Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow trumps Fashion

As you can see, I would rather be warm than stylish. Although I am sure there are ways to look chic in the snow. We just don't get snow here often enough to have a chic snow wardrobe.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Travel Update

Passport renewal application mailed. Plane tickets purchased. (!!!!!)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Handsome, Clever, and Rich: A New Film Adaptation of Emma

Sunday night was the first installment of a new BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma. PBS is broadcasting the film on Masterpiece Theatre, and will show the next part this coming Sunday. I have to say, Austen adaptations can be hit or miss. The BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle) is beyond excellent. Their version of Sense and Sensibility that came out last year was wonderful. The version of Mansfield Park (starring Billie Piper) that was shown on PBS last year was wretched.

So, I was apprehensive about this adaptation of Emma. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The acting is great. Romola Garai plays Emma with great expression and Johnny Lee Miller plays a young, but attractive Mr. Knightley (he's supposed to be sixteen years older than her, but they look the same age). The sets are beautiful, the script is well done, and, my very favorite, the clothes are superb. Beyond beautiful. Not just the typical whispy pastels you see in most Regency-era films, these clothes have substance to them. And you see characters wearing the same dress again in a different scene - a touch of realism, since most people, even the rich, would not have had an endless wardrobe.

If you missed the first part Sunday night, you can watch online. The webpage also has some behind-the-scenes video and interviews with the cast and writers. Definitely worth checking out.

P.S. Thanks to Natalie at Horatio's End for the timely reminder to watch and also for the link to the PBS site.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Stress Response

Often, when I am stressed, my body doesn't register it as stress. I think, "I am fine, I just have to get this done. I don't know why my head is killing me and my stomach hurts. I am fine." I remember once when I was a senior in high school, I was really stressed. I had papers and projects and tests due. I was applying to college. Things were not going right. I was sitting in French class and my stomach was hurting. All I could think was, "I don't feel good, I want to go home and clean my room." I know, that's my stress response. Bodily pain and an overwhelming desire to put my physical world to right. I can't get anything done until my environment is in order. I finally convinced myself that I really was sick, so I got to call home. My mom came and picked me up. My mom is completely no nonsense. If you say you are sick, you had darn well better be sick. I remember that she asked me what was wrong, and I finally broke down crying and said, "My room's a mess!" I didn't get in trouble. She didn't fuss, or make me go back to school, or make me lay down in a dark room with no books. She took me to the grocery store. She bought me frozen chicken fettucini and a slice of frozen key lime pie. She took me home, fixed me lunch, told me to lay down for a while, and then to clean my room. Sometimes I wish I could still call home and have my mom pick me up. I would like some frozen key lime pie and the chance to put my world right.


Writing a dissertation, at least for me so far, has been a bit disconcerting. I thought that because I had seminar papers for the basis of each of my chapters, that the way would be clear and I would know what to do. I didn't expect it to be easy. I am willing to work hard. But there is a difference between working hard and having no idea what to do. If I knew what to do, I would certainly do it.

The problem seems to be, I don't have any idea how to transform this seminar paper into a dissertation chapter. I am working on Pamela right now, and I have this seminar paper that I am very proud of. Maybe that's a problem. I didn't get a lot of feedback from the professor other than stylistic (I will eventually eliminate passive voice from my writing. I am beginning to wonder if this is somehow a personality indicator?) So, I'm not sure what to do with it. I have made some additions - trying to beef up the theory parts. I actually added about a page and a half of theory stuff to it today, then realized that all of that probably needed to go in the introduction chapter, so I took it back out again. I have been reformating it a bit, added a paragraph that reaffirmed my argument and laid out the direction of the paper. And, still, all I have is 17 pages. I probably need at least 10 more, but I don't know how I am going to get them.

I am tempted to go ahead and give the chapter to my committee, just so I can get some feedback and direction. I feel like I need someone to tell me, "Do this." It probably wouldn't hurt to get in on a writing group, but I'm not sure how to do that either.

