24 October 2010

Curiosity Killed the FireCat (or, The Post That Goes Just About Nowhere)

My curiosity isn't the kind that electrocutes small children, or poisons household pets, or causes cartoon characters to turn into an animal-shaped pile of cinders. For some reason, I've never been the "what happens if I put the knife into the electrical outlet?" kind of curious, or the "gee, what's this green stuff taste like?" kind of curious, or even the "what happens if I pull this string, Allan?" kind of curious. (The answer to that last question, by the way, is apparently, "My shorts will fall off." I wasn't there at the time, but I heard the story for days afterward.)

No, mine is the kind of curious that sends one to grad school. Repeatedly. What's with all the little boats in Dante? Is rose a rose a rose? Why can't we, once and for all, decide how to spell the Wife of Bath's name? And for god's sake, will someone please smack Werther upside the head and give him an SSRI? For the good of all Europe? Seriously.

The alarming result of this particular strain of academic curiosity is that--oh God. I'm about to confess this out loud. On the Internet. Ok. The result of this is that I love writing papers.

There. I said it, ok? I love writing academic research papers. Call the ambulance on me, lock me up in an ivory tower, hit me in the face with a waffle iron, do whatever you want, but it's true. Except, mostly, what I like is the research part. I don't necessarily like sitting my arse on the chair and cobbling the pieces together (which is sometimes what it feels like, especially this past semester), but I love logging into JSTOR and following the thread of my ideas and seeing where it leads. This, despite the fact that more than once in the past several months I have typed in literary search parameters and gotten a certain article about White-Faced Capuchin monkeys. I am not making this up.

Presently, however, it has led me to the most frustrating dead end of my life. I've got all these fabulous ingredients, but they don't make soup. They make smoosh. I know it. Chaucer knows it. My cats know it. My rough draft knows it (and, as a result, is being more recalcitrant than usual). Worst of all, the professor knows it. The Scots-English word "fookt" does not even begin to describe my situation here. I am several pages into nowhere, and need to have been finished already by the time I meet the professor tomorrow to discuss possible solutions. This is due to a glitch in the matrix known as "I have a marathon to run out of town next weekend and am not due to return home until thirty seconds before this paper is actually due, and you can't give me an extension because immediately (as in, the four days type of immediately, so, super-immediately) after that is my qualifying exam, for which I still have 200 pages of reading."

Sorry. This isn't really a post about curiosity. This is really a post about sheer, unmitigated panic. But that's what I'm good for right now.

That, and lots and lots of coffee.

22 October 2010

Chocolate-Flavoured Love

This is not a post about fair trade month, ILRF, the new documentary about child slavery in the cocoa sector, or the musical Hair. Nope, it's about bras. Well, sort of. But it is about chocolate. And breasts.

Slow your roll there, Sparky. I am not about to get kinky. Please. I'm not that kind of nerd. I am, however, about to get amused. Very, very amused.

Because a certain high-end lingerie boutique reviewed in the New York Times last month apparently keeps a bowl of gourmet chocolates by the register. I do not know whether the intent was to be humourous, or whether the proprietress is simply fond of almonds.

Regardless, my delectable treat has a very distinct silhouette.


04 October 2010

Race Report: Hershey Half-Marathon, Codename "Bandito!"

So, let's just get this out of the way right in the first paragraph. I did not register to run this race. I was a slacker, I was between adjunct summer paychecks and fall paychecks, I wasn't sure I felt like spending three hours running around an area of central PA that gives me hives at a time of year that I have most deeply associated with said hives, and frankly I wasn't sure I was up to a half-marathon the weekend between my 18 and my 20. So it sold out in the middle of August while I was still waffling, and I was certain this meant Jesus didn't want me running no Hershey half-marathon.

This was reinforced when, despite my really good half-marathon two weeks ago, my legs were in serious pain afterward for more than a week. The 18 ended badly, I hurt like hell any time I had to do anything involving my legs (which, when you think about it, is a lot), Hershey didn't up and move to New England or anyplace less likely to give me the emotional heebie-jeebies, and on top of that I was in a whopper of a bad mood on Thursday and Friday. So when Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny, all I could think was, ".....oh, crap. Now I have to go and pretend to be human for several hours in front of Carl's wife, because I like Carl's wife. I should really spare her the awfulness that is me right now." But no. Into the car I went, and out through Berks County without punching anything and only flipping off two or three exits and the people at the end of them.

