckled down I could be almost completely done in two weeks. Can't do it. Don't wanna.

So, as I said, I've been doing some thinking and I'm more or less leaving my fate up to the universe to decide for me. If I get into Illinois, I'll go directly into my PhD. If not, even if I get into one of the other programs I applied to, I will most likely take some time off.

Having had a real job (as opposed to being an indentured servant...aka "graduate assistant") for a few years, I do miss a few things about living and working in the real world. Namely having a steady income that doesn't suck. With my Masters I could probably get a job pulling down 36-40 thousand a year and that would do me just fine. I have a physically sick feeling when I think of all the debt hanging over my head. At least $70,000 in student loans and a couple of thousand in credit card debt (leftovers from textbook purchases and summer tuition). On a positive note, I have $4,000 in savings, which makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I need to get going on a money market account and be saving to open an IRA and whatnot.

I would also love to not work 6 days a week. A "real job" might afford me a bit more downtime (as hard as that is to believe) since I wouldn't be strapped with special events to attend and things to plan and conferences to go to and papers to write ALL the fucking time. I might actually be able to read a book I like, go to the gym and work off some of this horrendous weight, and even have a place of my own again. With furniture and everything.

In short, I suppose I'm just missing a normal life. While a normal life might bore the pants off me after a stint outside academia, it also might be just what I need to recharge.

We'll see.

Listening: "The Neighbor"...The Dixie Chicks

Monday, January 22, 2007

Please help!


My dear friend, TheOtherFeminist, whom you may have seen commenting on this very blog, is going through a horrific situation. In short, her son and daughter-in-law were approached by police in a Dairy Queen restaurant after someone reported that they were abusing their child. What really happened was that her son swatted his daughter's leg in an attempt to discipline her when she was throwing a fit getting into her carseat. The authorities questioned the son and daughter-in-law on-site and removed their child. TheOtherFeminist's granddaughter has been in foster care ever since the incident because proper measures were not taken by the police or CPS to contact a relative who might take the child, etc. And on top of everything, as if her granddaughter in foster care wasn't enough, they also arrested her son. FOR A SWAT ON THE LEG. There were no bruises as a result of this incident and no signs of abuse, just a lot of negligence on the cops' part and on CPS's part as well.


If you could take a moment to go read TheOtherFeminist's account of this ridiculous, horrific incident and offer any insight you might have into this process, it would be very much appreciated.


If you have children, please read TheOtherFeminist's story. I hate that this has happened to such a wonderful, loving family and I certainly don't want it to happen to anyone else out there.


If there is any way I can help TheOtherFeminist if/when she decides to seek media attention to bring this injustice to light, I will most certainly do everything I can. And I hope more of you will become well-versed in your state's laws in these regards.
And, if you're so inclined, pass this story along on your blog as well. I'm sure TheOtherFeminist would be very very grateful.


Click HERE to visit the original post on this incident.

Click HERE to visit TheOtherFeminist's blog for regular updates on the situation.

Blogging for Choice

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007

Today, the 34th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, is Blog for Choice Day. On this day bloggers far and wide will be sharing why they're pro-choice. I'm sharing for the first time ever, why I'm pro-choice. And it's not easy.

When I was growing up, I didn't date much. I grew up in a small town of 1,200, and there were only 52 people in my graduating class. I rarely liked anyone, and if I had dated it would've been a bit icky--like dating a relative. As one might imagine, when I began my freshman year at Baylor (upwards of 13,000 people on campus) it was like a new world opening up! I quickly dove into the dating pool and started seeing a guy from another university not far away. I would drive out to see him a time or two every week and he knew of my inexperience. He took advantage of my inexperience and incredibly low self-esteem (this was a few months after my father died) when he coerced me into sexual acts. That is, when I made it clear that I wasn't ready, he intimidated and harassed me until I gave in. I blamed myself for years. I thought my giving in was simply weakness, but now I understand that coercion is indeed a type of sexual assault.

