But I'm back! And now I have a mile long to-do-list of things I'd left undone (because, of course, school takes priority over dirty dishes... and clean laundry, most of the time). Including buying presents. Once again it's like 8 days till christmas and I haven't done a single piece of shopping.
There's also an outbreak of headcold in our house, so I'm zycamming my way out of being sick (hopefully) and trying to clean at the same time. I have such a sexy life.
*how i almost didn't have to take the japanese final*
So Thursday evening (the week before last), my advisor called with a plan - UT allows one to drop a class once in your career at any time during the semester (as long as it's not during finals). She'd done the research, contacted the Asian Studies advisor and my Japanese professor, and all I had to do was get the form filled out and turned in by Friday afternoon.
I was filled with relief. I wouldn't have to take the final, I wouldn't have to spend hours studying. Instead of juggling my paper and my Japanese studies I'd be able to just write the paper. It would've been fantastic. I ran my ass off on Friday, and even managed to intercept the AS Grad Student advisor in the 20 minutes she was on campus. I turned in my sheet, heaved a great huge sigh of relief, told my friend I could make it to her birthday party on saturday (something I didn't think I was going to have time for before).
Then I got the email at like 5:45 pm - the Graduate School denied my application. They wouldn't let me drop the class because I would drop under hours. So in the space of two days I went from dread to giddy to frenzied to relieved to completely disappointed.
And, to add insult to injury, in order to pass my Japanese class I had to get a C instead of a D (I'd changed it to credit/no credit) because I'm a graduate student. There was a chance I'd do well enough on the final - just a chance, but not a good one - but enough of a chance that I had to take the final just to find out.
So I spent Saturday through Tuesday alternatively studying for Japanese and working on my paper. From sunup to sundown. Oh so fun.
*why you should never write a paper in sacramento*
I'd originally aimed to get the paper done by the time I left on Wednesday. But what with the studying, and the translation for Classical Japanese that ended up being 6 pages instead of 4, and the regular siren calls of that thing called life, I took the paper with me to Sacramento. It wasn't due until Saturday, and all I would've been doing is sitting around the house talking with my stepmom anyway (which, btw, is actually a FUN thing for me, so I'm sad I missed it, but... it wasn't like family *plans*). I got a couple of pages done on the flight out (until my computer died, of course), and a couple of pages of translation done too (this is translation FOR the paper, mind you, and I ended up doing far more than I thought I would). And I sat at the kitchen table most of Thursday and Friday tap-tapping my little fingers across the keys.
Then I asked for an extension. Just because I'd hit my page count by Friday didn't mean that I'd actually made my arguments. Nor was I ready to proof.
So I figured I'd be able to sit in the airport on Sunday and do some proofing. My only problem? No plugs free in either Sacto or Phoenix. And my computer has about half an hour battery life when it's not actually plugged in.
Then sunday night, the night I was supposed to be finished, washed itself out after I got home. I finally, finally, finally eeked out the last paragraph at a coffee shop on Monday night at 10 pm (after a 12 hour day of grading... see below). The conclusion was shit, but hey, at least it was finished!
and for those who've made it this far and are the least bit interested in what I was actually *talking* about in said paper: Fetish, desire and agency in Abe Kobo's Red Cocoon and Kono Taeko's Toddler Hunting. You see, the narrator in Abe's story, a homeless man, can't find a home - so he turns into a cocoon. But at the end, once he's finished changing, he realizes that there is no longer an "I" to inhabit his new home - he is a cocoon with nothing inside. Kono Taeko's Akiko is a woman who hates little girls and fetishizes little boys - she likes to buy clothing for the little boys and make them try the clothes on because she enjoys watching them struggle. All of this, I believe, is because Akiko is attempting to defend against a fear from childhood (thus her hatred of little girls, who suffer from the same fate). You see, she saw a cocoon split open in her science class, and the wriggling chrysalis inside filled her with a nameless dread. So to defend against her fear she binds little boys.
Confused yet? Well, you'd probably want to read the stories. Then it could, possibly make some sense. Unless it doesn't. :D
*of christmas choirs, family gatherings, and ham*
For the last couple of years my Dad's side of the family has done christmas as a potluck. We've done it the week (or the couple) before Christmas so that we can all gather together without having to choose between in-laws or parents on Christmas itself. I love getting together early. I love the idea of potluck. I love that it's not a day spent cooking - it's a day spent goofing around with eachother, making funny faces, watching my nephews try and outdo eachother with jokes.
