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A tale of 2 girls

As little girls, some best friends dream of living next door to each other and raising families together. Being maid-of-honors in each others’ weddings and godparents to offspring.

Not my best friend and I. We dreamed of winding up at the same school (different programs) for graduate school. We laughed about how it was eerily coincidental that after forging on 2 different paths, our dream jobs were in the same area of the country. We joked about how awesome it would be if we both wound up there.

The laughter has turned into squeals.

Both of us, within 2 months of each other, landed our dream jobs IN that city. We’re both moving, her from San Francisco, me from the UK, to live in the place we’ve been dreaming about for years upon years (it realistically might be close to a decade). SG (I just realized my 2 closest friends have names that starts with an S, so going forward SG and SB will represent their first name + girl/boy), is in the process of closing on her first house and driving across the country. She’s planning on moving in August 1. Whereas I’m moving with only 2 suitcases and 2 carry ons from the UK directly to the area. She, her boyfriend and their 2 pets will be moving into a house bigger than either of us has ever lived in. SB will be flying out to help me find a place at my request for a HUGE favor, and I am currently in search of a studio/1 bedroom that is both economical as well as close to the city I’ll be working in. We took completely different ways to get there, we don’t have the same kind of lives, and I couldn’t even afford a studio in the town she lives in, let alone a house next door to hers. Much like I don’t think she would have dropped everything: job, relationship… etc. to move to the UK. We are each completely different and that has not changed in the 20 years we’ve been friends (that makes me feel incredibly old that I can honestly say that without hyperbole). And yet we’ll both wind up there, on our own terms, in our own ways. 

It’s funny how live turns out sometimes. 

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Unsung heroes of my year

This post really is more of a check in since it’s been awhile. School is moving along, exams and classes are done and now begins the dreaded dissertation. I’ve been excited about this part of the year since before I was even in grad school. Writing a thesis/dissertation, honing in on my ‘craft’ and really focusing on my particular interest in international education. Only, I was expecting to have a clear focus and right now I don’t. I have a topic, but I keep flipping back and forth between two, let’s be honest, three ideas. So who knows.

Sigh.

So, instead of enlightening you all to the depths of my current existential crisis, I thought I’d do a post about the unsung heroes of my year. More specifically, the products I could not have lived without.

#1: My laundry bag from Bed, Bath & Beyond

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This bag has lived through rain, snow, sun, treks up a (small) hill, and two flights of stairs every week since September. It holds a huge amount, has comfy straps, and has (yet) to break on me. All of this wonder in under 10 bucks. I wish I had found this thing sooner, like when I lived on Balboa and had to walk up and down a more menacing hill to get to the laundromat.

#2: Document boxes from WHSmith

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When I bought these, they were 2 for 8 pounds. Now they are 2 for 5. Lame. However what is NOT lame is their function. These two boxes helped me reorganize what had become an overflow of shit, and by shit I mean papers (because I can never throw any away). This organized my clusterfuck of articles, receipts, invoices, and general stuff I have yet to be able to part with. In fact I may have to pick up another set to get me through this summer…

#3: Magazine holders and binder from Wilkinson’s:

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Okay so initially I bought these because they were pretty. But the magazine holders became unexpectedly crucial in the decluttering of my life (i.e my desk). They hold my binders, and a couple of books I bought (not library ones, I’d never remember to return them if I housed them in these). The binder went from being for a single class (it’s 1 inch, I don’t know why I thought it was an appropriate size for an entire semester’s worth of notes, seminar readings, and weekly required article reading) to being my catchall for my dissertation. Since I intend to have a complete separate organization system for the literature I’ll use for it, this is perfect for outlines, notes on articles, meeting notes with my dissertation supervisor, and miscellaneous post its I write on with random dissertation ideas.

