Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Doth Approach

I took my econ midterm yesterday. It did not go so well. I knew it was not going to go well in advance, but there was only so much I could do about it. I studied what I had time to study, but with TA-ing and other things on my plate, that was not as much time as I would have hoped. This is certainly a dragon, it is the most I have ever struggled with the material of a class. I know its supposed to be a hard class, but I have taken "hard classes" before, and never found them all that hard. It is a new experience.

Speaking of TA-ing. We gave our first mid-term this week. There is plenty of things I would like to say about it, but I don't think it is appropriate to post any of it here unfortunately, so I will do the ethical thing and keep my mouth shut.

On the homefront, I had my Halloween costume all planned out. I was going to be Bristol Palin and DH was going to be Levi. He was going to wear a T-shirt that said "I knocked up a 17 year old and all I got was this lousy T-shirt and a trip to the Republican National Convention". Unfortunately Aaron backed out of this plan, and I do not think being Bristol is all that funny without Levi. Any comments? This leaves me 36 hours to find a Halloween costume. This happens to me every year, and it results in "easy" costumes . Two years ago I was a hockey player (Wearing DH's Red Wing Jersey, with a blackened eye, and carrying a hockey stick). Last year I was Barry Sanders (Again, wearing DH's Jersey, but DH was the Heisman Trophy, which actually was really fun). So... what to be this year? Low budget, high impact. Its all about creativity folks!

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Hate Migraines

My head is killing me. It sucks.

I thought I should post something today, so lets go with this...
I just turned in my To-Do list for dissertation workshop. I have been told that grading the midterms this week will take 20 hours. I am expected to put 20 hours towards disseration stuff. I will spend 18 hours in class. So, before I even study or do anything else related to school, I will have put in 60hrs of work. Granted its for 9 days, not a week, but that is still a lot.

DH has pointed out that if I went out and got a real job I would work half as much time and make twice as much money....

Remind me I want this. LOL.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Night Already?

What a fast weekend. They always go by to quickly though.

Friday night and Saturday morning I was a good girl and studied quite a bit. I have an economics test coming up this week, so I have a lot to do on top of my normal load. The professor expects the average score on this week's test to be 60%. As long as I pass, I could care less about the grade at this point. I have a lot of memorization and practice ahead of me in the next two days.

Saturday night was the big OSU game versus Penn State. We went down to a friend's house by campus at 5pm, grilled out, drank a little. I had my first bourbon, it was from the Whiskey Road in Kentucky (apparently this is a big deal?), a really expensive brand. It was tasty. We all headed over to the game right on time. It was obvious, as we walked through the Greek area, that people had been taking advantage of it being a night game.

The game itself was, well, I do not know how to describe it. Anyone who follows sports already knows we lost 13-6. Low scoring game, slow going game. The crowd was revved up though! We cheered so hard. Its just proof that cheering can't make up for real shortcomings. I was frustrated with the play calling. It seemed like every possession we would go first down - run, second down - run, third and long, either convert or do not. I know we are stronger in the run than passing, but if you do not pass in the first two downs ever, then the run is useless. It was frustrating. Also, it was frustrating that Penn State's touchdown came off of the only fumble of the entire game. My initial reaction was to blame the defense. When the game was tied 3-3, Aaron mentioned the chance to go ahead, and I responded "yeah, but the second we have a lead the defense will stop playing." It seemed like this happened. We got up 6-3 and all of the sudden we can't stop them. However, in the overarching picture, can you really fault a defense for allowing 13 points, 7 of which coming from the shortened field of an offensive mistake? No. Our defense may not be what it used to be, but its decent, and its the offense that is in serious trouble, Beanie Wells or no. The fact is, we just aren't a great team anymore. We are a good team.

Anyways, since it was a night game, we got home very late. I eventually made it into bed, all to late considering my busy day today. I spent the morning shopping -went back out to the apple farm I went to last weekend and picked up some incredibly fresh, cheap apple cider ($3/gallon!). Back at home I was very happy to find the boys had been cleaning all morning and things looked great. I baked apple cake and attempted a pumpkin pie, then people showed up for my first annual Pumpkin Party. Good friends, loads of good food (So much! So many leftovers!) Many pumpkins were carved - we had a couple of skulls, three witches, a couple of pieces of abstract art, a pirate ship, and a kitty. My porch is still a mess, but we can clean it up some other day (ok, so thats our policy in general). After people left, I finished my second pumpkin - a castle. Its pretty cool. I am a pumpkin carving addict. I have two down and one to go. I will try to get pictures before they go bad!

