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This post will be a document of the cool things that I did this year.  Normally I update my CV to reflect any interesting job-related things that I do, but it's been pointed out to me that we often forget the cool things we do.  I think it's a valuable exercise since even though I do post diary entries, I don't commemorate every single thing that is worth remembering.  So:

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A Rose for Ecclesiastes

I've just finished listening to a wonderful reading of this classic Roger Zelazny tale on Escape Pod.  It was a nostalgia trip for me, since I've been reading Zelazny since I was a kid.  He was undeniably a genius; a man of great creativity and expansive interests, who created quite a number of memorable universes.  The Amber books were a particular favorite of mine, as in these he had enough time to give head-nods to an extremely long list of classic literature, always a strategy I find gratifying.  However, Rose stuck in my head as an especially haunting story, and one that had a little more bite than the others in the collection.  After listening to it today I think I understand why it had that effect.
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Why I hate Chick-fil-a's forced "pleasure"

I no longer eat at Chick-fil-a, due to their homophobic hijinks a while ago, but I do miss the waffle fries and secret "honey bbq" sauce.  What I don't miss about it is the forced friendliness of the employees, and particularly the fact that they have to, by store policy, reply to every expression of gratitude with "my pleasure."  This little phrase seems to have taken off quite well; a number of people on the internet find it very charming, and still more seem to find it very entertaining to see how many times they can force an employee to say "my pleasure" in the course of an exchange, if the Facebook page for the subject is any indicator.  There are naturally a few people who dislike it, and unfortunately they generally choose to express their dislike at the employee.  One Youtube video has a two minute rant on the idea that perhaps the employees need a hobby; another suggests that it's overly intimate that they they hardly know the Chick-fil-a staff well enough to warrant such a comment.  All three of these opinions is on some level an inappropriate response.

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I discovered the Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves when I was an undergraduate, looking around for manuscript facsimiles in English to purchase.  There were, at the time, unexpectedly few.  The Catherine hours was extraordinary in its number of full color illustrations alone, and not only that, but the scholarly commentary on each page lent itself well to undergraduate study.  I did my undergrad thesis on the manuscript, won a scholarship, and used the paper on my graduate school résumé.  The facsimile itself has been gracing my shelf, in its little protective box, ever since.


Morgan Library Cleves Rosary

My paper of several years ago attempted to correlate the imagery in this fantastic book with the practices of upright Christian womanhood being enjoined upon Catherine socially.  If I remember correctly, the illustration of the Three Magi (seen above) provided both an example of right-doing, as the Magi sought for Christ's wisdom, but also an example of employing Catherine's own luxury item - her rosary - to reinforce the habit of prayer.  Partly I included the picture in my paper because it was a gorgeous piece of jewelry, and I was enamored with it.  I resolved that some day, somehow, I would find a way to get my hands on a reproduction.

Well, today was that day.
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A fishy upgrade

I've kept bettas for quite a long time now, probably since I moved out of my parents' house - they're a great pet when you can't have a larger animal, because they're low maintenance but high reward.  For the price of a small, clean tank, you can enjoy the beautiful color and shape of the fish as he flits around his aquatic home, and the occasional display of attitude - they flare their fins when they feel someone is encroaching on their territory, which is cute and funny and just fine for the fish's well being provided he isn't doing it constantly.

I've had a series of betta setups, and varying degrees of success with each.  I started out with what was probably the most common betta tank of the 1990's:



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Repressed memories

I've spent a fair amount of time on the couch, so the topic of repressed memories holds some interest for me.  I've always been concerned that while digging through my emotional baggage, I'd manage to fabricate some kind of fantastic situation that had never happened - moreso because as far as I knew this was relatively common.  Happily, I've run across this fantastic scholarly article that suggests that you can not in fact insert "repressed" traumatic memories into someone's consciousness through therapy, and that such claims have been wildly, egregiously exaggerated. 
Well, eventful summer.  Actually that isn't exactly true; it was full of FRENCH, since I took another intensive course, and then it was full of Otakon, since I finished up my Sister of Battle costume in time.  But this post is to focus on the other great struggle of the summer: the case of the misbehaving cat.

Now it is natural for cats to misbehave.  All of my cats have behaved badly on purpose with malicious intent at some point in their furry little lives.  This cat, however, is the first cat that I've adopted off the street, and he still has a number of psychological issues, including a severe dislike of change, fear of abandonment, and, as we learned... a touchy bladder.



