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I mentioned recently that the Grog and Dog Jog is coming up and I’m very excited about it.  I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for someone to unite my loves of beer and running, and I seriously can’t believe I never thought of something like this before– but no matter. 

Despite the fact that when this event was announced, I turned to Chinese Religious Scholar Friend and said “let’s do this”, and he said “yes”, getting together the rest of the team has been a bit of a challenge.  Canadian Male Friend has recently developed insulin resistance (or is on his way to developing it–I’m not a doctor) making the beer/hotdog part of the race a little sketchy; Curly-Haired Religious Scholar Friend will be out of town that weekend, Jewish Friend just scoffed at me when I asked her and said “There is nothing about what you just said that appeals to me.”

I persevered nonetheless, and just happened to find Early Christianity Religious Scholar stranded at Bed Bath & Beyond, I innocently asked her “Do you run?” She said, “sometimes”, and team The New Hotness was born.

The Grog & Dog Jog is a mysterious event as well, because the website gives little to no information.  Because I am all about this, and don’t want to miss the window of opportunity, I sent an email with 4 pertinant questions:

1. I have a tentative team of four– is that too many, too few, or just right? (Wild Colonial website doesn’t say how long the course is)

2. What time does it start/ what time would you like people to get there?

3. How much does it cost?

4. This is the most annoying pair of questions, and I apologize that I have to ask them– I’m a vegetarian, can I supply my own soy dog?  Also, another member of my team has insulin resistance and is low-carb– can he eat two hotdogs and skip the bun?

Despite all of the rather ridiculous restrictions my team has, we have successfully united, and my insulin resistant friend said that for me, he will eat a carby bun, and drink a carby ‘Gansett– good friend. He also may have to sneak off and throw up his carbs after consuming them.  In preparation for this event, I ran seven miles yesterday and figured out that I still can actually do an 8-minute mile (which surprised the hell out of me).  Next step is to get a pack of soy dogs and do a test run to see how long it takes for me to eat one and chug a beer after I’ve been doing some jumping jacks.

Everything is coming together.

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Job #1 at fancy membership library, comes complete with a whole host of eccentrics that make the library into their second home.  Among them is a rather tragic creature named Catherine who is in every day for hours at a time, and sometimes volunteers in the gift shop.  I first met her about a year ago when she was in the staff room, and I assumed she was staff that I hadn’t met–so I introduced myself.

That simple social nicety mired me in a conversation about everything she had done educationally with her life since she was an undergraduate–  particularly her study of Old English (thank god, she didn’t give me an example).  Since all I had done was mention that I go to URI for Library and Information Sciences, I was shocked to be subjected to a lengthy lecture be someone who would thrive at a Renaissance Fair, but I listened politely anyway.

She is not a bad person, just a bit sad.  She scuttles around nervously, and at times seems grateful when you talk to her, and other times terrified.  She also brings the staff of the library treats on a regular basis, which I find odd, but appreciate.  One of her favorite treats is those coffee-flavored Nips Candies, which are delightful, but incredibly sticky.

So, I was eating one one morning, because I’m often bored at work and that starts me grazing on whatever confection is around– and I pulled out a filling.  I finally, after years of not, have health care through my new job at school.  Unfortunately, it includes doctor, and vision– no dentist.  Wise Lawyer Friend had informed me a while ago that the tech school about 20 minutes away has a dental hygienist program.  They’ll give you a cleaning, periodontal exam, x-rays etc. for incredibly cheap, and then you can turn around and bring all of that information to a real dentist who will fix what the students’ diagnose.

My first appointment was on Friday, and a rather nervous, but friendly hygienist-in-training, Erin, examined, and scraped, and poked around my mouth conferring with her instructor in horrifyingly medical terms and making me feel like I was the extra on a soap opera who plays “coma guy”.  I have never had any issues with the dentist, in fact, I used to love going to the dentist, so none of this really bothered me and I felt like I was learning a bit more about oral hygiene.

