Monday, August 27, 2007


Expect Nothing

Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Given out
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.

Discover the reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.

--Alice Walker

Sunday, August 26, 2007

more books!

61. Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
So I am apparently the only anthropologist to never read this. I actually know a few people who say they got into anthropology because of this book. I found it on a free shelf, so I thought, why not? This is not the most beautifully written or most well-plotted book, but it was pretty fun! Drama amongst the Neandertals! Who can resist? It was really fun reading and I have later books in the series on request at the library. I hear the sex heats up as the books go on.

62. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
Another fun fluff book. I've been diving back into the chick lit, and this book was pretty enjoyable. The main character is really engaging, although her disorganization and immaturity did get to me some at the beginning. I'm also planning on reading the rest of this series.

63. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
As I mentioned in another post, I had heard a lot about this book but was pretty sure I would hate it. I thought I'd try it anyway, and I loved it! I don't know why it spoke to me so much. I think it is because the author talked so much about taking time out to do things she enjoyed, and to learn to be forgiving of herself. These are definitely things I need to work on, and the book really inspired me to do so.

64. Good In Bed by Jennifer Weiner
This one was supposed to be chick lit, but aside from the fact that there is a breakup and a female heroine I thought it was generally too heavy to be what I think of as "chick lit". It was a good book, though, well written and with very engaging characters. It was just more serious than I was prepared for or wanted at the time.

Friday, August 24, 2007


60. Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson
This is the third in a series of young adult novels about some genetically engineered kids who have wings and can fly. I have not read the first two novels in the series, but I don't think that impeded my understanding of the story too much. So there is a 'flock' of kids from about 6-14 who were genetically engineered to have wings, and in this book they have to save the world from a plot by evil scientists all the while running around evading the scientists who want to kill them. They are lead by the title character, called Max, a 14 year old girl. I really liked the main character although some of the others seemed a little thin. But Max is really spunky, strong, adventurous and a good leader. The story is pretty good and gives us good messages about family, teamwork, and how anyone can make a difference, but I was never really very clear on exactly what the evil scientists' plan was, or why they made that plan. There's also a lot of really self-referential stuff in the book. Like one of the characters has a blog which really exists -- it's used is a plot point in the book, but sometimes it seemed like Patterson was trying to hard. Like he wanted to be all cool for the teens but over did it. Anyway, I am an old fuddy duddy, so what do I know? I'd be interested to see what actual young adults think of the books. I think this book is worth it though for the action and the awesome character of Max. She is a really great, strong female character, so I am happy about that no matter what.

*disclaimer: I received a copy of the book and an Amazon gift certificate in exchange for a review.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Poetry Monday!

Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling

the edge of the sea
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

William Carlos Williams

Trial by Fire

I was thinking last night about what grad school has been to me, about all the problems I am having making myself just write the freaking dissertation already, and about how I've changed in grad school. One thing I realized recently is that the me I am now, after 5 years of grad school, is the me I am. This came to me a while ago when I was having some kind of crisis over the fact that I would never finish and suffering some serious impostor syndrome. I said to R, "I hate that grad school makes me act so emotional. This isn't me." But then I realized that wait, if I have been acting a certain way for 5 years, that is probably me. It is just a different me than I was 5 years ago.

Months ago Dr. Crazy wrote a really good post about graduate school being a process of breaking a person down and creating them anew as an academic/scholar/professor/whatever. I think this is really hitting the nail on the head, and exactly what I have gone through. Every step of grad school is, in a way, something I am not ready for and after I go through it I can't believe it is over. But then I look back and it is so easy. Like the morning of my MA defense I was soooo nervous, I felt like I was going to throw up. I seriously thought I had food poisoning because never before in my entire life have I ever been that nervous. But as soon as I was done, it was no big deal. And now, facing down my dissertation looming over me and seeming like it will never be done, I would love to just have a master's thesis to write again. I feel like I could do a really good job with it. But it does seem that with every step I need to fall apart, in order to put myself back together. It is a little like how I write, really. I write a ton of crap, then delete it all and start over and end up with much better stuff than I had before.

I'm hoping that now that I've seen this system, I can be a little gentler with myself as I go through it. I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Gilbert takes a year and travels, exploring pleasure in Italy, devotion in India and then trying to find balance between them in Indonesia. I'll write more about the book later but it has really been speaking to me. At the part I am at now, in her yoga practice, she is working on seeing the divine within herself and opening herself to what she calls God's love. I am not totally comfortable with those terms, but I would like to work on being more gentle with myself. I tend to get on tracks of how I am the laziest person ever and don't deserve a PhD, and will never succeed out of grad school, when, to paraphrase Gilbert, I need to learn I am just a human, and an average one at that.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I am home today with a bad bad headache. Perhaps a migraine? I do not know the official definition of migraine though. It sucks because I have large amounts of guilt whenever I am sick -- I see it as a personal failure as though I should be able to overcome whatever is wrong with me by force of will. This is a problem with being headstrong and stubborn. As I can usually get most things by sheer force of will, it is very troubling when I cannot. Anyway, yesterday I felt all weird too, so I am going to lay around today and hopefully get better.

