Thursday, April 25, 2013


My family pretty much all hails from a five mile radius of one another in Illinois.  Growing up in Phoenix, my brother and I were always the "odd cousins out" and it's been a slow go getting Bahb to meet everyone.

SOOOO, when my grandpa's 90th birthday came around and my mom (who lives in Maryland) decided she would go out to Illinois to be with everyone, it sounded like the perfect time to drag that sweet lovin' man of mine out there to meet the whole kit and caboodle.

The first day we arrived we puttered around Chicago a bit, and it really reinforced my hatred for crowded cities.  We both are decidedly spoiled, as even though the Phoenix area is rather large, we were both raised within a mile or two from the edge of town and the start of a seemingly endless expanse of beautiful, open desert.

Perhaps if we spent more time in Chicago I would have been more enamored with the city, but as it was, we only mustered up the energy to get over to Millennium Park and see that damn bean.  But it made for what is easily the best picture of Bahb ever... look at that face!

The rain was rather relentless throughout our trek through Chicago, but on the walk back to the car we got blueberry macarons and coffee, and it helped warm our soggy little souls.

About that rain... holy hell.  Illinois was a soggy shit show.  There was flooding everywhere.  I heard on the news that 44 counties declared a state of emergency.  During our drive from Chicago on the 80 we saw the extent of damage clearly.  Every little town looked just like the last; the tops of street signs sticking out of water, ruined cars that had been long since abandoned littering the streets.  Our little destination, LaSalle, was no different.  The Illinois River reached record levels and washed into the city  further than it ever has before, and Bahb and I were left to marvel in amazement.

The houses of my aunts and uncles and grandpa and cousins all fared well luckily, save for some slight flooding in the basement, so our trip, along with my Grandpa's birthday celebration commenced as planned.

Bahb and I had some family activities to attend to, like my Grandpa's birthday dinner, a large family BBQ on Sunday and an all-day all-women (plus one very understanding and patient Bahb) shopping excursion, but besides that, we were mainly left to explore on our own.

We drove around county roads, getting lost and thrown all around by a wonky GPS.  We stopped in little ice cream shops and found a soccer field and soccer ball to entertain ourselves.

I showed him all of the places from my childhood, like my grandmother's house.  My Noni passed away on Christmas this year, and it ached way more than I thought it would to drive by her house and know I can't go inside and that her fabulous chocolate chip cookies aren't sitting there waiting for me.  That house always made me happy; that field on the  right could occupy me for hours, whether I was just laying and reading or catching fireflies as the sun set.  We would always joke that we flew 1500 miles to sit on a porch, because when we would visit we always found ourselves sitting on the porch in rocking chairs for hours.

But on that day, we just drove by and I took a few pictures.

We also paid a visit to another place nearby that I have found myself surprisingly fond of over the years, Lock 3 of the I&M (or is it Hennepin...) Canal.  That particular area did not fare the deluge well, however. The parking lot was flooded, the water levels were at least twice as high as usual in the canal and the influx of flow had taken its toll on the sidewalks which were, at least partially, washed away in areas.  Lock 3 is usually lush and overgrown and has a meandering, paved path that practically begs for it to be leisurely strolled upon.  Although the weather had yet to warm up and restore the area to all of its green, leafy glory, we still ambled along the path lazily until we were brought back to reality by the amount of ticks we saw and hurried back to the safety of our economy rental car.

Another area not even remotely restored to an iota of its potential beauty is Matthiessen State Park.  When the leaves fill in, I can't imagine a more striking place.  The waterfalls and vines and dense covering of leaves makes it as close to a rainforest as you can get in the middle of goddamn nowhere Illinois.  Maybe its due to me being an Arizona kid who sees very little green at any given point in time, but this place is a fucking sanctuary in summer.

During the tail end of winter, however, it leaves a little bit to be desired.  Meh... But we still wandered around and saw some waterfalls.  It was oddly reminiscent to hiking in war-torn Poland, at least as near as we could figure.  It is remarkable the difference a month will make to this place...