There went the weekend, and now back to your regular scheduled programming...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dreams of Destruction

I come from a long line of vivid dreamers. Ok, actually I have no idea if that is true. I do know that my Mom has crazy psycho weird vivid dreams all the time, and so do I, and both of my sisters. DH has accepted this and my dreams no longer shock or surprise him, even when I really wish they would.

So, really the question on any given morning isn't if I had any strange dreams, its if I remember any of them. This morning my alarm went off in the middle of a dream and I really do not remember what it was about, but I know it was a very realistic one. As the morning has progressed I have had several "flashback" moments that have lead me to the conclusion I spent the night dreaming about destruction. I know I dreamed that there were stains on the bottom of my wedding dress (there are not, I looked at it last night, its sparkling clean thanks to MIL!). I also know I dreamt that the cats shredded a paper lantern sitting on the top shelf of my office. I know this, because I was sitting here in my office working, looking around, and caught it out of the corner of my eye and fully expected it to be shredded. I knew exactly how it would look shredded, yet when I actually focused on it, its perfectly fine, and the shredding is from a dream. (Yes, that is an example of how vivid my dreams are, in my dream the Lantern was in the exact same spot and the exact same position as it is in real life, only it was shredded). Sometimes I have difficulty differentiating between something I remember from a dream and something I remember from real life.

So why these dreams of destruction? I am thinking it has to do with the fact that my bedroom has a pet-scent issue at the moment. If I am smelling gross pet smell all night, it probably leads me to dream about various pet destruction, eh? Or its possibe its just the proximity of the pets. Grim was on my right, Gandalf on my left, and when I woke up, Nox was sleeping on the back of my legs. I couldn't move an inch! I love it that way though!

I will be taking care of that smell today. Sheets are already in the washer, quilt is being aired out and then will get febreezed, carpet is getting another thorough spot-cleaning with Nature's Miracle, and vacuuming... that should cover it. I think the real problem is lack of air circulation. We have not turned the heat on yet, but windows are all sealed, so no air comes in and out of the bedroom once we shut the door at night. Perhaps the pets all need baths as well. I am sure they will love that!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

What? I have a Home Office?

So, in May DH and I moved into a new house, a four bedroom two story. We were thrilled to have the additional space, having previously lived in a one bedroom and then two bedroom apartment. The thing I was most excited about was having my own office! We painted it my color of choice (bamboo green), set me up a desk and filing system, and some bookshelves. I filled it with my things, organized the desk, and proceeded to not use it.

Ok. I have used it off and on, but no where as near as much as I expected. I like my TV and my social time to much. However, I am sitting in it right now. It is the first time I have used it for work since I took written generals in it back in September. The wall calender is set to July. I spent the first 20 minutes of tonight cleaning up the desk from generals. Crazy!

I want to get into the habit of using it relatively regularly to work on PhD stuff. I have plenty of work to get done! Stick a Harry Potter DVD into the laptop (my study background noise of choice), sit down, spread out, and get to work. Kind of nice.

Preview of my Upcoming Metro Park Post...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Undergraduates are Amusing

Last week the professor I TA for gave an in class pop-quiz. The point of the quizzes are to check whether people are in class and whether they have been attending regularly. Therefore, makeups are only given when there is a record of why people missed class.

Last night I emailed out the scores to everyone, including a handful of emails saying, "According to our records, you did not take the quiz, meaning you received a 0/10. Please let us know if you think this an error." This morning I received one email back: "I was not in class on Tuesday because I wasn't feeling well, which is the first day I have missed and of course that's when the first quiz was." The student wanted to know if they could make it up. The wording of this seemed highly suspect to me... did she even know what day she missed the quiz. So I responded with "Normally makeups are only given with a doctors note. What date did you miss class and did you go to the health center that day?"

It was like sheep to slaughter. Her response was that she missed class on the 21st. Thanks for playing, the quiz was on the 14th. So much for "only missing class once". You would think she would have caught on and bothered to check with classmates which day the quiz was, or at least come up with a more convincing lie.