Then the instructor left, and Erin began the standard lecture that I get from all hygienists: “You need to floss”.  I’ve heard it before, over and over, and I know the routine.  Yes, I need to floss; I’m sorry that I don’t floss; I really mean to floss etc.  Erin, apparently goes to the “scare them straight” school of dental hygienistry because she seriously let me have it to the point of where I almost though she was going to start wiggling my teeth to convince me that they were about to fall out.  She used all of the scary vocabulary that the use in Listerine commercials usually along with a picture of evil mouth beasties and bacteria who exist only to make you into a toothless wonder.

By the end of the 2-hour appointment, I felt beaten into submission.  The only part that I did well on was my blood pressure– everything else got a failing grade: I don’t brush right, I don’t floss, I don’t use a flouride rinse– I’m doomed.

Now I have to go back in two weeks and let Erin clean the remaining three quadrants of my mouth, take x-rays, and take impressions (not because I need them, but because it is good practice for her). After this is all done, I can finally go to a real dentist, get my stupid filling replaced, and maybe score another lecture about flossing.

I will never eat Nips Candies again, no matter how bored or starving I am.

Since becoming friends with Joe Roch, I’ve been made a lot more aware of what’s going on with tv these days.  Typically, I listen intently as he describes how amazing Mad Men or Lost are, and nod like I will watch these shows (but don’t really plan to– sorry Joe).  One of his obsessions stuck in my head though– Project Runway.

“It’s really cool because they win based on talent, and make some really interesting clothes.” he insisted.

Ever since taking Home Ec (or, the more PC: Family and Consumer Sciences) in 8th grade, I’ve been a bit obsessed with sewing.  Both my paternal and maternal grandmothers were sewers– one made pillows, one made quilts (though they had made their own clothes back in the day), and I remember having an odd moment of panic when I moved out to Rhode Island and realized that I was buying a blanket for the first time in my life rather than just grabbing one of the 50 in the closet.  My skills aren’t much– I can make a kick-ass pillow in no time, but shirts and skirts are a bit more difficult.

“Do you actually get to watch them design and sew the clothes?  Do they explain what they’re doing?” I asked.

“Sure.” he blinked, “I really don’t know how to sew, but it’s fabulous to watch.”

So I watched the damn thing, and dug it quite a bit.  Now my head is full of dreams of making my own beautiful dresses and skirts and jackets and writing a strongly-worded letter to Old Navy saying “you carried all of these crap dresses that did not look good on me, so I just made my own!”

The problem is, patterns.  A while ago, I went through a phase similar to this one, and did come out with quite a few skirts and pillows.  Once I got sick of copying skirts that I already owned, I went down to Jo-Ann Fabrics and saw what they had to offer.  The pictures on the outside look good, but what you can’t tell from the colored-pencil drawing (or at least I can’t), is what the item will actually look like once you make it.  I spent a lot of time measuring twice and cutting once only to find that once I put on my creation, it looked… odd.

Most of these items hung in my closet never to be worn except around the house when I would try to convince myself that they didn’t look too silly. I could blame myself and my lack of skill, but I never attempted to do anything that I was uncomfortable with or hadn’t done before– the problem was the patterns were straight out of 1950 and not in a fun, vintagy kind of way.

Clearly, the answer is– I need to be more of a designer than a sewer.  I need a dressmaker’s dummy, and a full arsenal of the implements that allow one to make clothes that look good and wearable– or else I go back to copying designs that I’ve already bought.

I’m going to figure this out, and I have the first disc of the first season of Project Runway waiting at home to help me.