#4: Wall calendar from Paper Source:

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I got this as a Christmas gift and I love, love, love it. It’s bigger than a regular calendar, but not overwhelmingly so. It’s brightly colored and helps me remember what day of the week it is, which is helpful when days blend together (most).

and because I can’t have a Top 4 list, here is a bonus #5…

#5. Millie’s cookies & Nando’s

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I know they aren’t items that never leave my room, but I have given so much money to these two establishments that they deserve the spot equally as much. Millie’s cookies is the best cookie you will ever have in your life, and that’s not hyperbole. It’s like what Mrs. Field’s aspires to be but doesn’t come close to. These are change your life cookies, and Nando’s is change your life chicken.

I’m not even lying. I have taken 2 out of 3 of my visitors from the states here, and I hold the sentiment that if you don’t like Nando’s I have to reevaulate our relationship. Some might say I have an unhealthy allegiance to this chicken chain, however I prefer to consider it more of a social therapy hot spot. You see, last semester there was a class that was… boring. It was much more than that in fact, it was so awful me and one of my closest friends had to supply each other with caffeine (in the form of soda) and aspirin. Literally. We’d take the aspirin when we got to class to avoid the migraine that came with hearing one particularly sexist lecturer for 2 hours. Afterwards we’d go to Nando’s; sometimes with a group, sometimes just us. It was Nando’s Tuesday and we committed to it.

This semester we didn’t go as much. In fact I don’t think we went at all until mid-late February. After that we picked it up a bit, going every 2-3 weeks including my birthday and her going away party. It’s amazing. They have a couple in the DC metro area; I recommend moving there just for this restaurant.

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Relaxation in the form of materialism

So, even though I spent the last few weeks traveling and generally enjoying myself, I did have deadlines and I do have an exam in a week and odd days. Therefore you can imagine how stressed I am (because really, when am I not stressed about something? It’s a problem). So, thanks to my oldest and dearest friend getting me a giftcard to ASOS, I was able to indulge in some much desired retail therapy.

Image 2 of ASOS Jumper with Lace Insert

Image 1 of ASOS CURVE Exclusive Tea Dress In Spot

Image 1 of River Island Friendship Bracelet Multipack

And just because I’ve wasted the last… almost 3 hours online window shopping here are pretty things I’ve been lusting after:

Whistles Mila Leather Jacket – as seen at ASOS

Image 1 of Whistles Mila Leather Jacket

Oasis Western Lock Color Block Tote Bag – also on ASOS

Image 3 of Oasis Western Lock Colour Block Tote Bag

Piece Giselle Turnlock Bag – yep, you guessed it: ASOS

Image 1 of Piece Giselle Turnlock Bag

Lazy Oaf Weirdo Tote Bag (ASOS for the final time)

Image 1 of Lazy Oaf Weirdo Tote Bag

And then… there was the Kate Spade hole I fell into..

1 – The Lincoln Square Garret in belflower/true navy

 

 

 

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2 – Charlotte Street Fabric Theresa in sand/flo coral

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3 – Charlotte Street Fabric Small Sloan in sand/flo coral

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4 – Catherine Street Pippa in dark chino

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5 – Tudor City Stacy (wallet) in lilac

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And since I had the debacle about domestic carry-on size being about 2 inches bigger than international carry-on -of which I still don’t know why there’s a difference between the two- I started looking at carry-on luggage. And of course I spent a good half an hour at Tumi’s website because really, if you can afford high end luxury luggage, there is no reason NOT to get an entire effing collection of Tumi luggage -=cue whistful sigh here=-

1 – The Tegra-Lite in White

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2 – The T-Tech Cargo in Terra

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3 – The Tumi Vapor… I’d give a kidney for one of these in Copper, Chianti or Raspberry (pictured in reverse order below)

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I think that’s a good end to this superficial post

 

 

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Spain Part 2 – Malaga

Okay, so I’ve officially fallen in love with Malaga, Spain. It was beyond beautiful. My friend and I stayed at an all inclusive resort that, for what we got was incredibly affordable. It was in the 70s the entire week; a great reprieve from the 30s and 40s it had been in Norwich. I only took a few photos, but you get the general idea of how amazing it was 🙂

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Birthday (more specifically, Spain photos)

A couple of weeks ago, I turned 29. Nothing exciting really happened. A group of 10 or so people came out and dinner followed by drinks were had. Nothing glamorous or exciting, but it was still really fun to enjoy a birthday out with friends – even if it was during the final week of the term before spring break. It was great 🙂

From the 23rd til today, I had my aunt visiting. We went to Spain, followed by a tour of my town, then to London where we spent 3 days with my cousin.