Instead of being annoyed or frustrated, I will just be amused. People are stupid. LOL.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wonderful Wednesday

No stressors today, so despite the fact its hump day, and definitely feels like it should be Thursday or Friday, it is a wonderful day. We got our first frost last night, which means my garden is probably done for the year. I still need to pull up some carrots (tonight). I harvested everything that would be directly wrecked by frost (tomatoes and peppers) on Sunday afternoon because I knew it would not be long before the frost came.

I also realized in the car this morning that I have not had a migraine, or any serious headache, in over a week. This normally would be completely unremarkable, but prior to generals I was getting headaches more and more frequently until I was back to the point where there were more days with headaches than without - a state I existed in for most of high school. Is it weird that I was more stressed in high school than in undergraduate college? Actually, my first year of college was clearly easier then my last year of high school... strange how that worked out.

Monday, October 20, 2008


My little sister has a big accomplishment this week. She levelled up two levels in Pony Club! She went from being a D2 to a C1 in the course of two days! I know that the vast majority of the population has no idea what that means. It is easier to send you to wikipedia than to try to explain it all myself, so if you care, read more here. Or go to their official site here.

Suffice it to say, that she proved that she has much more talent and interest than I ever had in the field of horse care and riding. It also means she worked her tail off to accomplish this! So, congrats Michi! Good job! Its a good month for Keener Women! (Lets hope its a good season... Good Luck on boards LEK!)

Oh, and despite my general lack of interest in horses, due to the massive ammount of labor that goes into keeping them healthy and happy, these pictures make me want to ride again!

And, since she is moving up to the next level, she needs a better horse (bigger, stronger, etc), so soon my parents will be welcoming a new show horse, Memphis, into the family:

Accountability: Or, why I am so busy lately...

The standard procedure in the department is for dissertation workshop to meet every three or four weeks and consist of reviewing and critiquing a couples people work at each meeting. My adviser, who is running the comparative dissertation workshop has decided that meeting that rarely is not an effective way to move us towards a dissertation, and that the best thing to help with making progress is accountability. I think he is right, but it means a lot of work for everyone.

In order to make us accountable, we meet every week, and we have a standing weekly assignment: a to-do list. Everyone's weekly to-do list is to be posted every Wednesday night on the official dissertation workshop blog - . Then, at the end of class on Thursday, we both have to explain what we have gotten done off the list in the last week and what is on our list for the next week. The to do list is effectively critiqued by other students! As in, "you say you are going to read this, but you didn't say why," or "don't you think you should be reading more?" or "are your priorities correct on this item?".


Its effective. So, if you want to see what is on my weekly to do list, you can always see it, and all the to-do lists of my classmates, at that website. Please do not comment on that website... don't think my professor would appreciate that.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Quick Update

Dinner will be ready in ten minutes, and I have tons of things to put on here, but now is not the time. I have already whiled away my Saturday and have plenty of studying to get done immediately after dinner, especialy considering my busy plans for tomorrow.

Things are going well here. Last night we had a handful of people over for a game night. We would have had a lot of people over for a game night, but alas, people are busy these days. Anyways, we had four guests and then their are the three of us, so seven overall. We started off with some Mario Kart, then got lost in conversation for an hour or so, then Balderdash, and finished the night of with Rock Band. By finished the night off... I mean stayed up until 1am playing. It was tons of fun, I haven't played in a long time because of schools and generals. I hope for game nights to be a relatively regular activity now that generals are over... with this crowd, relatively regular would mean once every month or two, which is just not enough. I wish we had enough time to have one every week!! Alas, we are that busy and I have a lot of stuff to do, due to the accountability created by my disseration workshop, something I will elaborate on in a future post.

Today was pleasant. As poor Grim has not been getting as much attention since I started school, I felt like I owed her, so we went to a metro park to walk this morning, and then to the pet store, both of which are very exciting for her. It was very relaxing and at some point I owe you all a post about my experiences with metro parks. After lunch, I was supposed to start studying. Instead, I curled up under a blanket with Aaron and fell asleep for a good 3 hours. Yes. That means I missed the beginning of the OSU game... oh well. It was nice.

