Friday, December 23, 2005

Check my grades...

I just got my final grades posted on U of A's website --- check it out!! I am so excited because all of my hard work paid off... ALL As!!!!!!!!

NES 595D001

NES 566 001

NES 580 001

ARB 539A001

ARB 101 001

Not much more to report -- I'm hanging at Miguel's today, and he's off work. We're going to go grocery shopping and last minute Christmas shopping in a little bit, and we need to eat breakfast in a minute, but I just wanted to give a quick update to say WOO-HOO!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Back in DC

I'm back in DC --- it's much colder here! I'm in a hurry because I want to go jogging then need to come back to Miguel's apartment and get ready to walk to the metro because I'm meeting my mom at the mall in a couple of hours. We're doing a little bit of last minute Christmas shopping! I feel like I'm back at "home" but it does feel strange to be back...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Going home tomorrow!

Hello and goodbye! I am now studying for my last final exam, which takes place tomorrow at 11am. Then I race to the airport to catch my 2:45pm flight home to DC. No time to write... must focus on history. Bah humbug!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Shopping and Logan's Run

For the first time since classes started, I am finding myself with too much time on my hands. What does one do in Tucson with few friends and a lot of time (normally filled with reading, homework, and studying?) --- this person shops, shops, and shops, and rents incredibly cheesy films. I have turned into a mini-mall rat. Not only did I spend quality time pilfering through the untamed madness of Ross today, but I also hit BOTH of Tucson's malls in the past three days. And of course, let us not forget the perennial favorite, Target...

Of course, my recent credit card insanity has much to do with the fact that Christmas is in a couple of weeks, and I have ALL of my Christmas shopping done now, and also due to the fact that this weekend marked Tucson's HUGE semi-annual "4th Avenue Street Fair." Imagine 2,500 tents set up along a mile of one of Tucson's downtown streets, full of all sorts of artisans, restauranteers, and random oddities. It was the largest street festival I've ever seen... even bigger than Pike Place Market, Portland's Saturday Street Fair, and DC's Eastern Market. Artisans come from all over Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California to hawk their wares. Of course, a lot of it was very Southwest oriented -- such as items in turquoise, dream-catchers, and really bad t-shirts and paintings of airbrushed wolves, but there were a few fun little gems sprinkled throughout. I got a number of Christmas gifts there (will reveal these things later!) and I got myself a really cool $40 tote in a brown and teal velvet pattern with black trim. It looks better than it sounds.

On another note, I also returned a gigantic stack of books to the University library and afterwards decided to check out the DVD and VHS section near the book return. Oh ho ho, I discovered a free jackpot of completely undesireable DVD rentals, with the exception of the four DVDs I brought home: Sid & Nancy (disturbing), Alfred Hitchcock's 39 Steps (haven't watched yet), as well as Rear Window (which -- in perfect accordance with Murphy's Law -- got f**ed up and froze at the climax of the film, when the neighbor is coming to Jimmy Stewart's apartment to kill him so I missed about 75% of the ending), and the winner of the bunch... Logan's Run!

Logan's Run, a futuristic sci-fi film, was released in 1976, and actually won a Special Achievement Acadamy Award for Visual Effects. Hahahaha!!!! If you have never seen this movie, you really should invite some friends over, buy yourself some alcoholic beverages, and sit back for the ensuing hilarity. Here is what is so amusing:

1. The costumes look like something out of a mega-70s, bowl-cut and feathered-hair elf ballet that also features Robin Hood. (Sidenote: ALL the jocks in my junior high and high school in Maryland had this haircut back in the mid-80s... Hey Taylor, remember Robbie Ambrose and the Borowski brothers? Doesn't this guy look like them? Second sidenote: Katy P, if you're reading this... the redhead looks eerily like you, but with bad hair, of course!):

2. Michael York (from the Austin Powers movies) is so skinny it's sort of gross. Plus he wears this skin tight black leotard thing during the whole movie:

3. Michael York's character, Logan, is called a "sandman," which is more or less a cop. He shoots this modernistic handgun, which I believe might be the pre-cursor to the light saber. It shoots out green light, causing victims to become engulfed in flames, and then burn alive:

4. The funniest part of the whole movie is this "scary" robot that is supposed to freeze people that leave the domed city. It's hard to believe how much technology has advanced in 30 years --- the droid in the movie was clearly a remote-controlled little car with this big plastic box on it and a couple of flimsy limbs that could hardly hold the weapons he was supposed to shoot. I laughed out loud for about two minutes over this thing:

Moving on -- I also went swimming today OUTSIDE... sorry, you East Coasters and Seattle-ites! It wasn't really that warm and today was very cloudy, but I just HAD to get some exercise. I'm pleased to say the pool is delightfully heated, and although I had goosebumps for my first lap, I warmed up quickly and had a great swim.

Then, on my way home, I decided to stop by a famous local Mexican fast food place here in Tucson that I had never tried before called Nico's. I ordered the carne asada nachos to go (carne asada is the specialty of Mexicans in Tucson) and a carnitas taco for my lunch tomorrow. So I got home, settled on my couch and delved into the nachos. However, I could only eat about eight bites because it was just too much for me. Not only were the chips greasy, but it was covered in cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and just way too much beef that tasted, well, like a cow. Yuck! I was quite disappointed. So I unwrapped the carnitas (pork) taco to eat it instead, but the meat smell just made me feel totally ill. I had to just throw the entire thing out.

My point with this story? I think I am near vegetarian at this point in time. I only eat soy products (ie: garden burgers, soy chicken) and only drink soy milk. Even milk tastes animal-like to me now... blecch! I will still occasionally eat chicken or turkey (as long as it's free-range and not chemical infested) or baked ham and some fish, but I have no meat products in my home, and I don't believe I will be buying any more. I have just been feeling so much better with a light diet of yogurt, cereal, soy products, fruit, and salad. Oh, and my favorite Clif bars!

I also discovered a new, great, fantastic band that I randomly downloaded from a guy's music blogsite. They're called "Mew," and they're Danish but are now based out of London. They're heavier than anything I normally listen to (you all know me and my Morrissey, various electronica, and Pet Shop Boys!), but the singer has the most amazing voice. Ooo, I love them! The best song is "The Zookeeper's Boy" if you want to listen to it on their website, which is right here:

Tomorrow I have to pack to GO HOME!! :-) And then, sadly, actually study for my history final exam on Thursday. I almost forgot what school was for the past few days... I'm almost done, but not quite!

Friday, December 09, 2005

On the Home Stretch... with toys and cake

I can hardly believe it... I am almost finished with the semester. As if any of you really care, here is the breakdown of my past week:

Monday: Arabic 101 quiz
Tuesday: Turned in my final 26-page paper for my history class (spent the entire weekend writing it)
Wednesday: Egyptian Arabic final exam
Thursday: Did absolutely nothing all day except clean my apartment, catch up on e-mail, and go to Target
Friday: (today) Arabic 101 final exam at 2pm

Next week --- Turn in final draft of my urbanism "courtyard" paper after making corrections this weekend and then take my history final exam on Thursday. ALMOST DONE!