I was one of the lucky ones. He stopped just short of penetration. I'm sure on our campuses combined there were a staggering number of girls who were violated or similarly abused and coerced. Some may have even become pregnant as a result of the experience.

If I'd gotten pregnant and waded through the emotional wreckage, I would've had a loving, caring, supportive family to help me emotionally and financially. Many women don't have that. I would've still been able to get an education. Many women don't have that.

While I do understand that there are options other than abortion, sometimes things just aren't as black and white as we wish they were. There are variables in everyone's life that dictate the choices that they make--indeed the choices they feel they have to make. And these variables are the biggest reason why I'm pro-choice. We simply can't understand a person's life until we've lived it. We can't understand the seemingly impossible decisions until we've had to make them.

If that moment in my life had turned out differently I honestly don't know what I would've done, but I take comfort in the fact that I would've had a choice.

Listening: "Ghost in This House"...Alison Krauss & Union Station

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Give a hand!

Take a look at this wonderfully articulate post from Everything In Between in regards to the 2008 presidential election and her opinion of Obama or Clinton in office.

Watching: Resident Evil...my favorite cozy-fun movie.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Tired

I find myself, on this cold, dank night, wishing like hell for a break from all the proverbial bullshit. Whether it's drama in the department or a handful too many revisions to do on a project that was ultimately a lark, I'm just not in the mood for all the obligations. It's days like these that drive me to wish I could get away from here. And talk to no one.

I'm fine. It's late. I needed to vent. I'll get up, teach two classes in the morning, and then lock myself away to work on my thesis and a presentation for the duration of the weekend.

Graduation is in May. Graduation is in May. Graduation is in May. Graduation is in May. Graduation is in May. Graduation is in May. Graduation is in May. Graduation is in May.

I just keep tellin' myself that!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

So confused...

OK, help me out all you foodies around and about. If someone came up to you and said, "I'm making a lasagna with wild mushrooms. I'm going to the wild mushroom farm down the road."

Wild mushroom farm?

Isn't that an oxymoron? Doesn't the farm part negate the wild?

These are the things that bug me. All this inane introspection brought about by another late night watching Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network.

Meme for Lulu....

I actually can't remember if I've done this one before, but either way I'm going to go with answers that are different from the standards you've committed to memory. Tryin' to give ya something different, but still true, of course. Thanks for the tag, Lulu!

Three screen names that you’ve had: Lriggs, epic_blue, flicker99

Three things you like about yourself: My nails (they grow longish), my good taste in friends, my willingness to act afool when it's appropriate.

Three things you don’t like about yourself: My sizeable ass, my weird-curly hair, my pores.

Three parts of your heritage: Irish (explains the drinking), North Carolinian (my pioneering Irish ancestors moved to Texas from North Carolina, so perhaps that explains my fondness for road trips), Texan (explains the twangy speech, the taste for TX-style bbq, my need to drive aggressively, my fondness for nice man-ass in snug jeans and Stetson hats)

Three things that scare you: Ann Coulter, the idea of ghosts, the threat of a tornado

Three of your everyday essentials: Diet Caffeine-Free Coke, Eclipse gum, Japanese Cherry Blossom lotion

Three things you are wearing right now: A HUGE black t-shirt that touches me nowhere, boy-shorts, a smile.

Three of your favorite songs: "Top of the World" (Dixie Chicks), "Get Him Back" (Fiona Apple), "Last Train to Clarksville" (The Monkees)

Three things you want in a relationship: Extensive foreplay, intellectual conversation, silliness.

Three things you can’t live without: My iPod (now), my Razr, my mom.

Three places you want to go on vacation: England (lots of English accents there...and famous things to see like Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey), back in time to the Royal Library at Alexandria (Egypt), the Very Large Array (astronomical observatory in New Mexico)

Three things you just can’t do: Wash dishes with wet food stuck all over them, see a maggot, not have the last word

Three kids names: Brady, Grace, Eris (family thing)

Three things you want to do before you die: Build my dream house, skydive, get a kickass tattoo

Three celeb crushes: Alan Rickman's voice, the lead singer of Incubus's abs, Steve Carell in all his hilarious, hairy glory.

