Sunday, May 10, 2009


This is Clio. She's one of our three cats - one of the two that are mine. She'll be eight in June. She's fluffier than any short haired cat has any right to be. She's kind of tall and lanky, and loves to run around. She also has some difficulty keeping her tongue reeled into her mouth. That's very cute, unless you're close enough to smell her breath.

Also? Most annoying cat in the history of the universe. She has recently started playing this game (well, I think it's a game. Let's call it a game so I don't actually kill her) in the middle of the night. It goes like this: Clio gets behind the bedroom door and pushes it, two or three times until it swings closed (not latched). Then she scratches at it. This is the part where Player 2 (someone with opposable thumbs) is supposed to get up and open the door again. If you don't? She'll keep scratching. And scratching. She wore me out at 18 minutes last night, but I've known her to go for nearly an hour before I give up.

When the door opens, she runs out, mrrping. She goes and plays in the living room for a bit, and then comes back and does it again. If I prop the door open, she'll work away at the prop until she can get her game started. It's possible that she thinks this is a fun way to get attention when we're being boring.

Anyone want a cat?

Monday, May 4, 2009


I like to consider myself a good friend. It's definitely on my list of priorities for things to work on, and I think it's one of the most important things to be good at. I think that may be why it's pretty upsetting that I've found myself in a situation where being a good friend, or really a friend at all, is a bad idea.

I had this friend, see. Two friends, really. Perfectly nice people, well meaning, did fun things with me. But they were very very bad for me. Not bad for me in the peer pressure sense or anything, but when I was with them, I got caught up in subjects and ways of thinking that are very negative for me. It didn't seem to matter how hard I tried, or how many times we agreed that we would all try to be slightly more positive. I would spend time with these friends, and end up having to squeeze black guck back out of my brain for the next three days. Even chatting with them over email changes me a bit. I have, reluctantly, come to the conclusion that I need to cut the connection.

This is probably something that happens to everyone, and perhaps the more clueful out there figure it out in middle school. In fact, it may have happened to me before too, and I just didn't notice. I lose track of people from time to time, either through subconscious avoidance or because I'm super lazy about keeping in touch with people.

It's particularly hard on one of the two friends (ex-friends, I guess), who will be having a tough couple of months. I'd really like to stick with her, at least until this hard part is over. If nothing else, ditching her makes me feel like a rotten friend. I can argue self preservation (and in fact I'm arguing it right here), but the fact remains that if I were better at ... well, something, I would be working on being an active part of her life. Someone work out what it is that I need to be better at, so that I can at least beat myself up about something specific.

See? Even blogging about them brings it on. Self defense, I swear it!

Saturday, May 2, 2009


When we were looking for condos to buy last year, I kept checking to see whether there was any place I could grow tomatoes. I'm not saying that I would have rejected a perfect place to live because it lacked a sunny deck or back porch, but I will say that anyone near me got tired of hearing about my non-existent vegetables. That effect was probably squared for anyone who is familiar with my thumbs, which if not black are at least charcoal gray.

The place we ended up with has a sunny back deck, and furthermore the previous owners left behind several big planters, just perfect for tomatoes. (Well, I also thought they'd be perfect for bulbs, and that does not appear to have been true, so what do I know?)

Then today, on my way home from an unrelated errand, I walked past a plant sale in the local park. Plant Sale! Spontaneously, right out of nowhere. And the proceeds went to maintaining the park. Clearly I had a moral obligation to buy something.

May I present my two heirloom tomato plants on the outsides, with lemon basil and cherry tomatoes in the middle? Get a good look, because I planted them when I got home, and I fear their days are numbered.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sometimes what you get isn't what you wanted

Three weeks ago, I signed up for a bi-weekly delivery of vegetables. I was super excited about this. I was so super extra excited about this that I told everyone who would sit still long enough. I checked the website about every eight minutes in case they'd updated the list of what would probably be in the box. I Googled for reviews of the service in case I'd managed to miss one. I thought about vegetables more than is strictly good for anyone.

I have to admit I was disappointed.

Now, this is in no way a negative review of the service itself. Once we've gotten a few more boxes, I'll probably review it in detail and by name (just in case I'm not the only obsessive Googler out there). It's just that my ideas about how it would be to get the box of vegetables didn't pan out. I didn't arrive home to a tidy package, all waiting to be unwrapped and photographed for posterity. My kitchen was still dirty. There were still days when I wanted to eat convenience food rather than cook delicious vegetables. Having organic vegetables delivered to my house didn't manage to change me instantly into a model person, drat the luck.