The true miracle in all of this? I got an "A" in Egyptian Arabic. Seriously, I'm in shock. My teacher sent us out our final grades for the semester, and I clung on with a 90.7% --- I can hardly believe it! I know I absolutely tanked on the final exam (well, she said I got an 86%) but luckily my earlier grades were better so it evened out. For me, that class was really really hard because they already expect you to know Arabic coming into it. I did the two years at State, but I wasn't anywhere near fluent or at the level of other people in the class, who were either native speakers or were in intermediate or advanced Arabic, so I am particularly proud of my grade! Yaaay!

As for my Arabic 101 final today, I'm not too worried, as my teacher said I need to get a 50% or LESS to lower my grade to a B in the class. So basically, I'm not even worried about studying. I'll just do a quick review about an hour before I leave for the exam.

Regarding other matters, I spent more than an hour in the toy section of Target yesterday looking for both a Christmas and a birthday gift for my soon-to-be 4-year old niece (poor little thing's birthday is on December 27th). Do you know how difficult a decision that is? First of all, there are about 8 aisles of things to choose from. Then, I had to get something that was light because it costs a fortune to mail anything heavy these days. Secondly, I wondered if the little figurine and Barbie doll things were too advanced for a 4-year old or if she might lose the small shoes and parts to some of these things. Then I wondered if she was getting too old for something like Dora the Explorer. I was going to get her a princess tiara set, but then I thought maybe I was contributing to negative stereotypes about women, which also completely ruled out anything with play make-up or cosmetics items. I also learned that girls' toys only come in the color pink, which I found highly disappointing. I almost got a Care Bear or a My Little Pony but then I thought, well, "these things aren't very fun after about 10 minutes. I mean, what do you do with a My Little Pony after you're done brushing that tiny mane? Nothing, it's boring." Therefore, I was literally paralyzed in the toy department. I actually got embarrassed when an employee saw me in the same section like an hour later. I almost got her a little medical kit, which was the most appealing option, but in the end, if you can believe it, I walked away with nothing, thoroughly disappointed at myself for wasting an hour of my life with no final decision -- and all over a gift for a 4-year old!

So I came home and parked myself (again) in front of my computer and revved up, where Miguel said I could find some good "recommended" toys from the experts, whoever they are. While this was true (ie: they recommended this really cool pretend cash register), I discovered that none of these toys qualified for the "free shipping" options because they all came from Imaginarium as opposed to the warehouse. So do you know what I ended up getting? -- A Disney book with six different "princess" stories (ie: Ariel, Cinderella, that genie girl, and whoever else Disney is promoting these days). Not grossly anti-feminist because I figure it will contribute to her reading skills in a couple years, but I think I might be a disappointing aunt. Shouldn't your single aunt be the one that gets you things your parents won't buy you? No, I'm the lame aunt that sends the un-fun books for Christmas because I apparently have toy issues... poor Isabella.

Moving on to other things, I got myself motivated after my Egyptian Arabic final to make my "courtyard house cake" for the dinner that my professor hosted at his house last Wednesday night for our final class. It was harder than I thought, but I was pretty happy with the results. Here are the pics:

Here is the exterior front -- please note the mashribiyya (wooden lattice) windows and lack of external lower windows... all key features of the Middle Eastern courtyard home.


Here is the inside of the courtyard house, complete with tiled fountain and abaya-clad Muslim woman (thanks to a plastic figurine I found at the dollar store). Added note: My mother commented via e-mail that the cake looked a bit "compact and dense," to which I must explain that I was working with ONE brownie pan, and one brownie pan only (all my kitchen stuff is in storage back in DC). Therefore, the woman is a bit cramped in the corner. In fact, as the "house" is two cake mixes layered on top of each other, I didn't realize how deep the courtyard pit would be. I had to use my tweezers to lower the woman into the courtyard (or what looks a bit more like a hole, I guess). As I was lowering her, she popped out of the tweezers and got covered in frosting on her backside. So she was leaning against the wall to camouflage her frosting incident. Plus, there really was no where else for her to go. Hey, a brownie pan is pretty small!

And finally:

Here are my classmates, minus one kooky girl named Eliza Dray, who didn't show up. Yes, the guy in the back is a bit strange. His name is Ron Richards, and he rides the same bicycle he's had since he was 12 years old, seriously (he told me when I asked about it). I have even seen him riding that little bike around town on the weekends. Odd indeed. Freaks really are everywhere. There is no escape. Of course, what in the hell am I talking about making a courtyard cake with figurines and spending an hour at Target staring at toys for nothing?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Crunch Time

Yuck, I wish it was some other type of crunch, like Cap'n Crunch or Crunchy Peanut Butter or Crunchy Hair Gel. But no, it's Crunch TIME. BOOOOO Crunch Time!!!! Retard me misread (or better yet, didn't read) my history syllabus, thinking that my history class's final paper was due on December 15. Ahem, no... it's due, oh wait, really? Yes, in two days. On Tuesday, December 6. Can I tell you how much this blows? This means that I have been perched in my cheap IKEA desk chair since Friday night, worried about blood clots developing in my legs as I both learn and write about (at the same time, mind you) Abd al-Aziz's rise to power in Saudi Arabia from the year 1902 until his conquering of the Hijaz in 1926. Thrilling indeed. My back is killing me because this chair absolutely sucks, and I will definitely hit Office Max at my next available free moment (maybe sometime in the year 2006?) to purchase an ergonomically structured seat.

OK, I have to go now, but I wanted you all to know why I'm not writing much lately. Oh, and I am so psyched that someone out there is as nerdy as me (sorry, I have to dime you out, KC) who actually wants to READ my paper on Middle Eastern courtyard housing. I admit, it's a fine piece of work, but I'm waiting for my professor to read over my rough draft. Once I get back any corrections, I will e-mail it to you, KC, for your reading pleasure.

The other exciting news is that I am making a courtyard house CAKE to take to my professor's potluck dinner next Wednesday night (in lieu of class). No one in the class knows it yet, but I'm going to attempt to make it to scale, and I even bought plastic figurine people at the dollar store last week to have people roaming around the interior of the courtyard. I'm also making a little fountain in the middle of the courtyard. Don't worry, pictures will be forthcoming...

Must really go now... I WILL be in touch soon!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Crazy Cat & Christmas Cheese

Hello -- I'm killing a little bit of time between two classes. Normally, I do my Egyptian Arabic homework during this downtime on Monday mornings, but miraculously we were not assigned any today. I could be finishing my other paper, but I don't really have quite enough time to make good progress, and frankly, I'd rather f**k off right now.

I've been taking care of Shauna's cats over the weekend while she's home in Iowa. Yes, that's plural because Shauna got another cat named Finn. His official name is Finnegan, but for those of you who used to work with me at State Department, you are all familiar with Mr. Finnegan. And so I just have terrible connotations with that name. Of course, if you didn't work with me at State, you don't know John Finnegan, and you can just consider yourselves lucky.

