Thursday, April 30, 2009

What to Wear, What to Wear

Stop me if you've heard this one before:

I realized, shortly after losing my job, that almost every article of clothing I owned was intended for: a) wearing to work, or b) wearing to the nicer clubs/bars I used to frequent.  What does that mean?  Because my idea of "business casual" is something like JUST DON'T DO IT IT MAKES YOU LOOK FRUMPY, my work clothes were pencil-skirts, dry-clean only sweaters, or gauzy silk blouses, straight out of "The Secretary."

I dressed like a secretary from a Cary Grant movie.

I rarely wore pants, because I preferred to wear skirts (mostly because I have a ridiculously long inseam, so I always had to buy pants with a 36" inseam and get them tailored).  For the above-mentioned reasons, my weekly dry-cleaning bills were in the $50-80 range.  No joke.  

Obviously, once unemployed, you want all your clothes to be machine-washable, or nearly all of them.  It's cheaper, and it's not like you don't have the time to wash them.  To top it off, almost all of my clothes were wintery.  Summer and spring clothes wear out much faster, my sister and I have decided, because you HAVE to wash them between wearings.  Once the weather began its transition from freeze-your-buns-off cold to make-you-sweat hot, I realized that I was wearing the same 3 things over and over again.

I decided that I needed to buy some clothes, so I did.  I hit The Gap, but their clothes didn't look like $50/item clothes, and there was nothing on the sale rack that appealed to me.  On I moved to Banana Republic, which, once upon a time, was like Cheers for me.  Everyone there knew me.  Again, nothing appealed to me, except, of course, for some beautiful silk sheath dresses that are absolutely useless in my current role of stay-at-home-mom-(without-the-kids).

XXI, a cheap cheap clothing store where I sometimes find garments that look like a million bucks, also came up empty.  Macy's, Dillard's, nada.  I take that back, I found a shirt at Macy's, but I couldn't bring myself to spend $80 on it, and it was slightly too big.  I hit Anthropologie, and finally caved, buying a sweater on super-sale and a surplice t-shirt.  Both were more than I'd hoped to spend on clothes ($40 and $50, respectively), but I was getting frustrated at this point.  I was so desperate, I even went into Arden B., for crying out loud!

One of the complicating factors in my clothes-buying experience is the fact that almost everything I want to buy is either black or white.  I don't like hot pink, bubble-gum blue, or true reds.  They make me look weird, and I always feel like a teenager from a bad 80s movie when I wear them.  A bright salmon, I can wear.  Cerulean blue, no problem (the shirt in the pic is the one I bought, but in cerulean, actually).  The people at Banana Republic used to tease me about the fact that I only bought balck/white clothes.  At work, I could branch out, wearing a black skirt, say, with a soft pink shirt.

I'm also kind of obsessive when it comes to how clothes are cut.  Give me three-quarter length sleeves over cap sleeves, any day.  My arms are by no means skinny, and have become less so, oddly enough, since I quit working.  I guess heaving all those computers around for my boss did something for my upper-arms.

So after searching for 3 hours, I came away with two shirts.  Looks like the hunt will have to continue, since I will soon need more casual clothes if a potential job in an industrial manufacturing facility pans out.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi

I actually read "Persepolis" a while back, but the weighty tome I'm currently reading is preventing me from running through my weekly dose of 2-3 books per week, as per usual.  I will, of course, write about the aforementioned weighty tome once its reading is completed

"Persepolis" was amazing and eye opening.  It was made into an animated movie back in 2007 (Catherine Deneuve did the voice for Marjane's mum, and Chiara Mastroianna did Marjane's voice) and subsequently was nominated for a bazillion movie awards, including the Oscar, which it failed to win.

The graphic novel focuses on the Islamic Revolution in Iran, which occurred during Ms. Satrapi's childhood.  Because Ms. Satrapi was young when the revolution occurred, it is depicted through her 8 year old eyes.  She depicts childish confusion at being forced to wear a headscarf, but not understanding why it was required; being segregated from her male schoolmates after years of co-education; and her desire to become a prophet.

"Persepolis I" is an excellent look at the Islamic Revolution through the eyes of Iranians that are now adults.  "Persepolis II" is a look at Iran in more recent years, after Marjane returned to Iran from several years of parent-imposed exile in Europe.  She points out the innate hypocrisy in the behavior of the moral police, and often manages to make the stories sadly funny.

