Tuesday, July 27, 2010


It's so ... empty! *lower lip quivers*

I'm going to miss this perfect little apartment so much!!!! Waaaaaa!

Huff, Puff

Oog! Eargh! Blarhg! Grooog!

packing... lifting.... hauling ... more packing ... haven't even started on cleaning yet ... whew ... puff puff ... I'm exhausted ... piles of boxes everywhere do not help with the sense of clutter ... grahrh! bleh. I'm tired.

Pass the advil. I'll be back later.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Playing dress-up

Yesterday I went and did some errands, and was still feeling kinda down, so I went and browsed through Anthropologie. I almost never do that --- and I'm quite proud of myself that I didn't try anything on or buy anything just weeks before packing and moving all my stuff cross-country --- but this time I looked about, and I was surprised by how much stuff I liked. I love the idea of ruffles and complex constructions and general girlyness, but can't stand to wear it. In real life I am very plain and unfussy --- any jewelry, I'm going to get caught in something. Any ruffles or bows or loose floaty bits hanging off me are going to get me very nervous and I'll be fidgeting at it. Any patterns and I will instantly feel like I am standing out too much in the crowd and will be stared at. Any flower prints and I will puke.

So I was surprised that I really liked a lot of the stuff in the store. A lot was with the feeling of, "oh, this is so not me, but it is gorgeous!" or, "Ooh, I hate that color and yet the garment is so interesting!" or even "Ooh, ugly! In that fashionable, twee kinda way! I wish I could go for the ugly look!"

Today I did more errands and stuff and now am passing the time with this thingy I have seen some fashion bloggers use called polyvore. I thought it would be fun, like playing with dolls and window shopping without the effort of putting on clothes or paying for anything. What's interesting is that it's actually very hard. I may have a good eye for what's interesting, but I have no skill at putting an outfit together, which explains why I have trouble buying things and getting dressed.

So first, let's see just a jumble of all the stuff I liked:
rFashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

Find me on Polyvore
See the problem? Even if you ignore the fact that I can't fit into any of their pants and so I didn't add them, I don't have any outfits here. I also tend to buy/choose tons of stuff in my favorite colors but then they don't work together or contrast well enough to wear them as an outfit.

It also made me realize why they have all those shitty boring noncolors out there; you know, the "brown" that you're not sure if it's gray or not and it's really not a color at all, maybe it's mouse brown or something? Well if you want to layer loud colors with something not loud, you need a white or a taupe or a mouse brown. Interesting. I will ponder that. I also noticed while culling through the anthropologie website that all the fancy fussy little things like smocking or embelleshments or draping don't show up on darker colors --- which makes sense. I tried to knit patterns in some of my favorite darker colors like navy and it was just pointless, you couldn't see all the detail. For example, here are two colors of the dimpled cardigan at Anthropologie:

Why you would want something that has been named "the dimpled cardigan" is another post entirely.

Third, I noticed that if you want to have some sort of embellishment or 3-dimensional thing up at your neckline, you can have it either on a shirt or on a top layer like a coat or sweater, because if you layer something with embellished flowers on top of a big poofy set of pleats or ruffles, you will end up having the weirdest lumpy profile. And at this point I just about gave up again, because that means I have to either pick ruffly tops or ruffly cardigans, or buy so many shit-tons of clothing that I can mix and match without constantly going "dammit! there's too much poofyness in the clothes I want to combine today!"

This may put me back off fashion. Of course, the prices on all the fancy twee clothes I like put me off it too.

Finally, trying to match up outfits on the computer, even with a program like polyvore that makes it easier for you, is nothing like the ease of running back and forth inside a store to hold things up next to each other. I have to do actual coding and cutting and pasting and it is not quite so fun as shopping or playing with the dolls of yesteryear. But still, here I am trying out the program and my outfit-making skills:

As you can see I don't really have the hang of getting rid of the background blurs yet. To say nothing of my attempts at taste.