In other news, I think I am going to buy a new computer. I am not into the $1600 price tag when I don't have a job, BUT my current computer does not allow me to open more than 3 word documents/ excel files at once which is really impeding my dissertation writing. Also the constant freezing is a problem. I was planning to buy a new computer after graduating and getting a job, but my new plan is to pay this one off when that happens. I'm just buying it in advance. I don't know, it feels a little frivolous, but seriously, I do need word and excel open at the same time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Poetry Monday

late, sorry!

Eleanor Lerman

This is what life does. It lets you walk up to
the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a
stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have
your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman
down beside you at the counter who says, Last night,
the channel was full of starfish. And you wonder,
is this a message, finally, or just another day?

Life lets you take the dog for a walk down to the
pond, where whole generations of biological
processes are boiling beneath the mud. Reeds
speak to you of the natural world: they whisper,
they sing. And herons pass by. Are you old
enough to appreciate the moment? Too old?
There is movement beneath the water, but it
may be nothing. There may be nothing going on.

And then life suggests that you remember the
years you ran around, the years you developed
a shocking lifestyle, advocated careless abandon,
owned a chilly heart. Upon reflection, you are
genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have
become. And then life lets you go home to think
about all this. Which you do, for quite a long time.
Later, you wake up beside your old love, the one
who never had any conditions, the one who waited
you out. This is life's way of letting you know that
you are lucky. (It won't give you smart or brave,
so you'll have to settle for lucky.) Because you
were born at a good time. Because you were able
to listen when people spoke to you. Because you
stopped when you should have and started again.
So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your
late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And
then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland,
while outside, the starfish drift through the channel,
with smiles on their starry faces as they head
out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea.


So, I got married a little over two weeks ago! It was super -- the wedding went just as we wanted, the weather was not rainy although all week the forecast had said it would pour, and everyone seemed to have fun. But I am so happy it is all over!

Many of our friends and fam arrived earlier in the week, so we had a full week prior of running around with them. The wedding festivities officially began on Thursday night when we all got together for a Circle Line Sunset cruise. Basically, a boat goes around lower Manhattan and back, so you can see it all in the light and then again in the sunset and the dark. It was really nice and everyone got to see the Statue of Liberty. The guide was pretty cheesy and talked ALL THE TIME but that added to the fun. :)

Friday we got legally married in City Hall, with our families around. That was a cool experience. We went early so I think we were the 2nd or 3rd of the day. we stood in various lines and then a very businesslike Justice of the Peace married us. It was short. Basically she asked if anyone knew of legal reasons we could not get married and then said, "do you? and you?" and then we were all legal. After that we looked at the courthouse from Law and Order and went to Chinatown for lunch.

In the evening on Friday we had a short rehearsal, and then hung out a bit in the park. Some of the guest went off to frolic while R and I hung with our families some more. By the end of the night we were soooo tired that we just went home.

On Saturday Matt came over to help us load up R's parents' van with our hula hoops, bottled water and water guns. We drove to the park and met my brothers who helped us carry it all to the ceremony site. My brother Keith did a great job of securing the perimeter so that some picnickers got angry at us. But I had a permit, so whatever!

People started arriving and we had the ceremony which went super well. It was officiated by the fabulous Shannon and photographed by Laura and my sister in law Sarah. Melinda said I should post the vows, so here they are:

"Shannon: Laurie, please recite your vows.


You have to believe we are magic
Nothin' can stand in our way
You have to believe we are magic
Don't let your aim ever stray
And if all your hopes survive
Your destiny will arrive
I'll bring all your dreams alive
For you

Shannon: Rick, please recite your vows.


We've got to hold on to what we've got

'Cause it doesn't make a difference if we make it or not.
We've got each other and that's a lot for love -
We'll give it a shot.
We're half way there –

Oooh Oohh

Livin' on a prayer
Take my hand

We'll make it I swear –

Oohhh Ohhh

Livin' on a prayer, living on a prayer.

We've got to hold on ready or not
You live for the fight when that’s all that you've got.

We're half way there - Livin' on a prayer

Shannon: Laurie, do you take Rick as forever yours faithfully?


I do.


Rick, do you take Laurie as forever yours faithfully?


I do.


I now pronounce you married."

After all that we hung around the park and had a rockin' bocce ball tournament, won by my brother Michael and his wife Sarah. Although Katie and Christer did a great job and came in 2nd. :) My mom went crazy with the water guns, and people kept getting hot dogs and ice cream from vendors in the park, so it was very cool.

After all that we went to John's Pizzeria in Times Square where there was much pizza eating and people made amazing use of the one hour of open bar! I was so proud. We also had super tasty cupcakes provided by Melinda, who sadly could not be there because someone else stole my wedding date a year in advance. Seriously, those were good cupcakes though. If the store was anywhere near me I would be super fat.