Therefore, I can't bring myself to call this new cat Finnegan (as we always called the weirdo John), but Finn suits him nicely. So anyway, Finn is rather crazy. He is NUTS about cat treats. He actually came running so fast from the bathroom to the living room that he literally plowed over the other cat, Niamh, while trying to get to the treat jar. Today, I went to check on the cats, and this little guy had figured out a way to crawl up into Shauna's loft bed (with nothing to jump up onto it from), bury himself under her comforter, and then he actually crawled down the ladder. He had knocked over half the stuff in Shauna's apartment (perfume, CDs) and had pulled several items of clothing out of her closet, such as scarves and belts, that it looked like he was playing with. Anyway, in two words: high energy.

This contrasts nicely with me, as I am losing momentum fast. I have two of my three papers pretty much finished, and I'm trying to keep my interest in my classes piqued for the next 2.5 weeks, but I keep imagining Christmas -- with no homework, no papers, and no tests, and it's almost more than I can handle!

Speaking of Christmas, what's up with the Christmas music already playing on the radio and in public places? If I owned a radio station, I would mandate "no Christmas music until December 15." I also saw some people with a Christmas tree on top of their car last Saturday (which is a bizarre sight in cacti-centric Arizona). I guess some people get into the spirit before I do, but November seems a little premature to me...

Oh, and while we're on the topic of "in the spirit," I just HAD to include this corny photo of my ex-co-worker's husband and his infant daughter. No, she does not read my blog (nor know of its existence), but for the protection of all involved, I will not divulge the source of this picture (who I believe found it as hilarious as I). However, I just had to include it because it has to be the absolute ultimate in Christmas cheese...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Lost in the Foothills

Tonight, I got seriously lost in a Tucson neighborhood. I never thought this possible, being that southern Tucson is extremely linear, but head north to the Foothills, and you might as well be in Seville, Spain. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of visiting Seville, let me tell you that it's very easy to get lost there. First of all, there are no street signs, so you have to navigate by landmarks. Secondly, for example, to go south, you first have to go east or west, then turn one direction or another, loop around, go west again, and cross the third street with the white house with the blue fence to find your way south. I've never been so frustrated with navigation in my life as I was in Seville.

And yet... oddly... Tucson appears to be more similar to Spain than first meets the eye! Take the neighborhood below (see attached map of the neighborhood I was jogging in tonight):

My car was parked where you see the red star. You will notice that unlike anywhere else in Tucson, there are no straight roads in the foothills. Many roads are dead-ends, and it's very hilly so you can't see what's coming next. I started out on Camino Arturo, hooked a right on Cotorra, another right on Culebra, a left on Isidoro, a right on Brinca, and a left on Miraval, and then ran into a major four lane road with no sidewalk (clearly it's still Tucson) so had to turn around. The problem was I couldn't remember the name of the street (Brinca) from which I had come. So I just kept going south on Miraval all the way to Calle La Cima before I realized I was seriously lost. And I kept looking for a right turn to get me back to my original parking location, but there is none! So I walked about a mile looking for a street to cut me back to the west, but the map will show that this doesn't exist. Now, in most neighborhoods, all the streets eventually intersect or circle around and get you back pretty easily to your starting spot. It's hard to get lost. But I swear that by the point I hit the southern part of Miraval, I wasn't even sure which way my car was anymore.

Thus, my memories of Seville, Spain and trying to find my hotel for about an hour, walking in a one-mile circumference to nowhere, came back to haunt me. The difference, of course, is that Seville is pretty compact, while Tucson neighborhoods are spread out and enormous (no city blocks here!). So even if you take the risk of turning right somewhere, there's no guarantee that street will link up with the one you want to find, and you will walk for a mile going no where. Not to mention all the Spanish street names in this neighborhood totally confused me, and I couldn't remember if I'd been on Culebra or Cotorra or Cabra... although I got some serious (more than one-hour) walking/running exercise trying to find my way out of Spanish street name hell.

I did view some interesting sites on my walk and learned that there are some really funky cacti to use in desert landscaping. My favorite is most definitely the lavender colored prickly pear cactus. There are also some bizarre birds in Arizona. The first one is this little grouse looking critter that I thought was carrying worms in its mouth until I realized that the little appendage dangling down was actually attached to its face. Here's a picture of the little guy that I pulled from some birdwatcher's website -- actually I've just learned that it's a Gambel's quail:

There are also these dove-looking birds that hang out in groups, and when you run past an area where they're perched, they freak out and start flying all over the place. That in turn, freaked ME out because the flap of their wings sounds EXACTLY like a horse letting air out of its mouth... that brrrrrrrhhhh sound they make. For a minute I actually stopped moving and looked around to see if someone had a horse nearby, but alas, there were none. There were lots of rabbits running around as well. Another oddity was that some woman was singing opera at the top of her lungs in her front garden, but I don't think she saw me. She was actually pretty good...

So all in all, it made an interesting desert sort of adventure. I was a bit panicked when I couldn't find my way out of the maze, and dusk was approaching (ah, no sidewalks OR street lights in Tucson either), but eventually I figured it out. Then I made my way back down to the world of southern Tucson's mini-malls and parking lots and felt a bit depressed again... such a shame that the Western US developed around the car... so many possibilities, such bad urban design. But I digress...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Another day, another paper...

Well, I just finished writing a 5-page response paper on two articles --- "Heterotopia and the Wine Poem in Early Islamic Culture" and "The Islamic Panegyric" --- for my required intro class for graduate students in Middle East Studies. Don't ask me what either of these things are... they aren't worth your time. Just some flippin' poetry crap from the year 800 that is totally and completely irrelevant to modern day society. Plus each of those damn articles was about 25 pages. And now I have to contend with reading another 50-page article on the development of Cairo so I can give a presentation to my Middle East Urbanism class on Wednesday night. The fun never ends! Oh, wait, do I have three 30-page papers due in 3 weeks? Oh my god, I do.

I better get to bed, where I won't be sleeping, I'll be reading about Cairo. Wish me luck...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Blog? What Blog?

Do I have a blog? Oh my god, I forgot about it! Hmm, seems I've been a little busy these days... maybe it's that 18-page paper on Algeria (in extreme rough draft, only partially complete format that I'd like to have finished this Thursday) that I've been swamped with in addition to about 50 other things, like craploads of Arabic homework. All I have to say is thank heaven for 3-day weekends! As a sidenote, however, the f***ing zipper bird woke me up at the crack of 6:30 in the #*(%&$* morning again today, for about the 20th day in a row. My eyes just popped right open when I heard his stupidly loud zipping whistle. I HATE THE ZIPPER BIRD!

So, in a nutshell, what have I been up to lately? Well, a whole lotta nada. This weekend was dedicated to my pursuit of my studies, and dedicated I was! With the exception of some errands I ran with Shauna on Friday morning (the usual: Target, Trader Joe's, Kinko's, and I discovered delicious sandwiches at a place here called Beyond Bread), I have been pretty well devoted to my Algeria paper. OK, I guess a repairman came by on Friday morning to replace my hideously 1980s vertical blinds and I got stuck chatting with him for about an hour, and then I did go out for a couple beers last night for Lindsey's 23rd birthday (with her and the Indian posse... and she's "dating" one of them now as well).