And to assure you that this has not completely become a fashion blog, I have to wonder, in relation to my earlier request for some theory background, how all this participatory creation --- whether it be making outfits in polyvore or fashion blogging or uploading photos of yourself in your outfits --- relates to Althusser's concept of interpellation? Who's calling? Who's answering? Are we interpellated today much more often and more securely through consumption than the State? How does the participatory, creative aspect of self-fashioning work in with all this?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

At loose ends

Sigh. I'm kinda sad, kinda bored. I have enough packed that doing anything here is difficult. I have all this free time, which theoretically would seem to be a great time to work on my (old) New Article (which you might remember my preliminary research reading the history and the folio fascimiles here and here from oh-so-long-ago), but I still don't know quite what I want to say, and it's just going to be really hard to read around in the theory when all my books are packed and I have limited library access. Sigh. I could make a lot of progress in two weeks of boredom if I were at the right stage, say the re-outlining and revising an article to make it actually make sense stage. But I think actually I am still in the reading things and figuring out what conversation I am actually intervening in stage. Grumble, sigh.

I just finished Edwidge Danticat's Brother, I'm Dying, which was pretty depressing. I love her books but I prefer novels to autobiographies, which this is. Or more of a memoir of her two dads --- her biological father and her uncle who raised her most of her childhood. Pretty much the only thing that happens in this book is that they both die, so if you recently lost someone or your father has serious health issues, it's not a fun book to read. It's also so... ordinary. When she writes novels she (like most novelists) pays such careful attention to language and symbol and the placement of when and where things happen to make structural parallels or contrasts or what have you, and this was frustrating because it was written in such ordinary language as if she were talking to me. You know, very repetitious, simple language, no almost no figurative language, no lyric "purple passages." I think that's what I love most about novels --- how they will shift into a higher register of language or images but that is justified because of what has just happened at the level of plot --- and autobiographies are often so focused on what happened when that they strip out this layer. Hmpf.

Plus, she is about my age, and I have a strong prejudice against young people writing autobiographies unless they have had truly amazing lives and are good writers. This mainly comes from having to read student writing --- if you are a fairly privileged and protected kid, there's probably not much you've done in your first 18 years that is worth endlessly memoir-ing over, ok?

I have a couple more books still unpacked and a big stack of newsmags to get through, so maybe I'll just continue reading stuff. But I just feel guilty (and driven, like I'm running out of bits of valuable time) that I'm not hauling ass on that (old) New Article. But I'm kind of stuck.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hey You! Help a Cog out

I'm looking for something but don't quite know what I'm looking for, which makes knowing what database or source to look in sorta difficult.

Basically, I need some references to people who take up and extend Althusser's concept of interpellation. Does, say, Butler treat that in any depth?

Althusser claims that the State "hails" or interpellates individuals as subjects (as in, subject to the state) through Ideological State Apparatuses. My theory books are all packed, but I believe his examples are the police, the school, state-sponsored religion, the family...

But he doesn't say much, as far as I can recall, about advertising and capitalism. Clearly, ads of all sorts interpellate individuals into consumer subjects. But just as clearly, corporate ad campaigns are not The State. George Bush's speech about needing Americans to go out and support their country by spending after 9/11 was an unusual development.

So what I need is the scholarly debate about how Althusser does/doesn't translate from the State to capitalism, how people have theorized this shift, or advertising post-Althusser, whatever big names have extended this conversation, something. I'm not sure what I'm looking for or what I'm going to say, but I need to know who to name-check even when disagreeing with them, or pointing out something they have missed (actually, that's the ideal for an article, right?).

In other, only tangentially-related news, I love those old-timey pointing-finger images. Maybe I could do a whole article on whether the fingers are pointing at you or away.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Another Score?

Today there were two Pottery Barn and a Williams-Sonoma box out by the recycling! I packed my dad's globe in the big WS box.

I would be thrilled, except ... I wish I were the one getting all the shiny and new and fancy things instead of just packing up all my old tired crap in the discarded empty boxes. Ah well.

Packing is crawling along. The days until I go are crawling along. Sigh. Am I really going to be able to do this? I don't know if I'm going to be able to handle the trip out there and hack it all on my own.

Sigh. I'd pack more but once again I think I am down to all the stuff I still need to use. Of course I said that just a few minutes and three boxes ago.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bookcase Lust!

It is not waffling if it is more fun looking than buying! Consider this like online shoe-browsing, but with advice required. Besides, how can you not love bookcases if you're a booklover?