The Iran-Iraq war - the first one - is also covered, with its attendant bombings and television newscasts.

All in all, "Persepolis" is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read, both from a historical standpoint, and also from a conceptual point of view.  The books are beautifully illustrated with stark graphics that place emphasis on the dialogue and narration, but that also reflect the simplistic ideas Marjane had about the Revolution during her childhood.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ugly Ugly Ugly

I finally ordered a computer.  I bit the bullet and went with a Dell, because I could get the computing power I needed, the screen size I wanted (16"), and a price I can afford.  Ok that's done.

Now, though, I'm wondering: do I get a new bag for the computer?

The bag I have for the old Fujitsu from which I'm currently blogging is big, black, and manly.  It was fine for school, but it's not particularly attractive.  It's a backpack, which worked decently, but I found it difficult to extract my computer from the bag.

I'm discovering, however, that as a fashion-conscious female, my options are limited.  Most "women's bags" won't hold the 16" widescreen computer I bought, or if they will, they're cheap pink vinyl, ready for an anime sticker to be plastered onto its side, gamer-style.  Seriously, do female executives carry pink vinyl computer bags to meetings?  If you don't want to spend $400 on a bag, you're out of luck!  It's ridiculous.  I want to spend less than $100 (significantly less), so that means my options are even more limited.

I found a sleek aluminum case (a knock-off of the Halliburton Zero) online for $50, but it weighs 7 lbs, so form doesn't really follow function.  Too bad, because it would have been soooooo James-Bond-villainess-chic to carry.  Bleach my hair blonde and add red lipstick, and Daniel Craig would have his next nemesis, even though I personally preferred Sean Connery in the role.

I saw a laptop case at Steinmart the other day while shopping for a purse, but it was zebra with red leatherette "accents."  It was cute.  But I don't want cute.  I want sophisticated female.  Which does not equate to zebra with red leatherette.  Or pink vinyl.  Or pink microfiber.  Maybe I need to go into business designing laptop bags for women...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tonight on COPS

Friday's Happy Hour shenanigans once again took place at City Tavern.  As happened once before, the fellow in Victorian attire made an appearance, which made my evening.  But there was a new element of excitement to the evening:


The ban went into effect a couple of weeks ago, I think, and it has made bar-hopping noticeably more comfortable for those of us with, say, raging topical allergies to cigarette smoke.  At the Elbow Room last week, I could actually see the ceiling, and not through a cloudy blue haze!

Why was the lack of nicotine-laced smoke exciting, apart from a dermatological viewpoint?  Because the City of Dallas Police are out in full force, writing tickets right and left to those who violate the ban.

Consequently, after a member of the band slated to perform at City Tavern entered the bar and proceeded upstairs, cigarette firmly planted between his lips, a host of policemen, and a plainclothes policewoman, swarmed into the bar.  After the initial excitement died down, I proceeded to the Water Closet, and was surprised there by the plainclothes woman, who sniffed the air as I informed her there was a short wait to use the facilities.  She ducked back out, at which point I noticed the badge clipped to her stylish belt.

Because the happy hour group consists almost solely of those in architecture-related fields, and because there is a high proportion of architecty people that smoke (and drink), the happy hour crew ended up sitting outside in the cordoned area of the sidewalk "belonging" to City Tavern.

You could tell this caused some consternation amongst the non-police downtown security guards, as they tried to decide whether or not it was worth it reporting the smokers, who were failing to keep at least 25 feet from the door of the bar, as required by the city ordinance.  Of course, in downtown, that would put smokers in the middle of the street, so the security forces, when made aware of the fact, opted not to report the sidewalk smokers for tickets.  The police were kind enough to overlook the transgression, also.

I know some people in Dallas will claim that the smoking ban will keep smokers away from bars, but I, for one, won't miss it at all, and I'm more than happy to accommodate my smoking friends by sitting outside in pleasant weather.

It's just too bad my face also breaks out because of pollen...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Things Are Looking Up

I was recently informed that I might have an interior design commission.  The potential client in question is a colleague of my mother's.  In the past, she's worked with her sister, who is a licensed interior designer, something I am not.  However, here sister's idea of a bargain is a $400 throw pillow, and so this potential client asked my mom if I do interiors.