The day before we left, heading up to Stansted – snow!

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SPAIN!

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Leaving for a mellow trip to southern Spain with a friend on the night of the 4th… a paper due the 12th… exams the 23rd… southwest England for a concert the 24th-26th, and Dublin from the 27th-29th. Whew! Busy month but can’t wait!

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9:30 – Saturday morning

I’ve been at the library almost 2 hours. It’s pouring out, but I’ve got my little post-grad cove to burrow in while I tackle school stuff.

It’s so awesome it hurts.

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I’m really just procrastinating. I’ve only added about 100 words to a paper that’s due this coming week. 

I have about a hundred things to add and only 1000 more words left to write it in.

You spend all of undergrad learning how to say the same thing 500 different ways in the same paper and then you get to grad school and it’s the complete opposite. Way to prepare people US University system, way.to.go.

Okay, maybe I should do some actual work or something.

14 days til my aunt gets here. 15 days until Barcelona. 27 days til beach in Spain. Spring break needs to happen already.

 

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It’s that time of the year…

My 22nd birthday was the hardest I’ve ever had to face. I had such hopes, such standards for myself. I had a plan, a very strict one at that, that didn’t account for hiccups, that didn’t take into account how my personality would be an obstacle to my goals. No, my eyes were on the future, of the person I would be by 22.

My birthdays, while enjoyable during the week I celebrate are generally light hearted, the day itself is faced in dread. On more year, one (or more) less thing(s) I’ve done with my life that I’d hoped for.

 But that doesn’t stop me from making milestone plans based on age. I’m facing the nearing of the big 3-0. Granted, it’s not a big number, nor is it coming this year. But this year is the year. My final year that I can honestly say I’m in my 20s. There is so much I wanted to accomplish by 30, that the tasks feel near impossible (and realistically are). But does that stop my mind from looking at them, pushing for them to come to be? Of course not (see personality issues previously mentioned). And I know, I know… I have to smell the roses. I have to enjoy the now, I have to take it a day at a time, but (excuse the immaturity) all of that might as well be ‘blah, blah, blah’ to me. I’ve never been carefree. I’ve always been serious, intense. I’ve had a lot of fun, but even during my ‘carefree happy youth’ (and I use that term incredibly loosely), I was intense. It’s just who I am.

I’m one of those people that confuses laziness for relaxation, because I do the former very well and the later terribly.

Which comes back to the reasons I haven’t accomplished a lot of what I’ve set out to do. I read a review of a book in the New Yorker once that described the protagonist as someone who’s ‘aspirations always outweigh his ability’. This single sentence can sum me up. I dream big but do little. It’s yet another flaw.

And so I sit here, 54 weeks and 2 days away from turning 30, thinking about the goals I had by the time I hit the milestone:

– Visit all 50 states

– Move to the east coast

– Take a solo cross country trip

– Finish graduate school / Ph.d program

– Pay off all my debt (i.e. be financially independent and sound)

– Swim with the jellyfish in Palau

– Become fluent in another language

– Have a career

As you can see, there are a couple more traditional items that were never on the list, namely be married and have children. Neither was ever a priority in my life, mostly because after witnessing what love can do to people I’ve known, and what it did to me the first time I was in it, I had no desire to ever experience anything like it again.

And now, well it’s still not a priority (and I’m definitely not having children) but I’m not as revolted by the idea of marriage.