  • Far too much reading is expected of me
  • I am not getting the reverence and respect I deserve from the 1st years
  • I should be doing the reading with this downtime that I have, but just cannot be bothered– that will most likely catch up with me very soon
  • I have three of my four classes (maybe it’s all four–she’s very plain)  with a girl who’s name I cannot remember, but who seems to regard me as some kind of kindred spirit.  I worry about this because she seems very, very angry
  • Mostly, I just want to read Nancy Drew books and other juvenile lit, then solve mysteries and have adventures
  • Unlike previous semesters, I don’t have any obvious weirdos in any of my classes.  This worries me and makes me feel like I must be getting weirder and therefore less able to discern.  I mean, a lot of the people are odd, but with the exception of angry girl, who is easy to ignore, no one really stands out.
  • I really have no idea how to write an annotated bibliography, which seems to be all one does in library school.

Nancy Drew is always on vacation.  I just started reading The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion— the original one from the 1930’s complete with all of the racism that was later taken out in the 1960’s– and, yet again, Nancy, Bess, and George are in Nancy’s roadster on their way to a vacation destination.  I know that Nancy has been in charge of running the household since her mother died (in the early books, housekeeper Hannah Gruen is either less reliable, or just not mentioned), but does she really need to “get away” that often?

Also, in this book, Nancy has had a likeness of herself rendered in oils by a talented local painter.  She mentions how expensive it was, but how excited she is to give it to her father for his birthday.  In my mind, if you haven’t earned the money to pay for a gift, make something or do something where the effort rather than the product is the gift.

My feelings could be a result of my coming from a family that was never very good at the gift-giving (my brother and I would go to Target, each pick out a DVD of equal value, trade them, pay for them, and then trade back), but it seems like if you buy something for someone with money that they, not you, earned, it’s a bit pointless.  It also worries me that someday if I do get married, or share finances with someone, I’ll end up with a birthday present that I feel lukewarm about, and that ambivalence will be made all the worse because I technically paid for it.

Nancy does, kind of, work outside the home solving mysteries, but she is strictly an amateur and never takes money  for her work.  Her father, famous attorney Carson Drew, disapproves of her mystery solving, but indulges her as she is his only child.  Maybe he’d look more favorably upon it if he wasn’t always footing the bill for her adventures.

Perhaps my feelings are just jealousy toward Nancy.  I’ve never solved a mystery, at least, not a major one.  I’ve never tangled with baddies and been knocked unconscious by a swift blow to the head. My hair is a rather normal “brown” rather than “titian”. My high school chums and I spent our time drinking in fields and Canada rather than horseback riding at Red Gate Farm, or having luncheon at Lilac Inn.

The problem could be the difference in the eras that the two of us grew up in.  In Nancy’s time, people had to leave the house to accomplish most tasks, and while that sounds a bit tedious and time-consuming to me, I bet in puts you in the path of a lot of mysteries just waiting to be solved.  Nancy goes to the dressmaker’s and sees a mysterious figure duck around a corner and head for the docks!  I go to Old Navy where the music is too loud and the only mystery is how some of the girls in there really believe they can get away with a size that small.

I’ll continue to look for secret passages and hidden luggage compartments.  I’ll keep my eyes peeled on my daily walk to work, and maybe a case of mistaken identity, or a suspicious package will present itself and throw me into the world of mystery.  Of course, I’ll probably have to pass on it, and continue on to work.

As I’ve said before, I do love my neighborhood.  However, recent events have made me very frustrated, and left me in a position of little control.

A while ago, the house that we share a driveway with was abandoned and subsequently repossessed by the bank.  Since that time, a handful of realtors, handymen, and potential renters/buyers have been wandering around, blocking my driveway, and trying to sell me and Jewish Friend property.

That’s not a problem, so much as it is a bit strange and annoying at times.

With the abandonment of the house comes the abandonment of the yard.  The property lines for the abandoned house are very strange in that the yard closest to my house, the one that looks like my yard, actually belongs to the abandoned house.  This is the big yard that recently had the fence run into.  Since the fence has been run into, the gate does not work, and that wide open space is apparently a giant neon sign to the kids in my neighborhood “hey, make this yard your new hangout space.”

