Monday, January 31, 2011

Too Available?

With graduate school quickly approaching the half-way mark, I've been thinking a lot about what I'll do when I'm done.  My goal, right now, is to go to another master's program to get my MA in Library Science.  I love books, and libraries, and so pursuing my LIS degree seems the natural choice.  Of course, I'll also have to look for a job, if not when I'm done here, then when I'm done with the LIS.  With that in mind, I've been thinking a great deal about what my online presence says about me because the fact is, employers Google potential employee's and check them out.  If you Google me, you'll come up with a heck of a lot of hits.  Not all of them are me, but many of them are.

You're probably aware that I have a fairly available web presence, like I said, if you Google me you'll find me.  I'm on Facebook and Twitter, and though both of those things are locked I've heard that people in business have ways around the lock-outs.  I also have an account, which I love, and host several blogs.  All of my blogs are copyright to my name, so they're not anonymous by any stretch of the imagination.  I have a Flickr and Viddler account, an account on Writer's Cafe and GoodReads, on LinkedIn and  I'm literally all over the place.  I write for Suite101, eHow, and Blissfully Domestic.  I use to write for Helium (but am considering taking those articles down).  If you want to know me, you can know me... or at least what I'm doing.

And here's the thing, even if I take those things down and close all of those accounts, they don't go away.  Google and other web-indexing sites make cached copies of blogs, websites, and the like.  I can erase my web presence, but it'll do no good.  There's a site, The Way Back Machine, that will show me what my blog looked like in May 2003, when I started writing on Blogger.  I'm literally out there and I'm not going any where.  So many people hide who they are from the net, which was always puzzling for me, but I'm starting to understand why they did it.

The net has the power to allow those you don't know to judge you unfairly.  It has the power to cheat you out of a job you're qualified for, even if you're the best candidate.  Obviously, I'm worried and it's not causeless concern.  This is a legitimate issue.

And, to complicate matters, I've been thinking a lot about what my blog's name says about me and how it reflects on who I am.  Will a future employer judge me because my website's called "pessimist," never mind the fact that that's only part of the equation?  I don't know.  What does "Pretty Pessimist" say about my character?  I don't want to be judged unfairly, but is it really unfair when I put myself out there like that?

Then there's my freelance work.  What does that say about me to potential, academic employers?  Will it interfere with my ability to get a job?  I hope not, but I can't help thinking that it might.  I love working freelance, and will do it for a living if I can when I get done with college, but it might not be a completely realistic option.  I'd like to be a librarian, I'd like to teach community college, but will I have the opportunity to do those things?

So, now I'm wrestling with how I can clean up my web presence to make a better impression.  Should I delete Facebook or Twitter, should I remove my Viddler and Writer's Cafe accounts?  Should I lock some of my pictures on Flickr?  Should I write under a pseudonym for my freelance stuff?  Should I... yeah, you get my point.  I don't really know how to scale it back and I don't know if I really want to. I just can't help thinking that if I work on it now, if I scale myself back, by the time I'm looking for work all the cached copies will be gone, or close to gone, and I won't have to worry over it anymore.

So, tell me what you think.  I could use some advice here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Flashy, flash...

Click play, run the mouse around over the dots, and tell me you didn't get addicted to it... I dare you! I found this flash game while using StumbleUpon. You would not believe how many awesome things are available through StumbleUpon, it's crazy addictive just clicking to see what'll come up next. I have a terrible amount of trouble quitting it, I mean, what if something truly amazing comes next?!

Sketch of Voronoi - wonderfl build flash online

So, addicted yet?! Yeah, thought so!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

At Journey's End & Goblin Market

As an author, I'm always interested in meeting other authors. It's amazing to see the process of others and has been a definite learning experience. It has also been incredibly encouraging, even inspiring, to be surrounded by others who love words as much as I do.  I have friends who write, Phoena for example, who is a writing machine. I'm so incredibly inspired by her eternal optimism about writing!!  Over the last few years, Twitter has also been enormously helpful in connecting with other authors; I've met some of the most amazing people via Twitter!

Two of those amazing people, Michele Bekemeyer and Jennifer Hudock, have just this week published their novels! I'm so thrilled for the both of them and if I said I'm not inspired by their successes, I'd be lying.

Michele Bekemeyer's novel, At Journey's End, is the second novel in her "Scandal's of the Heart" series. Both At Journey's End, and her first novel Trapping a Duchess, are beautifully written regency romance! I've had the opportunity to read both novels, and I cannot wait for the next to be released, I'm dying to know what she has in store!! I highly recommend both novels, which are available in both print and e-book through Republica Press, Michele's website, or from

At Journey's End synopsis, from Michele's website:

Alexandra Wolter is beautiful, intelligent, wealthy…and ruined. She’s spent the last two years abroad, making peace with her fate while searching for happiness on distant shores. When an unexpected revelation changes her plans for the future, she finds the man who stole her innocence at the helm of her self-discovery. Returning to England may mark the end of her travels, but her journey has only just beginning.

Charles Devon has spent years regretting the way he treated Alexandra. When fate gives him a second chance, he is all too willing to take it. But Alexandra isn’t the timid girl she was before she left. Altering her perceptions is hard enough, but when danger threatens, he is faced with the most difficult task of his life: Saving her.

The first novel in the series, Trapping a Duchess, is also available in print, e-book, and podcast via Podiobooks.

Jennifer Hudock's novel, Goblin Market, is a wonderful dark fantasy inspired by Christina Rossetti's poem by the same name.  In 2009, Jennifer began podcasting Goblin Market, and has this week released her debut novel as an e-book on both Smashwords and Amazon.  I cannot wait to get my paws on it for my Kindle -- I've had the chance to hear it via podcast and I loved it!!  Jennifer has also written and released several short story collections, with another on the way, so check out her Amazon page when you head that way to get Goblin Market, she's truly talented!