My mom informed her that I did, and that I not only have impeccable taste, but that I'm capable of working on a strict budget.  That did it.  So if the potential client in question actually purchases her house in the country (which is very likely) I'll have my first paid interiors gig.

In addition, I believe I'll soon be going to work for my dad's company.  He needs someone to develop some how-to manuals, and I'm just the gal to do it, what with my fabulous graphic-design skills and all that.  It also helps that I know him and know how his business operates (sort of) so I'll be able to seamlessly integrate myself into his office a couple of days per week.

His office is two hours from Dallas, between the thriving metropoli of Winona and Starville.  Or, we'll just say it's two hours EAST of Dallas.  That means I will be staying in a motel one night per week, because my dad's living space is not set up for a house-guest.  It also means I will have to drive 15-20 minutes to his office, because there are no hotels in either Winona or Starville.

For your viewing pleasure, I've included a lovely mural that is to be found in Winona.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"I'm Perfect, You're Doomed" by Kyria Abrahams

If you like watching train wrecks as they happen, then "I'm Perfect, You're Doomed" is about as darkly funny a wreck as you'll find.  The book follows the upbringing of Ms. Abrahams, who was raised a devout Jehovah's Witness.  Then again, is there any type of Jehovah's Witness except devout?  You'd probably be surprised at the answer.

I've always been fascinated by religion.  Not any particular religion, mind you, just the concept of religion in general.  I think I would have enjoyed majoring in theology, except for the part where they make you pick ONE, because I like learning about all of them.  I learned more about being a Jehovah's Witness while reading "I'm Perfect, You're Doomed" than I expected.  There is even a helpful glossary in the back of the book, albeit a sarcastic one.

Ms. Abrahams is one of those actors that takes a potential for tragedy and spins it into comedy.  She is, in a word, similar to myself.  When I'm most upset, I also crack relentless jokes, which is often confusing for those that don't know me. 

TTDKM: "How can you joke about cancer?"
Me: "How can you not?" *

Ms. Abrahams manages to be informative about her former religion while also being hilarious (she was disfellowshipped, a word the meaning of which you will discover upon reading).  She presents her personal history with the perception of one who's been through the storm, got soaked thoroughly, and realized what a great story that storm would make, and how funny it would be to write about being struck by lightning and pelted by hail.  The book is laugh-out-loud funny.  (No LOL, here, because the humor deserves to be spelled out.)

I look forward to reading it again and again.

*  For those not in the know:  No, I don't think cancer in and of itself is funny, but I sure as hell did my best to make it funny when I had it as a teenager, much to the consternation of the chemotherapy clinic nurses.

To Dig Yourself Out of Unemployment...

Throw money into the hole!

I received an email from AutoDesk, makers of AutoCAD, Revit, 3-D Studio Max, and every other computer-aided drafting program out there, with the notable exception of Sketchup.  Right now, they're giving free student versions of Revit (a super-expensive drafting program) to architects that were laid off (in other words, if you were fired for photocopying your nether-regions, you are not eligible).

This is exactly what I've been waiting for, because I need to learn the program in order to increase my competitiveness in the job market.  There is, however, one major drawback:

My 4 year old laptop isn't up to the task.  The poor old clunker doesn't meet any of the bullet points listed in the System Requirements section.  So now, I'm looking at spending somewhere between $1,000-1,200 before taxes to get a new computer that can run the program.  Fortunately, that's only 2-3 months of COBRA payments, which I won't have to start paying again until August.

The daunting part is not actually spending the money.  The daunting part is that I have to pick out a computer.  I have to decide if I want to stick with a 17" screen, like the type I currently have, or if I want to downsize to a more physically manageable 15" screen.  The smaller ones also fit into cuter computer bags, which in an ideal world wouldn't be an issue.  Then again, in an ideal world, I wouldn't be unemployed and having to learn new software to make myself more marketable.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Saturday night, I went to dinner with a couple of friends in Plano, Texas.  We went to The Keg, a steak restaurant that I had previously avoided because of the mental image of a bunch of swollen-bellied men in wife beaters that the restaurant's name evoked.  Despite the fact that I knew it was a nice-ish steak restaurant, I couldn't get the beer guts out of my mind.  That, and the fact that my mom mis-steak-enly (wah-wah) informed me that it would cost me $80 to eat there.

