Need a second to breathe

I have been a horrific blogger these days — foregoing all of my regularly-scheduled updates.  I don’t have an excuse at all, except that it’s the end of the semester, I’m focusing on moving and finishing papers and all of those other things, plus I have the world’s busiest social schedule (I really need to start saying “no” to people — at least until mid-May).

So if those are considered “good” excuses, then I guess I do have them. I had a lovely — if busy — week last week.

Thursday I went to Northampton to WEBS with my good friends Tina, Drea, and Jess.  Most of us had gift certificates from Christmas for WEBS, and we were all eager to use them.  And we were all on strict budgets for one reason or another.  But I came off so well!  I scored three skeins of Madelintosh Light in “Cousteau”…for 38 cents (after gift cards, of course).  It would have cost me $60 without the cards and discount!

 

I want to start knitting with it yesterday, but I’m holding off because as I’ve said, I have a massive load of papers to do before the end of the semester.  So I’m saving it as my “end of the semester” treat, for when I’m done.  I’m going to knit another Citron shawl.  I made one last year out of some beautiful green yarn, but I gave it to my grandmother for Christmas and never took any pictures of the finished product.  This one, though…this one is going to be for me.  I can hardly wait.

After WEBS, we went to Roberto’s in Northampton for dinner.  Dinner was good, but dessert…dessert was something special.  We each had the creme brulee — I had vanilla, Drea had blueberry, and Jess and Tina each had butterscotch bourbon.  And although mine was heavenly, I realized after taking a bite of Tina’s that I had made the wrong choice.  Butterscotch bourbon creme brulee is pretty much to die for, just an FYI in case you are ever in a situation where it is offered.  You won’t regret it (but, like me, you may regret passing it up!)

Friday: After work, I hit the gym to begin (again) Couch 2 5 K.  I have a horrible time with self-motivation, and although I’ve started C25K twice before, I’ve always managed to crash and burn out within the first two weeks.  I’m determined that I won’t do that this time.  After the gym I went out with Samantha and we went apartment shopping.  She made out like a bandit — got her duvet, a blender, a whiteboard for the kitchen, and sheets.  I didn’t do as well.  But I did get a cute set of canisters for the kitchen — something I’ve wanted for awhile:

And a mail organizer for the two of us (I can’t find a picture online).  I’m going to check out Marshall’s again today, since I need bed linens myself.  I had picked out a really cute set from Target, but the quilt alone was going to be $70 — all of the pieces I wanted together were going to be something like $110, and that was just for the quilt and two shams!  Nope, back to the drawing board.

Saturday didn’t begin at all like I had planned.  Samantha and I had purchased a sofa from Craigslist, and the owner said she would hold it until Sunday morning (when Sam could go get it) if I came out on Saturday morning and paid for it.  So I left at around 10 AM (after sending a text to the owner notifying her, per her request).  When I got to the apartment, nobody answered.  I went around the block, got an iced coffee from Dunks, and went back.  Same results.  Sent an email, no reply.  I’m pretty angry about it, especially since I wasted about an hour and a half of my time and the gas and wear on my car to leave empty-handed.  But at least I went to the gym and worked out my frustration on C25K Day 2.  It went better than Day 1.

After that, I went home, showered, and then sat down to watch the Red Sox/Royals game.  During which, I banged out my master’s thesis prospectus.  Twenty-two pages in five and a half hours.  I don’t think I need to explain how exhausted/relieved I was when that little project was done (plus, the Sox won).  The paper having been disposed of, I made BLTs for my dad, Christina, and Jess (a bacon veggie burger for myself) and french fries, and then watched Django Unchained with Christina and Jess while trying to bang out my literature review for my other class.  I got the five-page outline finished, and got about three pages of 20 done before I just gave up around 10:30.  I was getting to that point where my writing isn’t making sense; when I get there, it’s best to just close the whole thing down and start fresh another day.

Sunday I woke up early, went to church, and then made pancakes for everyone.  Then I took the car trip up to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, to see my friend Kim in Sweeney Todd.  Which was really great.  And she was really happy that I came.  I wish I could say that I got stuff done when I returned to CT, but I didn’t.  I didn’t get in until almost 7 PM and at that point I was so bushed that I just took a hot bath and made dinner and rested for the rest of the evening.  I passed out sometime between 10 and 11 PM and woke up with my alarm this morning.

