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!