28 June 2007

Calculus of Comps

Here's an average day right now:

7 am: Coffee, coffee, coffee. BBC.

7:30: Run along river, normally just a walk but currently too much excess nervous energy to burn. I enjoy the new Mandy Moore song. Shut. Up.

9:00: Read notes. Reread notes. Wonder why my brain cannot hold the same quantity of information as say, a competitive eating champion's stomach can hold in hot dogs. Spend some time overthinking the metaphor. Search in vain for distractions from work. Pay bills! Do laundry! Blog! Email! Done. Back to notes.

11:30: Coffee, coffee. Fifteen minutes of staring into space and lamenting choice of academic career. Second wind in which I immediately feel that I will not only take and pass the comps this summer but write the entire dissertation as well as teach a class, open a cupcake bakery, start the revolution and publish groundbreaking articles. This lasts 30 seconds, at which point stark fear takes over again aaaaaand it's back to rereading notes.

12:00: Lunch break. Fail to fix dishwasher. Recruit Jake. Ignore gender implications as brain is too full right now. Consider letting Paola take my comps, as she's spending all her time studying with me currently. She's quite snuggly these days, apparently she has a renewed sense of her own mortality since recent events. Become irate over Supremes' decision today to basically resegregate public schools, which relies on the precedent of Brown. Shameful moment of feeling a tiny bit vindicated that it proves my thesis accurate. Spend fifteen minutes or so hating white people who claim to be victims of "racism" because they couldn't get their brat into their first-choice kindergarten. Return to work renewed by some good old-fashioned righteous indignation.

12:30: Read journal articles. This is probably the most valuable comps-related thing to do, and now I wish I'd been doing it all along, but hey. Reading books -- psshhh, useless! I sincerely doubt anyone would care to know my article recommendations, but for those few of you who are in my field (who've undoubtedly already read it, since you are in my field) -- I just reread Steigerwald's article on consumer history for the third time and now feel like I didn't get it at all the first two times because it suddenly makes lots more sense than ever before. This horrifies me in light of the fact that I will not in any way have time to read other articles (or books or whatever) three times in order to finally clue in. Crap.

3:00: Pop tylenol. Initiate midday moratorium on coffee. Torture self with the thought, borrowed from Saru, that somewhere, some pasty guy at Yale who wears a bow-tie and suspenders at the age of 25 (hey, they were in my medieval legal history class at the big H -- I'm not making these critters up!) is also about to take his comps and is mainly concerned that he may not get that tenure-track job at Princeton. Whereas I only seem able to worry about the eternally-realistic-seeming possibility of winding up homeless in Washington Square Park, muttering something about Pennoyer v. Neff and lining my shopping cart with socialist propaganda. Place limit on neurotic breakdowns to fifteen minutes at a time in order to increase productivity.

5:30: Look over notes on answers to potential questions. Momentary concern that many of my subfields have suspiciously similar answers. Look, I didn't invent agency/structure or consumerism or race/class/gender or cultural history or transnationalism, OK? Fine, I'll be more specific. Longer moment of concern over the mention by Trust in Steel's adviser at a dinner last weekend, when I told him my committee membership, that I should "watch out for Professor X, he can be unpredictable." If you know my committee, I doubt you need further clarification. Crap. Console self that it could be worse. Right? I could think of a few other members of the faculty that I would not want to have on my committee. Reflect for the 571st time that I wish this was a written exam and not an oral evisceration. Back to answers.

7:00: Erin makes dinner. Pierogis, etc. Then I sit and "think" for a while (read: space out), then some berry picking. We get three or four cups of raspberries off our bushes every day right now. It's absurd. Not to mention the strawberry patch. I could always be a berry farmer. Return to notes refreshed by berry sojourn. Erin vows to make jam tomorrow. Appreciate the roommates and friends who have tolerated my neurotic ways for the last...let's call it months.