Goblin Market synopsis, from Jennifer's website:

Meredith Drexler has been the sole caretaker for her young sister Christina ever since their father went away. Sacrificing her life and her freedom to ensure Christina has a better life, Merry’s only escape from the monotony of every day life is her daydreams. When Christina arrives home late one evening speaking in delirious riddles, Meredith discovers her sister has been poisoned by Goblin fruit obtained in the Goblin Market.

She must travel to the heart of the Goblin Kingdom to retrieve the antidote to save her sister’s life, but at a price no sister should ever have to pay. Along the way, Meredith falls in love with the forest god who names himself her consort, and discovers a strange truth about her past and her identity.

Currently, Jennifer is working on the sequel, Jack in the Green, and like Michele's next book, I simply cannot wait to find out what Jennifer has in store!

So, now that you know, go get them!  They're both talented ladies, with great novels, and you'll enjoy them, I promise!!

Fun with Existentialism...

Recently, Matt and I have had some amazing conversations. Today, we were talking about poetry and philosophy. While relating to him that I feel like existentialism is realistic, and that though I fancy myself an objectivist, I also believe in a lot of what existentialism teaches, we had the following conversation...

Me: "Sartre and Camus were geniuses, they made some seriously astute points!"
Matt: "Sartre and Camus wrote down their ideas, became famous, and in so doing completely disproved their points!!"
Me: "..."

Yeah, what can you really say to that? Sartre believed that the only real value is internal, that man cannot be happy without external value and so finds happiness internally, yet he gave a great deal of external value to the world with his philosophy, contradicting his points entirely. Camus believed in the absurdity and meaningless of life, and death, but again, in making himself a pillar he renders his points contradictory.

By way of ending the conversation...

Matt: "If they really believed what they were writing, they'd have just ended their own lives in obscurity, their ideas going with them!!"

Damn him!  I hate it when he makes irrefutable points!!  This isn't the first time he's done this to me this week, he made a point about feminism that stopped me dead in my tracks yesterday.  He's on a roll!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Love's Daughter

I wasn't going to write about this, but I feel like I have enough motivation that it's safe. For some reason, while most people tell family and friends their goals so they'll feel accountable, I suffer the opposite reaction. I tell people I'm doing something and promptly stop doing it. I'm not sure why, and, honestly, it bothers me that I do that, but there you go. Anyway, the thing I wasn't going to write about, but now, am, is my novel. I started working on Love's Daughter again.

I was sitting yesterday, feeling completely and totally defeated when, quite suddenly, I was struck with the urgency to work on my book. I was at work at the time, though there were no students given that the semester only began last week and no one really has any writing assignments yet, so I dug up my flash drive and hunted around for the file. I was having a particularly rough day and working on the novel was a welcome distraction. I've started teaching this semester and I don't feel like it's going very well, you see, so I'm feeling pretty blue. In the name of diversion, I read over what I'd written, spent a few minutes calling to mind what I intended to change to make it work, cut from the file the stuff that wasn't working, and dove right in.  I got the re-written portion about half done before leaving work and was feeling pretty good about it.

Then, last night, I was sitting alone in the living room, Matt having gone to bed, when the feelings of defeat began to creep back over me. I like my job, but I can't help feeling overwhelmed and somewhat small, I feel like I'm not a very good teacher and it's not the students making me feel low, it's the fact that my boss observes the courses.  She's a great boss, a very nice woman, and a great teacher, and all of that makes me incredibly nervous. Nerves are making it difficult for me to concentrate when I'm giving my "lecture."  Anyway, I turned off the TV, opened the file, and finished writing that scene I began at work. I got about 1,000 words written in all yesterday, but that's more than I've done in a long time and I feel amazing about it. It's the one thing I've done recently that I've been able to take any amount of pride in, and it's got me remembering why I wanted to write to begin with.

Now that I've gotten that scene re-written, I can get back on track with no road blocks, or at least, none for the time being. It feels so good to be back on track, especially since I've been procrastinating on re-writing that scene for months and months. Today at work, after my labs, I sat down and worked on sketching out an outline about what'll happen for the next two or three chapters. It's the first time, ever, that I've been able to outline without any trouble! I'm not much of an outliner, I never know where to start, but when I took out my pen and paper today, it just came to me. I'm taking it as a good sign, especially since this idea will just not go away.

I'm not completely sure where the motivation is coming from, or if this is my way of building walls around myself, but it feels good so I'm going with it. I've not procrastinated on any classwork to work on it yet, so no harm's done... yet. I feel a bit like the more stressful the semester becomes, the more feverishly I'll work on it, but it might just be the outlet I need to stay sane until summer. By then, I might just have it done. That would be lovely!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dream a Little Dream of... Rocks?!

Something you may not know about me, even if you've known me a long time, is that I've been having the same dream since I was five years old. Several times a week, in fact. I was actually reminded about it, or rather about how abnormal it actually is to have the same dream over and over, without deviation, for 27 years, while reading Jodi's blog yesterday. I doubt her intention was to make me feel strange, but she mentioned she's having dreams about rocks, which immediately called my own rocky dream to mind. I nearly gave her the whole rocky (ha!) story in her comment box, but decided that it might just be enough to warrant an entry all its own and besides, Jodi asked me to divulge the details, so there you go.