Three of your favorite musicians: Vince Gill, Chris Thile, Emily Robison

Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeal to you: That man-V thing (thank, Lu, you took the words right out of my mouth), nice teeth, muscular legs

Three of your favorite hobbies: Acrylic painting, paper crafts (cards, bookmarks, stamping, etc.), cooking

Three things you really want to do badly right now: Eat something chocolatey, wish my thesis into existence, sleep

Three careers you’re considering/you’ve considered: Astronomer (until I began to fall asleep in my freshman astronomy class and resorted to reading Stephen King novels in lectures to stay awake), trapeze artist (elementary school), interior designer

Three ways that you are stereotypically a boy: I use Right Guard deodorant (looove the way the "Cool" flavor smells), curse like a sailor, I drool over motorcycles (the bigger and louder, the better)

Three ways that you are stereotypically a girl: I love shiny things (specifically jewelry of the silver/white gold/platinum variety), I usually cry when I watch Oprah, Target is an oasis (especially the home decor section)

Listening: "I Hope"...Dixie Chicks

Ice Day!

Right here on the first day of my classes at the university we have an ice day. Here in Texas we rarely get a fluffy, pleasant covering of the white shroud; instead God rains down on us (quite literally) freezing rain and sleet. Not fun. SO not fun.

If you'll notice picture 1 above, a shot of my humble abode, it looks kinda pleasant. Powdered-sugary, even. If you'll notice picture 2, things still don't look that distressing, but don't be fooled. That, my lovelies, is what we call ice. And beyond the obvious, there's quite a bit of black ice on the roads today. Especially the interstate and overpasses I would have to take to work. With stretches of I-30 and I-75 already closing due to the mass of accidents piling up, and a multitude of school districts calling it at day, I'm nestled all snug in my bed.

I have a certain amount of guilt as I sit here in my jammies not working on my thesis because I left all of my stuff in the office, and I'm beginning to panic. Maybe I'll write today and add quotes later from all the books not currently in my possession. Or maybe I'll watch Kinsey and Love Actually, which came from Netflix yesterday. Or I could play SIMS2. Or sleep. I'll update you on all of the anticlimactic goodness as the day progresses.

And now, for your reading pleasure, a transcript of the conversation I had with Elise this morning shows the undying hope that even teachers possess, that a bad weather day will prevail.

Me: Surely they're gonna close (because there was a mere 2-hour delay at the time of this conversation, and both our asses were going to have to venture out into the cold and ice if they didn't call school off).

Elise: Ya think?


Me: Everything else around here is closed, and all the cops that work with my Mom and had to come in from the surrounding areas said it's bad.

Elise: *reading the bulletin on the university website* "The Dallas, Mesquite, and Rockwall campuses will be closed today. The Commerce campus will open at 10:00. A final decision about the close of the Commerce campus will be made before 10:00."
Me: Surely they're gonna close. *refreshes web site* THEY'RE CLOSED!!!!!

Elise: *yells at husband to tell him school is out* Well, looks like I'm going back to bed.

Me: Me too! Have fun!

Elise: You too!!



*click*

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

And did I mention?

Oh yes. Bring on February 10th. I feel a campaign contribution coming on.

Listening: "Easy Silence"...Dixie Chicks

Edit: I've intended to add it for a while, but now under the "Snark" dropbox on the sidebar, a link to the website, "Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly." They have a MySpace, too!

5-Alarm Rant

I typed up a long post about how irritating it is that people so willingly bag on my job right to my face (or over the phone), but when I read over it I just didn't think it worth the effort to bitch about at length. So, in the spirit of keeping things short and sweet...

Fuck you.

You own a bar for God's sake. I hope angry meerkats eat your face.