The steak was better than most other restaurants that are comparably priced, in my opinion (it cost me $40 to eat there, including my glass of iced tea and the server's tip).  Unlike many restaurants who mistake "mushy" for "tender," the meat at The Keg actually was tender, and cooked to medium-rare perfection.

Afterwards, we wondered where to go.  Should we drive up to Addison?  Should we go to one of the two brewpubs in East Plano (the other side of town)?  The newest member of the Cult of the iPod whipped out her trusty sidekick and quickly found that there was a hotel nearby with a highly rated bar: the A-Loft.

So, to the A-Loft we went.  It's a hotel chain owned by the W brand of hotels.  Once upon a time, when I was still employed, one of my clients put forth the idea of having an A-Loft on the property we were developing.  It didn't pan out, but it exposed me to a new type of hotel.

This ain't your Holiday Inn.

The bar was more of a lounge, I guess, with lots of banquettes and low tables.  The TV screens over the bar showed the baseball game, a UFC fight, and some other sport that obviously didn't make it onto my radar.  Board games were scattered around (Scrabble, chess, checkers, you name it).

In short, there is a cool bar in Plano, and it has fairly classy patrons, if you don't count the coconut-bra-ed Parrot Heads that invaded after the Jimmy Buffett concert.

I also discovered that, according to my friends, coconut-bra sporting men are only tolerable if they are slightly chubby college boys or chubby middle-aged men.  Muscular college boys in coconut bras need not apply.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Aw, Shoot. Not Again!


To: Ms. S. Consciousness
From: All former coworkers/colleagues, still employed

Re: Expected daily duties while you are unemployed

We have noticed that you, as an unemployed former coworker/colleague, are not upholding the expected level of performance required of you to keep us entertained while at work.  Although we realize that you lost your job because there was not enough work to keep you busy, and that you are actively looking for a job, and therefore really don't have that much time on your hands, we still expect you to provide us with entertainment during the day, viz. sending us humorous YouTube videos and/or web-comics.

Despite our repeated requests, we have noticed a lack of attention to the issue, viz. your poor performance in providing us with humorous YouTube videos and/or web-comics.  Due to the fact that the length of your unemployment has exceeded three months, we find no valid excuse for your lack of capability in hunting down funny YouTube videos and/or web-comics.  As a result of the aforementioned performance failure on your part, your employment as a Favorite Unemployed Email Correspondent is hereby terminated forthwith.

Currently Employed (Bored) Friends

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Keeping Myself Busy

One of the ways I used to "catalog" design ideas I like was to tear out pages from design magazines and shove them all into a pretty light-blue linen-covered document box from The Container Store.  This, however, proved an unwieldy way of keeping track of things I liked.  What's more, I tended to take the sheets out to look at them and then lose them.

Then, one day, I came across a BRILLIANT idea: I would paste or tape the pages into a sketchbook someone had purchased for me on the assumption that all architects are sketching fanatics.  I prefer, however, to cheat, by building quick'n'dirty Sketchup models, tracing over them, and adding the details as I go.  So far, it's proved a pretty good way to fake the sketching skills, and your perspective is never wrong!

So I began pasting magazine pictures, fliers, museum pamphlets and the like into this glossy red hard-bound sketchbook with "Sketchbook" helpfully printed across the front of it.

My self-proclaiming Sketchbook soon became full, however.  Not to say that there were no more blank pages, but that I'd pasted so many images into it that the cover no longer closed into a nice rectangular cross-section; it was trapezoidal, in fact, and my slightly OCD self couldn't have that, so I began cutting out unused pages near the end, then some closer to the center that were unused, and the Sketchbook was once again aesthetically pleasing.  It also no longer had room for more magazine images.

Fortunately, around this time, an employer presented me with a handsome sketchbook from England.  In true hoity-toity British style, this sketchbook felt no need to proclaim its identity to the world, instead opting to be bound with navy-blue leather at the spine with hand-marbleized covers.  My employer intended me to sketch in it, as did the person who initially gave me the Sketchbook.   Poor misguided souls.  No, my Papyrus sketchbook would be subjected to the same carnage of addition and subtraction that my first Sketchbook suffered.