Only one pee break on the road (during which I bought a pair of pants--don't ask, but let me just reassure you I did not pee in mine) and then I was at Casa del Blur by late afternoon. Chris and I met Deborah for supper downtown, which was swell because neither of us had ever met her before, and lots of fun, pasta, and giggling was had. Turns out Carl does not keep his promises, and what happens at PDR does not stay at PDR, because Chris made reference to some of my digestive habits. So ok. So I farted in bed the night before the race when Carl and I were sharing a hotel room, ok? There was sausage in my lasagna, what do you want from my life? It was dark, I was relaxed, I thought he was asleep, and....well, let's just say I'm used to having the room to myself.

Anywhoodle, Chris and I repaired to Casa del Blur where I snuggled with Andrewblur (whose shades kept falling off) and we finished a bottle of white wine before I retired to the guest suite where I could flatulate in the peace, comfort, and privacy of my own self. (Yes, Carl, not only did I drool on your pillow this weekend, I also farted onto your side of the bed. Just so you wouldn't miss me.)

6:00 came way too early for both of us. I seem to recall suggesting to Chris that it wouldn't be the end of the world if we went back to bed, since I didn't have a bib (actually I believe my exact comment is unprintable), but out we went.

And man, did I have the race of my life. Of course, of course the first person I saw when I got out of the car at the start was Len. There was mad peeing, and just in case I yoinked some extra toilet paper for later in the race. Which I turned out not to need....sort of. Apparently I have a new pre-race ritual. Actually I think there was just too much cheese in my supper the night before. Oops.

I don't remember a lot of the race. Lots of rolling hills, lots of cornfields. Lots of running out of Gatorade and only water from about the third aid station. At the second one, they'd had Gatorade and water but no cups. So they had teams of people lifting the igloo jugs and you stuck your head under the spigot. For my troubles I got an earful of Gatorade. Needed to go shower under the water spigot afterwards just to counteract some of the sticky. It was not entirely successful.

There was some serious cross-breeze and/or headwind (it changed, the road curved again, it followed you.....I spent much of the race butt-freezing, dude) but I'd given my long-sleeve shirt to Chris at the first mile, where she surprised me by having the hugest pair of lungs on the teeniest little sweet lady you could ever imagine. Everyone within a three-mile radius knows my name. By the time I met up with her at mile 8.5, my arms were still cold but putting the shirt on would have made the rest of me too warm. Now I know why people wear those stupid armwarmers.

So. Could have done without the lack of Gatorade, could have done without the freaking crosswind, and could have COMPLETELY done without the fact that for several miles in the middle (most notably Clark and Bachmanville) despite cops holding traffic so you could cross, they were allowing cars to travel on the roads. Clark is curvy and hilly and has no shoulder. And there are CARS COMING AT ME IN BOTH DIRECTIONS. WHAT. THE. HELL. Yeah, that was no fun. People are idjits. Anyway.

My legs and lungs still had some in me, but my hip and lower back has been out of whack all month, so by about mile 11 my arse hurt rather a lot (my right foot spent most of the middle half of the race sound asleep. Let me tell you, pins and needles as it wakes back up at mile ten is a treat). By the time I got to the stadium I was ready to be done, but not nearly as cranky as PDR. Not by a long shot! I've never had a stadium ending, so that was fun, and again Chris was there with her lungs (she got me to split into a grin as I was hauling towards the finish) and in the process I almost mowed down a couple who slowed down to hold hands and cross the finish line together. Dude, if there's one thing you need to know before racing, it's DO NOT GET IN MY WAY AT THE FINISH. I will mow your ass down.

Disclaimer: no half-marathoners were actually hurt in the process of this mowing. The woman just got a solid hip check because dammit, you do not stop to pose for the effing camera. You run. That is what you came here to do.

Really, that's all I remember about the afternoon, except that I did not get the hiccups while eating my bagel, Deb let me shower in her hotel room for which I will love her forever, I cried when I saw Nita and two hours later when she left again, and at some point during my second drink I got up from my seat and bit Jerry.

Oh, and I totally touched his new Mustang. And no, that's not a euphemism for anything.

(oh yeah, and I totally PR'ed by like three minutes, but I got so caught up in busting on Jerry that I almost forgot to mention it here.)