Because this yard is right next to my house, naturally, so are these kids.  I mentioned to my landlady a while ago, that it makes me very uncomfortable to have so many people (adults have taken to cutting through the yard as well to save the extra 10 steps it would take to go around the corner) right outside my window.  I stand at the sink doing dishes, and boom, there’s a stranger right in front of me.

“It’s not my fence,” landlady said, “I don’t see why I should have to pay to fix it.”

In her eyes, people are taking over the yard because they know the house in abandoned.  In my eyes, they didn’t start doing this until the gate went missing, and if the realtors can’t figure out the property line, why would she assume a bunch of 8 to 12-year-olds could?

The other night, I was talking to my brother on the phone and I heard scuffling and whispering sounds coming from the yard.  I pulled the curtain back to find about six kids, hanging out, listening to me talk on the phone.  Since they have been spending more and more time there, they have gotten more and more comfortable, and I keep half expecting to find them in my living room once it starts getting colder out.

Something must be done, and I will do it myself.

First, I took the garbage can and placed it in the space where the fence gate is supposed to be.  Within a day someone had moved it aside– clearly my message was not received.

Second, I took the detached bit of gate, and leaned it up against the rest of the fence, then pushed the garbage can against it to hold it in place.  Within a day, someone had figured out that you could still open it from the other side, and (I think) kicked in the door to the potting shed just to spite me.  So now I know that they are a determined lot.

My new course of action has been to take a length of wire, and length of chain, and my recently acquired gunlock and secure the fence in place that way.  If they are very determined, they can unwind the wire, but I made it as complicated and annoying as possible to do, or they can get tools and cut both the wire and chain.  If that happens, I guess I will go buy thicker chain (though I don’t really want to spend money on this situation any more than landlady does– but I would rather not get robbed), or perhaps take a page from the ACME handbook, and sprinkle a lot of tacks along the sidewalk.

I’m not giving up. 

This is them hanging out on my front steps and atttempting to climb my fire escape.  I wasn’t just being an alarmist when I said they are getting too familiar.  Damn kids.

I’ve been a full-blown vegetarian for about ten years.  I say it like that because it sounds funny to compare vegetarianism to HIV/AIDS, and because fifteen years ago I eliminated beef and pork from my diet, then five years later gave up the rest.  When you think about it, I’ve actually been a vegetarian longer than not, because I’m sure I didn’t start eating meat until I had teeth capable of chewing, which happens around age two (the internet tells me).  I started eating canned tuna again about four years ago, and when I moved to the Ocean State, I started eating fish and sea creatures in general, though not very often.

The thing is, for me, I do not really care for meat.  Even when I ate meat, I didn’t eat much of it.  It’s not an animal rights thing, it’s the fact that it sits in my gut like a brick, and I care neither for the taste of most meat nor the texture.  I also don’t eat celery for the same reasons.

Last St. Patrick’s Day, I had dinner with a few friends who have traveled extensively throughout Asia.  We had a lot of crazy exotic dishes that I had never seen before, and I was eager to try them.  About mid-way through a curry-type thing that I was eating, Wise Lawyer Friend said, “Andria, that has pork in it, didn’t you know?”

“You don’t eat meat?” Hostess asked frantically, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t know that.  I should have told you that had meat in it.”

I looked down at what I had been eating, and saw tiny flecks of what could have been pork amidst larger chunks of tofu and other delicious ingredients.  I finished eating it anyway wondering if trace amounts of pork would make me sick.

“How long has it been since you’ve eaten pork?” Wise Lawyer Friend asked me.

“About fifteen years.” I told her.  Hostess continued apologizing, but I shrugged and told her that I really didn’t care too much, and I certainly wouldn’t be an asshole and get mad at her about it, or go throw up the delicious meal she and her husband had prepared– that’s crazy.