I probably need to be reading more theory, but I can't, at this point, see how having another go at reading Judith Butler is going to translate into more pages for my Pamela chapter. I want to be making progress!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

System Error

You know how when you are working on a computer and suddenly there's a noise and a screen pops up with some vague and threatening message, like "System Error" and suddenly everything goes nuts? That's how my life feels right now. I was late to volunteer teach my ESL class this morning, partly because I am lazy and partly because I didn't factor in time to scrape the frost off my car. As I am driving down the interstate at an illegal speed, I hear a startling "Crack!" and realize that what was once a tiny, almost invisible chip in my windshield has become a stark crack that runs all the way across. I didn't get to meet with my professor this afternoon because I was having my windshield repaired. I will now probably have to make another drive to Gboro this week. I was late to have my windshield repaired because I was on campus, trying to find a printer that printed in colored ink, and then to find a working terminal so I could load money onto my id card, so I could pay for colored ink prints. My life has become unmanageably caught up in trivial details. It takes 35 minutes to get to Gboro. Another 5-10 to walk from wherever I find to park (oh, and the parking deck is under construction too). If I try to get to the gym to workout for 30 minutes, there is an hour and half involved just getting there, parking, getting inside, changing, then afterwards, showering, changing again, trying to make my hair look decent. Is this worth it? I feel like I can't get anything done because I am always trying to get to the place where I could get something done.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A New Look

I have made some minor changes to the look of the blog, changes that involved me working with html in very minor, but exciting ways. If you read me through a reader or some such, come by and take a look at the new look!

What I Will Be Doing This Year

There are several things I am determined to do this year. I am not calling them resolutions. I am calling them plans.

1) Get the bulk of my dissertation written. Prospectus is done. I began the first chapter this morning. It is harder than I anticipated. I am working from seminar papers that I wrote for classes, but now I am sitting staring at this seminar paper wondering what I am supposed to do to it to make it a dissertation chapter. But I am going to figure it out, and I am still set on being a PhD by May 2011.

2) Go to England! Lifelong dream, often deferred. I think I have low self-efficacy when it comes to travel. I almost feel like I'm not allowed to go anywhere. Partly because Suze Orman would tell me we don't have enough money, and partly because no one in my family travels. But this is going to be the year. I will see London and Stonehenge and stand on a moor. Tentative travel dates are set for the middle of May. I have my own copy of Fodor's England 2010 that is becoming thickly crusted with pink post-it notes.

3) Write the novel. I know, how crazy do you have to be to write a dissertation and a novel in the same year? But this is one of those projects that I have been imagining all my life ("Oh, yes, when I grow up, I will write a novel and travel to England.") Well, I am grown up. I have the concept, the characters, the plot, and if I don't write it now, it will slip away, vaporized by academic paralysis.

Expect frequent updates on these three projects. In fact, if I don't update you frequently, get on my case. I need the motivation.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sweater Complete!

I finally finished the sweater that I began a few months ago. It actually didn't take that long to complete - it was just that I was distracted by other projects that were claiming my attention. This is the "Raeanne Shawl Sweater" pattern from Robyn Chachula's Bluepring Crochet, and it is done in Caron Spa, a bamboo rayon and acrylic blend. I particularly love the color, which is called Ocean Spray.
There are several things that I love about this sweater. First, it fits. Unlike past projects, this small was actually small, and it was also adjustable, since it is a wrap sweater. Second, it is not the dowdy, chunky style common to most crochet wearables. It is light, and delicate and soft. And, I think that this loose, drapey, wrap is very stylish. The hardest things about it were the band - for some reason, I couldn't stick to 16 single crochet stitches - it would suddenly morph into something far too long or too short, and it is actually still wonky in a few places. Oh well. The other thing is that the individual squares have a tendancy to unravel, no matter how tightly I have tied them off.

Other than that, I think that this was a big success. There are several other patterns from Chachula's book that look promising, and I will likely try them out later. For now, I have niece/nephew crocheting to take care of!