Nox has been extremely needy today. We are still having some litter box issues with these two, so she was locked up alone overnight. She DID NOT like that at all. You would think we had left her alone for months the way she acted this morning.

Off to eat dinner, Beef Stew with Sweet Potatoes. Have a good night!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Disoriented much?

I spent most of this morning confused about what day of the week it is, and I still do not have it down. I think the problem is that my Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday schedules are very regular and easy while Thursday's and Friday's are unique with more classes, less free time, and more chaos. When I was in the shower this morning, when I was getting dressed, I kept simultaneously running a to-do list for this morning through my head and thinking I did not have time to do anything on the list because I have a 9:30 class. I do not have a 9:30 class, that is tomorrow. Then, I would think about going to lunch at 11:30 and maybe asking a friend to eat with me, only to remember 5 minutes later that I have class at 11:30, because its Thursday, not Wednesday. I also kept obsessing over whether or not I would have time to go to the gym with a friend after my noon class. I do not have a noon class (its 11:30, as I said), and we are going to the gym tomorrow, not today. Today is just confusing.

On an unrelated note, if you are a loyal reader you noticed long ago that I am not the best person at correcting typos, and I have a strange tendency to make phonetic errors in spelling. Sometimes I go back and correct these things, other times it just doesn't seem worth it, since most people have read it anyways by the time I realize there is a problem. Hope that doesn't make anyone think less of me!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Beginning

Do you have anything that you absolutely dread doing, but then once you are doing it you remember that its not so bad, and maybe even pleasant?

That is how I used to be with horseback riding lessons in the winter. I hated the idea of bundling up, going to the barn, cleaning a horse of and tacking it up, and freezing my toes off as I road it around the arena getting yelled at by the instructor. (We will put aside for a second any jealousy readers may be feeling that I grew up not only taking horseback riding lessons, but that I actually had my own horse for the first 14 years of my life or so). Anyways, I absolutely dreaded that day of the week. But then, we would get up to the barn, and I would remember only then how the horse was cute and the people that I shared my group lesson with were funny and how much fun it is to be on a 2000 pound animal, even if the instructor is dictating what you do while you are up there. It usually turned out to be a fun evening (except on the coldest of Minnesota nights when you felt like an icicle by the time things were through).

Why is this relevant you may ask? Because this is the exact type of relationship I have both with my adviser and with the idea of writing a dissertation in general. I absolutely dread going to talk to my adviser, I picture sitting in his office, being completely caught like a deer in the headlights, not knowing what to say, feeling like I let him down. It is only when I actually buckle down, gather my courage, and do it, that I remember that he is a really nice, supportive guy that wants me to succeed, and my expectations of myself are much more important than any expectations he has of me. Usually, I end up coming out of his office feeling much more sure about what I need to do and how I need to do it.

Allow me to insert this little note about some unimportant things he said before I tell you what I really left the office with. First, he told me there was never any doubt about whether I would pass generals, before, during, or after the oral exams. That was interesting and reassuring considering how long they kept me and how long they made me wait for results. In retrospect, I believe they must have been talking about how I have a very strong orientation towards theory and methods with very little knowledge of the empirical world, and how that might be a problem for my future. Second, in regards to what class I should teach, he told me to borrow heavily or even use someone else's syllabus. This means I will likely be teaching a class on political economy with examples or discussion pieces from areas of interest to me added in (readings on Africa, China, etc), as these are the types of syllabi available. But enough of the small talk.

His real advice today? This is where the rubber meets the road. No, he did not use those words exactly but that is what it boils down to. This is the part of life, or my career I should say, where I have to decide what kind of political scientist I want to be and figure out if I am capable and willing to do what it takes to succeed. I have to decide soon whether I am going to contribute theoretically or empirically to the field, and that is a bid decision. That advice said as much, and probably much more, than he intended. This is the part of my career where I start choosing my own things to read about, and those should be things that I am interested. If I cannot find anything that holds my interest, or I find myself unwilling to put in the time it takes or unable to do what I need to do to succeed, then its time for me to consider another career. While generals was a test of what I know about the field of comparative politics, the next nine months or so is a test of whether I should be doing this. And the best part? There is no right or wrong, there is no pass or fail. There is only me, my life, and a decision of what to do with it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My First Course

Due to generals, I procrastinated on a number of things, and other things are just rushing up without me having needed to procrastinate on them. The most interesting and uncertain task has to do with the fact I will begin teaching my own classes next quarter (January). I have been assigned "Problems in the Contemporary World", a topics course that can be about pretty much anything I want. Most people make this class about their specialty, but I currently lack a specialty, so that may be hard. Course descriptions are due on Thursday, so I better decide quickly! What do I know enough about to be comfortable teaching? Do I want to try and write my own syllabus or borrow someone else's? There are about ten available to use online, but none of them jump out as something I really want to teach.