Yes, look how cute he is.  How innocent he looks playing with his toy.  Now look at my nice couch:



Look how nice and comfy that couch is!  Izzy agrees with you.  He also loves this couch.  In fact, he loves it so much that at the beginning of the summer he decided to start urinating right on the places where the seats join together.  This means pee ran down into the cracks and onto the carpet.  It made our whole living room smell most distinctively like, you know, cat urine.  Horrible. 

I was actually concerned for his health because his pee was looking a little off color, so I took him in to the vet on several occasions.  He was diagnosed with a "sensitive" bladder-- in other words, if he gets "stressed" he starts to have panicky urination and even gets blood in his pee, which initially made me think he was in serious danger.  Nope.  We put him on a bladder friendly (read: expensive) diet immediately and administered antibiotics.  His pee went back to a nice yellow color and a high volume.  I could tell because I had plastic sheeting down on the couch which conveniently collected it in puddles.  Problem NOT solved.

Keep in mind that I'm spending 11 hours a day at school during this entire time, coming home exhausted from French and then having to problem-solve with my frustrated husband to try to fix whatever was going wrong in Izzy's little kitty brain.  Eventually we made the decision that if we couldn't get the couch clean we would just have to get rid of it.  I called a couch cleaner (from French, during lunch) and after extensive phone-tag finally set up the appointment for the only day he had available... the day my French class "graduated."  Couch or "graduation?"  Sorry French class.

The cleaner guy did a bang up job, took care of the carpet underneath too, and we kept Izzy upstairs in the office for a couple of utterly miserable days in which he alternately sulked and made wild escape attempts.  His first instinct upon escaping?  RUN TO THE COUCH, ATTEMPT TO PEE.  

In utter frustration, I ordered a motion detector off of Amazon.  Here it is.  It is supposed to spray canned air and make an air-horn sound when the cat passes it.  Forty bucks, expensive, but I figured, what on earth else am I going to do?  If we get a new couch it's not going to be as nice, and what's to say he won't just relieve himself all over that one too?

So a few days later (of keeping the cat upstairs, in extreeeeeme frustration) we get the box.  I open it up and discover this:



This is two sprayer heads marked "defective," AND a letter from the previous customer stating how poorly he was treated when he tried to get a properly working product delivered.  Yes.  They actually had the balls to turn right around and ship the broken items back out to another customer!  Without even removing the previous guy's angry letter! !!!!! !!!!! !!!!  WAT.  In amazement and bewildered disgust I called the company.  Some sort of answering machine took my information, no call has been returned.

I next contacted Amazon and got a raised-eyebrow response from the rep, who commented that this was quite unusual and unacceptable.  Yes, indeed.  He shipped me out yet another one.  They can't refund my money because canned air is classified as "dangerous," so they don't take it as a return.  Hopefully this ends well.

As a positive codicil to this tale of woe, I fooled around with the sprayer head quite a bit yesterday and eventually got it to work, at least to some extent.  The results were extremely satisfying.  If the other one works dependably, I am going to be thrilled.  I have made a rage comic for your perusal concerning the upshot of this event, as follows.



Cheers from me and my cat, who is now "on tilt" and too nervous to even enter the living room.

Mmm, thrifting

Finds at Goodwill today:
  • Perfectly fitting linen suit (very unusual)
  • Cute woven leather flats - which I have been looking for for months!
  • Nylon mesh turquoise shirt (another long-time list item)
  • German-style embroidered cream skirt with pockets!
  • Soft, wonderful plaid cowboy shirt with shiny snap buttons
  • Wrap dress that makes my boobs look awesome <3
What an excellent pull!  Can't wait to add these to my wardrobe and enjoy them.

Summer is about to hit full force

So, finished up the school year with a relatively successful run.  I taught my last TA class, which was greatly saddening to my heart.  My students this semester were, for the most part, extremely smart, great kids who really invested a lot in the class.  I was full of happiness when I read my evals and heard that they got so much out of my sections!

Immediately after school ended, we headed out to the Outer Banks for our vacation with the Internet.  We invited Kristina and Sean, who had visited us previously and whom we visited for New Years, along with some other wonderful folks who we had or hadn't yet met: Dan, Mary, and Sean (Skraleigh) had all been at the New Years party, but Brian, an old friend of Skraleigh's, was new to us as well as our friend Josh (Dwan) from Left 4 Dead 2.  He took a train all the way from Georgia and had never before seen the ocean!  