Understanding what's going on actually requires a little bit of background, so here goes. I grew-up in the Mojave desert in Southern California which is, as the name implies, a desert.  Not just a desert, but one with a lovely desert landscape. Way out in the boonies, which is probably not actually the boonies anymore, where Victorville turns to Apple Valley, there's a highway (Highway18) that winds around amid a cluster of rocky hills, climbing up out of Victorville and dipping down into Apple Valley. The slightly winding drive out there is actually terrifying, or it was for me when I was a little girl... cars wooshing around the curves at 60 miles an hour, not to mention, I'm afraid of heights.

Okay, you know, Google Streetview can actually do me one better...

You can click those pictures to see them better. The first one is of the hills right off the highway, the second is too, but it shows the guardrail where it drops off into a deep ravine. You can't tell from the picture, but that drop off is pretty steep. This is the setting of my dream, it's a place that's actually called Happy Trails Highway now, but wasn't when I was little. It's called that because Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans used to live, and are now burried, out in Apple Valley. A bit off topic, but yeah, background... though my dream has nothing to do with Roy or Dale. I digress.

So, the dream begins with me climbing those rocks all the way to the top. I'm not afraid, I don't actually feel anything emotionally, I just climb. In the dream, I'm always the right age. So, when I was five, in my dream I'd be five. Now that I'm 32, in my dream, I'm in my 30's. Anyway, the dreams begins with me on the highway side of the rocks, where the highway is stark black asphalt with bright, freshly painted stripes. I climb to the top, and when I get all the way up there, I walk out to the back of the rocks, where it drops off. I always think, in my dream, how strange it is that I'm doing it, especially considering how terrified of heights I am, but I don't experience the feelings that come with marveling at something, or being afraid. I'm just blank.

I gaze down into the valley and rather than seeing the desert landscape, or the apartment complexes I know are there, in the immediate distance, I see boiling, molten red lava. I look up, slowly, into a pitch black sky, no stars, no moon, nothing, and I'm not afraid or even curious. I'm still just blank, it doesn't seem at all unusual to me. Following the sky to the horizon, I watch the place the black sky joins the red horizon for a long minute. Then, I look down and notice how remarkably white the rocks are beneath my feet. No graffiti, nothing, just stark white stone. Noting my surroundings, I nod and take a step forward, off the rocks, falling into the hot magma below.

I feel a surge of pain, but nothing comparable to what my logical mind knows magma should feel like. It's momentary and then it's gone and I sink beneath the surface of the liquid, closing my eyes, I reappear on the highway side of the rocks and begin to climb again. I feel nothing about having jumped, I know with certainty that I'll jump again, and I know that when I do, I'll reappear there again. It's a cycle, unbreakable, but rather than feeling a sense of hopelessness at eternally throwing myself from the rocks, I just go about the task and the dream repeats until I wake up. Over and over, same thing, same emotionless response.

When I was a little girl, the dream use to scare me. Now that I'm all grown up, and have been having it for 27 years, I don't feel the fear anymore. It's strange because, no matter how settled I am, I still have it. The frequency doesn't fluxuate, except when I'm having a really, really bad time in my life. In those cases, when I'm really distressed, I'll have it 4 or 5 times a week, rather than the usual 2 or 3 times a week. When I'm not sleeping well, or at all, I have it less frequently, but I think that has to do with my inability to reach REM sleep. No sleep, no dream, which has been my problem lately.

I read over some things about dreams, but nothing seems to be suitable for this particular dream. Everything I've read says that rocks are symbolic of security, but that just seems wrong in this case. There're simply too many elements with the rocks, the lava, the black sky, the stark contrasting colors, the emotionless responses; I have no idea what to make of it. After all of these years, I figure I'll just not try and let my subconscious go on being obnoxious as long as it thinks it needs be.

So, there you have it, my rocks dream, much more long winded than I thought it would be and with pictures, too!  Sweet dreams!!

Glee: Singing in the Rain & Lucky

It's Saturday and I have homework, so rather than going on and on, as I have been lately, I bring you this...

"Singing in the Rain" by the Glee Cast with guest star Gwyneth Paltrow. I absolutely love this choreography and the way they modernized a classic favorite!

"Lucky" by the Glee Cast (Quinn & Sam): In the immortal words of Santana, "So. Freaking. Charming!"

These are my two favorite Glee bits, so I thought I'd share them with you. I didn't watch Glee, but Matt got into it when they did the Rocky Horror Glee Show. After that, it was inevitable, and over Thanksgiving we watched Season 1 with Amanda & Karen. We watched the first half of Season 2 on Hulu+. Now, we're waiting (rather impatiently) for the second half of season two to air.

It helps that I am absolutely in love with Matthew Morrison!! He's so freaking hot and his eyes, my god, I could drown in those eyes!! His voice, his moves... *Swoon*

Friday, January 21, 2011

Kindle 3G!!

I said a few posts back, on my book challenge post, that I decided to get a Kindle. I also said I'd be writing about it soon. Well, here it is. I ordered my Kindle 3G on Tuesday morning and thanks to the $3.99 shipping upgrade, I got it on Wednesday; I'm terrible at waiting! Unfortunately, I wasn't home when it came, nor did I get home until about 8 p.m. Wednesday night. So, I didn't have much time to play with it on Wednesday, especially since Matt made me watch a movie (Exam, which I highly recommend, actually) rather than letting me be to play with my new toy.  The man can be so impatient! I think the closest I got to checking it out was to unwrap it and put it in the cover, that was it.

When I finally did get around to playing with it, I checked out some of the books I bought, downloaded some free books, and imported some books I'd previously downloaded to Kindle for PC. In all, I'm really, really impressed! Once I remembered that the Kindle is not touch screen, I got into the groove and realized that the Kindle is so, remarkably easy to use. Anyone could use it, and I do mean anyone. Now, I feel like I should add a disclaimer and admit that I read the literature that came with it, but honestly, that consists of a neat little accordion fold out that instructs how to turn it on and what the buttons do. That's it, the rest I figured out all on my own. I mean, I'm a smart girl, but sometimes tech gets the better of me, this one didn't!