I was really happy we only had about 30 guests, because I got to talk to most people and had a really good time. At 11:30 the place was going to close, so we all left. R and I splurged on a taxi and came home and fed the cats. :)

It is funny, we both keep forgetting we are married as after he wedding was not very different than before. I think I am getting more used to it now.

Some of our friends and family stayed around a few more days so we hung out with them, and on Tuesday we left for Long Island wine country for two nights, which was really fun and relaxing, but I am tired of typing so will save that for another post.


59. The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy
This is an amazing book. It is the story of a group of elephants during a drought, and their search for a white bone which will lead them to a safe, drought free place. What makes the book amazing is that it is all from the point of view of the elephants, and we learn about their traditions and mythologies, but it is not cartoonish or a weird "talking animal" story. The elephants are not just made into humans either. This is also one of the saddest books I have read, as the elephants are beset by famine and ivory poachers. I highly recommend it, though, and could not put it down.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

books books books

54. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
The last Harry Potter! Sigh. So sad. I really loved this one. I thought it was the best written and most wrenching of all the books. It was really engrossing, and I really admired how the characters became adults by the end of the book. I'm sad the series is over, but I the Rowling finished it up well.

55. Beyond Good Intentions by Cheri Register
For some reason I am really interested in internation and trans-racial adoption lately. I think it is because it is something that on the surface seems innocent and good, but when you dig deeper you see many different problems and issues with it. Anyway, this is a short book written by the mother of two daughters adopted from Korea. It is basically things not to do, or how parents' good intentions with their internationally adopted children can lead them astray. I thought it was good, intelligently written, and written with a lot of compassion and without the patronizing that could slip into a book like this. If I were a person adopting internationally, I think I would get a lot out of this book.

56. Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns by Cheryl L. Reed
The story of a journalist traveling around to see different communities of nuns in the US, and to find out why women would join a convent today. I thought this book was pretty simplistic and made sweeping statements without a lot of support. If you would be shocked to hear that all nuns are not the same and that not all of them agree with the Catholic church's teachings, then you should read this book. Otherwise it is not very useful or interesting.

57. The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud
This book was mentioned on some lists as the best book of 2007, but I didn't really like it. I thought the characters were spoiled, whiny, and self absorbed. Despite that, I still kept reading even though I was annoyed the whole way through.
*An aside: this book did help me crack down on my dissertation, though, as one character was writing a book for years. She was so annoying about it that in my desire to NOT be like her I decided I should work harder on the diss. :)

58. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This book was excellent. It is the story of a girl in Nazi Germany who steals books. The book is narrated by Death. It is hard to explain all that goes on, but it is well-written, the characters are interesting and it is a unique way of looking at a story. This is one of the best books I have read in awhile.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


I swear I will write about the wedding at some point. It was cool, but exhausting, and I plan on never having another one again.

Today I am here to write to you about dissertating. The fast approach of May, my final and personal deadline for graduating, has lit a fire under me and I have been working away and getting surly when my work is interrupted. I really wish now that I was independently wealthy and could just write, and not walk dogs or teach, or any of that other nonsense. However this is not in the cards.

I have also had a breakthrough in the way I work. I think I have finally accepted the fact that I will always write a first draft, which I will then scrap and have to start over. I had 14 pages of my first chapter, but then I finally understood how it all came together so I opened a clean new Word document, and started afresh. I have been concentrating a lot on not letting what I already have written, or what I have in my outline, constrain good ideas or approaches that come up in my writing.

I know I talked about the book Writing Your Dissertation in 15 Minutes A Day before, as it really spoke to me. Lately, I have really been putting it into practice by creating a writing addiction, and doing my thinking through writing. I am thinking more interestingly than I have before, and I think my dissertation will be much stronger for the fact that I am being true to my own thought processes. I also think I'll write it faster as I am working the way that works for my brain, not based on how I think I 'should' work.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Poetry Monday

Alas, I have not posted in a while. Sorry. But I did get married. And then I went to Long Island. And then I have been dog sitting. R and I are such thorough dog sitters that it becomes a full time job. Also, it convinced me that I am not meant to have a dog unless I have a yard. Then I will fulfill my dream of having a rescue greyhound and a dachshund. Hee hee! They will look so funny walking about together. It will give me years of amusement.

Here is a poem for Monday which was one of our wedding readings.

The Peasant Declares His Love

High-yellow of my heart, with breasts like tangerines,
you taste better to me than eggplant stuffed with crab,
you are the tripe in my pepper-pot,
the dumpling in my peas, my tea of aromatic herbs.
You are the corned beef whose customhouse is my heart,
my mush with syrup that trickles down the throat.
You are a steaming dish, mushrooms cooked with rice,
crisp potato fries, and little fish fried brown…
My hankering for love follows you wherever you go.
Your bottom is a basket full of fruits and meat.

--Emile Roumer