So, let me ask you this. I will make this my first comment challenge. If you were a college student, what would you want to take a comparative politics course on? What is it, politically, that you would want to learn about other countries?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Victory is mine!!

The dragon of generals is slain!

I passed my oral exams this morning. It was a tough experience. They interrogated me for around two hours, which is a really long time to have questions fired at you, then when they sent me out in the hall to decide my fate, they took almost 20 minutes! That is a really long time to wait. I will never know what they were saying in there. It could be anything from one of them wanting to fail me and the others talking them out of it to them all joking about what they did over the weekend. I am guessing it was more like "does she have a clue what she is researching for her dissertation?" "Nope. No idea". etc. LOL.

Anyways, it is over and Victory is Mine!! I thought there was so many different things stressing me out, but maybe it all was just generals. I immediately felt like a giant weight was lifted off my shoulders when I got out. I can't even describe it. Lets just say, life is good.

We went out to a tasty greek resteraunt called Yanni's to celebrate. The portions were gianormous, so I have a tasty lunch for tomorrow, and they had the best hummus I have had in quite some time. LEK should come visit me so we can eat there.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Some Worries Unfounded, Other Growing

Well, it seems that my worry about the cats was unfounded. 24 hours in isolation produced no new "accidents" and proper use of the litter box for both of them. It must have been something else we found on the carpet. Both cats are back out with us, currently enjoying the sun porch. It is still

But with orals 24 hours away, I am not doing so hot. I just got my last set of critiques from a fellow third year comparativist, someone who is very smart in a field I am not. His questions are damaging. I can not express how much I do not want to do this. I feel like I would give anything not to walk into that room tomorrow and allow them to interogate me, but in reality this is something I chose for myself and of course I am free to not go tomorrow. I have repeatedly answered the question, "What is your biggest fear?" with "Failure," and it really is true. Its hard to accept that I took something that is causing me such terror and stress on myself, that it is not someone elses "fault" I have to experience this.

DH is very sick of me asking the repeated question, "What if I fail? What if I fail?" He has the correct answers down pat. "At least you will know" "You will do something else with your life" "We still will be happy" and other things in the same spirit. That is the real key to comforting me people. If I tell you I am going to fail, don't try to convince me I won't, rather convince me that failing is not the end of existance.

I am off to a day of studying, stressing, and other unpleasant things. Wish me luck as I prepare for battle. I hope after tomorrow, whatever the outcome, the mood of this blog changes significantly.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Month of the Dragon

So, apparently this is the month of the dragon, and another one has appeared. Last night we discovered one of the cats has blood in their urine. We do not know which cat it is yet, and it is possible (but highly unlikely) that it is something besides bloody urine. So, Gandalf is locked in my office and Nox has the run of the rest of the house (though I am considering locking her in DH's office). Neither of them has betrayed themselves yet though.

So, to recap the current stressors...
- oral exams
- surviving economics class
- impending job loss for DH
- cat's unhealthy

Any one of these things would stress me out on its own... so all of them together are a bit much. Maybe I am just a wuss.

Friday, October 10, 2008

De-stressing Socks

Wearing weird, colorful socks is like a Talisman against the stressors of the world. I picture several dialogues like these when I put them on in the morning.

"Amanda, you failed your economic homework"
"Haha! Who cares! *I* am wearing rainbow colored socks"

"Amanda, we are sorry but we cannot pass you on oral exams"
"So what! I have rainbow colored socks! I will wear them to find another job"

"Amanda, the university has eliminated your funding. Please pack up your office and go home"
"You may be able to take my office and my pay check, but you will never be able to take my rainbow colored socks! I win! Neener neener neener!"