 

Today…today I’m really excited because I have a brand spanking new computer at work.  I have counseling with D after work, and then the gym for Day 3 of C25K.  Then…I think it’s home to make dinner and finish that paper, or at least put a pretty big dent in it.

The trees are all in blossom and bud.  It’s finally spring 🙂

Just don’t give up; I’m working it out

(Adam Lambert’s “Whataya Want From Me?” really speaks to my life as a whole right now.)

When last we spoke, our anti-heroine (me) was inwardly agonizing about relationships and post-divorce relationships and being ready to tackle new things and whatnot.  This may have predicated a foray into angst, “forever alone” nonsense and abstract “will I never be truly happy until I’m with someone else again?” thinking.

I’m happy to tell you this is not the case, as our anti-heroine faced up to the full brunt of the tasks set before her for these upcoming months…and emotions ran the whole gamut from complete ecstasy to “oh shit.”

Good things first:

After months of research, Dr. LW (my thesis adviser) looked over my bulging folder of notes and gave me the green light to begin writing my thesis prospectus.  If you don’t know what that signifies…in order to begin writing a master’s thesis at my university, one needs to go before the Graduate Studies Department (or have one’s adviser go before the GSD) and present the thesis idea.  You can’t just haul off and say “This is what I want to spend a year of my life doing”; you need to have more of a plan.  Specifically, you need to write a prospectus, which is a statement of interest, a literature review, a statement about what contributions your work will bring to the field of study, what other historians have said, what gaps you intend in filling, and an annotated bibliography of all your sources (thus far) and how they will be useful.  If the GSD likes your prospectus, you get the green light to write the damn thing.  If they don’t…well, that’s another story, and hopefully one I don’t  need to think about right now.

Anyway.  This was my response to Dr. LW’s go-ahead:

I totally went and got an iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts.  Because that is how I celebrate.

Then I went to class.  And I got the bad news.

I’ve known all this semester that I had a term paper for Dr. S due.  The syllabus said it was due next week, but since the class is half-undergrad, half-grad, and he hadn’t mentioned a damn thing about the paper, and he’d recently been in Asia and pushed back some of our deadlines, I naturally did the stupid thing and assumed that it was going to be pushed back as well.

Ha.
Aha.
Hahahahaha.
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

That’s the sort of amateur move that a freshman makes.  Maybe an undergraduate junior.  Not a last-year grad student.

Rookie mistake.

So the paper is due next Thursday.  As in April 18th.  As in eight days from now.

How long a paper?  Not that long.  Just 15-20 pages or so.

The above gif was pretty much exactly my reaction when I realized that my idiotic error was going to result in a metric buttload of stress for myself…but that it’s going to get done, it has to get done, so what’s the use of freaking out?

I already have a topic.  My father (the man who instilled a love of history in me so deep that it resulted in borderline obsession) gave me four books from his own personal library that will help in my research.  I used my bff Zotero last night to track down some articles and printed them this morning.  I have a couple of hours this afternoon to do some work before I have to go check out another apartment…

Oh yeah, the apartment search is in full swing.  My parents want their little cottage back (for my sister, who has epilepsy and is disabled), and my (future) roommate S and I have been actively searching for a place for about a week and a half now…

The point of this whole entry?  I’m completely swamped on all sides, so to be spending my time lamenting about a relationship that could have been but wasn’t?  Would pretty much guarantee that I’m certifiable.

Sign me up for the loony bin.

And just because I think my makeup looked pretty damn good today…I think I’ve come a long way since starting to learn how to apply eyeshadow back in September ’12.

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Little Victories, Week Eleven

For 2013, I’m going to have a Friday post every single week, for positive victories in my life.  They may not be big things, but they will be things that I am proud of, things I did in the past seven days.  I’m hoping this will keep me focused on the positive, all the good things that are going on in my life.

Another Friday come and gone (or going).  I have a ton of fun planned for this weekend, but first things first:

– Re-filed for divorce.  Yup.

– Pwned my adviser meeting on Tuesday, and was told full-steam ahead on the research!

– Got my first paper back for my other class and got a perfect score.

