Monday, January 29, 2007

Curses! Foiled again!

So I was all set to pack up and move to Tibet, and then we got some Chinese takeout for dinner, and guess what my fortune cookie said? “It is better to get something done late than never.” Seriously! Is that a sign, or what? That, my friend, is a sign. Clearly I am destined to stay here and finish my M.A.

Also, Glen didn’t want to move to Tibet. Spoilsport.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

moving to Tibet

You know, I already have a perfectly good college degree. Truly. I still have the diploma lying around someplace. Why did I think I needed another one? Right at this moment, I can't recall.

It seemed like such a good idea, and it was fun for a while. Fewer classes, no general ed., a chance to focus on the subjects I really enjoy. The problem is that eventually someone's going to expect me to write a thesis. (And when I say "eventually," I mean more like "pretty soon.") When I started the program, it seemed like such a comfortably distant prospect - you get a whole year before you even have to file your prospectus. How hard could this be?

Answer: hard. In spite of the fact that I only take two or three classes each term, the workload is still enough that I just can't find the time to work on my stupid thesis. I read book after book after book, and I write paper after paper after paper, and yet I have this horrible feeling that I'm not getting anywhere because I haven't written my thesis. At this point, I haven't looked at it for so long that I barely remember what my idea was. I don't suppose it was anything terribly important. I remember writing in my letter of intent that I wanted to "contribute" to the academic "conversation." Well, I've changed my mind. I have plumbed the depths of my brain, and concluded that I have nothing to contribute. Now what on earth am I going to tell my committee?

It's clear that no ordinary excuse will do on this occasion. After all, Blackwood, Descartes, and Victoria have already invested a certain amount of their valuable time in this project. [Full disclosure: my committee is awesome. They are lovely people and amazing scholars. I'm sure they would have made a scholar of me if anyone could have.] I really think the best thing would be for me to move to Tibet. I will regretfully inform the University that I have converted to Buddhism, and that in order to facilitate my spiritual journey, I and my family have decided to move to Tibet.

I anticipate that blogging will be even more irregular than usual after the move.

Ga ler bzhugs, slab grwa!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

thanks a lot, tweakers

I'm a big fan of pseudoephedrine. Between my allergies in Spring and Summer, and colds in Fall and Winter, I go through a lot of it. I fully expect that one of these days the DEA will show up on my doorstep wanting to know why I use so much of it. How would the DEA know how much pseudoephedrine I use? Glad you asked.

It turns out that pseudoephedrine is one of the ingredients you need to make methamphetamine. Pharmacies and grocery stores had so much trouble with people shoplifting it (presumably so they could go home and cook it) that over time they've made it more and more difficult to get. They put it behind the counter at the pharmacy so you had to ask the pharmacist for it. Then they made it so you could only buy one item per day - I found this out the hard way when the whole family had a cold, and I tried to buy children's Sudafed for Link and grown-up Sudafed for me. Sorry, they said, only one item per day. (I have no idea if it's even possible to make meth out of liquid psuedoephedrine. I suppose it must be.) Now when you want to buy it, you not only have to ask the pharmacist for it, they have to enter all your personal information including your driver's license number in a written log, then log onto an online system and get a confirmation number for the transaction, before they can sell the stuff. This is particularly annoying, because now I not only have to wait in line and buy it during pharmacy hours (which, needless to say, are shorter than other store hours) but if for some reason their internet connection is down, I'm out of luck.

Yes, it's just an inconvenience, not a real hardship. It's not like I have to drive to Wyoming or something to pick it up. Yes, if I keep track of how much I have, I can plan to go to the store during pharmacy hours before I run out of decongestant. And if I can't get any today, I'm certainly not going to die before tomorrow. But it irritates me to have to schedule my day around a trip to the pharmacy, when I am NOT COOKING METH with the stuff. Thanks a lot, tweakers.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

whole lotta reading goin' on

I had to go to my Victorian Lit class tonight without doing the reading, which is annoying and also dangerous, because you never know when the discussion will lag and the professor will randomly ask you a question about the stuff you haven’t read. In my defense, however, I have been really, really sick since last Thursday, so I didn’t buy my books until yesterday (Monday). The reading assignment for the first class was like a very intense survey of Victorian thought, literature, and historical contexts – Carlyle, Dickens, Eliot, Mill, Robert Browning, Tennyson, the Rossettis (I have no idea how to pluralize that name), Ruskin, Arnold (just the poetry, mercifully), Pater, Hopkins, and Wilde, plus the historical information in the anthology. I barely made it through the introductory historical material by class time, so I’ll have to catch up on the rest later.

The professor anticipates 200-300 pages of reading per week for this class, which sounds like an awful lot when she says it out loud like that. It’s really not that much. Fifty pages a day, six days a week. An hour a day. No big deal. But when I see the number staring at me in my notes – 300 PAGES A WEEK – it seems like a lot. I suppose the difficulty will actually depend on the content of the readings. 300 pages of Heidegger would put me in the psych ward; 300 pages of John Buchan, not so much.