Listenin: "Paint it Black"...The Rolling Stones

Monday, January 15, 2007

What the hell was I going to write about?

I had a very entertaining post planned and it just left me.

Oh well.

Hugh Laurie won Best Actor in a Drama Series on the Golden Globes. Do a nasty little dance wit me!

Oh, and if you're a book whore like me, go check out Kimbooktu. It's a website updated several times daily with tons of great bookish items and gadgets and shtuff. It's addictive. Don't say I didn't warn ya!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Return of Responsibility

Yes, kids, it's upon me...the beginning of a new semester. I'm happy to report that I'm feeling much better and just in time. I wasn't able to attend The Rogues' show on Friday night which pissed me off. Instead, I came home from work training and flopped in bed at 4:30 and remained there through the night and most of yesterday. I didn't really sleep, but I did watch a lot of TV and play SIMS2. Unfortunately, none of that down time included internet time since my bedroom phone line is inexplicably dead. Hopefully that will be remedied tomorrow, so I can surf from the comfort of my electric blanket.

We have Martin Luther King Day off from school/work, so the responsibilities don't technically kick in again until Tuesday. This semester promises to be another big asswhip, but it's the last semester of my Master's degree and that, in itself, seems like a small miracle. Has it really been 2 years already? I suppose so, since I'm approaching my 2nd blogaversary.

On the docket for this semester:
  • Teach a Tues/Thurs afternoon class at the JC
  • Teach Written Argument and Research and assist in an Intro to Children's Lit class on MWF at the university
  • Take a Lit Theory class on Thursday nights
  • Write the remainder of my thesis (approx 2 chapters down...Introduction/Review of the Literature, and a chapter over folktale retellings in the series I'm workin' with)
  • Defend my thesis...tentatively scheduled for the beginning of March
  • 4 conferences....one at my university (Feb.) one in Albuquerque (Feb.), one in Nashville (March) and one in Houston (April)
  • Try to maintain an active social life

It promises to be trying at best, but I'm ready to bust through it and be done with this degree. And, hopefully, move on to my Ph.D. at a good school next year. For now, my syllabi are done, my clothes are picked out, and I'm good and rested after an overwhelmingly relaxed vacation.

I'm off to catch up on some blogs and continue reading The End of the Affair--my January TBR Challenge book.

Night, my lovelies.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Snot Monster Wins

It's official. I feel like crap. What was a developing cold has mushroomed into a full on, head filling, nose tingling, sneeze inducing, really gross physical episode. I'm drugged up, fed up, doped up, pissed off chica. The JC is trying to screw me over on my Spring class, I can't get anyone on the phone, I've had next to no sleep, and I SHOULD be finishing the last little tiny bit of work on the encyclopedia entry (wrote 500 words yesterday...100 more to go).


I'll be horizontal in my bed, wrapped up burrito-style in my blankets, praying for a reprieve from this snot monster attack.


And I have an all-day training session tomorrow. Yay.


Watching: Paula Poundstone: Look What the Cat Dragged In

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tell me the truth (and I don't mean that at all)....

Is it so wrong that I want to touch Hugh Laurie in inappropriate places?

Snot!

Ugg. Feeling like crap today. It started last night and hasn't improved. Oh well, breathing is overrated.

If you'll point your eyes toward the lovely little face on the left, that's an egg separator called "Snot-a-mug." Because it's not a mug, it's an egg separator. Crack your egg into the head, tilt forward, and the whites run out the nostrils. Gross? Yes? Ingenius? Absolutely. I saw it on Take-Home Chef yesterday, and I think I might have to have one. Simply Google "snot" and "egg separator" and it's available from a number of fine online retailers.

