Thursday, April 21, 2011


While most of the time I love FB since it provides me a convenient way to waste time I should be using to finish my dissertation. And there is a slight stalkerish element to FB and I love that too. I had this dilemma of who to befriend a couple of years ago when I got FB, but then decided to just befriend everyone since I did not have enough brain space to really think or care about it back then. The problem with that decision is that I am confronted with a lot of stuff (opinions, hatemongering, bad research, complaining, oversharing, etc.) that I do not like or agree with. I have discovered you can hide their posts and I do this, but some of this stuff keeps coming through. So I am left wondering if in my old age I am becoming even less tolerant of people different from me? This is not to say I was a particularly tolerant person to begin with, just that I am maybe forced to confront it now that FB provides me with daily opportunities. To take this step further, what do I do with this new knowledge that I am intolerant? See, it's just so hard. Maybe my little plan to befriend everyone was a bad idea since the pay later situation I'm in as a result really sucks.

Friday, March 25, 2011

doing nothing

I am working on my dissertation. I do not have a job anymore; writing that beast is my job. I work on it a lot, but there are times when I don't. I take naps during the day sometimes, watch movies on-line, make dinner for my husband, read, think--pretty much do whatever I want to do for the very first time in my whole life.

This time and space are luxuries, permitted to me by undeserved good fortune, that I wish more people could enjoy. I feel guilty a lot about not producing more, not making money, not doing something observable. Lots of people, myself included, are overly concerned with being industrious and I think it's a sickness. I did not realize this until I went away for a really long time. So long that I had to readjust my ways of thinking and doing to accommodate a new people, language, culture. I have become aware of it and now I can see the sickness all around me in this country and in myself. Awareness does not equal cure.

My bouts of severe writers block or periods when I have to wait to take the next step because things are beyond my control have demonstrated to me that doing nothing is great. Not the kind of nothing you do when you have done so much that you do nothing as a result of pure exhaustion, choosing to do nothing. The trick is giving yourself permission to do nothing and then enjoying the nothing with out guilt. I'm still working on that, but I am getting a whole lot closer. Judge me if you want, think I'm lazy, pampered, losing my mind, it's ok. I probably am all of those things, but I'm also very happy that I am learning the art of doing nothing and learning to love it.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

another use for the common hammer

I discovered this morning after brushing a few inches of snow off the car, warming it up, and shoveling the walk and driveway that in fact that car was frozen in place. Odd indeed, but oh so true. A huge hunk of slush from yesterday had fallen off one of the front tires and frozen itself to the ground and tire thus freezing the tire to the ground. I have not dealt with this kind of nonsense in years, well never really because this is just kind of insane. I tried chipping at it with the end of the shovel but the angle was crap and I was dangerously close to scratching the Princess. So I did what anyone would do and I called my parents. They live in WI so they know about snow and ice situations. They said to let the car run for a while and surely the heat from the engine would melt the ice. They park their cars in a garage so you'll have to forgive their naivete. After applying salt and letting the car run for a long while, no change. Then I got an idea. I now keep a hammer in the car for situation like this.

I noted another Rochester oddity today that Ray told me about, but I had not seen. People shovel the snow from their driveway into the street. I don't understand why since the lady doing it across the street had to move the snow further than if she'd have made a pile at the edge of the driveway. Anybody understand why this is a good idea? Hardly anyone shovels their sidewalks here. When it snows enough, the city sends a small tractor to plow the sidewalks. If the tractor does not come, the snow stays. This is a big problem for all the dogs and dog walkers I mentioned in my last post (this includes me and Skippy Lynch).

BTW I turned in a chapter of my dissertation yesterday. I have no idea how it'll be received, but I feel a whole lot less guilty now.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


As the savvy reader may suspect, I should currently be working on my dissertation, but am writing this post instead. I simply must take a break from reading because I keep falling asleep whilst doing it. As a new resident of Rochester, which I'm told is often referred to as Ra-cha-cha from some reason, I am observing several phenomena that I do not fully understand.