Regardless. I know most of those things won’t happen, but it won’t stop me from making goals for 32 (I don’t know why 32 and not 35, but I like that number better).

And yes, all that blah blah blah smelling roses and playing in open fields of grass (and ticks) has it’s time and place. But there’s so much in life that one can accomplish, I get more satisfaction from the completion of goals than sniffing flowers.

I have allergies, you know.

 

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This clearly deserves a post unto itself

(or really I didn’t think it should go in the one about my weekend away)

New haircut. Just as affordable as my last one but at a much nicer place in town.

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I know I know… (Stonehenge and Bath)

it seems like I do more traveling than work. But really work is boring to report on, isn’t it? The fun stuff are the pictures and the trips! This past weekend I was in London and traveled around to Stonehenge and Bath 🙂

Random Fact: The Union Jack flag is only officially called “Union Jack” when it’s on open waters (e.g. the sea), otherwise it’s just “The Union Flag”

Stonehenge:

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and Bath (so, so, so pretty!)

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Up into the wee hours for no real reason

You know you’re a grad student when…

staying up past 1am for non-school related purposes (i.e studying, researching or essay writing) is rarer than seeing a unicorn.

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(copywrite Lisa Frank)

I digress.

It’s late. I should have spent the evening working on research about the Democratic Republic of Congo and the economic ramifications of the 2nd large war before the peace declaration was signed. Or read one of the 14 books I’ve borrowed from the library about conflict, refugee education, and/or structural adjustment. But I didn’t. Instead, I skyped with family, and later with the now ex, that I talked about late last summer vaguely. I browsed the likes of zappos.com, amazon.co.uk, and katespade.com. I had a completely lazy evening, and it was wonderfully anti-climatic. 

Tomorrow I know I will have to spend the day in the library doing all the things I’ve put off, but it was nice to breathe tonight. I spent time going through a ton of photos from various trips over the years, laughing at some, and smiling with fond memories at others. Looking back even just five years – 2008, who was I? Did I think I’d be here, ever, let alone now?

Five years ago I was just getting my feet wet. On the verge of going to Europe again, feeling like my life as an undergraduate was never going to change. I was in a loop of various emotions in my personal life, and the only thing I was sure of was my career. 

And now, it seems like everything has flipped. My life as a graduate student is 7 weeks, an exam and a dissertation away from being over – already. I’m not going to Europe, I live spitting distance away (crude image, I know) – literally 40 minutes (by plane) to Amsterdam. There is no loop of various emotions in my personal life. I am far more rational than I was, or at least I’d like to think so. I have experienced what it has been like to meet that person you can see yourself marrying and having a full, entwined life with. And I have no qualms for the how and why it ended; simply knowing that it was capable to feel it and have it returned has been enough for now.

I’m not sure what my future holds for my career. I would love to go back to doing what I was doing at my old company. I miss it like a type of home sickness. I miss the people, the job itself, the atmosphere. But who knows what’s in store. I look at current openings there and at other organizations I’d love to be a part of now and then but I’m trying to focus more on the present instead of falling onto the bad habit of not enjoying the present until it is the past.

And then I think of the possibility of getting a Ph.d. And I think of all the downsides, 5 years in the US, 3 years here. I wouldn’t be done until I was 32, 33 more likely as most deadlines have passed – and that’s if I stayed here for it. I’d be 35 more like, if I pursued a program in the states. And I think about the workload now, the pressure now, and the stress of being a Ph.d student trying to publish and contribute and I wonder if it’s in me. Would I love to be Dr. So-and-So? Sure, it’s nice to think about, but where will it get me? Do I want to be an academic? No, not particularly. But a Ph.d would get me a long way in my desired career; of course it would delay that jumpstart by quite a bit.

Then again I don’t have to figure it all out right now. And I know that.

The point of all of this? 

This is why grad students shouldn’t stay up past 1am – because then such babbling occurs. 

 

 

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