Anyways, the story: I am short. This is germane because long ago when I started grad school I bought cheap assemble-it-yourself bookcases from Officemax. I was pretty good at assembling them, but it was a bitch and a half getting the boxes home and up the stairs. (I think I had to call someone with a truck since it would not go in my tiny car.)

Furthermore, I'm not the right size or shape to wrangle bookcases across the room or into new apartments. So my cheap bookcases got torqued and tweaked and pretty much fell apart. (Although they looked nice with the paint color.) (And, I still have one of them stuck on my hands.)

So I am having fun looking at bookcases for the new place, as I will still have tons of books, but I am not finding the perfect bookcase for my needs. This is where you come in for advice. I want something a little nicer than what I had (and hopefully something a little less heavy?) that will hold up across some moves. Unfortunately, Cool Scientist Friend had the nicest wood bookcase, solid pine but very light, that her boyfriend and her stained a lovely oak color. And of course that unfinished wood shop went out of business not too long ago. And I can't see any listings for places like that in my new area. In fact I found the furniture available in my new area kinda horrifying. Particularly the used stuff on Craigslist.

Anyway. How well do open shelves work? Are they sturdy enough for tons of books? My niece bought something like this from Pier 1 for her paperbacks, but I'm not really liking it.

Especially since they seem to have very wide bottom shelves and narrower upper shelves. Hmm.

Now I am keeping my folding stacking bookcases and they work fine, so these are a possibility. They are a level of "assembly" I can handle. They are pretty portable. I'm just worried about attaching two together stacked and not having them fall over in an earthquake or cat-related incident. Am I overreacting? Also, if you stacked them next to each other you wouldn't get the cute mission spindle effect.

This is another possibility ---- some assemble-it-yourself but not solid bookshelves. These wouldn't come apart into two pieces, though they might fall over, I guess, and I both like and don't like the open bookcase look. It should be lighter. But is it sturdy enough? Do you not need all the extra parts of a bookcase like the back? This would also not work so well stacked up next to each other.

And I found an office supply store that sells metal bookcases ... I pondered that for a while, seems durable. But their site claims metal is lighter and cheaper than wood bookcases and then the list price was much more expensive. Don't get it. These are wood bookcases from another place. They are pricey, but they come fully assembled and I like the color of the wood. They also have a page with bookcases that are veneer over particleboard stuff, but have a steel bar reinforcing the shelves and are guaranteed to 120 pounds. I like the sound of that. (Don't know if I need that kind of strength, but I hate when bookshelves bow.) Those are even more expensive than these, though.

And this one I just like because it has pedestals. I don't think it would look too good if I assembled it myself (and I always have problems with the pieces looking bad or having holes drilled in the wrong places). There are some already-assembled bookcases like this out there, but they are pricey, again. Dissertation Buddy bought some insane fancy bookcases from Pottery Barn at just the right time, as they are now discontinued and I hate what they have there now. But those were big honking huge bookcases and they were about 2 feet deep. I don't have books that need that kind of storage --- I have lots of cheap used Penguin paperbacks and Dover Thrifts. They really don't belong on a fancy-looking bookcase, even!

So I don't know what I should pick. I love looking at bookcases, though. So you know what to do ---- don't just tell stories and give advice in the comments; I want links to pretty and shiny bookcases! Bookcase porn! Bring it on, people! And tell me all about your book storage fantasies.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I don't know if my neighbors are getting married or having a birthday or what, but there was this massive pile of packing paper and Crate and Barrel boxes and shopping bags outside their door this morning. Funny thing, I passed by the pile about five times while doing my laundry and thought nothing but "hey, that's quite a pile of recycling there." It wasn't until I did some more stuff on my list and thought that I should figure out how to pack my wine glasses that I actually put two and two together.

The good news is that they had cleaned up the pile and deposited it in the recycle bin by then, so I didn't get caught scavenging outside their door (um, hello!). The bad news is that they had cut and folded up some of the larger boxes. But I got two smaller ones and one ginormous one that they had filled with all the packing material! Yay! So I packed away my stir fry pan and some crap in one and the cookie sheets and other large things in the other, and wrapped lots of stuff in the squishy packing material, and in general got a lot packed away today. So, good.