People from this fine city seem to be dedicated pet lovers. I know this because they walk their dogs in our neighborhood at all hours of the day or night in all types of weather. They don't even look miserable at 6 AM when the current temperature with windchill is 3, like this morning. I might be speculating a bit on this since their outerwear obscures their faces, but to go out in this weather at that hour is impressive and must mean you love your dog. I respect that. I guess they don't do what I do and demand in my best pack leader voice that my small dog, who does not wish to leave the warmth of the house, go out his pet door to relieve himself because there is no way I am walking him at that time of the day in winter (perhaps not in any season really). In my defense, I do put a jacket on him before I shove him out the pet door.

There are rules regarding proper wear of pj pants outside the house, but I do not know what they are. I see them a lot--with hearts all over them, cute little hunting dogs, stripes, plaid, balloons, french toile in soft pink. Sometimes I see them on the dog walkers at 6 AM, which come on if you are gonna walk your dog at 6AM on Sunday by all means wear your pjs to do it. What I do not understand is how they are not freezing to death if they are only wearing pj pants. I rarely leave this house without two layers on my bottom half so while the pj pants are convenient and certainly cozy in the house, they do not seem like they would be the best choice for winter walking. To complicate the issue I must add that I see pj pants all day long. I saw a lady getting out of a car across the street in the middle of the afternoon wearing them the other day. I see people at the supermarket with them on. The other thing is that those wearing pj pants are not young (teenager or college aged) they are full on adults. You must see why the rules are rather difficult for me to discern, but I really must figure out what they are before I can start wearing my pj pants in public.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

i miss

As many of you know Ray got out of the Army officially in February and took a job in Rochester, NY. Skippy and I just joined him two weeks ago. After a rough few days that included packing up his house, taking his first airplane trip and having boxes piled high all around a very tiny new house, Skippy is adjusted to his new place and thrilled with it. He has lots of squirrels in his yard and had a few rabbits that have decided they will find a new yard to play in after meeting him. He's got a great view of the street from the back of the couch and his mom works from home so he's got full time company. What more could a dog want?

People keep asking what I think of it and I keep saying it's ok, which it is. I've moved around a bit in my adult life and never stayed more than 5 years in a place. I have lots of nostalgia for Austin right now, but keep trying to remind myself that I had the same feeling 5 years ago for Quito so it must just be part of the process.

This nostalgia has been revved up by reading Texas monthly, which we still get in Rochester. Last month they did a series of articles about what it means to be a Texan. I have no idea what it means or if I'm one or not, but I miss it. I miss the normal things like my friends and my old routines. I desperately miss the bigness of Texas, the huge summer storms and the smell of your car when you get in it after it's been sitting in the Texas summer heat. Oddly enough though, I am also experiencing more than a little bit of culture shock up here. I may be having delayed culture shock from leaving my beloved Quito 5 years ago. I love Latin America, even the annoying and utterly ridiculous inexplicably stuff about it. Texas is Latin America in lots of ways, even though lots and lots of Texans do not want to acknowledge that and think building a huge fence along the border is a good idea, while I feel secure in saying that Rochester is not. I've seem a few Puerto Ricans at Walmart (I needed an air conditioner at 9:30 PM, we can discuss the fact I was shopping at Walmart later). There are no Spanish channels on T.V. or radio, no Mexican/Latin American supermarkets, very little Spanish spoken anywhere, hardly any brown people at all in fact (not met a single Mexicano yet), and no decent Tex-Mex or just plan Mex food. Seriously Rochester is whiter than rural Wisconsin where I grew up. White people own Mexican restaurants up here, thus the awful food situation. In lots of ways I fit in a whole lot better with brown people than white people so without any I don't know what to do.

Perhaps I should be grateful for Texas acting as a bridge between full Latin America and full white mainstream "American" society for me. For now, I just miss it terribly and all the things that make me feel normal.