Ok. So none of these events has happened, and the third one is completely fictitious (not even in the realm of possibilities right now). I thought with how depressing my blog has been lately it was time for some comedy, and I am completely serious when I say having rainbow colored socks on makes the day slightly better, no matter what happens.

In fact, my blog was so depressing that my wonderful and thoughtful MIL (mother in-law) sent DH and I cookies!! We win. Apparently I should sound depressed more often so we get more cookies :) Just kidding. Seriously, thank you, the thought means a lot and sugar is always good.

Also, a shout out to my own mother for sending me a great letter and my little sister's 9th grade school picture. My little sister, Michi, is getting way to old way to fast. I left for college when she was 8, so in my head there is always part of her that stays that age! But she is doing well - good in school, rocking it on the soccer field, and I am sure she will be a great high school student. It just makes me feel old.

Today, my schedule is packed. Economics recitation, multi-level modeling class, a hour to either go to the gym or study, and then a comparative politics workshop (from now on I will call things like this "a talk". A talk means that someone from another department or even someone here stands up infront of us all and presents a paper they are working on or just got published, and we critique it. 70% of them are boring, 30% are interesting. Cross your finger today's is good).

One last note on footwear. Apparently my shoes are noticeable. I got brown and green pumas (think Andes Mint colors) a few weeks ago at the outlet, and I was sitting talking to a professor when out of the blue, in the middle of a sentence he goes "By the way I like your shoes... or are they slippers?". LOL. They are shoes, though I understand the mistake. Maybe sometime I will find a picture of them and show you all.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


The last several days have been full of introspection - on both things I would like to put in this blog and things that I unfortunately cannot. Unfortunately, I have neither the time nor energy to write out a very good blog entry at the moment. As so many of my classmates have put it, I just don't have the emotional fortitude for it right now. Perhaps on the other side of orals, though it is likely that that event will fundamentally change my thoughts on many of the topics. I thought I would be able to make at least a basic list of some of the things I have been thinking about and concluding, but even that seems like too much right now. So this post is pointless and I am wasting your time. Your welcome.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Second Presidential Debate

Some quick thoughts on the debate before I hit the sack and forget everything I thought (although admittedly, I already have done economics homework between the debate and now so my brain is addled).

- Overall, based both just on watching the debate and on the CNN poll that was occurring during the debate, I think Obama came out on top.

- I feel like Obama is a much better speaker than John McCain even in this style of debate. Obama has a clear point that he makes in each snippet and he brings different arguments together smoothly. McCain has a tendency to wander or not have much of a single point to his speeches.

- I liked what McCain had to say about military spending reform. Too bad that is one of the only things I liked about what he said.

- McCain's body language and tone of voice following the social security question was downright offensive. He honestly thinks its that easy of a problem to solve? Then why hasn't he solved it yet! It was so condescending, and unnecessarily so.

- I have to question McCain's coaching. There are certain issues that it was clear he "lost" on in the first debate, such as the war in Iraq, yet he voluntarily brought these things up again as if they are his strong points. I am not sure that was such a wise decision. I also would be very curious, if anyone can answer, what exactly a "win" in Iraq would look like now.

- Overall, this debate was extremely tame, more of the same, which in the end favors Obama. It was pretty boring, especially given the importance of it. Also, I disliked Tom Brokaw hosting, I disliked the question selection (seriously? Is Russia an evil empire? Only a moron would say yes to that after the axis of evil debachle!), and I disliked the format in general. In the first debate, the format was way to relaxed and left the candidates trying to come up with crap to say. In this debate, the format was too short and choppy and it was hard for the candidates to get points across. I hope the third presidential debate is formatted like the vice presidential debate, which I thought went very smoothly.


I don't know if I can do this. I just want to go home and go to bed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Let Me Vent

(1) I am so sick of being told I have nothing to worry about when it comes to the exams, especially when it is said like "If anyone has nothing to worry about, its you". It drives me nuts, and no one seems to understand why. It adds pressure. Its like it means that if I do fail its my own fault, or that if I do fail I have let down everyone else, or if I do fail, I am the biggest disapointment in the department. It does not reassure me, because they do not know what I wrote on that test.