Of course, packing kitchens is hard, since even the stuff you don't use much, you use --- do I pack the stewpot now when sweet corn on the cob is 3 for a dollar at the farmers market? --- and this means that I have even more boxes piled up in my living room and it looks worse and more cluttered instead of better, but I can't help that. Also, my cats like to lick the tape and chew on any little bits that stick up, which drives me nuts. So adding more boxes to the area where cats can destroy them is also annoying.

I'm also a wee tiny bit worried because there is still a lot of kitchen stuff to go. How many more boxes will I need? This will all fit in the storage pod, right? (It should, since I'll have practically no furniture, and what little I have will fit folded up flat against a side wall. But still, I'm good at worrying.)

Not much else is going on over here. Just chipping away at all the things I have to do. And speaking of, here is the list that I got crossed off today:
  • work on article revisions (I put in the time, don't ask about progress right now)
  • clean catbox
  • dishes
  • clean kitchen
  • scavenge free boxes (!)
  • contact friend for travel plans
  • take crap to Goodwill
  • need milk

Oh, while I'm thinking about packing-related things, tell me about moving spices and foodstuffs across country (we're talking rice, garbanzo beans, flour, not liquids). Could I send this in the storage cube? Or will the heat ruin everything? Could I take it with me in the car? Or should I just bestow it on all my remaining grad school friends? Please advise.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pushing a stall from a dead stop


There is a good reason why people give the advice to "write every day." I'm serious. I know people claim they can go away from a project for long periods of time and still get back to it, or that they "only can concentrate in large unbroken blocks of time," but I call bullshit. Sure, you may not get actual writing done every day, but you really need to revisit your project every day, if even for only a few minutes so that you remember where you are in it, what was next to do on your list, and a rough memory of why you have decided not to do it that way, because that way was a dead-end that ate up major time last time you worked on it extensively.

I am so so frustrated at myself, because I know that each time I have come back to this thing I have spent at least a day figuring out what I have done and still need to do and what is still wrong with the article. And I keep taking a week of work on it, of which the first day is just this figuring out the lay of the land and trying to get some momentum going. And then something else comes along and I go away from it for months because emergencies have come up and then I will go back through this whole damn process once again!

I just want this crap to be done with and sent off. If only I could get it moving again. Anyone wanna give me a push?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Groundhog Day

Ooh look, it's Monday all over again. Dump this, mail off that, take this to the cleaners --- didn't I do all this yesterday? All the places I called and left messages for are now calling me back ---- unfortunately, while I was driving to school. Nothing like the tension of "oooh, I have to get that, now!" while changing lanes on the freeway and knowing you're still 10 minutes away from your destination. Luckily, I can call them back.

And it wouldn't be the same thing all over again if I wasn't once again thwarted, although this time only at some turns, not every turn. I have dumped stuff at school and used the grad lounge for database access. Except... why can I not get this object? Ok, way back when I perused things for the diss, I had to use their microfilms for this object. And I spent a month of one summer reading through everything and printing lots of shit (luckily, they were instituting new printer/scanners and had not yet figured out how to attach the copy card reader to them for payments, so I just printed all sorts of piles of interesting crap for free. Back when I sent the "final" edits for this article, they wanted me to confirm some things, and I know I came in here and voila, discovered that they had digitized my archive. But now I cannot find it anywhere on line.

And to make things worse, when I just went to talk to the microfilm people, they disavowed any knowledge of my microfilms. After much bitching at them and asserting that I knew what I was talking about, they admitted that yes, perhaps they owned microfilms of them in the past, but the definitely do not now. (Dude, I remember using your microfilm readers for a month straight. Do not imply that I am stupid or cannot remember back five years!) They have been doing a huge purge of microfilms in recent years as stuff gets digitized. WTF??? But then where and how do I access my digitized stuff? I could swear that back in March I just went zip, zip and there I was looking at pages I needed. Now the journal wants me to verify exactly where the break across pages comes and I cannot for the life of me figure out how I checked it last time. Unless I am imagining this memory and just randomly made up page numbers and breaks? Arrrrgh!

