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Monday, March 23, 2015

in some brighter clime

My grandmother died.  I am so, so, so glad that I got to visit her just a few weeks ago in February.  I'm so glad I didn't try to wait until a more 'convenient' time, like Spring Break, or after graduation.  What is a 'convenient' time?  Life is always happening, until it's not.  You carve out days and moments because you love someone and so you visit them, even though they can't hear you that well, and even though it's too hard for them to play Old Maid and they probably wouldn't remember the rules to Aggravation anymore.  You go just to feel her squeeze your hand in hers. 


(Me and my grandma in May, 2014)

Last night I considered trying to make a pot roast, because my grandma made the best pot roast, but that's a skill I've never mastered.  I tried to run some errands, and I thought about when I was little how Grandma and Dzadek would wave from the front porch whenever our visits were over.  I looked around Target for a mini-grow kit, because I thought maybe I could grow a flower for my grandma, because she always loved gardening.  Target only had a basil kit.  Not quite the same.  I might try to go to a real nursery to get a real plant.  Something pretty and springtime-y.  And maybe purple, since purple was my grandma's favorite color.

This post doesn't do her justice, but it's all I have right now.

Lines of poetry go flitting through my mind, mostly poetry by Anna Letitia Barbauld.  I've spent the better part of the last six months with Barbauld's works, so I guess it makes sense, even though the poems I'm thinking of have nothing to do with my thesis.  Instead, the title of this post comes from her poem "Life" (though, my thoughts tend more towards her poems "Dirge" and "A Thought on Death").  In "Life" Barbauld writes,

"Life! We've been long together
Through pleasant and through cloudy weather;
'Tis hard to part when friends are dear;
Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear;
Then steal away, give little warning,
      Choose thine own time;
Say not Good night, but in some brighter clime
      Bid me Good morning."

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Holding Out for the Ides

It's go time!  I have twenty-five pages to write in the next eight days.  I then need to tighten up the writing, revise a little, and I'm aiming to have everything turned in for my defense draft by March 14th.  I can rest on March 15th.  Tall order?  Yes.  Do-able?  Yes.  It's going to be a long two weeks, but I can do it.

A few more small victories: just completed Unit 7 in Rosetta Stone!  Only missed one day since the 16th, even if February has been a bit slower going due to all the writing.  And, it's only 11:30 this morning, but so far today I've taken my car for my state inspection, run/walked 1.5 miles, stretched, done crunches, washed a load of laundry, Rosetta Stone-d, and made Pillsbury Cinnamon Buns.  I'm on a roll!  Can't stop me now!  Aiming for seven pages today-- here I go!!!!!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Crazy Week

Well, I sent off nearly 30 pages to my adviser on Sunday.  Then today I realized that a page and a half-- what I thought was a brilliant new insight-- was actually a totally erroneous reading because I hadn't done my history legwork and had relied on someone else's notes.  It's okay, I noticed it before my adviser could point it out to me, I revised it, and I sent him the revised edition, but boy, do I feel foolish.  We all make mistakes, I guess.  Luckily, this doesn't affect the overall thesis. 

The craziness of this week doesn't come from a faulty reading, however.  In the past week or so I've had a snow day, a trip to New Mexico, a six and a half hour delay at the Denver airport, and my fifth anniversary with Zan.  The snow day was kind of fun-- I didn't have to go into work.  We had some friends in town so we went to a late breakfast at a roadside diner style restaurant.  Kind of a relaxing day (if any day is relaxing when I'm so far into thesis mode).

New Mexico was beautiful and sad.  We're putting my grandma into hospice care.  They found a cancerous mass in her abdomen.  She's 82, very weak, and her kidneys aren't functioning well.  The doctors said they didn't know if she had a few weeks, months, or a year, but they recommended hospice.  It seems like it might be months-- if that.  My mom and I booked a flight to see her immediately.  I thought of waiting until Spring Break in mid-March, but I'm glad I didn't.  She's rapidly declining and I didn't want to wait until too late. We had a good visit, though.  We did some fun things: got to see my aunt's new frozen custard/fudge/popcorn shop (it's all SO tasty!), had a few nice dinners out with my aunt, uncle, and cousins.  Mostly, though, my mom and I tried to spend as much time as possible with my grandma.  We watched a Peanuts special together, talked as much as didn't weary out my grandma, and my aunt brought us all Chinese carry-out for lunch.  After my grandma had gone to bed, my mom and I went to our hotel bar and got margaritas and sat outside by a fire, looking out over the mountains.  For, in spite of it all, these were hard days.  It's not easy watching someone you love... you know.  I'm sure I could write more eloquently if I tried.

But the American West is really something.  You feel so small, but not in an insignificant way-- it's like, a kind of gratefulness washes over you.  I kept thinking, "I get to live on this Earth.  What a magnificent place."  It was warm while we were there, too.  The second day, while my mom and aunt had a long meeting with hospice, I sat outside in the sun and worked on my thesis.  I felt so able, somehow.  I wrote around 12 pages in two and a half days.  At night I could see the stars so clearly, and I just kept thinking of a line in the poem I'm writing about, "This dead of midnight is the noon of thought/ And wisdom mounts her zenith with the stars." 

...and then getting home we got stuck in Denver.  Not because of snow, but because of a mechanical issue.  I appreciate that we can't fly with a mechanical problem, but wow.  We didn't get home until 3:00 AM-- when we were scheduled to arrive just before dinner.  Still, I got a lot of writing done in the airport, and we had some really tasty Wolfgang Puck Pizza Express.  Seriously, the guy cooking the pizzas was an artist.  Good food really improves any experience.

And on Monday, Zan and I celebrated FIVE WHOLE YEARS together!  Since he had work until 9:30 we couldn't do anything super special, but we ate lunch at Ray's (we get burgers each year on our anniversary) and then for dinner had some homemade soup and exchanged gifts.  Simple pleasures.  So happy to have spent five years together.  What a five years it's been!   

Monday, February 16, 2015

Small Victories

Today, I sent off 18 new pages of my thesis to my adviser.  These have been a hard-earned 18 pages.  I really hope they go over well.  At least now I can honestly say my heart has been in the work.  I'm writing what I see happening in the poems.  I feel like it's not quite sophisticated enough, but maybe I'm setting myself unrealistically high standards for this project.  It's not "the book" after all.  And it's also only the second time I've ever tried to write about poetry, as such.  So.

Today, too, I began Rosetta Stone Spanish Level 2, Unit 7.  This is the farthest I've ever made it in Rosetta Stone!  I restarted the program a couple of days after Christmas, and I've been averaging roughly one unit a week!  I've only missed a day or two since New Years Day.  I don't always do much each day, but I try to do at least one little lesson per day.  It's working much better than my resolution last year to Rosetta for an hour three times a week.  Sometimes I don't have an hour together, but if I need a break from writing my thesis, I can take 5 minutes to do a quick lesson (most lessons take between 5-10 minutes).  I also like to do a lesson or two while I drink my morning tea and have my breakfast.  I really feel like I'm making progress in learning this language.  Just a little at a time.  Maybe I really will be able to read a children's book by Christmas, 2015!

Right now, I'm relaxing with the SNL 40th Anniversary Show.  Happy President's Day weekend!