(2) If there is someone who has been very helpful to you and decided to cat sit for you, and you know this person is busy and stressed, and you say you are going to be at her house at 8pm to pick up the cats, actually show up at 8! Don't call her at 8pm and tell her you will be an hour. She probably has other things to do, things she was putting off until you came, like showering, doing laundry, and starting her homework, because she figured it was easier wait since it was already almost 8pm anyways. Don't tell her the reason you are going to be late is because you are going to go run another errand first that does not need to be scheduled and you could do some other time. At least come up with a good excuse, not just you being inconsiderate.

Debby Downer

Coming out of the weekend I feel more worn out than rejuvenated. It's probably my fault for spending too much energy dwelling on how DH's employer is unnecessarily harming us. I have told a few people its not worth dwelling on, talking about the frustration or anger just feeds into it and makes it worse. I think this is a common problem. When someone is angry they want to vent it, tell everyone, but depending on the situation, the act of telling someone and effectively passing the anger onto that person actually just builds more anger or indignation in themselves. Not that this is always the case, or we never should be angry, just something to think about. If you are super angry about something that is an honest injustice, something you can do nothing about, repeating it over and over for days is not really the way to get over it. Every time you tell someone about it, they will justify your anger and make it deeper. As much as I have been trying to avoid that trap, it still was a sullen, stressed weekend.

Not to mention, when I am sullen and stressed I am completely unproductive. I now have two days until my first economics assignment is due and one week until my oral exams. I also feel an increased pressure on my oral exams, while I will not be immediately unemployed if I fail to pass them, I will certainly be in a position to decide whether I want to stay at the university; a decision that previously would have had little to do with money/stability and now has a lot to do with it.

When I woke up this morning my very first thought was "today sucks." I cannot think of a more depressing way to start the morning and quickly tried to switch to a more positive mantra, something along the lines of today is a good day and I can be productive today. Maybe if I could find something positive to concentrate on, the weather or something, I could feel better, because trying to be positive on its own is just not working.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Whew! That was a close one!

Last night we had people over to watch the OSU-Wisconsin football game. Admittedly, due to the mix of people who showed up, I ended up doing more gabbing than football watching! But I saw the important plays, both bad and good. OSU played OK, but not well. It was a back and forth game and we sure looked like we could lose it, but we pulled it together in the end and scored a touchdown with less than two minutes left to take the lead, then got an interception to seal things up.

I think its clear that expectations for this team have changed over the last few weeks. As the announcers said on last nights game, at the beginning of the season there was no doubt that the Big Ten would go to OSU, the only debate was who would get second. Now every week it feels like we could go down in flames. Next week is Purdue, so that should be easy enough. But then comes Michigan State, who is pretty good this year, and then to Penn State who is really a danger. I will be happy just to keep winning, no more expectations of a national title, high rankings, or blow outs.

But, with my other teams being the Vikings, Twins, and Wild, this is still the winningest team I have ever cheered for.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Old Dragons Resurrected

Once upon a time where was an averagely attractive princess who fell in love with a handsome prince who loved her too. They married one another and as they built lives together, faced a ugly dragon named Unemployment with disgusting green scales of low income, a firey breath of frustration, and sharp teeth of self doubt. However, they conquered the dragon, slaying it with the sword of hiring. They found a wonderful castle, moved in, and set up to live happily every after. However they did not know that the dragon of unemployment had left behind a repulsive clammy white egg deep within the cave of uncertainty. A year and a half later, an evil witch named Ohio seduced the prince into the cave of uncertainty by lying and saying it was the Cavern of Stability. After the prince was in the cave, Ohio nursed the egg into hatching and a new baby dragon named Restructuring was born. It had the same green scales, the same firey breath, and the same sharp teeth as its mother. However, the prince got wind of Ohio's plan to destroy him and the princess while the dragon was still young and weak, and if the prince and princess could yield the Axe of New Job against it before it reached maturity, then perhaps they could avoid its nasty grips and continue with their happily ever after.

Wish us luck.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I am in a remarkably good mood today. Actually, minus the (1) panic about the missing cat and (2) stress induced over generals every time I was in my building on campus, I was in a remarkably good mood most of yesterday. It seems like yesterday was the first day in a week or two where I felt healthy (no headache, no cold). But mostly I think my good mood, both yesterday and today, was largely due to the weather. It was absolutely perfect yesterday and is supposed to be perfect again today.