So, now that I've gushed all over my new toy, I feel like I should talk about why I chose to finally break down and get one. It seems like everyone in my life is vehemently opposed to them, which I suppose is understandable seeing how most of my friends are readers, many of them being English majors of some sort. Even I, in my infinite wisdom, was once adamantly opposed to the idea of e-readers. I came around, of course, but I didn't like them and would have verbally stoned anyone who argued for e-readers. Now, I'm the happy owner of this little device... my, my how things can change.

So what happened? Well, I woke-up one morning thinking about why I was opposed to e-readers and came to the conclusion that I was clinging to the physicality of the book's form. I love the smell of books, the feel, the experience of turning pages. Books are amazing, but I was putting their physical form on a pedestal,  above that form's content. A book is about what's inside, the knowledge printed there, not about how that knowledge is conveyed. If we read to get the story, the form shouldn't actually matter all that much, right? In that context, where an e-book is just as good at conveying the information and knowledge, it becomes far more practical to get an e-book than a physical book. It's quicker and more efficient, after all. It's also much more accessible and, I believe, may help to encourage people to read.

I also came to realize that books were swallowing me up! I don't have nearly enough space for all the books I've been acquiring over the last 15 or so years. I need another bookshelf, or two, but have no where to actually put another shelf. I have books stashed and stored in every open space from an old chest of drawers to the bottom of our entertainment center and there are still books stacked up everywhere! I cannot buy one more book, I have no where to put it. That said, I'm sure I'll continue to acquire books, they're a part of who I am, I love them, but I'm hoping the Kindle allows my book hoarding to slow down. I can't keep on collecting them, there'll be no where left for me to live for all the space the books are taking up.

I can hear you thinking that I should sell or trade some of them. The quick answer is, I can't. I get attached to books, I buy them and then I can't let them go. What if I want to read them again? What if I need them for a future project or paper? What about the books I've bought but haven't managed to get around to reading? And why buy a book that you're just going to sell? That seems like a colossal waste of money! E-books are forever. Once you buy it, it's yours, but it exists out there somewhere, in virtual space, where it doesn't take up physical room and create clutter. According to Amazon, my Kindle will hold 3,500 books. That's a hell of a lot of books! I don't even own nearly that many, and if I did, I'd need two or three more houses to house them all. Even if I did manage to fill it up, I can just archive them and make room. They're still mine, they're just waiting to be re-downloaded. This solves all (most?) of my book hoarding issues!

So, with all of that in mind, I started looking at them. I knew I wanted an e-reader, but the Kindle's not the only option. There's also the Nook, the Sony e-Reader, and the iPod Touch with the Kindle application. I started comparing them, but just kept coming back around to the Kindle. It's cost effective at only $189, which was important for me. I'm a poor graduate student, I can't afford $500 for an iPod... nor, honestly, can I see wanting to. I know the iPod does a lot of stuff, but my cellphone does a lot of the same things the iPod does, so I couldn't see paying so much for it. Anyway, the Kindle has a lot of really nice features I couldn't pass up, so I decided to get it.

One thing I really like about it is that Kindle format books are widely available from several sources outside of Amazon. Free books, in Kindle format, are available through Kindle's e-book archive, the Internet Archive, Project Gutenberg, Open Library, and It will also read .pdf and .docx format files. So, I can download books from a site like Smashwords, where Indie authors and publishers make books available for a really great prices! I can also send files from my computer to my kindle, which is awesome!

Finally, the Kindle's E-Ink is fantastic. The screen looks like a book page, has no glare, and can be read in bright sunlight. It's not backlit, but can be used with a book light without any trouble. It's very easy on the eyes. My Kindle has free 3G + WiFi, which is really neat and books that I buy are automatically sent to my Kindle in under 60 seconds. I also love that it has a month of battery life, so I don't have to charge it all the time. Of course, the battery life is a bit lower if you run it with WiFi on all the time, or with the light going all the time, but it's still upwards of two weeks with all of that. That's pretty nice, all things considered.

I got the hot pink cover, with light, that makes my Kindle a little bit closer to paperback book sized and has a light that works off of my Kindle battery, so requires no extra batteries to run. It lights the screen really nicely and though it's gotten some bad reviews, I've had no trouble with it at all. Many people say that the light isn't bright enough, that it doesn't light the whole screen, that it doesn't come on, that it makes their Kindle's freeze, I haven't experienced any of this. Thus far, the whole set-up has been really nice. Some also complained that the case doubled the size/weight of the Kindle, rendering the slimmer Kindle a less attractive selling point. I would argue that it's not a problem, the case doesn't make the Kindle heavy by any stretch of the imagination and helps to protect it. If the Kindle was bigger, it would still need a case, so that argument is just silly.

My only complaint is that it makes it way, way, way too easy to go on a book buying spree. I don't need to buy so many books, but I can't seem to stop myself. It's so easy just to one-click by the books, either from my Kindle or from, and get them instantly. I'm all about immediate gratification, I hate waiting, so this is great for me! Sadly, it's going to kill my bank account! Not much of a complaint, is it?!

On that note, I'm off to play with my Kindle and resume Gail Carriger's Soulless -- which reminds me, my other complaint is that there're no page numbers so I can't track my progress on GoodReads. Again, not much of a complaint!

Good night!