I also went for a "jog" in the Catalina foothills last night. I had one of my "not so Tucson" days and just needed to get out of this dustbin for a while so I drove about 20 minutes north to this really gorgeous Tucson subdivision, where all the houses are stucco and tile roofed, and they have the most amazing desert landscaping. I went at dusk, which is the best time to walk in neighborhoods (just in case someone leaves on a light with the blinds open and you can subtly peer in at their home furnishings), and I have to say the air was really pure and fresh and cool and niiice! It's in the 70s here all the time now so I was really enjoying my little jaunt. Too bad the swimming pool has caused my leg muscles to semi-atrophe... god, I had to quit running after about 15 minutes because my feet hurt (of course, this might be because I don't even own running shoes anymore and was running around in cheesy cross trainers). Anyway, the walk was good for the psyche.

I'm also babysitting Shauna's incredibly cool cat, Niamh. If you can believe this, Shauna's parents flew her to the Bahamas for the weekend so they could all celebrate her mom's 60th b-day together. Wow, I wish my parents did things like that! (Mom, mom? Dad?) Of course, since my parents are divorced and don't really like each other very much anymore, that could be tricky... OK, never mind.

So back to the cool cat, Niamh, who is sort of my own this weekend. I brought her over on Friday night while I was reading about Algeria's incredibly exciting National Liberation Front, and she just jumped right up on my lap, curled up in a ball, and fell asleep. She's too cute. Of course, she does shed a lot, which is a bit of negative since I'm mega-allergic to cats. Therefore, anything I wear when I am near her, I have to throw immediately in my laundry bin. I'm definitely contributing the rising stocks of Tide and Wisk.

Anyway, before Shauna left for the Caribbean (grrr...), leaving me stuck alone in Scragsville Tucson, we bought Niamh an outfit from the pet section of Target. Shauna decided on a black cashmere cat sweater with a string of pearls. It's hilarious. Here are the official "glamour shots" we took of her... Shauna "le Artiste" got a little creative with the sepia tone and softening capabilities of her photoshop software. Check out the final products!!! Just like a photo studio:

Young Niamh teasingly poses for the camera

With her whimsy and charm, this little cat knows how to tease her suitors!

And on a separate photo section, I finally got the pictures of the wild-n-crazy Persian dinner dance that Shauna's professor hosted at his home here in Tucson. Just so you don't forget who I am, here's one of me enjoying drinks and definitively NOT Persian dancing. (Note my new hair color please!)

And here are two photos of "the force on the dancefloor", AKA Shauna, shaking her booty to Persian tunes. For the record, I am incapable of any sort of exotic hip movement. This is not true for Shakin' Shauna... check this picture out... she's dancing with the director of our grad department, Dr. B., who does like to wear vests, and this one just happens to be leather. I don't know any more than that. Except that I think he's very Jim Henson-like... in a living sort of way:

And last but not least, here we are posing for a photo op at the party...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Last weekend's fun -- World Fair and Annie

Well, I promised to post some photos of my recent life, and here they are... I spent part of my evenings a week ago designing the Graduate Student Association's booth for a local World Fair, which took place last weekend. Here, you can see the fruits of my handiwork... note the good looking, hand painted signs, created by yours truly. This is a photo of a girl named Alana (in my program) and I hanging up the cloths that covered our bazaar tent that we designed... I have to say, it turned out pretty well!

The other exciting highlight of last weekend was the fact that I got to meet the cast of the national touring Broadway production of "Annie" that was here in Tucson. My friend Mack used to babysit this woman, Elizabeth (next to me in the photo), who is now the traveling tutor to the kids on the cast of "Annie" -- here we are posing with the orphans. Can you spot Annie? She looks just like the stereotypical Annie (she's on the left in pink & white). Elizabeth took me back to the hotel after we'd gone out to dinner, and the adult cast and crew had made this amazing haunted house in the conference area of their hotel here in Tucson. It was a GREAT haunted house, and it was actually somewhat scary, as they had completely blacked out the whole place (no light at all) so you had to feel your way through it. I did actually scream a couple of times. So this photo was taken outside the haunted house. The girls were cute but a bit precocious for their ages... they definitely grow up fast on the road. I have to say I would never let my kid travel the U.S. as a child actor. Elizabeth has confirmed that school is not exactly the kids or parents' priorities. Kind of sad. Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, the highlight of my night was meeting Mackenzie Philips, from "One Day at a Time" and "American Grafitti." She looked very weathered, and she definitely had a serious smoker's voice. I told Elizabeth that Mackenzie also seemed to have adult ADD as she was jumping around like a mad woman while playing with the kids. Very high energy.

This next photo was so weird, I had to include it... here is the girl that plays Annie lying on the floor pretending to be dead. Well, it was Halloween! But it was pretty realistic...

That's all for now... I'm going to a Persian dinner party with Shauna tonight. We had a good night out last night at this bar here in Tucson called "North" that is located in the La Encantada shopping center (hey, Tucson is really nothing but strip malls) --- and I was so psyched to see people over the age of 25. In fact, most people looked like 30-something professionals, which alleviates my suspicions that no one really lives here except college students and old people. We ended up giving these Canadian guys a ride back to their condo, which they rented for a weekend of golf, and they lived so freaking far away that we didn't get home till around 4am! Total insanity...

Stay tuned for tomorrow's new entry... I'm concocting a "Top 10" list for living in Tucson (although it might actually be a "Bottom 10" list). Haha.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Tennis Mishap

It's 1240am and I have a midterm tomorrow morning at 8am, but I am feeling so tremendously guilty about not writing in this lately, that I am forcing my eyes open with toothpicks just to feel better about myself. Oh, and also because I had to mention that I got pegged in the face tonight by a high velocity tennis ball while I was playing doubles in tennis class. I got paired up with my teacher, Toby, and we were playing against this Colombian guy named Jose and this older woman named Stephanie. Well, I got up to the net to volley after Toby served, and Stephanie was on the other side of the net, and she just pummeled the ball my way at a high rate of speed. Before I could even move, I felt the ball smash into my lower left jaw, and I felt my glasses fly off my face. My glasses landed about 4 feet away (unharmed, thankfully --- I highly recommend the non-breakable Swiss-flex glasses!!), and I stood clutching my jaw with my eyes watering. I was seriously worried that I had some loose molars. Toby assured me that it takes a much harder ball than a tennis ball (ie: golfball or baseball) to knock out teeth, which made me feel better. I was also relieved when I didn't feel any teeth wiggling around in my mouth. In fact, after about 10 minutes, it didn't even really hurt any more, and I can't see a bruise so I guess it will be OK. And Toby and I ended up winning the game so I suppose it all ended well.

More this weekend... I am starting to hit final semester crunch, but I WILL spare a minute to post the much-promised pictures. Oh, and also, I am going with Shauna to her Persian professor's house for dinner on Saturday so that should be interesting. More later... ciao!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I know I suck...

For any of you who actually read this anymore, I'm sorry that I haven't written anything in ages. It's just that after spending all day writing and reading and doing Arabic, I find it hard to have anything interesting to say in my blog (or e-mail responses, although many of you have sent me GREAT e-mails to which I PROMISE to respond in the coming days). I did have a curious weekend, with photos to prove it --- but I have to get my digital camera hooked up to my computer so I can download them, and hey, that takes some effort.