So Bahb and I had some crummy weather (some snow, quite a bit or rain, temperatures in the 40's), some crummy scenery (dead trees as far as the eye can see and endless amounts of mud), a bit of family drama (as can be expected when seven female relatives are thrust together for five days), an astoundingly low-quality rental car and a GPS possessed by Satan, but I love the time we got to spend together.  

A man who is willing to enter with you into a veritable treasure trove of familial issues and weirdness just to make you happy and get to know your relatives is such a goddamn keeper it's not even funny.  

But next time... we're probably going to pool our resources for a bit longer and head to Spain... :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Buen Viaje

So after a good six weeks or so of working on my comprehensive every night until I passed out on my keyboard from sheer exhaustion (maybe a bit from boredom too...) only to jolt awake moments later and immediately resume frantically working, they are finally over.

They went as well as they could have, and I am now an official doctoral candidate and I received my masters in passing, so... sweet!  But it was a huge endeavor, not only on my part, but also on Bahb's part.  He was there every step of the way to bring me food to the lab or proofread my paper and he was even the only other person in the room besides my committee members when I took the examination. So first off, let's hear it for that guy (he best guy, you see) whose support makes all the difference in the world to me.  Second, this whole comprehensive thing, needless to say, really put a cramp in our babby hang out time, so the light at the end of the tunnel for us?  A weekend in Mexico on the beach, just the two of us, and Rosie, of course!

To say it was a relaxing weekend is an egregious understatement.  There was not a single moment of cell reception or use of electronics to speak of.  The most high tech aspect of the weekend was our virtually nonstop listening of Billy Joel's smooooooth 80's hits on cassette.  I mean... Uptown Girl?? Tell Her About It?? You May Be Right?? It's Still Rock'n Roll To Me?? Come ON.

We played rummy and drank Dos Equis and smoked menthols and ate ridiculously awesome tacos and got massages on the beach and slept 12 hours each night and walked around collecting seashells and had a bon fire and mainly just took naps on the sand under an umbrella.  In short... we were really busy guys!

And Rosie was such a good girl the whole trip.  I love that dog, and I am infinitely glad she is in my life, but make no mistake... she's a terrible dog.  She will look you dead in the eyes and hate-piss all over the carpet.  She will claw at your face at 3 am because she wants "fourth dinner."  There have been nights where she would literally not let me sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time.  And, given her age and her diminished faculties, there is no real way to discipline her without seeming cruel, because she has zero idea what's going on.  It's been a slooooow, rough process but I've more or less learned how to work around her needs to make sure I sleep most nights while making sure she's always my happy little girl.

BUT... in Mexico that was all different.  She never ran off, she slept the entire time we did at night and even politely scratched at the door when she wanted to go potty.  What. The. Fuck.  

Bahb and I kind of think it has something to do with her acute awareness of how far from home she was.  She knew she had to be a good girl if she wanted to come back with us!

Oh and she HATED the ocean.  HATED it.  It was hilarious.

But we didn't torture her too much with water fun, we mainly just all curled up in the sand and snoozed the afternoon away.

The trip was beyond wonderful.  It was relaxing and rejuvenating and restorative. It fully enabled me to turn off whatever bullshit I ordinarily allow to fester in my mind most days and just be truly present, and slightly drunk, I was always slightly drunk.

Buen viaje is right.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

You KNOW I hate your hats...

I was told that once by my roommate. For some reason she hates this hat I'm wearing. Whateva, refrigerators gon' refrigerate. That's the saying, right?

I love this hat simply because it is ever so slightly reminiscent of a cloche, and goddammit, there is nothing I love more than the 1920's.  That decade was my shit. In high school I read EVERY PUBLISHED WORD written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I read letters he sent to friends, his largely hit or miss short stories,  his literary masterpieces... everything.  I could not get enough of the man's tales of the Jazz Age. 

But I have always been drawn to the 1920's.  I mean, a girl like me?  I can really get behind a decade devoted to short hair and flat chests.  Me, my perpetual pixie cut or bob, and my 32As would have been the pinnacle of hotness, I tell you what.