*sneeze*

Listening: "Before He Cheats"...Carrie Underwood

Review: Patrimony, by Philip Roth

#2: Patrimony, by Philip Roth
Pages: 237
Date Finished: 01/07/2007
Genre: memoir
Rating: 8.5/10 (very good, couldn't put it down)
Reason: Writing an encyclopedia entry over it
Thoughts: Roth's memoir recounts the time leading up to his father'sdeath from complications with an advanced brain tumor. As the title suggests, the memoir deals largely in issues of inheritance—in this case not of monetary inheritance but the inheritance of characteristics that Roth finds in his father to be simultaneously annoying and admirable. While it's a very sad read, as the reader knows the inevitable conclusion, it's also an emotionally raw side ofRoth that we hardly ever see in his fiction.

Monday, January 08, 2007

In response to the post below (sardonic giggles ahead)....

As Funky pointed out, coming up with your own memory sentence is embarrassing. I also contend that it is potentially funny--or at least it can be. When I came up with that post, I was thinking of Joshilyn Jackson's post from a while back that described the phenomenon known as "bad author bios". Read on, lovelies....

Pam McNew has some poems in an upcoming anthology, and the editors-that-be asked her (as these people often do) for a short AUTHOR BIO. She wrote the usual, "Pam lives here, does this, wrote that, and now I shall close with a detail, Small and Personal." The end. I AM FOR THAT. I never like author bios that try to be all wacky-funky..."James Blade wears only purple in protest of injustice and lives entirely on seeds and punk music," or worse, mystical..."Joanna Everpoo spends her days dancing off moonbeams, word collecting, and heeding the siren call of her muse..." Yeah. Sure she does, and can someone please pass her a big glass candy jar full of lithium?

I always suspect people with bios like that are 19, and this is their first poem/story/piece published, and that they are going to want to DIE when they look at it again in ten years.

ANYWAY, Pam McNew wanted to write herself a DREAM BIO, you know, uncensored and, more importantly, UNTRUE. A writer friend, James Stevens Arce, picked it up and told me about it, and now I feel it is officially a MEME. So here is mine, and I breathlessly await yours:

"Some people call author Joshilyn Jackson The Space Cowboy. This is probably because she has been to space, and also paradise, and also to the desert (on a horse with no name), and she has even been to me. In a former life, she was the Egyptian Sun God Ra, and that's why she holds her hands like that. She currently captures her prey by half pouncing and half lassoing them, and she can capture several prey items at one time. She feeds on one specimen while retaining the others in her quivering, lashing appendages. She thinks you look tasty."

Okay I stole some of that from a description of the common house centipede. But it is MY dream bio and I can have quivering, lashing appendages IF I WANT. Also I love how it says it HALF POUNCES and HALF LASSOS. How do you half pounce? How do you half lasso? Any creature that can do BOTH AT ONCE is something I want to be, even it does look like the fanged and gelid hairball of my cat's worst nightmares.

So, in response to the post below about poor Burt Bacharach's daughter and Joshilyn Jackson's musings on the bad author bio above, I give you a very true, potentially embarrassing bio that I will NEVER use if I get published in any type of mainstream venue.

"Andi M_____ is a knowledge (book) hoarder and isn't fond of cleaning, wearing makeup, or doing her hair unless she a) plans to leave the house b) needs to impress someone. She has an unhealthy obsession with unattainable older men, fingernail clippings, and cheesecake, and while she may never win a beauty contest, she has a ripping sense of humor (sometimes, when she's not holed up in her bed looking homeless over her winter vacation) and could write at least 32% of the population under the table, which is exactly why this piece of crap got published and you're reading this bio at all. Either that, or she decided to write a horrible author bio for her blog."

Now THAT rings true.

Send me your bios, lovelies.

Listenin: "Mississippi"...The Dixie Chicks

Words

I was indulging my several-times-daily dose of CNN.com this morning when I read an article about Burt Bacharach and Angie Dickinson's daughter committing suicide. Bacharach's representatives made the following statement--an attempt to sum up her life in a sentence:

"She loved kitties, and earthquakes, glacial calving, meteor showers, science, blue skies and sunsets, and Tahiti."

If you ask me, it comes off sounding quite flippant. But can it ever been done any better...trying to sum someone up in a sentence?