Of course, to me "perfect" means that you can be comfortable outside walking in a sweatshirt, and that the sun is not too bright. Yesterday there was a high of 58 degrees, and today it is supposed to be 55. I love it. The cool fall air is so much more refreshing than the hot summer air, it makes me feel alive and happy. I find myself enjoying being outdoors again, and looking at my surroundings more and more. I notice the sconces on top of the boring campus buildings, the little orangish berries growing on some trees, the leaves green and colored blowing around, its just really quite beautiful this time of year. I love walking Grim in this weather. The walk can be longer without being sweaty. All of the houses have Halloween decorations in the front yards and everything smells so good.

Additionally, yesterday I went to the gym for the first time in four months. It was the first time EVER that I actually had a positive emotional reaction to the smell of a gym. I know, that probably sounds weird in multiple ways. First, I should explain that I smell a lot, and smells mean a lot to me. Smells are highly linked to memories and emotions for me, they always have been. I smell things DH does not, both good and bad. I know the smell of winter, the smell of DH in the winter versus DH in the summer, the smell of Duluth in all seasons, the smell of my parents house, the smell that comes with a day out in the sun, the smell of fall, the smell of football, the smell of Halloween, the smell of an Ohio summer, the smell of cold... they are all distinct to me and each come with a whole different set of emotions (in all of these cases, positive emotions).

In the past, the gym certainly would have been a negative smell to me. Disgusting. Sweaty. Gross. I hate working out. I have never been one of those people who found running or really exerting myself a joy. I like playing sports, they are competitive and fun, but I never could just go run or lift weights, I get no satisfaction out of it and it hurts. Well, maybe those days are over, because when I smelled the gym yesterday it brought on positive emotions, can do emotions, an urge to get healthy. I guess its been a long time since I did anything very physical, and my body wants to start being used again! I plan to work out 4 days a week this quarter, so it will be getting more use.

Ok. I am going to sign off before I make myself sound any crazier. But, to recap, if you are keeping track, I am strongly effected by (1) memories (2) weather and (3) smells. I guess that next time someone asks me "what inspires you" I should list these three things, because really they are the little things in life that are great.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rising Dread

People started their oral defenses yesterday, and I have to admit its freaking me out. Seeing people sitting in a room waiting to do their orals, looking nervous; hearing professors talking in the mail room about whose exam is today; other students running around grinning because they made it through.

I guess I sort have been in denial about orals for a few days now. Its easy to do when there are so many legitimate distractions (like class). But they are coming faster than I think. 12 days.

I have no idea if I will pass, and no idea how I will feel about passing or failing when it happens.

And I hate uncertainty.

A Tale of Four Cats: Paws of Our Lives

I am cat sitting for a friend for the next five days. That means we have four cats in the house, 8 living beings in the house total. It has been less than 24 hours and already this has produced interesting situations.

The characters:
DH, Me, Ben, Grim, Nox, Gandalf, and introducing Galaxy and Tiki (like we needed another G name)

Oh, and three of the four cats are solid black, and Nox and Tiki are nearly the same size (Nox is slightly smaller).

Scenes to date
- Gandalf being more interested in the new cat food then the fact there are two new cats
- Galaxy freaking out at Grim
- Galaxy freaking out at me when I try to "save" him from Grim and scratching me
- Tiki freaking out at Gandalf
- Gandalf looking at Tiki like "WTF? Why are you so up tight man? I am just trying to sit here"
- Nox attacking Gandalf (yeah... they know each other, but apparently they forget this when new cats are introducted)
- Galaxy being afraid of anything that moves
- Galaxy hissing at DH while being petted by Ben
- Tiki going missing (we still have not found him, but he must be hiding somewhere in the house and we had to leave for work)
- Both Tiki and Galaxy hissing while I was holding them
- Gandalf freaking out at Nox (I think Gandalf and Tiki must have gotten into a fight overnight and Gandalf could not tell Tiki from Nox? I don't know.)

Psycho cats.

And meanwhile... Grim is like "I wanna play, I wanna play, please play with me, anyone?"

Yep. Thats life at our crazy house.