9:30: Freak out for the ten thousandth time that I don't know who was governor of New York colony in mid-1700s. This is like my warm blanky of freak out topics this week, since I stolidly refuse to look it up, because then what would I freak out about? It's comforting! OK, it was George Clinton. I now officially need a new blanky. Look, I'm not a colonialist, OK? Moment of fear that I will lapse into Valley-girl speak in the middle of exam? Consider that I might, you know, punctuate all my answers with question marks? Contemplate that actually, um, my life is not that hard? Like, I could have to scrub toilets or mine diamonds so maybe I should stop complaining? And I should stop this post, because now I'm just using it to get out of work.

Rinse, repeat, for two more weeks. The sick thing is, at times I'm even enjoying the -- you know, what they call it? -- learning. Thinking. Clarifying thoughts and ideas. It's the examining process that feels like just flat-out meanness. But ultimately, as I remembered last week and forgot in the intervening period, thus far I have defied what most sociological models would predict I would do with my life (in a good way), so even if I screw up now and for the next sixty years straight, it's all just gravy. Yeah, that was more comforting last week.

22 June 2007

Fun With Flickr, Fun Without

Somehow I can't type the word Flickr without thinking of Flicka the horse. Um, anyway. I finally remembered that I have an account and even managed to conjure up the password, so there are now many pics of Thursday's goodness on my little badge thingey, specifically Trust in Steel's farewell to certain local hotspots before his move next week. My favorite sequence may be the finger portraits of E., J., and I, just because they are so reflective of our personalities. He is clearly primed to destroy all governments with his finger of doom, while I am playing double-finger-pointing cheerleader at some sort of quiz team semifinal competition and E. is metaphysically questioning the deeper meaning of the finger. And then there was dancing, which was most necessary.

In other news of fun over the last few weeks:

--The Fabulous Miss Saru turned 30 in a beach weekend extravaganza two weeks ago. There was drinking at 3:00 in the afternoon, a huge house full of lawyers and academics and other supercool people and gossip magazines and girly movies. This house was so close to the water we saw multiple whales multiple times -- the photo above shows the view from our hot tub/deck. There was also some "Proud Mary" karaoke (including the dance, Tina Turner version of course) by three of us at the diviest dive in Lincoln City. So basically, just a bar in Lincoln City with karaoke. The only thing missing from the weekend, actually, was my camera, so those of you who weren't there will have to live without pictures of the giant tissue paper pom-pom flowers we suspended from the ceiling and the molten chocolate cakes and the deadly serious game of Apples to Apples that was played over mojitos. Board games with a team of attorneys is Serious Business. It was amazing to see all these ladies -- definitely one of those reunions where you just slip right back in like it's been three days instead of three years. Can't wait for the 2008 birthday reunions!

--We got to see Rachel briefly yesterday before her intrepid travelling takes her to Singapore in a few days. She has promised to keep us updated on all things Singapore while there. I think that level of whirlwind world touring is best done in ones' twenties. I am simply too sleepy now that I'm in my thirties, I'd probably curl up for a nap and miss the train. (Or, as Saru would say, I'd be in the Piazza of the Dead Babies missing the train.) Good luck and safe travels Rachel!

--Numerous awesome people graduated last weekend: Erin, Jeff, Austin, Nina, Kimi...graduates all. For many, they are now official Masters of Stuff. There was elaborate barbecuing at the gorgeous rose garden in town (sans alcohol, sadly), leaving such a large amount of food we still have some in our refrigerator. Our superstar friend Jessica did a bang-up job keeping all of us sane throughout the weekend, especially as she was the one we abandoned at the train station while we killed our cat -- with her help we still managed to get through the many barbecues and ceremonies of the weekend intact. And I was the only one that tripped, despite not even being one of the graduates, a hit I am willing to take to maintain the grace of the rest of the team. Here is one of Elizabeth's finest portraits:

