Archive for February, 2010


Most of the time, I use my blog as a dumping ground for the brighter, better things that are floating around in my head. The darker ones get enough play in my real life. That’s why the pictures are pretty; I crop them to cut out the stuff that I don’t want you to see (because I don’t want to think about it). In the spirit of full disclosure—and in the face of a week that’s threatening to be rather sleepless—I give you the other side of things: my living room, with an empty Coke Zero box that the cats like to sit in, and many pieces of my white fluffy cat (plus the whole cat). I don’t know why there are bits of him all over the floor. I don’t want to know.

Read Full Post »

I wrote for nine hours today. I got some unpleasant, work-related emails. I didn’t take a lunch break; instead, I ate cheese and crackers at my computer. When I thought that I was going to faint from hunger, I ate a donut. When you are really hungry, donuts aren’t so great. The bus ride home was long and crowded; the man next to me smelled so strongly of cigarette smoke that I left with a sore throat. My sidewalks were covered thickly with heavy, slushy snow. It took me almost an hour to clear it all.

It took me almost that long to realize that, in the lamplight, the sky was glowing gray-orange

that the snow had started to fall again, cleanly, softly

that, except for the distant sound of church bells, the night had fallen still around me

that it was beautiful.

Read Full Post »

the world unseen

I’ve been reorganizing my writing space lately. When I came to Madison, my grandmother’s 19th century French secretary came with me. It’s a beautiful desk, but it’s not the best writing spot. I bought a small desk at Ikea and put it under the window–much better for hours of blank stares. And then, of course, I constructed a little vignette (because these things must be done before one can write). A ceramic deer for a muse. A jar of oh-so-inviting pre-sharpened pencils–left behind by Ricky two years ago–because I love the color. And a plant. Because I have too many (as you shall see).

Recently, a friend and I ended up talking about the apparent order of my house, how things seem to always be in their places. I don’t function particularly well amidst disorder, and organization is one of my primary methods of procrastination (see: jar of pencils). But I’m also pretty good at shuffling disorder around and getting it out of the way, to be dealt with at some distant point in the future. The picture above shows you the part of my study that I’m happy with and that I want/have to see all the time. The picture below, taken by my mom while she was here this weekend, shows the other half of the office, the part where less appealing things are happening:

I’m writing, starting at my orderly little deer-and-plant-and-pencil arrangement, apparently totally unaware of the fact that an entire rainforest seems to have taken root behind me. Because this room is so small, I’ve never really figured out how to arrange the furniture. . .so I put the new desk in place and then kind of gave up, for now. The plants are all huddling back here because this is where the best light is–the living room is just too dark in the winter to support tropical things. I don’t really mind their company–my house contains way too many carbon-based life forms, but at least these ones are silent. And still.

Read Full Post »

(un)finished things

I have a hint for all the homeowners out there: if you really need to finish some of those nagging, incomplete projects around the house, all you really need to do is try to write a dissertation. Better yet, try to write a dissertation proposal, which is even more nebulous.

This is just to say…that after four years of being unhappy with the situation next to my stove, I made a series of impulsive decisions: (a) drive to the Bolingbrook Ikea with Ricky on Valentine’s day (b) purchase a tall cabinet that I’d never seen or thought of or measured before (c) build said cabinet, buy wood and trim at Home Depot, buy chalkboard paint at Walmart (d) create a divider for my kitchen. I’ll have to show you the front of the cabinet later (it has glass doors and a drawer on the bottom), but here’s the interesting part:

(1) kitchen before I moved in (for those of you who have been to my house in real life, note the linoleum floor that I ripped out, the tiny stove where my dishwasher now sits, and that damn persistent peach and blue tile)

(2) the decision that haunts me: ripping out the wall between the kitchen and the living room. I had wood floors installed to unify the spaces, and everything is, of course, now a pale aqua rather than shiny burgundy and dark brown enamel. Taking out the wall vastly improved the quality of the light in the living room, but created all sorts of spatial issues with the stove (which now sits in that blank spot on the left) basically ending up next to the couch.

(3) things as they are now: the new stove (electric glass top, a decision that I had to make when it died during the summer I took the MA exam and have made peace with despite my preferences, as one who cooks all the time, for gas ranges), the chalkboard divider, and an Ikea rail system that I bought a year ago. After I finished the divider, I took the plunge and drilled some more huge holes in my wall to hang the rail. I  really love it, and it’s surprisingly secure even in my annoyingly brittle plaster walls. I drilled in three two-inch metal anchors.

So, there you go. And here I go, blogging about the kitchen things I’ve finished when there are still many left to finish: I’m keeping the fifties cabinets that you can see in the first picture, but the tile is going, and I need a new countertop to extend over the new-ish diswasher and a new sink. Oh, and I need to finish my proposal. Like, now.

Read Full Post »

dissertation notes:


(or is it right? Sorry I’ve been an absentee blog-landlord. I’ve been writing, re-watching such fine films as Serendipity on Netflix, and rediscovering leisure reading as a love of mine.)

Read Full Post »