PS. This post would have had pictures of my Kindle & the pink cover, were it not that my camera is still freaking missing... yes, I'm complaining.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Directed Readings

I come bearing good news! I had an amazing, productive first meeting with my thesis chair, Dr. Y, today. I've been a little bit worried about it, I don't know if I mentioned that before, but it turned out to be very informative and constructive. I'm always a little bit afraid of the unknown, and I went into the meeting not knowing exactly what we'd discuss or what I should have done by this point. I left, an hour and a half later, feeling much better about my progress. I actually felt, and still feel, like I'm right on track with this class. Very good thing, too, because I don't need more stuff to worry about.

In addition to talking about the direction of my thesis, we discussed deadlines and dates. So, I know how to begin approaching my topic, when things are due, and when we'll be meeting between now and spring break in March. We even discussed the comps, because I've been really worried about it. I'll be taking them in December and while I was concerned, I'm feeling much better about the process after discussing it with Dr. Y. Not that I think it's going to be a piece of cake, but I feel much more like I'll be prepared to take them by the time the time comes. She even explained who writes what prompts and how they're written, and advised me to talk to my other two committee chairpersons for more information.

In all, it was good! Now that we've discussed it, I've agreed to complete a topic proposal, list of primary sources, and preliminary secondary source list by March 11th. It's a lot more than it sounds like. The primary source list will be simple because I can't write a topic proposal without it. So, it's more like one assignment split into two documents. No problem! After, or perhaps during, spring break I'll be writing the proposal for my thesis for the College of Graduate Studies. Once that's done, I can start writing my thesis! I'm so excited. Not only did I find a way to make one of my passions (vampires!) into a thesis subject, but I get to start working on it soon! At the latest, I'll begin working on my thesis over the summer.

Things are moving right along and even though I have a little more than a year to get it all done, I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed. My whole thesis will have to be done by the end of February, beginning of March 2012. That's only a year... one year... yikes! It sounded like an eternity when I was talking to Dr. Y about having to take Thesis (6 credit hours course) twice. She said that a lot of students have to take it twice and that it's a good thing that I have the additional time. I don't work particularly quickly, so it's a good thing.

I jokingly told her that I planned to get a whole bunch of copies of my thesis and give them to family and friends as Christmas gifts. We laughed about it, but I just may do it! How narcissistic is that?! Yeah, just narcissistic enough. Thesis, coming to a Christmas tree near you! Ha! In all seriousness, though, I probably will get a lot of copies (they're only about $5 each once you pay the huge fee to have the first one made) and give them to family and friends who want them. I just can't wait to have it in my hands! Excited doesn't even begin to describe how I feel right now, thinking about the next year and a half. I'm so thrilled.

For now, I need to run and start reading Eudora Welty's The Optimist's Daughter for my American Lit: The Southern Novel class.

Oh, two more things before I go. First, I still cannot find my camera and I am seriously bummed. Second, this is my 150th post. Crazy how time flies, and yet I feel like there should be more at this point. I've been writing at this domain since September 2009. That's about a post ever three days... I think. My math isn't good. So yeah, Happy 150th post to me!

Okay, now off to read... for real this time. Good night!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Back to the Grindstone...

Ah, bloggie... how I love to use you for procrastination!

School started back today, I have reading to do, but here I am. Actually, here I've been since about 4 p.m. this afternoon, on the net I mean. I've just been clicking around, reading blogs, tweeting, and generally killing time. I love to just sit and absorb the web, listen to music, and enjoy the time Matt's sleeping. It's so rare that I'm awake and he's asleep -- the dumbass stayed up all night, and had to stay awake all day, so when we got in after shopping and eating, he crashed. It's been lovely to sit, alone, and do what I want without the TV on. He'll be getting up in about 5 minutes (he asked me to wake him at 8 p.m.) and the first thing he'll do is turn on "Xena: Warrior Princess" on Netflix. He's been watching that stupid show for weeks. He's nearly done with the last season, I think, and I've never been happier to be done with a TV show. I like it okay, but the man's obsessed, so I'm enjoying my quiet while it lasts.

So although it's the first day of classes, I didn't actually have any tonight because my Tuesday night class was recently converted to an online class (boo, hiss!).  So, nothing to do right now but read and research for my Directed Readings.  Tomorrow night, I have class from 6 - 9 p.m. and I'm actually looking forward to it.  It's American Lit, I really enjoy the professor, and though I've taken this class with this professor before, I'm still getting credit because it's repeatable.  The books are different, of course, and I'm sure that soon enough I'll have so much to do that I'll be back to neglecting this blog (and my others, which I have newly vowed to write on, at least once in a while)!

I did go to work for about a hour and a half this morning for a meeting.  Dead. Freaking. Tired. I dragged my ass out of bed at 8:30 this morning after still having been awake at 3 a.m., but in my defense, I was at least trying to sleep... and had been for about three hours by that point.  I should sleep like a baby tonight.  Should, does not mean will. Fingers crossed.

Otherwise, I went shopping for some new clothes and ordered my Kindle today!  When my financial aid money comes in I do two things; I pay the bills and I buy things.  Lately, it's been clothes.  There's a local place called Cato, which I believe is actually a chain, that has a great selection of "woman's" sizes.  The clothes are cute and comfortable and are sized weird so that I wear one size smaller than usual which is a huge boost to my ego.  I love seeing a smaller size on my tags, even if it is just the cut.  I got two skirts, which is a huge deal because I do not wear skirts.  They're both long, one's brown the other's kind of a very dark denim color, and I feel like they're very flattering...

Oops.  Totally forgot to go wake Matt.  What's an extra 10 minutes, anyway?

Now, where was I.  Oh yeah, skirts.  I don't normally wear them, but last semester I got one that's really flattering and have been on the look-out for others in the same, or a similar, cut.  I found two, so I got them.  They're longer than the other one, both almost ankle length, but I like that.  I hate my legs!  I also got two sweaters, both button up, one in pink the other in purple, and three tank tops to wear under my jacket, layered shirts, and sweaters.  My wardrobe is starting to shape up nicely, though it's mostly work clothes, the only downside being that most of what I've got is wintery things, like sweaters.  When the summer comes, I'm going to bake.  I'll worry about it when the time comes.