Sunday, April 04, 2010


I've been thinking about this theme lately pretty much because I'm tired of living with the consequences of my decisions and those of others. I'll give a few examples to illustrate.

Ray interviewed for jobs in November since he was scheduled to get out of the Army in January. We were hoping he'd get a job somewhere in Texas, but he didn't. He got one in Rochester, NY so he moved there in January. The consequence of this decision is that I'm all alone here in our house. I miss Ray and I absolutely cannot handle any more of being a home owner by myself. We all have our limits and taking care of a house in the burbs by myself is a duty I can no longer perform. I used to do this stuff before when he was in Iraq, but I'm too exhausted to do it now. This is why friends if you drive by our house and think it's abandoned because the grass (weeds really) are knee high, it's not true. I just can't get the mower started even though I spent half a Saturday a couple of weeks ago when I should have been writing my proposal and grading changing the spark plug and cleaning the filter. These are the unintended/unforeseen consequence of Ray getting a job out of state.

Grad school occupies very much of my time and energy. I love the intellectual stimulation, but it drains my energy and acts like a memory eraser for a short and long term memory that were never great at any point in my life. I often forget birthdays, to answer e-mails, to call people back, or plans I've made with people I really, really like and appreciate. The consequence then of grad school is that I'm a pretty rotten friend and family member. I really don't mean to be this way.

I inherited Marina, a lovely sea blue colored Honda civic in January. I've noticed this really yucky looking stain on the back seat, but never thought much about it thinking it was something from the previous owner that very old and posed no immediate problem. I've also noticed ants in the car on more than one occasion since January. I've wiped things done with strong cleaner surely poisonous to ants because that situation is disgusting. Ray and I talked this morning while I had Skippy at the Bark Park and I mentioned this awful stain and the ants. He confesses that the stain is not old, it's pretty new and it's spilled lasagna. Guess how I'm spending my Easter morning? Scrubbing that horrid stain out to see if the ants that have taken up residence in my car will kindly go away.

See, it's hard. I know it's cliche, but I want a simpler life. I think life post-grad school will be simpler. I say this because I will not have to live in Austin while Ray lives in Rochester and that means he'll help me walk the dog, buy the groceries, mow the grass and weed whack (which by the way I have NEVER been able to do and we've had two of those beastly machines that simple do not work when I attempt to use them), figure out what to do about my demon students, and choose which Netflix movies to add to our cue. Oh, I'll also get my car back (Princess, I love and miss you!) and Ray can deal with the ant problem that is entirely his doing.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I have qualifying exams in 6 days. I have been holed up for weeks now preparing and stressing. This is why, my dear friends, I am acting like an even bigger freak about school than usual. I am about 3/4 of the way ready and am in serious need of distraction.

Just for fun we decided to sell our house during all of this. Ray lives in Rochester, NY and has actually been out of the country for work during much of the saga of selling the house. We accepted an offer, the people's brother-in-law was the inspector and said our 8 yr old house is falling down around our ears (but we never noticed this) so they decided not to buy our house after all. We got some $ from them backing out of the deal, which was enough to pay for repairs and now the house is back on the market except we think perhaps we should just keep the house as an investment property since we discovered can't afford to buy a house in Rochester due the the ridiculously high property taxes. Way more information than any of you wanted.

What next? Well, once I'm done with exams, I am going to spend my spring break in Ireland with Ray. He'll work and I'll be a tourist and write some fellowship proposals whilst drinking at the pub. The thought of this is what is getting me through this dark time. After summer school, during which time I'll finish writing my proposal, I'll head out to Rochester with Skippy Lynch to spend a few weeks with Ray before coming back here to collect some data for my dissertation.

Someday Ray, Skippy and I will all live together again. But for now, I think we are all glad that we don't because I'm not very nice right now and I don't have time to do anything except study, stress, keep my house in museum like condition and write blogs.