Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Minnesota living

Hi Everyone! I managed to make it to my uncle's to water his plants and get on the web. Since I offered to do this, I am here by myself (without my grandma asking me every 30 seconds if I'm done yet) so I thought I'd say hi.

The airport experience was horrible, although not as bad as some. I was supposed to leave Virginia at 11:20am and arrive in MN at 3:30p. I left Virginia at 6:00p and got to MN at 10:00p. But at least I made it. My grandma is happy that I'm here. I've started crocheting and it is really hard. It kind of makes my fingers cramp. Consistent yarn tension is hard to achieve. I haven't gained any weight either, although grandma is trying. It's been pretty warm, so I've been walking everyday. I've seen deer everyday too, but too far away to take pictures. We're getting stuff done too. Today we ordered my grandpa's memorial stone. It's going to be beautiful. We've filled out all the paper work needed for all the insurance and such. The evenings are very, very long. I'm getting a lot of reading done. And that's about it. I feel very cut off from the rest of the world. Sometimes that's nice, sometimes, not so nice.

I hope everyone else is doing well.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

All packed

I'm all packed and ready to go. I'm a bit nervous about the weather. I'm not going through Chicago (which cancelled 400 flights today) but I am going through Philadelphia. It's having bad weather, but not as bad as other areas. In Minnesota, it's just cold. It's supposed to be a high of 0 (zero) tomorrow. My cousin is picking me up and we'll probably drive to my grandma's tomorrow night (if I get there). It's about a 4 hour drive. Yes, my grandma lives in the middle of nowhere. My cell phone doesn't work and I'll probably only get to check my e-mail once a week. Although I may just put my computer in the car and drive around until I find some wireless. My grandma is really looking forward to my visit. If it wasn't so cold, I'd be more excited too. The area is very beautiful in the summer, right next to a lake. During the winter, it's cold. Just plain cold. And my grandma likes to bake. I'm going to be fat when I get back. I do enjoy my grandma's company, but there's not a lot going on up there. She's going to teach me to crochet. So, for three weeks, I'll be crocheting and eating baked goods. Yes, that probably is it. I hope you all have a great three weeks.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Cat's Cradle

I actually had a rather nice day yesterday. The ship pulled into port so Wes was able to call me. And he called me twice today. So at least I got to talk to him.

Beth, while getting a BA in English literature I had to read The Stranger twice. The classes I took focused on colonial literature. This introduced to excellent authors like Rushdie and Achebe. But the university apparently thought that if you were getting a degree in literature you must have already read the "real" classics. Go figure.

Today, I read Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. Several years ago a Polish friend of mine recommended Vonnegut. I had no idea who he was and it took me this long to get around to it. I wish I had started sooner. This book was amazing, funny, thought-provoking and absolutely wonderful. It was such an easy read and so enjoyable. I couldn't put it down. Unfortunately this is the only book of his that I own. I will be visiting the library quite a bit. Please go read this book right now.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Happy Anniversary to me

Today is my one year wedding anniversary. I haven't seen my husband since Nov. 26th, 2006. I haven't talked to him in more than a week. I haven't had an e-mail from him since Tues. Stupid navy. I miss my husband.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Although my goal in life is to read everything (of value) ever written, I have neglected a certain genre. I have not read such classics as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein or Dracula. Why should I read them when their stories have become part of everyday culture? Do I have to read them to actually know what they're about? These stories float among us everyday so why waste time reading them.

Boy, was I wrong. I picked up Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (I do own all three books). First, it's very short, so why not read it. Secondly, this book is not about what you think it is about. It's actually much more frightening. I expected many Jack the Ripperish scenes of horror. There's actually only one scene that even comes close. I knew the book was about the duality of man, the good and the evil and the separation of the two with the transformation of Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde. But this duality is not the terrifying part of the story. By now most of society can admit that we all harbor good and evil within us. But this story's horror comes from the fact that the "good" Dr. Jekyll feels no remorse for the sins of the "evil" Mr. Hyde. Why? Because since Mr. Hyde is "evil" and Dr. Jekyll is "good" then why should Dr. Jekyll be responsible for Mr. Hyde's actions. Why indeed!?! This book is a wonderful commentary on a society that does not want to be responsible for our own actions, or the actions of those we directly influence. By allowing Mr. Hyde to do evil it gives Dr. Jekyll the excitement of wrong-doing without responsibility. But if Dr. Jekyll is the "good" guy, the guy that allows evil behavior because it's "not him" doing it, we are all in trouble. I'm not suggesting we all pull out our placards and start acting like loonies, I'm just suggesting that maybe we should examine our own Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I'll have some wine with my oatmeal