I also got two pairs of shoes & three pairs of earrings!!  One is a pair of sort of fancy flip flops that I can wear to work.  They have pretty bead-work on the straps. The other pair are lace-up oxfords with a heal (something like this, except they're two tone black/black patten leather... oh, and they were only $18!). My friend Marsha has several pairs of Oxford pumps and I've always admired them, so when I saw these, in my size, I couldn't pass it up. It's weird, actually, because they're a size smaller than the other shoes I wear, too. Cato's sizes are just strange!

By the way, this post is missing pictures because I've managed to lose my camera.  How I pulled that off, I have no idea, but I hope it turns up soon.  I'm picture crazy, I can't lose the one thing necessary to take pictures!  Although, if it's permanently lost, I might be able to convince Matt to get me a Canon Rebel XTi (ha, ha... hahahaha... yeah, right) to replace my point & shoot.  I just wish it would turn up, it has some really cute pictures of Ani & Galileo on it.  Starting to worry, actually.  Matt says he's sure it'll turn up... I manage to lose things all the way, so I'm starting to doubt it. I worry about the stupidest things.

While we're on the topic of worrying about dumb things... I am so freaking annoyed by the whole "one space after a period" thing.  I hate it, I don't do it, I use two spaces like I learned in the stone age.  Unfortunately, programs like WordPress act stupid when I use two spaces and jar everything out of alignment.  It's annoying, I don't need, or want, to be grammar-babied by a software program.  It's my one and only complaint with WordPress, actually.

Oh, and I'm still coughing.  I really, really, really want to stop, but I can't seem to kick it.  I'm not the only one, either, but one of my bosses also has a cough he can't kick and so does his baby, apparently. I'm not sick, I just have this thing where when I breathe in deeply, I cough, not from my lungs, but from my throat.  It's annoying.  I think I'm having trouble getting rid of it, like last time, because of the smoke.  So, Matt's probably going to have to go back to smoking either outside, or by the window, until I'm not coughing anymore.  He's quite annoyed.  So am I.

Okay, so that's what I've been up to.  What about you?  How's 2011 treating you?  Better than it's been treating me, I hope!  I'm off to try to get some of that reading done.  Good night!

Holy moly, I just re-read this post (which took me about 45 minutes to write) and I realized that I am the queen of brain spill.  I can't stay on topic to save my life.  Ah well!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Reading 2011

Despite last year's epic, reading challenge failure, I decided to give it a go again this year!  I'm a lot of things, a quitter isn't generally one of them.  NaNoWriMo is fair proof of that.  So, in the spirit of picking myself up and trying again, I'm going to participate in the 2011 Busy Bookworm Challenge (thanks for the reminder, Jodi).  I tried this challenge last year, but I only got about half the books read.  This year, I'm making a list I hope I can finish -- really looking forward to jumping into a good book!

To add another layer of challenge to the whole experience, I've also signed up for the 2011 GoodReads Reading Challenge (thanks, Phoena).  Basically, the GoodReads challenge requires you to choose a number of books for the year, but doesn't require that you say what they are.  So, for now, my goal is a nice, moderate 20 books.  That's more books than I read last year, but I figure that with school being what it is, I should be able to pull it off, especially with my Directed Readings class!

To make this whole experience easier, I'm getting a Kindle 3G!  I've been dying to have one, so I decided on getting one after reading up on all of the options.  It's getting less expensive at only $189, has free 3G WiFi, and is easy on the eyes.  I especially like that you can one-click order books and that it's possible to make notes and bookmarks on the books themselves -- I really like that part!  I can make notes without defacing a book, that's awesome to me.  Also, Amazon offers thousands of free classics, which I really like.  It's a huge step for me, buying an e-reader, especially since everyone I know seems to be adamantly opposed to it, but I think it's the right decision.  Post all about my rationale for getting the Kindle later, this post is about reading challenges!

So here's my list for the 2011 Busy Bookworm Challenge:

  1. Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate #1) by Gail Carriger

  2. Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate #2) by Gail Carriger

  3. Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate #3) by Gail Carriger

  4. Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate #4) by Gail Carriger

  5. The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

  6. Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

  7. Need (Need #1) by Carrie Jones

  8. Fallen (Fallen #1) by Lauren Kate

  9. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

  10. Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

  11. The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner

  12. Bossypants by Tina Fey

  13. Spooky Little Girl by Laurie Notaro

  14. I love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies): True Tales of a Loudmouth Girl by Laurie Notaro

  15. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber

  16. The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

Well, that's what I've got so far. I really need to think through the last one. I don't have a ton of time to read, but I'd really like to get these ones read in addition to my classwork. I think the biggest trick is going to be to convince Matt to leave me alone long enough to read a book.  I actually spent the entire break doing nothing but gaming with him, which was fun but has left me feeling so disappointed in not getting anything else done.  Really, really disappointed.

So there you have it, those are the books I hope to get done this year.  Wish me luck, I may need it with all of my classwork, studying for the comps, and working on my thesis.  With all that going on, I need all the me-reading time I can get!

***QUICK UPDATE(S): I added Tina Fey's book, Bossypants, to my list of reading for the year. The woman is hilarious and she makes me laugh, what more could you want? It's not out until April, so I have time to get a head start on some of the other books before it comes out.

I also added Spooky Little Girl and I Love Everybody by Laurie Notaro because she's hilarous. One's fiction, one's non-fiction, and I can't wait to get them!