Overall, I am doing OK. Busy, tired, ready for Christmas, and wishing I was Samantha on Bewitched so I could just wiggle my nose and have my three final papers finished without really doing any work. Otherwise, things are the same... swimming, Arabic recitations and tests, and craploads of reading. I am a veritable hermit these days. I literally did not leave my little apartment on Sunday. Scary.

OK, I have to go to sleep now. It's nearly 12:30am, and I have an 8:15am class tomorrow. Bleccch...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Reading About Persian Literature

That's what I'm doing tonight, the Saturday before Halloween. Yes, that blows. I've been feeling more and more negative lately about grad school, Tucson, my department, my classes, and I'm missing my friends & life in DC. Sure, it wasn't all roses in DC, but Tucson is kind of a gross city --- dry, brown, flat, dusty, weird mix of people, and thousands of strip malls only accessible by automobile. Yuck. I don't like this city. I've tried to give it a chance, but it's just not growing on me. The only thing enjoyable is the weather, and I am trying to take advantage of that every day with my swimming. It definitely beats cold Seattle rain! (although I had so much fun there with my girlfriends that I could overlook it to a point...) Anyway, my classes are pretty good overall, but I'm just getting a bit burnt out, especially with two intense Arabic classes. I really like two of my other three classes, but the third one is not so good --- it's a mandatory requirement for Near Eastern master's students, and it's a collaboration of all the professors in the department that give us an overview of the type of topics covered in our field. In theory, this is good, but some of the reading we've had to do is utterly painful (ie: Israeli women's issues). And then we have to write five-page response papers on these readings. I'm getting totally freaked out about having to write THREE final papers that all need to be finished in rough draft form by the end of November, and I haven't even started on any of them. But I'm so caught up in these little weekly assignments that I don't know how I'll find time to get it all done. Yes, I'm starting to panic a bit. That is why I'm home on Saturday night instead of enjoying myself at a Halloween party or relaxing in a jacuzzi or something.

I did have fun last night hanging out with a girl who my friend Mack used to babysit. This "girl" is 23 now and works as an on-site teacher for the traveling national Broadway production of "Annie," which is in Tucson right now. The highlight of my evening was meeting the cast, which included 80s druggie deadbeat sitcom star, Mackenzie Phillips (think "One Day at a Time" with Schneider and Valerie Bertenelli), who plays Rooster's girlfriend in the ongoing "Annie" production. My young friends here at school (Shauna & Lindsey) had never heard of her! I guess "One Day at a Time" didn't make an impact on Generation Y. Anyway, I have photos to post (tomorrow), but Mackenzie Phillips looks pretty haggard with bad skin and a deep smoker's voice (not to mention the fact that I think she's OD'ed a few times in her past). What an interesting evening it was.

More later... I know I've been negligent writing in this, but I'm just a bit overwhelmed with my life at the moment. Oh, by the way, last weekend I rented "Me and You and Everyone We Know," which I'd been dying to see, and they finally had it at the video store. If you're not into indie films or electronic music, you'll surely hate it (mom), but if you're interested in a really creative film project that looks at loneliness and isolation in modern day society and daily life, you should definitely rent it. I watched it twice I liked it so much. The characters are really interesting. I found a link for the streaming soundtrack that you can listen to... it's right here: Shauna just came over and said it sounded like a video game so it's really not for everyone, but it's a must for electronica advocates!

OK --- my study break is over... back to Persian literature.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Third -- Swimmers at the Rec Center

One great thing about swimming is that you can check out the scene underwater. While this isn't always pretty (ahem, I had to swim next to a man shaped like a potato, who was wearing a Speedo yesterday), it can be very amusing. I have noticed a few regulars that go to the pool during the times I am also there. I decided to share my views of them with you:

Number One: The Woman Fetus

When my friend, J. Mack, was pregnant with her daughter, Kate, she used to bring in the ultrasound photos to work. We could never really figure out where the baby was or why it looked so alien-like. Our favorite ultrasound was toward the end of Jennifer's pregnancy, when fetal Kate's photo made her look as though she was wearing dark little goggles in the womb. We had a good laugh over that ultrasound picture (sidenote: Kate is adorable now as an 8 month old). However, when I was swimming last week, there was a girl in the lane next to me who looked just like Kate's goggle ultrasound photo -- really, an uncanny resemblance! I'm sure she was probably attractive out of the water, but she just reminded me so much of that ultrasound photo.

Number Two: The Weirdo

This guy swam laps next to me yesterday. I think he was Indian, but he had on a very thick swim cap (made of cotton/spandex or something?) and these mask-like goggles. He would swim underwater the entire time, just skimming along the bottom of the pool with big frog strokes. Then he would come up at the end of the lane and stare at people.

Number Three: Wooden Leg Swimmer

This lady was fairly fast, but she had these dangling wood-like legs that she never bent and that hung down behind her body. It looked so strange. I don't think she was handicapped --- she just had a very odd stroke.

Second -- Ouch! My leg!

I was washing dishes this morning when my very heavy glass cutting board got off balance in the dish drying rack and came cascading down toward my kitchen's tile floor. In a moment of panic and heroism, I instinctively shot my right leg out toward the falling glass to break its fall. Well, I certainly did break its fall (with full force) and my leg is really paying the price now. It gouged the skin off the area above my ankle and has created a massive swollen bruise. It hurts like a mother even to put weight on my foot now. The only good thing is that that glass cutting board didn't break. My leg is a true hero after all...

First --- My Apartment's Exterior

Hello again --- I have lots of photos to post today so I'll start out with my apartment's exterior just so you can all stop imagining in your minds where I live --- it's not quite the ghetto, but it's not Beverly Hills either:

Here is the view of "the courtyard" from my front window.

My apartment has the big window on the left. It's literally the size of the little box you see there. It doesn't extend past where the lightbulb on the left is. In a word, TINY. That cement thing in the middle of the sidewalk is supposed to be an outdoor grill, but no one uses it. I'm thinking I should get some plants to put in front of my window so I have less exposure to the neighbors. Luckily, I have some curtains up that block out everyone's view of me and my place. Zipper bird sits in these trees every fricking morning.

Here's an up close view of my lovely little abode. The door that you can see plainly belongs to my neighbor. My front door comes off the little passageway -- you can barely see it.

Here is my antique stove, circa 1950. I have to light a match to make the gas work. Scary.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Back from the dead

This is a quick post to reaffirm my existence (barely). My brain feels like marshmallow, and I am exhausted. I have one more Arabic text to memorize tonight, and I am ready for bed (it's almost 11pm now, and I have to know the text by 8am tomorrow... blaahh). At least my big tests are finished. That was total study hell...

Just wanted to post a fun picture of my favorite person in Tucson --- my neighbor, Persian aficianado, swim partner, Cold Stone Creamery cohort, and tennis coach, Shauna (who is absolutely going to kill me for posting this post-pool photo in the U of A locker rooms... but really, Shauna, it's a cute picture of you! You look very sporty...)