What would your sentence say?

Watching: Amelie

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Panic!

Holy God. I HAVE to start my thesis today. TODAY! Now, I have to preface all this by saying that I probably have the better part of 30-35 (40 is very optimistic) useable pages written if you count my Master's exam, thesis proposal, a term paper or two, and various other smidgens of work. But, I'm still feeling rather daunted since I had tentatively promised Thesis Director three of the four chapters upon returning to school (January 16th). Now, that probably won't happen. I'm thinkin' she's gonna receive two of the four chapters in their first-draft state, and I just hope she's not too pissed. I have a February 1st deadline to have the chapters turned in to my committee, and I have a tentative March 1st defense, which would give me a full month to grapple with the graduate school over small, insignificant bullshit that they'll throw in my face. I can DO this! This topic has been stewing in my head for the better part of a year and a half, so I just hope to God it all flows out my fingertips when I start typing.

The prospectus: 4 Chapters, already have a decent title, 20-25 pages per chapter (with the exception of the first, which might be a little shorter but will likely result in longer subsequent chapters). So, I think I'm realistically lookin' at roughly 77-90 pages by the end. I won't settle for less than 77. I've already read all of the research I can think of that might be applicable. I think I'm ready. Oh, God.

Edit: New development...I just got an e-mail from the editor of a literary encyclopedia for which most of my friends have already done entries. I didn't pursue it earlier in the year because I was busy with the conference and writing and whatnot but decided I could probably swing something since they put out a last call for material. Found out today that I can write the blurb for the book I want, but the deadline is the 15th. Crap! Gotta read the book and write the 500-word entry by next Monday. Sure, why not. I'll have two publications going into my Ph.D., and that's what I'm focusing on at this point. Wish me luck!

Listening: "Mississippi"...Dixie Chicks' fabulous cover of the Bob Dylan song

Estella, you say?

Click HERE to read about the woman who may have inspired one of Charles Dickens' most famous (and my favorite) characters. The one and only, Estella.

Thanks to The Bluestalking Reader for such a fabulous post!

Friday, January 05, 2007

New Look

I decided, on the spur of the moment, to try a new bloggy look. Lemme know whatcha think. It's still a work in progress: need to tweak some of the fonts on the sidebar and whatnot, but overall I like the feel. I'll live with it for a few days and see what I think.

Watching: $40-a-Day on the Food Network

2007 TBR Challenge


MizBooks, a friend of mine from my Yahoo! Groups participation for the last 4 years or so has introduced the 2007 TBR Challenge to the bookish bloggers of the world. I've decided to take up the challenge, and this is the list of books I plan to read--at least one book from my TBR ("to be read" pile for those of you not hip to the bibliophile's lingo) for each month in 2007.

In no particular order:

Eleven Minutes, by Paulo Coehlo
I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
Atonement, by Ian McEwan
The Book of Illusions, by Paul Auster
The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, by Siri Hustvedt
The Human Stain, by Philip Roth
The Bell, by Iris Murdoch
The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf
The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene
The Position, by Meg Wolitzer

And in case my mood is off, I'm allowing a few alternates in case the ones listed above don't tickle my fancy:

The Shipping News, by Annie Proulx
Northanger Abby, by Jane Austen
The Little Black Book of Stories, by A.S. Byatt
Sexual Personae, by Camille Paglia
While these titles represent a mere drop in the bucket from my overflowing shelves (550-600 books approximately), I'm looking forward to finding out what I've been missing all this time. Each of these books has been on the TBR for over 6 months (most of them for a few years), so they've been waiting a long time to be picked up.
If you'd like to join the TBR challenge, pop over to Literary Cache and sign up!