We got another box today, and I was a little more prepared for the anti-climax. I couldn't quite keep myself from checking the site a lot to find out exactly what would be in the box, so the score is definitely Obsession: 2, Pamela: 0. I got home this week and Josh was in the kitchen spontaneously cooking collard greens. He was excited about them, and they were damn good.

The kitchen could still stand to be a whole lot cleaner, and the odds of me having a peanut butter sandwich for lunch next week are excellent, but I'm starting to see that the produce box might yield some good things. Not the ones I thought I was getting, but things I wouldn't have known how to picture.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Adding to my things to do list

Here's an interesting article from Slate, about what to make (and not make) at home. I've always had a (possibly overly romantic) picture of producing homemade soup stock, jam and bread. But bagels and yoghurt? Never really crossed my mind.

Now, after reading this article, I'm adding "make yoghurt, bagels and granola" to my list of stuff I want to try this summer. I already wanted to eat more yoghurt, so when the quart in the fridge is getting low, I'll replace it with homemade. (I reserve the right to say "yuck" very loudly and never do it again.)

If I have tons of lovely fresh yoghurt to eat, of course we'll need granola to eat with it. So that's also not too hard to imagine doing. The Alton Brown recipe the article refers to has maple syrup, which is expensive, delightful and not my favorite thing, so I may branch out there. But again, this seems pretty easily attainable, and also healthy.

As for the bagels, that's another story. Homemade bagels seem like a once-in-a-while indulgence. Some time in July or August, I'm going to decide to make bagels on a weekend, treat us to smoked salmon and cream cheese, and see what happens.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What you really want to see in your inbox

"Our staff has reviewed your dissertation and the revisions you recently submitted. Your dissertation is now approved. Congratulations on completing the University-wide formatting requirements! The Dissertation Office wishes you good luck in your career."

I would kiss the Dissertation Office, but they might take it the wrong way.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Breaking up is hard to do

I said in my post yesterday that I finished my PhD recently. Well, that's true and not true. (See, you can say complicated things like that when you're a doctor of philosophy.) I have successfully defended my thesis, and I have (sort of) started a postdoctoral fellowship. I have not yet submitted the final draft of my thesis to the dissertation office, and therefore my thesis committee has not yet signed off on the paperwork, and I have not yet graduated. It's the graduate school version of limbo.

You would think that I would have made tracks to finish the damn thesis ASAP and get this degree over with. You certainly wouldn't think that I would let it drag on until the end of January. And yet, here we are.

The problem is that my former advisor has to actually read and approve my thesis. He read the middle three chapters once, back before my defense, and made a few small comments about those. He read a very early version of the first and last chapters, but they've changed dramatically since then, and he knows that. He's had several versions, but has yet to read or comment on any of them. I do not know how to get him to read the damn thing and give it the ok. I may have to camp out in front of his office. Which would be extremely weird, since talking to him, even via email, is very awkward.

It turns out that finishing a PhD, especially when you don't get along with your advisor but probably even under the best of circumstances, is remarkably like breaking up with a boyfriend. We've had the thundering fights, ending with me in tears and him furious. We've given each other the silent treatment, we've done the insincere "it's not you, it's me" bit, and the well-known "let's stay friends" thing. We're done. But he still has my favorite sweatshirt, and we have to get together in some neutral location to swap belongings. In the language of advice columnists everywhere, I lack closure.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Revisiting the Possibilities

It's been a while since I wrote a blog post. A long while. In the intervening time, I managed to get engaged, buy a condo, move twice, and finish my PhD. You'd think writing a couple of paragraphs about any one of these events wouldn't have been beyond me.

And yet... and yet, there's something about the last stretch of a PhD that narrows the range of things one can manage to do. Getting dressed and out of the house is actually a reasonable goal to set for the morning; if a lunch is packed, that's a sign of an overachiever.

I always thought it was just me, and that I'm a particularly slothful and incapable person. But then I graduated, and while I didn't have the huge tidal wave of feeling I had expected, there was a definite sense of possibilities unfolding. I can start to do other things. I can, in fact, get on with the rest of my life.

Now, I acknowledge that it's the 26th of January and so far, "getting on with the rest of my life" has largely consisted of recovering from the 'flu and managing to vacuum the entire apartment in one weekend. That may not seem like a huge expansion to the casual reader. It is, though, and just to make sure the whole world grasps my tiny forays into the rest of my life, the blog is back.