Unfortunately, I hate the ham. Everyone else seems to like it. And I'm not picky, so I don't complain (especially since I'm usually the one who flys in a couple of days early and doesn't have to bring anything to the potluck because I don't have my own kitchen in Cali). However... cold honey baked ham? It's about the vilest kind of protein out there. The only redeeming quality is that it's salty.
As far as the rest of the food, one of my sisters made the yummiest creamed spinach ever (her secret - yukon gold potatoes lumpily mashed and mixed in), one of the others made scalloped potatoes with bay leaves that was ... not cooked all the way through (*shudder*), and the girlfriend of one of my nephews made the salad (many onions. many). Yeah, it is NOT about the food.
It is, however, about the family. Thursday night I got to go to Neil's highschool for a choral concert (my little sister Francesca sings in the choir at the same highschool that my boyfriend once went to... bizzare how small the world is sometimes). Frankie was absolutely beautiful, and it was a fantastic way to start the christmas season. Of course my pictures of the singers were completely weird. They had little white circles in their eyes from the flash, so they looked more demonic than angelic. But I have a fantastic pic of Frankie with my dad, so I'm a happy girl.
The rest of the visit was perfect, too. Not enough time, especially as I had to do my homework while I was there, and I ended up being awake until 2 in the morning (and probably looked fairly awful for Saturday's festivities), but other than that? Good talks with my stepmom, my dad was practically giddy because he's got a fantastic case going right now and he's actually going to probably win this one, my little sister gets more beautiful every day (and we still seem to adore eachother just as much as always), I discovered my oldest nephew is actually a pretty amazing adult (I knew he was an amazing kid, but you never know how these things are going to turn out in the end), and came home with a couple of movies and a suitcase full of oranges as my presents. Can't really ask for more than that.
*the last twelve hour day*
So, the munchkins in the adaptation class presented their final projects on Monday - it was an adaptation extravaganza. Actually, it was pretty amazing. Some of them blew us completely out of the water (which is exactly what we were hoping for when we redesigned the final to allow them to do their own adaptations).
Actually, wanna see one? One of the women in the class decided to adapt a poem called "The Maiden of Unai" In the poem a young girl of Unai comes of age, and two men fight over her (a youth from her hometown, and one from Chinu). She is so humble she decides she must kill herself instead of being fought over. Later that night she appears in a dream to one of the youths, and he leaves the earthly world along with her. The other youth, finding out he was left behind, follows the other two. The poet says he was inspired to write the poem because he found their graves, as they were buried all together (and the tree that grew up over the maiden's grave leaned over the grave of her favorite, so even in death there was a connection). Anyway, here's one of our student's shifted, yet really cool, story:
After the munchkins presented my professor and I headed back to the office to grade. We thought we'd spend a couple of hours working, have the afternoon free, and then meet again for dinner.
We were naive.
We worked right up to the moment we had to leave for our 7 pm dinner reservation. Right up to the moment. BUT we managed to get through every test, every project, every paper, and then look at all the grades. It was an extravaganza.
As a reward we sated ourselves on sushi and saki and pretty much had a fantastic time. I am so lucky I have her as my advisor, and that I got to work with her this semester. So frighteningly amazingly lucky. We had our mutual love fest until we both got too embarrassed to let it continue, then we talked trash and life and theory and movies and manged to still not hate each other after spending an entire day, non stop, with just eachother for company. At this point, I'm feeling pretty damn blessed.
Now, after all that, I'm FREEEEEEE! I was up until 5 last night, reading, for fun, because I could. And I woke up at 1 today, refreshed, relieved, and ready to do dishes. Frightening what rest will do to me.
I'm going to actually try to go to bed here in a minute, because for some reason I woke up this morning thinking it was Tuesday and that my mom was pulling into town the day after tomorrow. Finally, at about 6 pm, everyone realized my insanity and let me know it's Wednesday, and so I'm picking her up at the airport tomorrow. And nothing but the kitchen counters are clean. Thank god she doesn't really mind mess.