I've filled both of them, and I now have a stack of magazine images and - yes - hand-sketches with nowhere to go.  So I've been on a quest for a new sketchbook: something understated, yet still stylish, and large enough to handle the 9"x12" magazines I occasionally add to the pile of periodicals on my nightstand (and floor, and desk).  I'd been to the Great Satan that is otherwise known as Barnes and Noble.  I looked at  All to no avail.

While in Houston, I asked my sister if my favorite hardware store, Bering's, might have some.  She said she didn't know, but she didn't think they'd have one up to snuff.  We went to Rice Village to visit the Pier 1 store there, and saw a sign that said "Stationary & Fine Writing Instruments" in the window. 

"We should go in there," my mom suggested.  "They might have a sketchbook in there you'd like."  I disagreed.  I tend to be pretty disenchanted with stationary stores, because they never have the stationary I want (I'm very particular about my papergoods).

I was so wrong.

It was the greatest stationary store I've ever seen.  In addition to the ubiquitous Thank You notes and custom wedding invitations, they had a row of "normal" papergoods, like spiral notebooks and columnar account books, with which I'm obsessed even though I have no use for them.  And they had sketchbooks.  Not a huge selection, mind you, but a big enough selection to satisfy me.  Because they had Moleskines.  Huge ones.  So I am now the proud owner of a 12"x18" Moleskine sketchbook, over which I've been oohing and aahing ever since.

On the way out, still high on the endorphines released by making a fantastic purchase, I glanced at a display case.  In it were two of the most beautifully crafted pens I've ever seen.

One of them has a piece of the Titanic built into it.  The other one was made of gold and stainless steel, and all the pieces of the pen were held together with little tiny rivets.  Not fake ones, but real ones.  I want one, but, as I just discovered by perusing the internet, these pins cost about what I took home after taxes over the course of 3 months.  Ouch.  But beautiful just the same.  So if you've got a small fortune to blow on a pen, Jean Pierre Lepine pens are for you! (see image for example)

The owner/manager of the store saw the look on my face and was kind enough to take the pens out of their fancy display case to let me hold them.  The weigh more than my packed-to-the-gills purse.  

I still want one.

"The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath

Continuing in the review of books I've read while convalescing from surgery, today we'll discuss "The Bell Jar."  For those of you not "in the know," the book is a thinly veiled autobiographical account of Plath's own downward spiral into depression and psychosis.

TBJ was published in the UK after Plath's self-inflicted death, if I remember correctly the sequence of events, so obviously the psychiatric care she received as a young woman wore off at some point.  The book wasn't legally available in the United States until 8 or 10 years after its publication in the UK because her mother didn't want to upset people who would read the book and see themselves in it.

Unbeknownst to myself, the book has a strange sort of parallelism to my life at present.  No, I have no plans to become delusional and psychotic, nor do I have any desire to kill myself.  But the main character's depression is triggered by her rejection from a program she badly wants to enter (writing with a famous author at a summer program), and after her rejection, she is at a loss for what to do with herself.  See what I mean?  But where the main character in the book decides to kill herself, I have opted to further clutter the blogosphere with inanities and to devote my time to Facebook, a worthwhile cause if ever I found one.

Ms. Plath's writing is vivid and breathtaking, and she had the ability to create incredible mental images of the characters' situations, so that a fantastically detailed movie seems to run in the reader's head.

I can imagine that some people wouldn't want to read The Bell Jar because of its focus on depression and the havoc it wreaks on people: those depressed and those dealing with the depressed.  These people are most likely the same that think "Lolita" is just a dirty book and a work of no literary consequence.  These people should not read this blog.

I'm glad I read The Bell Jar; it's another book to mark off the list of Highly Respected Modern Literature I Have Not Read.  Whether it will become a book I read again and again, like some of my favorite biographies and Jeffrey Eugenides' "Middlesex" is doubtful.  Wonderful as it is, it was a heavy read, albeit darkly funny in places.  I had to steel myself in order to read it, and that's not something I like having to do.

But it will certainly look impressive on my bookshelves.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I've been better but...

I've also been a hell of a lot worse.  I had surgery over a week ago, and I'm having some complications.  It stinks.  I should be pretty much recovered, by now, able to sit up like normal people, drive myself places, get through a day without popping prescription painkillers, but none of that is happening.  So.  There goes my plan to start aggressively looking for work a week or two after my surgery.   Woe is me, and all that.