I'm dead meat for posting this.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Check back later this week

I'm totally stressed out this week with two massive tests and two papers. I promise I'll be back later in the week. I'm just trying to survive right now. Ugggh. School sucks.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Zipper bird & construction sounds

Every morning for the past week, I have been awakened at the unreasonable hour of 6am by my new best friend, the zipper bird. He appears to be perched somewhere right outside my large picture window, tormenting me without pause. His call sounds something like a slide whistle, which is how I have dubbed him the zipper bird, and he goes on and on and on and on with about a 2-second pause between songs for at least a half-hour. I hate him. This morning, I contemplated waking up and yelling out my window, but this would be acknowledgement of the fact that I am awake at 6am on a Saturday. I have also contemplated going outside and flailing a rock at the tree where the zipper bird sits, but this would also force me to admit that I am awake at 6am. I am afraid such protestation might really wake me up and leave me without hope of going back to sleep again. So instead, I lie seething in my futon bed, trying to hold my ears or bury my head under my pillow. I almost got my earplugs this morning, and then the little bastard flew away. (BTW, I have no idea if the bird in this photo is the bird I hear or not, but it is what I imagine him to look like...)

In addition, they are building a new house next to my apartment building. Are you all aware of that "beep beep beep" sound that emanates from small machinery moving in reverse? Yes, well I am highly familiar with it, especially around 6:30am, which is precisely the time when zipper bird exits and beeping machinery enters. Grrrr...

So today, I get to do homework all day. Oh, the exciting Saturday of a grad student. Shauna and I were going to have drinks at a "mature" and "non-college-like" bar in the Foothills last night, but we were just too pooped to bother. So instead we made popcorn and curled up on my couch to watch an English comedian named Eddie Izzard give a stand-up routine via DVD. I don't really like stand-up comedy, but even I admit that he was very clever and pretty amusing.

This morning, I lounged around watching "Sex & the City" and then completed a writing examination that I had to do in order to be considered for possible future employment. I'm a little stressed b/c I almost ran out of time (they only give you 75-minutes) and so didn't get to read over my assessment for typos or weird sentences. Crap!

As a sidenote, I got my hair colored last night, and I am now officially auburn. She gave me a chocolate toned base color with auburn streaks. It's really pretty and good for autumn. I still think I look better with blonder rather than redder hair, but the change is good. Hell, anything is better than that paper bag brown color that I have naturally.

I'll try to get a photo of the color and post it next time... till then, ta-ta!

Now playing: "A Town Called Malice" by the Jam

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Allergies and Tests

What a lovely combination. First and foremost, my allergies are killing me. Really. Who would have thought I was allergic to the desert? I was actually looking forward to a break from allergies out here, but they are almost the worst they've ever been! I woke up this morning unable to breathe out of my nose, and I will bet that I used at least 75 Kleenex today. I now have only a semblance of skin around my nostrils as most of it has peeled away, leaving me looking like W.C Fields. Fabulous...

The good news is that I made an doctor's appointment next week to get medication. The health clinic didn't have any times that would work for me until next Tuesday, but Shauna is giving me allergy meds till then, and I'm willing to take just about anything at this point to rid myself of the snuffling, sneezing, eyes burning, coughing insanity that I'm suffering right now!

On another positive note, I have three tests in the next few days! A big Arabic 101 exam tomorrow morning at the bright and shiny hour of 0815; an Egyptian Arabic exam on Monday that will completely suck; and a major history mid-term on Thursday. Oh, and I have two Arabic recitations due tomorrow and Monday, in which we have to memorize paragraphs and recite them on audio and video for our teacher to watch and grade our pronunciation. It sucks completely, especially if you're not a natural at memorization. Like me.

I had a tennis lesson tonight that was really fun --- people haven't been showing up so tonight we only had three people in my group, which gave me a lot of extra practice time. We learned volleys and practiced serves tonight (my serve is rotten, but I'm slowly improving).

Oh yes, I also ordered coffee from this awesome coffee shop in NYC called Porto Rico Imports, and it arrived today (two whole pounds of strudel cake and pumpkin spice coffee) so I'm pretty psyched. It was actually cheaper to order it from them than to buy it from Safeway, if you can believe that.

OK, I'm done rambling. Onto Arabic flashcards and text recitations. I am starting to feel like a Pakistani boy in a madrassa...

PS - Now Playing: Karma Police by Radiohead

Monday, October 10, 2005

Skipping Swimming to Do Homework

Is that sad or what? Especially since I have done nothing this evening that is related to homework... like writing this.

Therefore, this is going to be short so I don't kick myself for not swimming (although it's getting CHILLY here in the evenings which makes outdoor swimming less fun!). I am not sure if I'll have time to go tomorrow either because I'm going to a 9am meeting on study abroad programs, then hitting class at 11am, and then doing henna tattoos at a student fair from 12:30-2. Then I have class from 3:30-5 and tennis lessons from 5:30-6:30. Oh, and more homework later that evening! Insanity. Can I have my old easy life back? I had no idea how much easier it was just to work every day... who would have thought?

Nothing else going on. My levelor blinds broke today -- probably because they are at least 20 years old. I am hoping my landlord replaces them with something a bit more modern. However, I must remind myself that I am living in a studio rental apartment in Tucson and not a loft condo in Manhattan. Therefore, I am prepping myself for hideous replacement levelor blinds a la 1985 again.

OK, homework, homework, homework! Must go...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

My new baby in Tucson

Look at my baby in Tucson!

This is Niamh (pronounced Neve... apparently the "mh" is really a "v" in Ireland). She belongs to Shauna, who lives across the hall from me. She is the coolest cat ever... even though I'm totally allergic, I still play around with her. She lets you do anything to her. She wasn't even fighting this blanket over her head...

Now Playing: Hanging on a Star by Nick Drake

Saturday, October 08, 2005

So much for Phoenix!

I didn't go to Phoenix today. After waiting for an hour and 15 minutes for Lindsey and the three Indian guys, I got fed up and decided that leaving for Phoenix at 11:15 was simply ridiculous. It's a two-hour drive, and the thought of getting there at 1:30, going to IKEA with six people, having lunch, and then hitting Scottsdale (which is mostly what I wanted to see) would simply not allow for enough time to make the drive worth it. So I called Lindsey and bailed (as did Shauna). I think I was a bit too brisk on the phone, but I was annoyed after waiting more than hour to hit the road, knowing the day trip was getting shorter and shorter by the minute. I also should have heeded my own inner warning earlier on that getting six people coordinated for an event the night before while drinking cocktails is never a good idea. I'm also a little anal retentive about things like this and find that I don't work well in group situations b/c I always get irritated at people who are late. Plus it's hard to find consensus with more than four people -- where to eat, where to shop, how long to spend somewhere, etc. Somebody is always waiting around for the others. And it's usually me. Or I feel guilty that someone is waiting for me while I take longer to shop or eat, etc.

Note to self: Avoid group trips. You only work well with one or two other people.