Review: The Audacity of Hope

The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama
Pages: 375
Date Finished: 01/04/2007
Genre: non-fiction/politicsRating: 8.5/10 (very good, couldn't put it down)
Reason: Curiosity
Thoughts:

First and foremost, Barack Obama is an eloquent writer.There's nothing clunky or unpleasant about the words in this book, and in fact Obama does a striking job of bringing politics to life. In this volume he lays out his ideas on (these are all chapter titles): Values, Our Constitution, Politics, Opportunity, Faith, Race, The World Beyond Our Borders, and Family. Each chapter is bookended and dotted with anecdotes from Obama's life, whether it be his childhood, his courtship and subsequent marriage to his wife Michelle, his family life with his daughters, campaign tales, or stories straight from the Senate floor. He addresses tough, harrowing issues that most Americans (and the world) are concerned about in this trying contemporary moment, and he seems to address the issues with a sense of frankness that is instantly likeable. Perhaps one of myfavorite parts about Senator Obama and this book in particular is his willingness to address the grey area surrounding these issues--that no matter which party you belong to there isn't an easy "either/or"answer, but instead we have to weigh options, be willing to converse about the issues, and forge a path that will yield the most payoff for the country at large.

Next book: Probably The Epicure's Lament, by Kate Christensen

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I'm gonna pass out!

Holy shit, kids!! Markus Zusak, author of one of the best books EVER (pictured left) is going to be at the Dallas Museum of Art's "Arts & Letters Live" literary festival!! He's coming to town on April 22nd and you can bet your butt I will BE THERE. Many of you have read and loved The Book Thief as much as I did and can understand the excitement I'm feeling at this very moment. *squeeeeel* For those who have not read it, go buy it. Now. In case you've forgotten, it was my favorite book of 2006.

Thanks to Iliana for reminding me of this yearly festival that I always seem to forget or otherwise miss out on.

For more on Arts & Letters Live click HERE.

Douchebag o'the Day

Wow, I missed this when it happened. Virgil Goode--Congressman from Virginia--opposes the use of the Quran for swearing in the first Muslim elected to Congress, Keith Ellison.

Short blurb from CNN.com

A Virginia congressman will not apologize for writing that without immigration overhaul "there will be many more Muslims elected to office demanding the use of the Quran," his spokesman said.

Republican Rep. Virgil Goode's letter to constituents also warns that without immigration overhaul "we will have many more Muslims in the United States."

And aside from the general and obvious douchebaggery of his entire approach to this issue, he also didn't bother to find out that Keith Ellison was born in the U.S. and converted to Islam in college. That, my friends, is quite enough to earn him my douchebag o'the day award, even if it is belated.

Read the entire article HERE.

Also in the news today, Nancy Pelosi will be made the first female Speaker of the House. Read an interesting reflection on Pelosi HERE.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Frivolity Ensues


In light of the fact that I've been horizontal for several days wallowing in the neck pain, I've had a lot of time to watch TV. Now, don't get me wrong, I've done a good bit of reading too (Barack is my new bookish crack habit), but it's hard to stay in the "laying on stomach, propped up on pillows" method of body placement that I generally enjoy for reading given the neck issues. So, I've been watching a lot of TV. When I'm watching TV I prefer a couple of things: 1) House, M.D. if it's on 2) The Travel Channel or some other educational/documentary type thing 3) movies.

Since I've seen every episode of House that's aired ever (at least 4 times), I'm taking some time off from it (until January 9th when the new episodes come back). All of my Netflix movies are currently turned in and I'm awaiting a new shipment, and I've watched several of the ones I have recorded on DVR--most recently Smoke, Eulogy, and Little Women. I'm left with a lot of TV.

My favorite show on The Travel Channel is--hands down--Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. For those of you who might not be familiar, Anthony Bourdain has been a chef in NYC for ages and written several books including his chronicle of the culinary underbelly, Kitchen Confidential. No Reservations premiered in 2005. Each episode is an hour of Anthony traveling to some exotic locale, experiencing the culture and testing out the food. To give you a little sample, in the 4 episodes I watched yesterday he tried fermented shark, a seal eyeball, a very disturbing organ meat concoction in Ireland, among other more palateable items like fresh lobster, cod cakes, and a lot of beer.