I spent the weekend in Houston with my sister, her husband, and their two adorable dogs.  One is a little more than a year old, the other is 13 weeks old.  It was all I could do not to wrap up his wiggly little body in dirty clothes and stuff him in my suitcase to take him home.  I bet he would have stayed quiet in there, right?

I typically do Happy Hour review on Monday, but I didn't do Happy Hour, because I was winging my way to Houston.  Instead, I will say this much about my gastronomic experience in Houston: if you ever get the chance to eat at my sister's house, jump on it.  The woman is probably one of the best home cooks I've ever encountered.

We had steak, green beans and asparagus, and roasted fingerling potatoes Saturday night for dinner.  It was such a pleasant dinner, with the gentle music of whining puppies creating the perfect ambiance for our en plein aire dinner.  We were sitting there, eating, and my sister was dissecting her food preparation decisions, almost as a soliloquy, saying "I should have added lemon zest to the beans and asparagus."  That's the type of person she is: always strives to make things better.

Sunday brunch, though, was the real kicker.  Cheese grits, asparagus (again, but we all love it), ham, and big-as-yo-face-biscuits served with fig preserves or honey (the type with the honeycomb still in the jar.  The best kind.) and plenty of butter.  I didn't eat everything on my plate, but that's only because I have a small stomach capacity.

Almost every meal my sister has cooked for me has been something wonderful.  So, like I said, if you ever get the chance to eat at her house... make sure you take me along as your date :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Catherine Le Grande

I just finished reading "Catherine the Great" by Henri Troyat.  It was an absolutely compelling biography, the sort that you can't put down, because it reads more like a novel than a scholarly work.  Occasionally, this can work against a book, and it was vexing to me that M. Troyat failed to include endnotes.  Somehow, failure to have either endnotes or footnotes always smacks of scholarly sloppiness, to me.  Otherwise, the book was thoroughly enjoyable.  This is, in large part, due to the masterful translation wrought by Joan Pinkham.

I read the book in less than 36 hours.  Of course, since I'm essentially bedridden at present, there's not much more than read that I can do.  Regardless, 36 hours to read a rather weighty and politically fraught biography is, in my mind, impressive, particularly when under the influence of powerful sedative painkillers.

M. Troyat/Mme. Pinkham succeed in bringing the reader into the world of Catherine the Great: her triumphs, her setbacks, her uncertainty.  Her mother is painted as a self-promoter and would-be political schemestress who almost ruined the marriage of Catherine to Peter III.

Through all the books' twists and turns, I think what most fascinated me was the fact that Peter III, after Catherine staged her coup d'etat, essentially rolled over and accepted his fate.  He rebelled against his usurping wife surprisingly little, particularly given his mania for all things military.

Written, by a man, "Catherine the Great" doesn't paint Catherine's strong sexuality in a particularly flattering manner, but Troyat also refrains from giving full rein to the gossipy speculation that I was subjected to in high school.  There is no mention here of the theory that she was crushed to death while attempting to have intercourse with a horse, thank goodness, although the image of Catherine lying comatose on her bathroom floor, having had an aneurysm while relieving herself, is no more flattering.  Troyat opts for the high road, in deciding not to pass moral judgment on Catherine.

I was personally surprised, not so much at the number of lovers Catherine took during her lifetime, but by their acceptance in court and by the public relationships she had with them.  I can't imagine, in all the biographies I've read, another instance when a woman was able to carry out romantic liasons publicly without fear of censure from her peers.  Perhaps because her husband was so universally loathed, it was more acceptable?

The supposition that the Empress Elizabeth encouraged her to take a lover in order to ensure that she would provide the Romanovs with an heir is astounding.  In England, at the same time, if the royal consort took a lover, it was considered treason because it jeopardized the succession. The fact that the last czar of Russia was obsessed with his Romanov heritage renders him a ridiculous character since, after Catherine, there was more than likely no Romanov blood left in the royal line.