The list just keeps growing and growing.

***QUICK UPDATE 2: I added yet another book to the list.. or rather, two!  I saw The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and The Hangman's Daughter on Amazon and I had to buy them.  I figured that if I'm going to read them, they might as well go on the list.  I ordered them for Kindle, so it should be on my Kindle when it comes, along with Gail Carriger's Soulless.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Well, hell...

Yeah, that's right... well, hell.  It's Saturday night, the last weekend before school starts back, and I've spent the last week and a half on my death bed.  Okay, maybe not my death bed, but close.  I came down with a terrible flu last Wednesday and have been down ever since.  It started as a scratchy ache in my throat on Wednesday morning and was a full blow flu by Wednesday night.  I then proceeded to spend the next 6 days laying on the sofa, or the bathroom floor.  On the upside, I lost 10 lbs; on the down side, I'm still freaking coughing.  I think I'm going to go to the doctor Tuesday and see what they can give me for the cough.

To add to my issues, this break has put me on a night schedule.  I'm awake all night and asleep all day.  I do mean all day, like 9am to 5pm sleep schedule.  How the hell am I going to get back on days before Tuesday, when school's back in?  I have no idea, but I'm pretty worried about it.  I think I'm going to have to stay awake all night tonight, and all day tomorrow, and sleep Sunday night.  That should kick me back to a night schedule, if I can stay awake.  That's the trick, right there.  Fingers crossed.

So, with all that said, I'm afraid I'm not ready for a new semester to start yet.  Sadly, these things don't ask my permission before marching forward and here I am, left feeling like I got cheated out of the last week and a half of my break.  I got nothing done that I had planned over Christmas, except to spend time with Matt.  We spent a lot of time gaming, which was much fun, but it eats up the time in nothing flat.  You can devour a whole day, or night, gaming and not even notice it... hell, you can devour a whole week in nothing flat and not notice it. Nothing else was achieved. I didn't get a book read, I didn't get any short stories written, I didn't get any sewing done (though I have the material for two projects!!), I got my house cleaned but it's back to being a huge mess again because Matt made a huge mess while I was sick, I didn't get the heaps and heaps of laundry done (working on that tonight, I guess)... nothing. I'm pretty disappointed with myself, overall, and I'm thinking that 2011 is going to be a bad year.  Nothing's gotten done and I've spent a full 1/3 of the year, so far, sick. Great.

This semester I'm taking a modern rhetoric course called Studies in the Teaching of Composition, an American Lit seminar focusing on the Southern Novel (I think), and Directed Readings with my thesis chair.  I'm really, really looking forward to the Directed Reading's course, which is entitled "Representations of Woman as Monster in Western Literature."  I'm going to have to narrow it down, of course, which is what I'm working on right now.  I think I have it narrowed down (for now) to the Romantics (Keats, Coleridge, and Le Fanu), but that's no guarantee that I'll actually end up doing them.  The biggest problem being that I can't possibly do all representations of women as monster, there're way too many! So, I need to find a common thread, or theme, which shouldn't be difficult (ha... ha... hahahahahaha... yeah).  In all, I'm excited about it because by the end of this semester, I'll have a proposal for my thesis written and I'll know, definitely, what my thesis topic will be.  I cannot wait to get that laid down!  I'm confident that once I know what my thesis will focus on, I'll feel more settled in working on it.  Of course, that could be my sad, misguided attempt at optimism, but I'm hopeful!!

In addition to my courses, I'm also working as a GA.  Last semester we observed basic writing, taught the labs, and worked in the Writing Center. This semester, I'll be teaching the basic writing and the lab, and working in the Writing Center.  It should be a fun challenge, especially given my feelings about speaking in front of people.  I'm finding that graduate school is my worst nightmare come to life, I'm constantly challenged to stand up in front of my peers and students.  It's bad because I'm never without this fearful, unsettled feeling, but it's also a positive thing because I think it's starting to help me overcome my fear about it.  I freak out a little less each time (for the most part).  By the time grad school's over, I may have completely kicked my fear!  Not likely, but again, I'm hopeful!!

Anyway, wish me luck teaching the class.  It's not so much that I'm afraid to teach the class itself, I've attended a whole semester so I know what they expect, it's that I'm afraid to teach it in front of my boss.  She'll be attending all of the basic writing courses that I teach, that way she can offer guidance and be there to help, but I'm terrified about it.  She's a great teacher, and I mean great, and I'm afraid I won't live up to her standards.  I'm worried that I'm going to come off as a dumbass, and while it's easy to speak before inferiors, and difficult to speak before peers, it's terrifying to speak before superiors!  I need all the luck I can get on this front.  I'm sure it'll be fine... but that doesn't keep me from freaking out.

So there you have it.  That's what I've been up to, in a nutshell, so I'm off to start the laundry.  I have at least 15 large loads to do to get it mostly done.  We have so. many. clothes!  Okay, wait... Matt has so. many. clothes!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes!!

Yesterday, I baked!  My friend Mayren linked me an amazing recipe, via facebook, that I just had to try -- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes from kevin & amanda {blog}!! Sounds good, doesn't it?  Trust me, it is!!  I found it to be a fair bit of work, especially since I made all the parts from scratch, but the result was well worth the work.

So, rather than re-typing the recipe (link above), I'm going to share my pics with you instead! Pics are the fun part, anyway!!

First things first, her recipe for chocolate chip cookie dough is the best I have ever had/made. It's amazing!!  The texture, the taste, everything about it is fantastic, it's not sticky like cookie dough tends to be, nor is it dry and crumbly; it's perfect!!  The recipe calls for no eggs, but instead uses milk. I am definitely making this chocolate chip cookie dough recipe next time I make cookies!