The hook of the show, more than anything I suppose, is Bourdain himself. He's a badass, kids. He smokes like a freight train, drinks like a fish, favors profanity, and isn't a stranger to a barbed remark. Kinda like the House, M.D. of the cooking world. But decidedly likeable (to me anyhow, who seems to love assholes with a hearts of gold). He's often referred to as a "working class chef"...a regular guy who can down some brews with the best of 'em and sling out a hell of a creme brulee.
With all that in mind, Anthony Bourdain is officially my first "man I think is hot, that really isn't that hot" of 2007. In the past I've given you Hugh Laurie (still king, still gorgeous) and a number of others, and Bourdain is the latest, and one of the snarkiest in a continually growing list.
Watching: Bean

Monday, January 01, 2007

Only Resolutions

I suck at resolutions. Tonight when my mom asked if I was making any, I said no. However, the truth of the matter is that I've had a big resolution cooking for a while now and it could perhaps be one of the most personal--and personally fulfilling--I've ever made. Normally I resolve the usual: lose weight, buy fewer books, be more financially responsible and bulk up my savings. While those are all worthy resolutions in their own right I feel a change coming over me that surpasses these other things and makes me feel incredibly hopeful and excited to begin a new year.

I'm passionate about things--namely, education (continuing my own and being a good teacher to enhance others' educations). However, I'm also passionate about quite a number of other things like HIV/AIDS education, environmental issues, and political issues stirring as we speak (the "war", infringement upon civil rights...can we say Patriot Act?). I don't talk about a number of these things here for several reasons.

1. This blog has undergone a big transformation since it began. It started as a way for me to cope with really tough life stuff like my failed relationship and my grappling with my self-image and depression. It was angry and humorous. Sardonic and snarky.

2. I started grad school and things calmed down a bit. I used this as a place to vent frustrations and celebrate my work and my new life. Now I find that I'm really happy for the most part. I still grapple with depression, but it's easier to cope with a solid system of friends and family around to cushion the falls. I have work to envelope and distract me. I'm making progress.

3. Then there's the inevitable fact that people would probably rather be entertained than listen to me rant.

Nevertheless, I feel a new phase coming on, and it will certainly reflect on the blog since this is generally my sounding board, my journal, a place to give my thoughts some air. For a while now I've felt a growing disquiet in myself in response to the issues I listed above, both political and social. I find myself quite upset, angry, and generally disheartened at the way the world is going. For a long time now I've bitched about the sorry state of things I see around me. I'm generally not a person to take things quietly that I disagree with, so I've begun to wonder why I don't do anything about it. I also prescribe to the "don't complain if you aren't willing to take action" school of thought. So I suppose it's time to turn the pointing finger around at myself, get off my ass, and actually try to be part of some positive change around me.

With these ramblings in mind, it looks like I'm going to seek out some opportunities to get involved with some Democratic party organizations in the area and perhaps engage in some grass-roots campaigning when the time comes. Aside from party politics I'm equally concerned with the sense of apathy that seems to be so pervasive in my area when it comes to voting in general. The "my vote doesn't make a difference" attitude that once it takes hold certainly negates any positive influence that voters might bring about.

Don't worry, dear readers, this won't become a political blog, but I will be a little more vocal about things I care about. Really care about. Because when it comes right down to it, I can't, in good conscience, ignore the things that I find significant and worthy of discussion. Perhaps I'm naively passionate, but I prefer to think that if people collectively addressed and participated in those causes that they find significant, positive changes would follow.

This is an exciting time to be alive. There are a lot of changes going on, a lot of disquiet, and it's time--for me--to be more than an observer.

iPod says: "Anthem of Our Dying Day"...Story of the Year

P.S. Aside from all this very serious talk of self-improvement, I think I pulled every last muscle in my neck when I was flailing on the dance floor the other night. I've been in outrageous pain all day. I'm going to get horizontal.