We had the house off-season for an entire week, very cheap.  The house was enormous, large enough to fit ten people easily, with a full kitchen, wet bar, hot tub, pool, and all the amenities.  The beach was lovely and the weather was wonderful-- it was even warm enough for us to go swimming!  We visited the pier, Tom and Kristina went kayaking, Josh and I shared some delicious home-made candy, Tom and I went parasailing along with two of the other couples, we visited the lighthouse, played miniature golf, and saw Bridesmaids, which was really a great movie. 

Here I am with a Lily Pulitzer themed horse:
  

Tom with some kayak oars:


The two of us returning from our parasail:


And the whole group, sporting our vacation's theme shirts.  Problem?


It was a great week.  We spent several nights happily intoxicated (except Dwan, whose underage and whom we were very responsible with!) and hung out in the pool and hotub and just enjoyed the heck out of the house and the beach and the weather.  I also found some awesome thrift store items, including a long, fur trimmed suede coat.  Yep.  It's a fucking PIMP COAT.  Serious.  It actually looks great!  

After the beach, we came back to two weddings in a row, all over Memorial Day weekend, and then I got to work on my costume-- but since the pictures from the weddings aren't processed yet (we had a huge backlog and Tom had done a noble job getting as many out as he has!) I will wait to post about the weddings until a later date.

In a haze

Seeing as I'm completely useless today for reasons I'm about to explain, I think it's about time to post another update!

Our kitty has been good.  So good!  He's been walking on his harness and leash like a little pro.  I'm so proud of him and gosh darnit if he doesn't just look adorable.  Here is him on a walk:



So, walks have been fairly frequent and he has been very excited for them.  So, the other day I obliged him, took him for a nice stroll, and then picked him up to go back inside when Jack came up.  He went straight for us, and hissed at Izzy... Izzy just lost it.  He panicked and put his teeth right into my hand, almost skewering my thumb.  He also scratched my arm all up and bit my forefinger when I was pulling my hand away whilst throwing him inside through the door.  This is the porch after he bit me:



It looks like a crime scene!  Just gross.  There's more blood on the other side too, it didn't make it into the shot.  It seems that he actually punctured into the big blood vessel in my thumb, because the blood was just pumping the hell right out of there.  I stiff-upper-lipped it into the house and then broke down crying and washed what felt like half a cup of blood down the sink.  God, that hurt.  Izzy was immediately sorry and concerned about me, but I was just in too much pain to care.  Tom rushed me to Student Health and they saw me as soon as I got in (to their credit, I think) and were very concerned.  My thumb had already blown up to about twice normal size and the wounds were red and inflamed and really disgusting.  They gave me a tetanus shot cocktail and a can of gatorade, and prescribed me a HUGE antibiotic (seriously, it looks like a horse pill) and perkocet.  Then they gave me four ibuprofen and sent me home. 

Well, as fate would have it I had also scheduled Elizabeth Molacek's bachelorette party for Friday night, and there was no way I was going to cancel it.  So I put off perkocet and rolled out the sparkly pink and crude decorations and made some cupcakes, lemon bars and punch.  Everyone came over, and really the party went very well.  As it turns out, IMAgiNeiff makes a great bachelorette party game!  Afterwards I ate my nightly antibiotic and my perkocet and fell asleep exhausted.

So this morning, I took off all the little bandagey things and whatnot.  Here's the damage:




It's looking pretty good here, but you can see the trouble spots.  My thumb is swollen as hell and still hurts like crazy.  I'm still on the perkocets and when they wear off it's intensely painful.  The other problem area is the cut on my lower arm, near the wrist, which is puffy and red, and I think is also infected.  The thumb definitely is.  My index finger isn't too bad (I'm using it instead of my thumb to type) but the cat managed to get his tooth up under the cuticle into the nail bed, so that hurts.  The nurse who looked at my arm commented, "I'm pretty mad at your cat!"  I can't be mad at him, since he didn't mean to do it and it was just a panic.  And then, last night, Tom wasn't home because he was heading to Greg's bachelor party, and the kitty was very concerned-- so he came and snuggled me to sleep, and only woke me up once in the night for snuggles.  He's been really good today too.  He really does mean well.  But Jesus CHRIST this hurts!

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