Friday, November 30, 2007

I forgot to mention that I saw the picketers when we drove by CBS studios on our way to lunch at the Fairfax farmers market yesterday. No surprise to anyone, I'm sure, but I think Carson Daly is a loser, crossing picket lines to work on his show.

I've lost track how many times I've said "Susan? This is Susan," in the past few days. In planning a lunch date and a dinner, I exchanged many phone calls and left many messages, most of which said, "Susan, this is Susan. Call me."

So, coming back to L.A. after fifteen years has been mostly a good experience. My lunch with Susan yesterday was really nice, and really put some of my anxieties about my former life here in perspective. The fact that Susan was willing to have lunch with me even though I must have been the biggest freak show she'd ever encountered when we first met fifteen years ago was reassuring because, really, I was completely and absolutely screwed up back then. The fact that she didn't end up wanting to throw me off a bridge is really quite comforting. Anyway, we had a nice lunch, and she made me laugh, just like old times.

Today, I went to the Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits. Okay, here is one reason I was miserable when I lived in L.A. I was seriously, seriously poor--my T.A. stipend didn't even cover the rent for university housing. It made it very difficult to socialize with the other graduate students, because we'd go out for their version of a cheap dinner, and it would require me to spend three weeks worth of grocery money (not that there were any grocery stores in South Central L.A., but that's another post). Anyway, I used to ride my bike west on Wilshire from downtown to LACMA on Thursday (?) evenings, because the museum was free for the last few hours of the day. And when I'd get there, I'd always spend some time hanging on the fence in front of the Page Museum ( just next door to LACMA), looking at the bubbling, oily water, wishing I could go to the Page Museum instead of the art museum, but never feeling like I could spend the money. I couldn't justify the four buck expenditure when I could go to the Natural History museum at USC for free, or LACMA for free; four bucks--that's a chicken sandwich, after all.

So, yeah, a lot of hours spent hanging on the fence, wishing I could go inside the museum. So, today, I finally got to cough up my four dollars, and go inside. I spent two and a half hours there (small museum), in the museum, and at the pits outside. I guess most people wouldn't think it was ALL THAT, but to me, it was something I've been wanting to do for fifteen years. It's hard to explain to people why I get so angry at the class privilege I run into so often in academia. I'm not sure the average academic would understand how much it hurts to have to stay outside. Just typing this up makes me struggle not to cry--wanting something you know you'll never get, something most people take for granted, that will eat you alive if you let it.

The Page Museum is deliciously 1970s, exactly my favorite kind of building:

Even the birds like the mammoths:

Museum atrium with flowers and animals:

That small spot of bubbling asphalt in the parking lot fifteen years ago? It's grown:

I had dinner tonight with Susan (ha--fooled you, different Susan!) at the Newsroom Cafe. They don't seem to have a website, maybe it's already so famous it doesn't need one. Google describes it as trendy, a place to see and be seen, so maybe I shouldn't have worn a cardigan sweater to dinner? Never going to make a reputation in a cardigan. Just in case someone hits this page doing a search on "Newsroom Cafe Parking": instead of wandering the crowded streets looking for a parking space, go south on Robertson, turn left/east on Alden Drive (toward Cedars-Sinai), and then turn left into the subterranean parking garage. Expensive, but quick.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

So, someone once gave me some advice about my acknowledgment page of my future dissertation: start writing it the first year of grad school, otherwise you'll forget to thank someone important during the crunch time after the (successful) defense and before turning the revised thesis into the grad office. This seemed like super bad advice to me; writing acknowledgments for a project that I only have a 50-50 chance of finishing really seems like tempting fate. I did, however, start keeping a list of names of thankable professors, librarians, archivists, colleagues, etc. The list keeps growing, bit by bit--so far, no one I've added has made me angry enough to get themselves deleted from it.

Okay, all of this is just to say that I added one name pretty early on, with a phrase reminding me why I'm grateful to this person. Since that time, I've jotted down another reason, and another, and then another. And this week, I added another reason to the list trailing Beth's name. She totally bailed me a few days ago. It's a long story that can be summed up with the phrase "Susan failed to plan ahead," but the real point is this: I had only one day--Monday--to take photos for a paper I'm reading at a conference this weekend, and no camera. I was in a complete state of panic Sunday night when I realized I didn't have the equipment I needed in Illinois. Moreover, I was really resistant to Catherine's suggestion that I call around and try to borrow it from someone.