I do have my photocopy pile (see why I do not throw things out???), but I know the problem I had in the past was that I was very sloppy with scanning full pages and did not always catch page numbers or the very bottom of the text columns, just the parts I thought I was going to write about. If this is a lesson to anyone about to do diss research, it is that you can not be too anal about documenting where and what you are looking at. Unless it's the lesson that stupid people are going to eliminate all your microfilms when you are not looking. Again, arrrrrgh!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Arrgh! Thwarted at every turn!

Grumble! I should have gotten a shitload done off my to-do list already today. But nooooo! I powered through all my official phone calls but had to leave messages because all the offices are closed, I went onto campus ---- because I no longer have library access through my card or proxy server and I need to finish off my edits for that article by looking up stuff in a bajillion online databases --- and the library is closed. Furthermore, the English building was locked and I have turned in my keys a few weeks ago, so I can't just go in and use the grad lounge computers. And I have a pile of office stuff I wanted to dump there and now have to go back again. To say nothing of the time I lost going to and from school and navigating the city full of burned-out stoplights, for evidently fourth of July celebrations destroy all working electric circuits or something. Grah!

Well, that's all I have to say. I thumb my nose at the stupid world and my stupid to-do list which I have gone through in entirety and yet will have to go through all again tomorrow. A day that I have already allocated to hanging out with grad student friends, I might add. That is all. Except one thing: where is everybody? No one has commented on my recent posts. Except the spammers. Don't you know your purpose is to entertain me?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Random, the Wikipedia game

I'm still feeling a bit under the weather. Meh. In hindsight it was a stupid idea to go in and have a little medical procedure done right before the holiday weekend, because not only do I feel blah and have to recover, I can't get in to do the follow-up until mid next week.

Last night I wanted to watch my Mad Men commentaries, but the stupid actors gave away so many spoilers in the first episode that I had to stop! Rrr! So now I am waiting for another disc to come --- I thought that if I waited until episode 6 to start listening to the commentaries I would be fine, but evidently not.

Instead I got sucked into looking up random information on Wikipedia, and then proceeded to follow all sorts of random links, which was quite fun in its own way. From one thing to another to another I got sucked into reading all up on cocktails and alcohol (probably Mad Men-inspired, no?) and then started looking up all sorts of ingredients and recipes, and found this book: How to Mix Drinks, or, The Bon-Vivant's Companion, which was published in 1862. Since I knew it was out of copyright I looked for it on Google books and then had some fun reading most of it. I love poking around in random old stuff!

Punch seems to have been very popular at the time, and it was fun learning about the differences between "slings" "fixes" (not fizzes), "juleps," "cobblers" and "cocktails," although, of course, their meanings probably change over time, and the measurements in this book are purposefully vague, as befits someone talking about his art. Practice and find what works best for you, indeed! Also, there are a lot of drinks here that use eggs and I find that absolutely disgusting. I've never been a fan of eggnog, either. Incidentally, there is a whole chapter of different varieties of eggnog, should you be so inclined. I'll pass.

What I also found hilarious was that jello shots are not a modern invention. Witness the recipe for "punch jelly," which uses "orange, lemon, or calfs-foot jelly," or gelatine to create a delicious dessert. However, "the strength of this punch is so artfully concealed by its admixture with the gelatine, that many persons, particularly of the softer sex, have been tempted to partake so plentifully of it as to render them somewhat unfit for waltzing or quadrilling after supper." Ahhh, college students ----- they really haven't changed at all over time!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Turn of the Screw*

Behold one of the most dangerous objects known to humankind:

This screw came off of my laptop display, in the corner by the hinge. I have been wanting a shiny brand new macbook for a while now, but, as you may remember, I don't have the money to update it.

I would go down to the mac repair store and have them fix it, but that would involve bringing me too close to the sweet sweet temptation of shiny new laptops, monitors, and ipads. Oooooh. To say nothing of all the fancy accessories. And the "new mac" smell.

I don't think I would be able to control myself.

*Also, has anybody read The Turn of the Screw? What a weird excuse for a scary story. Could someone explain to me the point of the title? Is it about torture on the rack? What's up with the passage "if a child gives the effect another turn of the screw, what do you say to two children?" "We say of course, that they give two turns! And we want to hear about them!" It's not that the story is bad, per se, but I read it and just never understood the point of the story or the title.