I enjoyed the book, immensely.  Given the assumption that Mme. Pinkham translated the book from the original French in a faithful spirit, one must commend M. Troyat on his literary abilities.  That being said, Mme. Pinkham does an excellent job of drawing the reader into the book and holding him there.  Her descriptions are lively, never giving in to the tendency so many authors have of simply cataloguing things.  M. Troyat provides her an excellent basis with which to work by delving into the issues of serfdom, political revolution, and class difference that weighed so heavily on European and Western Asiatic societies at the time.  All in all, a well-rounded portrait of Catherine Le Grand and her times.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bed: A Wonderful Place to Be!

My surgery Friday went well, thank you for asking.  I recovered from the anesthesia in record time - I typically do - and requested something to drink before the nurses were ready to start me down that path.  I am an overachiever when it comes to medical recovery.  I also remember rambling a bit about how wonderful my mom is to the nurse on duty in the first-stage recovery area.

Saturday was spent mostly in bed.  It hurts to walk, sit up straight, and stand, so "prone" is the position to be in, right now.  I'm practicing my "odalisque" pose.

My mom was kind enough to entertain me with a game of Scrabble Saturday night, since I was tired of being by myself and wanted a break from reading.

Yesterday, I decided to get out of bed, to venture downstairs to the living room, to hang out with my mom in the public spaces of the house.  We played Scrabble, once again, but we played lying on the floor of the dining room, in an attempt to keep me from hurting myself.

We failed.

Last night, I discovered, much to my chagrin, that my efforts from yesterday had impacted me negatively: my wound opened up and it started bleeding.


As a result, I've spent almost the entirety of today in bed, reading.  Since I've devoured almost two books in the past three days - and no light Danielle Steele material either, oh no - there will be multiple book reviews this week.  Please allow for the fact that the books' contents were processed through a haze of hydrocodone.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

No HH For Me Tomorrow

I am not looking forward to tomorrow.  I will miss happy hour.  Why?  What could possibly drag me away from the beloved happy hour?

Surgery.  Yup.  Going under the knife.

I tore a muscle several years ago, and when it healed, it healed improperly.  In other words, a layer of scar tissue built up between the ragged edges of the tear, preventing it from mending properly.  Since then, the muscle has torn again.  Multiple times.

I went to see a doctor about it, and she informed me that we could try injecting Botox into the muscle to keep it from spasming.  When the muscle spasms, it increases its likelihood of tearing again and also causes some pretty intense pain.  The Botox is only a temporary fix that lasts about 4-6 months, and then the procedure has to be repeated.  And it's only 45% effective.

Why, may I ask, would anyone want to try a procedure that is only 45% effective?  And have it done every 4-6 months for the rest of my life?  (Note: you still have to be on anesthesia to have the Botox procedure performed)  She then told me that I could have surgery that is 90% effective at curing patients, but it costs more than a single Botox procedure.

I opted for surgery.  So I guess for my next unemployment payment request, I'll have to put down that there was, in fact, one day on which I wasn't able to work because of illness/doctor's visit/whatever it is that they give you for an option.  It will probably take a bite out of my unemployment benefits, but that's life, right?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

But I'm Always the Rejecter!

News, news, news...

I have now been rejected by two grad schools, wait-listed by a third, and the fourth has yet to send out letters, but I expect to be rejected by them, too.  That means that I have until mid-April to find out whether I will make it into the third school, an honor for which I'm not going to hold my breath.  I discussed this earlier with a girlfriend, and we talked about how it was such a huge blow to my ego because I was always the top in the class, had firms fighting for me when I graduated, etc...  And now I can't get into the gradschools of my choice.

I considered (for about 30 seconds) applying to my alma mater and just going back there this fall, but I've ultimately decided that I really really really don't want to go.  So I'll retake the GRE (because my math score was terrible, and my writing was inexplicably subpar) and just apply again this next year.  A bit of turmoil, because I had this "light at the end of the tunnel" for moving out of my parents' house, getting on with my life, etc... and now I found out that the light is really just hanging above a sign that says "Tunnel exit: one more year" and it stinks.  I love my parents, but...

So I've made a list of about 15 schools I will apply to next year.  Some of them I considered applying to this year, before I found out how absolutely hellish it is trying to get all those letters of recommendation.  I will begin much earlier, this time around, in gathering all that lovely mess together.  I will also revamp my portfolio, and start by doing some artwork to accompany the drawings, etc...  Make the portfolio a bit more exciting.  Rework some of the text.  We'll see how it all turns out, in the end.