Since that meal, I’ve eaten meat on two other occasions: once when DC Insider offered me a bite of his chicken sandwich from Wendy’s and I decided to go for it since I used to like chicken quite a bit; and last week when I was out for brunch and discovered that the quesadilla in my huevos rancheros had bacon in it.  I didn’t realize what was going on with the flavor until I was about halfway through it (since I don’t really remember what bacon tastes like, and I wasn’t expecting it), but I finished all four pieces anyway, and didn’t even tell Jewish Friend for fear of establishing some kind of bacon-eating precedent that would make her entirely too happy.

Now I’ve been informed that the annual “grog and dog jog” is coming up.  It’s a relay race where you run 1.5 miles, and have to chug and beer and eat a hot dog before the next person on your team can go.  It sounds very appealing to me because I haven’t been running at all lately and that short of a distance sounds very manageable, I love beer, and I’ve been craving a hot dog for some reason for a while now so this seems like a good reason to eat one.  Also, there may be prizes involved.

What worries me, is what if I choke?  Not literally, but athletically.  What if it comes down to the moment that I need to eat the hot dog– for the team– and I simply cannot do it.  That happened one other time when I insisted that I wanted chicken strips, and then could not actually eat one.  I held a chicken strip, and stared at it for about ten minutes, but could not make myself bite into it.  I don’t really want to do a test run with a real hot dog, but I don’t want to be that asshole who asks the event organizers to sub in a soy dog just for me.

Conundrum.

I have, so far, been unsuccessful in my attempts to “take to the sea”.  Taking to the sea has been a goal of mine since moving to the Ocean State, but lack of boat, friend who owns boat, and sailing skills put a bit of a crimp in things.  Jewish Friend and I tried to catch the ferry to Newport earlier this summer when it was free for students, but found out that it only leaves Providence every three hours, and we certainly could take it to Newport, but we would have wasted the entire day waiting at the dock and there would be little left to do upon our arrival.  We just drove instead.

I could have taken the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard or Block Island, but I guess I didn’t push for that as much as I could because I’ve taken ferries before and that’s not as pure of an experience as I wanted.

I was going to take sailing lessons but work and finances prevented that.  I’ve been meaning to ingratiate myself to people involved in the sailing/boat owning community, but short of hanging out at the docks like some kind of prostitute, I’m not quite sure how to make that happen.  You’d think with all the time I spend in Newport, something would have just worked out, but not yet.

So when I got the email about the Graduate Student Association’s sunset cruise, I was intrigued enough to buy a ticket:

For the low-low price of $5, I can take to the sea, eat for free, and drink– really sounded like the perfect way to spend a Friday evening.  I asked Jewish Friend if she wanted to go, and also drive so I wouldn’t have to drink less, and she agreed to both.  Everything seemed to be going well.

Friday evening, it began to sprinkle lightly just as we were leaving Providence.  “The boat will have some kind of roof.” I assured Jewish Friend, and tried to distract her from any pessimism by giving her White Cheddar Cheez-its.  It worked pretty well until we got to the pier, realized had no idea where we were needed to go, and that the rain was officially a part of our trip.

“If we missed the boat, or of we can’t find the boat we’re going to Crazy Burger.” Jewish Friend asserted.

“We’ll find the boat.” I assured her, “We know where the water is, and that’s where the boat will be.”

Except when we found some of our other grad student friends, they were all standing on the pier, in the rain, looking longingly at the sea.

“What are we waiting for?” I asked.

“Ummmm, the boat.” Debbie Downer (who does not get a more clever nickname than that because she sucks too much) told me sarcastically.

“Well,” I returned, “There are boats all around me, Debbie.  How would I know which one we’re supposed to get on?”

Turns out that the boat we were supposed to take needed to be charged (?)  At this news, Jewish Friend looked at me and said, “We wait 20 minutes, and then go to Crazy Burger.”

About 18 minutes later, someone started handing out tickets for one free drink as an apology for making us wait in the rain.  Crazy Burger started sounding less appealing to me, but Jewish Friend was getting increasingly cranky.