I had the kids this past weekend. We had a good time. They played with the billions of toys they got for Christmas. We played board games. We went to church. We had a great time. And they drove me crazy sometimes. Growing up, my dad was very emotionally abusive. His favorite phrase, which I heard at least once a day, was "you stupid idiot." Now, he mellowed as he grew older and he has repeatedly apologized for this. But I now understand, to a certain extent. If I am currently washing your sister's hair, can I 1)hear you yell my name repeatedly and 2)come open your legos box? Stuff like that. Lots and lots of stuff like that. Now, I have my dad's personality. And I too have mellowed with time. That's why I think it's good that I haven't had children yet. I think I could handle it now (I didn't call the kids stupid idiots, even though I wanted to a few times). So overall, it was a successful weekend. My favorite: I have cranberry juice with breakfast every morning. Out of a juice glass. Victor asked me if I was having wine. Yes, yes I am. I always drink wine at eight in the morning, before I go to church. Doesn't everyone?

I found the school I want to go to. It has everything I want. EVERYTHING. It is perfect. It is also 5 hours away. I'm going to see what I can work out.

I talked to my grandma today. I'm leaving next week on Valentine's day to go back to MN. She is so excited. I told her I had lost all the weight I gained over Christmas. She said that was good so I could gain some more weight back when I'm there. She's going to teach me how to crochet. She got my grandpa's death certificate and it has the wrong birth date on it, so she has to get that corrected. She's been sorting through all his stuff. She sounds good but she said it is a little lonely. She was married for 58 years. That's a long time. But she's got stuff she's excited about. She's going to CA (where all her siblings live) for a nephew's birthday in April or May, my cousin's wedding in Minneapolis in April and my sister's wedding in TX in July. She hasn't traveled for years. It is good that she is willing to partake in the "positive" aspect of my grandpa's death. I can't wait to see her. I can wait for the below zero weather and the extra weight. Oh well. Anything for family.

Friday, February 02, 2007


Although I've been busy organizing and cleaning I haven't quit thinking about the sudden end to my life-long dream to be a history professor. A friend of mine who is currently going through a divorce compared marriage to graduate school. I started thinking about this and I think she may be right.

They both begin amidst hope and love. I know grad school will be hard, but I love history and I will work harder than anyone else for this. This is what I've always wanted and I'm willing to be poor for this. It will pay off in the end.

The first year is the hardest, as the reality of the situation kicks in. This is so hard. No one told me I would have to concentrate on school 24/7 and give up all my friends and socializing and my hobbies and just basically who I am. And I can't believe how expensive this is. How am I going to pay for all this? I want to quit.

But then, after surviving the first year, you realize, I can do this. I made it. I still love history. Yes, it's hard, but I'm going to learn to balance my life more and figure this out.

By the third and fourth year, you've just become a cynical, lonely, bitter person who doesn't want to give up because you've put so much time into it. You've worked so hard. And you know you loved history at one point in time. And do you really want to start over with something else anyway.

And then, someone else makes the choice for you. And it's over. And you beat yourself up. I should have tried more. I should have worked on my Russian language more. I should have spent more time in my advisor's office figuring this out. I should have figured out how to be more articulate.

Then you move to the anger stage. My advisor should have helped more. She wasn't very supportive and I don't think she even cared about me. The other professors should have done something about this situation.

Then you begin to notice certain things. The headaches are gone. You're sleeping better. You're excited to wake up in the morning because you don't know what you're going to do. You don't cry at the drop of a hat.

There's always fear mingled with all of these. What am I going to do? How do I figure that out? What if I'm not good at that either? What if I never figure out what I'm supposed to do? What it I'm not good at anything else at all?

Then finally acceptance. That when you put all your women's history books up for sale at I didn't like them the first or second, or even third time, I'm not going to like them again.

It's a difficult process. I wouldn't ever want to go through it again (divorce or leaving graduate school. I've done them both). I still don't know what I'm going to do, although I'm starting to get a clue. I'm going to do some more personal research before I say anything. It will be years before I can actually fully act on it. I'll have to go to school again and probably I'll have to start from scratch with a bachelor's. But I'm excited. And I'm thankful. I'm thankful for my husband, who is the most wonderful, caring man. He's letting me figure this out without pressuring me to move into a high-paying field just for the money. I'm thankful for my parents and family, who lovingly supported me throughout the entire time I was in school, and now that I've left, they haven't made me feel like a failure or that it was a waste of time. I'm thankful for my friends. They always encouraged me when I was in school, believed I could have finished my dissertation and they're still supportive of what I do now. Overall, this process has been a positive growing experience. I'm not quite thankful for the whole thing yet, but maybe someday I'll get there.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go read for fun!