 Look at those perfect little dough balls -- scooped with a 1.5 tbsp cookie scoop!!  Oh man, do I love it... which reminds me, I still have some in the freezer!!  The recipe is supposed to make 24 cupcakes, but the cookie dough part of the recipe made more like 40, so I have left overs.

The recipe on says to freeze the cookie dough overnight, but I'm impatient.  I froze it for about 3 hours, which was more than enough.  If you're going to try this, and you're less impatient, go ahead and freeze them overnight, can't hurt!

I also made the cupcake dough from scratch, which is not something I'm prone to doing, but I was feeling adventurous.  I think next time, I'll just use a golden vanilla box cake mix, it might be that it comes out a little better that way.  I've discovered, over the years, that there are many things I can bake, but cakes from scratch are not one of them.

When the batter's made, you just pop the cookie dough on top and put them in the oven!  I had a little problem where the dough sank like it was supposed to, but the batter didn't cover it up, so it was concave in the center.  I don't know if it should be like that, or if it was my unfortunate cake baking skills that caused it.  Either way, I just covered up the holes with frosting, which turned out fine!

Most of mine didn't look this pretty, but a few of them did!!  The icing is Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, too!! I started by piping the icing onto the cupcake using a ziploc bag with the corner cut off until I realized, quite suddenly, that that was using so much icing that I would have to make another batch to ice the rest of the cupcakes.  So, I went to the old fashioned, slather some icing on the cupcake method that leaves them looking less lovely, but tasting just as good!

These cupcakes are absolutely to. die. for!!

That said, I'm on the fence about whether I'll make them again in the future.  They're very, very sweet... almost too sweet.  I rarely say that, mostly because I've never eaten anything that I've felt that way about, but in this case it's true.  They're absolutely sinful!  They're also a heap of work, which might be mitigated by using a box cake mix, so I'm reserving judgement on that front.  Finally, as sweet as they are, 24+ cupcakes is a lot of cupcakes when I'm really the only one eating them -- Matt'll have one now and then, but he's not a huge fan of sweets.  So, I'm a bit torn about whether it's worth it given that I'm not able to eat so many.  I think, next time (assuming there is a next time), I may try them with chocolate cake!  That would be amazing!!

Next up, Brownie Batter Chocolate Cupcakes!  Of course, I won't be making them until I recuperate from the cookie dough-induced sugar trance these cupcakes have put me in!



Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sans the Sparkle

As the post title insinuates, Matt and I had a quiet, somewhat dull new year's eve holiday this year.  We went out to eat, which was definitely not worth what we paid for it, and then stayed in the rest of the night.  That's about the gist of it.  I'd probably have more to say, except that Matt slept most of the evening, while I played World of Warcraft, listened to music, and nursed a toothache.  I won't lie, having a toothache and a husband who would rather sleep than spend New Year's Eve with me wasn't exactly an ideal way to ring in the holiday and both things left me a little grumpy.  Still, he managed to wake up in time to kiss me at midnight, by which time the toothache had gone away, so the night wasn't a total loss.

Since that stroke of midnight, when it became 1/1/11, I've been thinking about my new year's resolutions, which are always the first thing on my mind every new year.  I have to resolve to resolve before I can focus on anything else.  One year, I actually resolved to make no resolutions, and so failed my new year's resolutions instantly and was able to move on with my life without thinking about how I would fulfill my resolutions for the year.  Since then, I've come to the conclusion that that's cheating, and that for once in my life, I'd like to make resolutions and actually, oh, I don't know, keep them.  So, this year I have resolutions that I feel are completely achievable.

Here they are:

  1. Take more time out for myself this year -- wherein I'll stop doing everything everyone else wants me to do and start thinking more about what I want to do from time to time. Things I want to do with my "me time:" reading, sewing, playing World of Warcraft, blogging, writing, and baking.  Things not to be done during "me time:" studying, cooking, cleaning, and anything that requires group participation.  Me time is just that me time.

  2. Don't feel guilty about taking time for myself -- this is actually a huge problem for me.  I spend all of my "me time" worrying that I hurt someone's feelings by taking it.  Usually, that someone is Matt, and normally it's because he's moping.

  3. Stop putting everything off until the last second -- I'm the queen of procrastination, but where school and work are concerned that's a bad thing.  So, this year, I'm going to start doing my school work well before it's due... I hope.

  4. Simply, write -- this resolution is sort of cheating because it's something I know I can do.  Since I'm beginning my thesis this year, if I don't write, I don't graduate, simple as that.  That said, this resolution is actually aimed more toward creative writing.  Notice I'm not actually specifying?  That's because creative writing is more a luxury than anything else right now.

  5. Get more organized -- I really, really need this. I am hopelessly overcome by clutter, so even when the house is clean it feels like a mess.  I need more structure, less clutter, and more organization.  In the spirit of this resolution, I'm very soon going to buy a new bookshelf for my living room.  As an aside to this resolution, I resolved to get organized last year too... this year, I'm doing it!

There you have it, that's what I've resolved to resolve this new years.  Just like my resolution to resolve nothing caused instantly resolution failure, resolving to resolve something has caused immediate resolution success!!  That way, I start the new year have succeeded at something, however small.  It's still cheating, but it's cheating in my favor so I'm fine with it.

I just had one more thing before I go.  For New Year holiday, Betty Crocker sent me this little "Best of Betty Crocker - 2010" e-cookbook and I wanted to pass it along.  I love their newsletter, filled with recipes and the occasional download.  When I get them, I like to share.  It has about 20 recipes in all, divided into seasons.  For my part, I am absolutely dying to try the Key Lime Pie Poke Cake recipe!!

Enjoy and Happy New Year!