I finally caved, called Beth much too late for good manners on a Sunday night, and asked if she could lend me a camera. She instantly said, "Sure! No problem!" And not only did she lend me the camera for my work on Monday, she graciously offered to let me keep it so I could use it while I was in Los Angeles this week. Between my work in the archives, and my trip to the Getty Center this afternoon, I've accumulated more than 300 digital photos, all thanks to Beth. My talk for this weekend would have been impossible to deliver without those images from the rare book room. Less important, I suppose, are the photos I took today, but I'm still happy to have them. So, thank you, Beth, once more. Remember, you're supposed to be thinking about where I'm taking you out to dinner when I get back to Champaign.

Stupid Blogger. Now I remember why I don't post images here anymore.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I feel compelled to point out two things:

1) The AC is on in our Hindi classroom. It's 39 degrees outside.

2) Many fine people have helped me out during the past few months, both in Indiana and Illinois. Without them, my list of poor moments would have been much, much longer.
What to write, what to write.

Now that I'm off the five billion (okay, five) medications I was on, I've (re)discovered that words strung together in a somewhat straight line actually mean something. Who knew? Well, apparently I did, before I came down with the whoop. Here are some moments from the past few months of my life.

Moment 1.

Me: *cough* [reach for handkerchief] *cough*
Faculty Member B: Are you sick?
Me: *cough* [check handkerchief, think, "Christ, don't spray blood all over her office"] Yeah, pretty sick, actually.
FMB: With what?
Me: *cough* [check handkerchief, think, "Who the hell am I talking to, anyway? What was her name?"] Whooping cough.
FMB: Nice.
Me: Not very.

Moment 2.

Early morning. Sitting on the couch, eating my crunchy granola Cheerios. Swallow a satisfying bite.

Moment 3.

Me: Hi, Aunt Rosie. Thanks for picking up my medication for me.
AR: No problem.
Me: I don't feel very good [sway].
AR: Do you want to sit down?
Me: [Sitting on step ladder in the kitchen] Actually, I think I'm going to be sick [sweating].

Moment 4.

Me: It really seemed like something was happening to my heart, maybe not a heart attack, but something seriously wrong with my heart.
Doctor: It was probably just gas.
Me: You know, I don't think so. It's true that I spent the weekend throwing up, but it felt like more than gas.
Doctor: Well, we can do a test, but I don't see the point.
Me: Whatever [Dumbass].

Moment 5.

Sitting on bathroom floor, trying to catch my breath. Realize I've so fucked up my life, I can't even find a ride to the emergency room in my home town.
[Spit out mouthful of blood]

Moment 6.

Sleeping in the car. What's that noise? *(#$*(!
[Wake up as car crosses the rumble strips. Slam on brakes. Look at the field full of dead corn stalks standing straight ahead. Wonder how long I've been asleep behind the wheel.]

Moment 7.

Faculty Member A: Your dissertation should be the most important thing in your life.
Me: You don't really believe that do you? [Think about corn fields]
FMA: If you want to finish the program, yes, your dissertation needs to be the most important thing in your life.
Me: Whatever [don't cry don't cry].

Moment 8.

Me: Well, I'm still vomiting a lot.
Doctor: I think it's just an allergy.
Me: That doesn't make any sense.
Doctor: A lot of people have a cough from allergies right now.
Me: But I got sick in India. If it was allergies, why would they still be active? Different country, different food, different clothes... And if I was allergic to something in Illinois, wouldn't I get better when I go to Indiana? Different state, different food, different clothes... And if I was allergic to something in Indiana, wouldn't I get better when I come back to Illionis?
Doctor: Maybe it's just acid reflux.
Me: Whatever [Dumbass].

Moment 9.

Scene: Conference Hotel, Madison, Wisconsin.
Action: Taking a shower.
Plan: Get dressed, find the appropriate room, read my conference paper before an audience of my peers.

Moment 10.

Scene: Conference Hotel, Arlington, Virginia.
Action: Getting dressed.
Plan: Get dressed, find the appropriate room, read my conference paper before an audience of my peers.

To be continued.