So instead, Shauna and I hit Tucson Mall together. What fun! We are great shopping partners --- she is very patient, doesn't take forever to make decisions, and likes to go to all of the same stores as me. Perfect! We hit all the major stores, bought shirts, jeans, bras, and I even got Shauna to try a Mexican respado, which is a fruit ice drink that is sooo delicious. And the world's pickiest eater actually liked it! We finished up the day at Guero Canelo, which won the "Tucson's Best" awards for Best Taco Stand in Tucson. It's a trailer along the edge of a major road in town, equipped with generator power and a tarp-covered gravel patio, but wooowww, it's tasty. There is a reason they won the best taco stand award... It is GOOD! We both got tortas de pollo (grilled chicken sandwiches with tomato and avocado). Yummm...

Later, I got a haircut with my fabulous hair dresser, Janelle (love her!), who razor cuts my hair to keep it from getting choppy. She is so cool and fun. Then I hit Trader Joe's for Clif Bars (my morning meals), spinach, and chocolate covered raisins. I wanted to buy peanut oil so I can make these Chinese peanut noodles that I love, but I couldn't find it anywhere in Tucson. However, a lady at Trader Joe's told me to try this little Asian food store at this little crossroads in town, and I found it there. I met this Korean woman who works there, and she helped me pick out the right noodles and spices. She lived in NYC for 20 years and told me that she was still trying to get used to Tucson and that she really missed NYC. I can sympathize!

Well, must go b/c Shauna and I are watching a Persian movie tonight...

Big Slacker

Yes, that's me. I only have a couple of minutes to get a few thoughts down, but here's what I've been doing lately:

1. I'm going to Phoenix today with Shauna, Lindsey, and the Indian engineers. We're hitting Scottsdale, shopping at IKEA, and Shauna's chosen an Iranian restaurant where we're going to eat. (She's a little obsessed with all things Persian!)

2. Went to a terrible sports bar last night called "Risky Business," which should have been warning enough that the place was not so good. Lots of TV sets with sports games (which you all know I love so much), tables full of burly, testosterone-laden men, and a number of haggard old broads with mustachio'ed male sidekicks.

3. Contrary to alternative reporting, I was not offered a job with a government agency. However, I did interview with some reps on campus, turned in all of my requisite paperwork, and yesterday received a FedEx package from them with instructions on taking a writing test to prove my analytical prowess. After I take the online test, I'll find out if I am "chosen" within a few weeks. BTW, it's not for an undercover position --- it's for an analytical job. So I can tell you all where I work! Additional note: if I'm selected they will pay for my next year of grad school, plus I will make a regular government salary. Am I being lured in with $$? Maybe...

4. Went for a beer on Thursday night with the Indians and my lady cohorts at Frog-n-Firkin, which is a good little British pub down on University Avenue. I had a crapload of homework but decided "what the hell?" and decided to free myself from "Al-Kitaab" hell for one evening. I did the homework in class that morning and barely got it done in time by the end of the class to turn it in... whewww. Maybe I should do that more often?

5. Still swimming every day... my psychological release! However, last night I was again the victim of two hairballs in my lap lane, as well as an old band-aid at the bottom of the lane! Yuck! Usually the pool is spotless, but I must be getting in unlucky areas of the pool. The cool thing last night is that the synchronized swimming team was practicing so I could hear the music underwater while I swam. However, their music was this sort of scary "Halloween" type of song with a Jaws sounding ending. I was imagining myself in a horror film the whole time. Hmmmm. Also, the other day, I tried to emulate some of their underwater spins (where only their legs stick up) but Shauna and Lindsey said I looked more like a giant squid ungracefully falling over myself.

Time to go! Phoenix... here we come!

Now Playing: "Tiny Decision" by the Aluminum Group

Monday, October 03, 2005

All things come in threes?

Right now --- I am listening to: Turn It On by Ladytron (great band!)

Today... blah. I woke up ready to take an Arabic quiz that started at 0815. I walked out to my bike at 0810 and discovered that I had a flat tire. Totally, un-rideably flat. Shit! So I literally ran (in a skirt) all the way to class (about 7 blocks) in the heat. I was sweating, out of breath, and on the verge of a side cramp by the time I made it there, not to mention exhausted from hauling a huge back-pack with blisters on my heels from my non-running shoes. What a way to start my day.

So that means that I have had 1) a flat tire on my car two weeks ago, 2) a flat tire on my bicycle today, oh, and 3) a burned-out headlight on my car, which cost me $46 dollars to get fixed today. The car tires ran me $187, and the bike tire was $11. This is approximately $245 worth of bad luck. I really hope that bad things end in three. Especially since I no longer have an income.

I did go swimming today, which was lovely as usual. Although I think I spotted a very large floating hairball at one end of my lap lane. Last week I found a $1 bill in my lane so I guess the hairball evens out that winning.

Also, while I was swimming, I was thinking a lot. I had the strangest thought that brought me back to Doogie Howser. I started thinking that he was really the original blogger. Didn't he end his show every week with a little computer entry about his thoughts on things?

I continue to feel much older than my colleagues here. Today, I mentioned Nadia Comanici, and I was greeted with a blank stare by Lindsey (it's not her fault she was born the year that Mary Lou Retton matched Nadia's Olympic performance). Sigh...

Speaking of old, check out this photo:

My friend Jen -- who I have known since 1993 -- called me today while I was grocery shopping, and she reminded me of my "old" college days. Here I am exactly 12 years ago, partying like a crazy woman with my former KKG sorority sisters -- Sarah, Erin, Aimee, Shannon, Laura, Kai, and Danielle. My god, I even remember all of their names! I think these days were easier than grad school... am I drinking Busch beer? Eeks.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Fashion Police on Campus

I think I must have been a puritan in another life. OK, really, I'm no prude, but the outfits that girls wear around this campus just spell out h-o b-a-g to me. At the very least, they are all very Britney Spears-inspired. What happened to the classic fashion of Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel? How about Banana Republic even? This campus has been taken over by teenage fashion queens who shop at Bebe, 5-7-9, and the juniors' department in Macy's (you know, where they play blaring "Usher" videos and have mannequins with mohawks). Of course, I suppose I should have expected to see this since I'm back to school with a bunch of late teens and early 20-somethings, but I don't remember seeing clothes like this back in 1992. This may be because I went to the school known as J. Crew U., and we were all a bunch of preppy little snobs, and it was also autumn in Ohio (ie: cold!)... so no one could really show skin even if they wanted to. But really, these girls have no sense of class at all --- here are a few examples of typical UofA outfits (I took clandestine photos with my digital camera):

The flared mini-jean skirt is a big favorite. Especially paired with large belt and skin-tight mini tank top. This tank top is actually better than most (many girls have bellies hanging out). This girl also has a good figure, which is not the norm. I just want to tell any woman with touching thighs (most of us) that they really should avoid this look.

Here is the mini-tank and mini-short look. Very popular as well. If you look closely at a larger scale of this photo, you can see the bottom of this girl's butt cheek. Actually, this girl is modest compared to some. I saw half a butt cheek sticking out of some micro-shorts yesterday. Not cool. Or classy.

Here is the babydoll dress. While not quite as popular as the mini flared skirt, it is also a rather common theme on campus. If you look like Heidi Klum, you can wear this. If you do not look like a supermodel (ie: belly and thighs), you should not wear this. Some girls pair this with jeans, but it's also (unfortunately) worn by itself.