In fact, me and the Roarin' Twenties kinda got a weird thing going on.  Bahb and I were driving in Mexico once on a long, deserted stretch of highway with sand dunes on either side; there were a few worn billboards, and besides that, little else.  After a while of contemplation, I turned to him and said, "I've been here before, but it was in the 1920's." It just came out, it felt right, but seriously, what the hell.  Bahb gave me a non-committal response on par with, "that's nice, hun."

I mean, is there anyone else out there with an unhealthy obsession with a particular decade?! That's normal, right?  RIGHT?

Dress: Dear Creatures
Sweater: Scrapbook
Hat: Pins and Needles (Urban Outfitters)
Purse: Vintage Coach
Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell

Yeah, so anyway, it's starting to look like Rosie is probably going to be popping up into all of these posts from here on out.  She is one curious little bean and always wants to know what's going on... and, well, between the deafness and the cataracts, she legitimately needs to get within inches to feel out a situation.  Aww, my dear, sweet, geriatric boxer puppy!

All of this talk of my 20's fixation makes me want to revisit the Beautiful and the Damned. While there is currently no time leftover for leisurely romps through imaginationland with my friend, Reading, once my comprehensive is over I intend on making much more time for leisurely reading.  There is little more depressing than reading research publication after research publication.  Where is the whimsy in that?! 

Have wonderful days anyone who may or may not stumble across this.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


WHAT?  What does that title even mean?  I'm sleep deprived.

I guess I am writing stories about studying for my Compulsories.  Hence Compul-stories... except they aren't called compulsories, I mean yes, they are compulsory, but, they are called Comprehensives.  My mom just insists on referring to them as my compulsories, "how are you're compulsories goin' hon??" she'll ask sweetly, and I'll cringe like a little ingrate at the faux pas.  

My mom is wonderful... my brother used to work at a popular night club called Pussy Cat Lounge and my mother would often ask him how things are going at the Pussy Club.  The last time I met up with her and my stepdad for dinner when they were in town she requested we meet at the Big Johnson's Steak House on Main... 

"You mean Bill Johnson's Big Apple?"

"That's what I said." No, no it wasn't, what you said was definitely more awesome, Mom.

I love it and her and unintentional sexual undertones.

Isn't it kind of warm for a get up like that, you may ask...

And you'd be right, except these were taken (relatively) early in the morning, and it is still lovely and freezing then... the layers come off quickly, I assure you.

Like so...

I still hate taking pictures, so some dumb looking stuff serves as passable with me. Anyway, my compulsories... they have been literally all I've done the month of March.  I work on the paper, which is essentially my dissertation prospectus, basically until I fall asleep, then I wake up and go "OH SHIT, I FELL ASLEEP!" and begin working on it again immediately.  

Tank top: Free People
Cardigan: BDG (Urban Outfitters)
Pants: Free People
Scarf: Forever 21
Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell

This has proceeded day in and day out for the last month.  It's getting to the point where I have zero enthusiasm.  I am an automaton.  It's gotten pretty bad, there was even some panic attacks in there... but thankfully I have the most supportive and incredible boyfriend in the world.  I'm serious, Bahb, will have earned a PhD just as much as me by the end of this.  He has literally been there for me every step of the way these past three years, whether its bringing me Samoas and orchids after I have a really rough week, or leaving the bar to come over and help me when I'm freaking out about my Comprehensive presentation; that kid is goddamn incredible. 

Long story short, after April 10th, the date of my Comprehensive examination, I hope to rejoin the ranks of those who live full lives, filled with a myriad of varying activities!  The most exciting decision I get lately is whether to fall asleep reading about the growth kinetics of the microporous materials I'm studying, or the resultant adsorption behavior. Oh man, I'm starting to tense up just thinking about it... I have to go study...

Oh, before I forget, you see that little guy in the left corner?? On November 14, 2012, I adopted a geriatric boxer puppy named Rosie.  She is old as shit, basically deaf, partially blind and can't even smell worth a damn, but she is so fucking cute and rambunctious it is unbelievable.  More on her later though, this guy has compulsories to study for. 

Have good days anyone who might stumble across this.
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