After 30 minutes of us growing more and more saturated, we finally boarded the boat and pounced upon the free food.  Most of us took two slices of pizza– like you do, planning to go get more after everyone else has had his or her share.  These guys:

and a few other thick-necked types who apparently were wasted when they got on board, and may have later thrown up over the side, piled two to three plates each and eliminated the stash of lukewarm pizza before many people could get any.

Overall, I felt like I was on a boat with frat bros rather than grad students.  I took to the drink as well as the sea, and by the time we docked, my hair was almost dry.  I told Jewish Friend that she could plan our next adventure and she responded with, “I plan good adventures.”

I don’t think the sea and I are enemies, but I think the GSA and I are.

I kept my accounts with my bank in Fargo when I moved.  I did actually open accounts at a local bank, but I don’t particularly like them (and the interest rate on my savings here is a joke– seriously, when I asked the guy at the bank what my rate would be, he laughed), so I maintain a balance but never really use them.  This means that everything has to go through the mail, which means that I have to buy stamps (hate buying stamps), and it takes forever.

It is imperfect, but rarely an issue because I have direct deposit.  On Tuesday, I finally got my financial overage check AND my first paycheck from the university.  These were paper checks because I didn’t have direct deposit set up in time, but of course, I was still thrilled to get them and did a small dance of joy around my apartment.  Wednesday morning, on my walk to work, I dropped these two items into the mail and eagerly waited for the balance on my checking account to grow.  Unfortunately, I’m still waiting.

When Jewish Friend got her check a few days before mine, she immediately called me and said “I need to buy something to celebrate this money– can you think of anything that I need to buy?”  My needs are simpler, and a lot lamer– all I want in the world is to pay off my Amex and put the rest in savings.  Maybe if I can find an exceptional rate, I’ll sink some into a CD.  Then I can asses how much money I’m making at new job, and budget accordingly.

That’s all I want.

Now it’s Saturday morning, and even though I know that my bank is in a time zone one hour later than me, I’ve checked my balance about three times, hoping against hope that the money will be there and I can take this lazy morning to do some financial planning.

I was speaking to a professor the other day, whom I haven’t seen all summer, and don’t have a class with this semester, and somehow we got on the topic of money, mortgage crises, the financial state of the university.  I expressed a concern at my job prospects once I graduate because economic downturn is no good for anyone, but it’s particularly bad for librarians.  “Well, if there’s one thing I know your parents taught you, it’s how to manage your money.” she said.

I flushed with pride momentarily, but then I thought maybe this means I talk about this stuff too much.  Wise Lawyer Friend was recently accused of playing mahjong at the library not for the fun of it, or the comradery, but rather, because it is free.  At least I’m not the only one.

Wise Lawyer Friend asked me a while ago how my new job was going, “What do you do there?  What did you do today?”

I thought for a moment, and replied, “Well, this morning we talked for about an hour about the class that he’s teaching, he read me his first lecture and asked my opinion; we talked about Sarah Bernhardt and the history of theatre in France.  Then we had lunch.  After lunch I worked on this website for a while, and then we talked about opera– specifically Tosca, and the production of Swan Lake that we both saw at the VMA and had a little dispute as to whether or not they changed the ending from one night to the other.”

She paused for a moment, “Are you kidding?”

So, aside from the fact that my boss is a gay gentleman in his 50s, a Libertarian, and a poet– we are pretty much the same person.  Every day that I get to work, we spend at least the first 45 minutes talking about something that has nothing to do with the task at hand– today it was Alexandre Dumas, a brief chat about the America Birth Control Movement, and Medea.  Then we went to lunch, attended a meeting, and chatted at length about Frankenstein.  We both have masters of English, experience in publishing, an extreme distaste for organized religion.  I haven’t really ever had an office job, but I’m sure that this is not standard.

It’s actually somewhat similar to my relationship with the appraiser that I used to work with, only now my lessons fall under the category of Women’s Studies, Humanities, and Literature rather than economics, and I’m learning stuff that other suckers are actually paying for.  My job rules so hard, but it’s going to be a little sad when I finally get my own office.