Here is another version of the flared jean mini skirt. This one has been paired with a print tee, which are also very popular. She accessorized with a belt (cuts her off and doesn't match the outfit), sling bag, and flip flops. All are requisites to looking cool here. Or not.

Finally, here is the tini-tank paired with skin tight jeans. Fine if you have no belly. Not cool with a belly. (Sidenote: the lady behind this girl is wearing "mom jeans"!!!)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

My cute niece Isabella

I have nothing interesting to say this evening (my day was really boring, like the movie Groundhog Day) -- class, swimming, homework. Thrills. So I am posting pictures of my super-cute 3-year old niece, Isabella, which I know my mother will appreciate since I don't think she's seen them yet. I took them when I stopped to visit my brother and his family in Denver in August (en route to Tucson). Isabella got this little Barbie Jeep as a hand-me-down from her cousin but doesn't realize the Jeep is broken. She thinks it's just to sit in to use the fake cell phone and doesn't realize it's supposed to drive around. Ha, kids --- so easy to fool!

Isabella making a very important call.

She looks just like her mom!

She meant business with this thing...

Monday, September 26, 2005

My studio

I've had a few requests for apartment photos, and here are two of the better pictures I have. These images show my living room AND bedroom, as I have to pull that futon out every night to sleep. I took the top photo from my galley kitchen, which has a little bar countertop overlooking the main room. There is also a hallway leading to the back of the apartment, where my closet and bathroom are located. All in all, it's pretty tiny, but it's perfect for grad school...

Just one quick note to say that I got a 90% (yes, an A!) on my Egyptian Arabic test that I was sure I either failed or got a C at best. So I'm really psyched right now! Woooo Hooo! And the best part is that I beat this obnoxious know-it-all in the class who only got an 87%. Hahahaha!

Ta-ta and ma'salaama!!!

My little living room/bedroom combo

Another pic of the other side of the room

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Saturday night at the Melting Pot

I spent my Saturday evening at the Melting Pot with girls from my department. Shauna and Lindsey decided to bail on me at the last minute (damn them!) with the excuse of Shauna's pink-eye as a reason for not going. However, I've already bailed on about four things that have been planned for the department, and I was sure that one more "bail" would put me in "persona non grata" status. So I felt obliged. First of all, the fricking Melting Pot is about a 30-minute drive from my apartment (bad start, esp. since I was already late), and what else does getting there late mean? It means that you get the seat that's left at the table... ie: no choice of who you sit near. No more comment lest my website be discovered, but suffice to say it was a long meal with a group of girls I would normally not pay $26 to dine with. Ugggh. I am done with department functions.

So I left soon after dessert (Shauna and Lindsey called me and were laughing out loud at my situation during dinner) and headed over to Lindsey's apartment to see my traitor friends. They were happily watching "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," grrrr. Soon after, we got invited to play poker with the Indians next door so we headed over for a game or two. Guess who left the winner that night? Moi, thank you very much... although it was sheer luck really (I suck at bluffing).

I've spent today painting a wooden screen that I'm making, reading about Islamic law (really really boring), studying for my big Arabic mid-term tomorrow morning, reading about and writing a 5-page paper on medieval Cairo (really interesting, really!), and now taking a mini-break. Shauna and I also went to swim laps this afternoon at the pool.

Till the next time...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I have no resistance to peer pressure

It's official... I really have no resistance to peer pressure. What was that bit about me staying in last night and doing laundry and studying? Yes, well, it didn't happen because an hour after I settled into my pajamas, my evil friends, Shauna & Lindsey, called me from the bar and lured me out. The lure was 80s music night and a Corona waiting for me on the table.

Really, how could I resist? I'm proud to say that I still made it home and to bed by 1:30am (my goal), and it was actually really fun --- I danced like crazy with my girls and had a great time hanging out with our Indian guy friends (esp. dancing to Punjabi MC! --- which Shauna requested for "my birthday" and which the DJ was happy to announce. Yes, apparently I am also 23 now.) So here is the trio of trouble --- Shauna and me with little Lindsey sneaking in the photo. The goofy photos of Shauna and I are an attempt to camouflage her "pink eye" that she currently has. We thought that camera wink would appear playful, but it actually just appears a bit weird. Especially the one where I am about to start winking but haven't gotten there quite yet!!!

As a side note, my 22-year old best friends here had never heard of the song "Rock Lobster" by the B-52s when the DJ played it. I was singing/dancing along, and they were just looking at me like I was crazy. They had never heard of it before. My god, what a surreal moment.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Flat Tire Magnet

What is it with me and flat tires? Some women are man magnets, some women are shoe magnets, but I have the honorific title of flat tire magnet. No matter what car I have or for how long I have it, I will get a flat tire. Guaranteed. I might be at the highest most driving point on Mt. Rainier: flat tire. I might be driving home from visiting my mother in Reston, Virginia: flat tire. I might be driving with friends on a 4-wheel drive road in Big Bend National Park, Texas: flat tire (and totalled car, although that's another story). I might be coming home from a bachelorette party in Canada with a group of women in a large Suburban full of luggage en route to the airport: flat tire. I might be in a Turkish Fiat driving on a winding, two-lane road at midnight along the Mediterranean Sea: flat tire (sidenote - repaired by a very nice Turkish truck driver). But really, no matter where I am -- or who I'm with, I am destined to at least one to two flat tires a year. And today was my lucky day (again).

I won't bore you all with the story of how Lindsey had come to my apartment to record an Arabic dialogue and I was taking her home, but I did notice my car driving with trouble as I left my apartment's parking area. Yes, that is because I was driving on the rim. Well, luckily we didn't get far so I made it back to the parking lot, and with Lindsey's encouragement, I changed the tire myself! Of course, with all the flats I've had over the past years, it is no surprise that I knew how to change one, but I have to say that the temptation to call AAA was very strong. However, Lindsey thought I should do it myself, and I figured it would take AAA at least an hour to get to my place, so I saved time and went to work. My hands were black by the end, sweat was pouring down my front and back (100+ degree day today with no shade in our parking area), and I didn't figure out how to lift the jack easily until AFTER I'd changed the tire, but I did succeed in getting the donut on my old Honda.

I made it over to Discount Tire (which has a lot of guys literally running around... which, BTW, was very impressive b/c I felt like these guys were really hurrying to get our cars finished), where I discovered that my tire treads were actually in good condition (low mileage on my little ol' car), but the rear tires were from 1993! Isn't that comical? The guy looking at them could hardly believe it! Turns out the rubber on the side of the tires was so old that it finally just cracked open in the sun, and the other rear tire was halfway there. Well, thank god it decided to crack open in the parking lot and not on the highway! Anyway, I did get two new rear tires. (Front ones are from 2002, although I have no recollection of getting those...)

So there's today's tire story. Lindsey and Shauna are going dancing at a club with the Indian engineers tonight, but I am just knackered from my crazy week and am opting for a cozy night at home. Plus I want to get up early tomorrow and actually be productive. I'm making a wooden screen for my living room (I've built it but need to paint it) and I have boatloads of reading for my classes.

With no further ado... adieu.