18 June 2007

Goodbye Pan

I've been dreading this post, so I have to get it done. On Friday we had to put our new kitty, Pan, to sleep. He got very sick on Tuesday, we hospitalized him for three days with acute kidney failure (apparently very common in boy cats, and they often can bounce back, but his was pretty advanced) and went in to the vet to visit him on Friday afternoon thinking he was getting better. Then they put us in a windowless little room, at which point we began to suspect the worst. Basically, his kidneys never resumed functioning, his bladder had also ceased to work, and he would have had to be in an emergency hospital for the two or three months he could have continued to live, in pain and catheterized. It was a horrible, horrible decision to have to make, and when they brought him in to us it was even worse, because he just purred the whole time and snuggled us until the very end. He actually stopped purring when the first injection went in to sedate him, and then started purring again when the final injection of barbituates went in. Thanks to E. & J. & K. & I. for helping us bury him when we got home and for providing music and catmint and catnip plants for his grave and making sure we all ate something eventually and generally looking after us that night. A lot has happened in the last week and a half, much of it wonderful, but I will have to do catch up posts later in the week on that because I really just can't do it right now.

Goodbye Pan, Pancake, Panini, Pantalaimon, Pancetta, Panettone. You were the sweetest boycat I ever met and you were in our family, you were in the BCC, even if it was only for a brief time. We'll miss you kittybaby.

08 June 2007


Thanks to Elizabeth's infinite knowledge of how to plug things in and select an item from a menu, I am finally able to download my photos, so I can at last show off our new guy, Pan. Here he is in what we have come to call his stoner mode (which is 95% of the time).

Here is his cute Pan-face (he doesn't actually have the cool two-different-colored eyes, that is solely a reflection on my "skill" with a camera):

Here is E. hard at work in our kitchen, as per usual. Action shot!

Finally, with a freshly cleared out camera and a passel of goodies, we embark today on a coastal adventure in honor of a dear friend's 30th birthday. To the celebration-mobile! Seven lawyers in a house, and their three innocent bystander victims. There will be many tort-related jokes. And much chortling at Scalia.

04 June 2007

New Boy in Town

So there's been an addition to the BCC the last week and a half. E. & J. were walking by the river one night and came across a stray cat who was very friendly. After petting him for a minute or two he promptly followed them the mile and a half down the bike path back to our house. Like a dog. Also, he's a black cat -- when we added together the black cat following them back to the Black Cat Commune, it was kind of a done deal. Our new boy is named Pan, originally meant to be short for the Italian for panther (Italian to go with Paola) -- pantera. Also because he's very metal. Also because he totally looks like a panther. Then we realized that he looks a lot like a feline version of Pan from Pan's Labyrinth (so...good...so...sad...so...pretty) with the flattened nose and large face. Then we realized that Pan lends itself well to numerous overly cutesy food nicknames such as Panini, Panettone, Pancake, etc. Also it is the nickname of the daemon in the excellent Golden Compass series of books -- read them if you haven't yet -- by Philip Pullman: Pantalaimon. Pictures will be forthcoming as soon as I figure out my camera and manage to upload them (it's taken me this long to blog about it, so I finally gave up today when I didn't bring the right cord. I suck at technology).

Initially there was a comedy of errors for several days in which we were all convinced (based on E.'s brothers' detailed inspection) that he was an unfixed kitty. Therefore, as per a phone call to our local animal rights activist cat shelter/catnapping enablers, we really needed to keep him for ourselves because his previous owners were bad non-neutering people. Then J. took him to the vet to discover that he in fact IS fixed, and is five years old, and just happens to be very well-endowed. Apparently "swelling can occur." So we posted things on craigslist and in lost animals books at vet clinics, but we're hoping no one calls. The shelter folks also said that sadly, down by the river is a prime pet-dumping location. He definitely was someone's pet at one point -- he's litter-trained and he purrs the second you touch him, he's very people-friendly. But legally, possession inheres in an animal after 24 hours! I just really hope there's no little kid out there crying their eyes out over him. If there is, they should be looking for him though, and no one seems to be.

So, as the catnapping fiends we are, we're really hoping that it was a pet dump, as awful as that is, and that no one tracks him down, because we're all in love now, and even Paola seems willing to limit hissy fits to one a day, while otherwise coexisting peaceably. I think it helps that they both fit into neatly proscribed cat gender boxes -- he makes her look dainty and feminine because he is very big and very boy-looking. Not really a competition. Jake is enjoying having another boy in the house, at long last. I am plotting the doubled adorability of dressing up two black kitties for holiday photos. I am such an old lady.