– Finished Volume One of “Down South” by Samuel Phillips Day, and I’m into Volume Two.  Still plugging away on the notes.

Yeah, that’s about it 🙂  Sort of a quiet week, which seems silly to say because I haven’t spent more than like 8 hours at home any day this week.

Tomorrow is my friend Tina’s St. Patrick’s Day blast, and then the following day, I have yet another party.  I’m psyched.  Don’t drink that much, but I’m still psyched.  It should be a lot of fun.

Have a great weekend!

Little Victories, Week Ten (A little late)

For 2013, I’m going to have a Friday post every single week, for positive victories in my life.  They may not be big things, but they will be things that I am proud of, things I did in the past seven days.  I’m hoping this will keep me focused on the positive, all the good things that are going on in my life.

Last week completely got away from me.  Between blizzards and cracking down on my homework, I really just…didn’t have time to post.  I’m going to be better this week, I promise.

Still, Little Victories must be posted, and so here we go (even though it’s three days late):

– Submitted my first paper of the semester (a book review that I completely BS’d, because I hated the book so very, very much).

– Finished A Belle of the Fifties, which was pretty damn decent, once you cropped past her descriptions of Virginia society parties (blah).  I now have close to 40 pages of research notes to give to my professor tomorrow, and I’m closer to a definite thesis!

– Booked my first Partylite party for April 3.  I have five people who say they are coming thus far (and my mom makes six, even though she’s still figuring out Le Facebook).

– Made a new friend.  Enough said about that 🙂

Items added to my 2013 jar: 1.

Happy Monday, everyone!  Little Victories will return to Fridays this week, I promise to stop being such a slacker.

Little Victories, Week Nine

For 2013, I’m going to have a Friday post every single week, for positive victories in my life.  They may not be big things, but they will be things that I am proud of, things I did in the past seven days.  I’m hoping this will keep me focused on the positive, all the good things that are going on in my life.

It is crazy to realize that we are already into March.  That the year is already almost a third of the way over.  Unbelievable.  It’s been a pretty quiet week over here at Honestly, Megan, so let’s get to it.

– This isn’t really my victory, I guess, but D managed to tell MIL that we’re getting a divorce, and that was a pretty big deal.  She’s still talking to me and still wants to see me.  I’m letting things sort of cool down before I approach her about meeting up.

– Had a really good session with DS on Monday, which helped both of us kind of get our bearings about this whole divorce thing.  Even though some of our friends and family members think that “divorce counseling” (if you can call it that) is a waste of time and money, honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  We are doing this in about as amicably a way as possible, and if paying $25 and spending 1 hour a month helps that along, I’ll take it.

– Broke my “senioritis” (or “divorcitis” as Crazy Bruce calls it) on Wednesday and challenged myself to two hours of note-taking and research per day, so 10 hours a week.  I spent three days (about five hours) on Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison, the memoirs of a teenage Southern belle turned spy for the Confederacy.  Pretty good, but I think she embellished a little bit…I’m now reading A Belle of the Fifties about Virginia Clay, the wife of a senator during the Civil War.  It’s pretty good thus far, though I’m not finding much to add to my thesis.

– Reconnected with my friend Lyndsey this week and went to her place last night to watch “The Tudors.”  And I am so happy to say that, four episodes in, she is hooked.  We’re going to get together again in subsequent weeks to watch more episodes.  I can’t wait.

And I got to snuggle with this little guy: Oy, her dachshund.

Items added to my 2013 jar: None so far.

Everyone have a great weekend!  I’m sure I’m going to be spending most of it studying, cleaning, and writing!

Little Victories, Week Eight

For 2013, I’m going to have a Friday post every single week, for positive victories in my life.  They may not be big things, but they will be things that I am proud of, things I did in the past seven days.  I’m hoping this will keep me focused on the positive, all the good things that are going on in my life.

– The  biggest thing, the most bittersweet thing, obviously, is that I filed for divorce.  It is by no means a “happy” victory, but getting over my terror of filing and what would happen afterwards was a huge step.

– Finished (and reviewed) A World On Fire.

– Reconnected with friends I hadn’t seen in quite a while — I went to Worcester on Saturday to see Jackie, Pomfret on Saturday night to see Leanne and Mandy and other college friends, and Bridgeport on Monday to see Rob.  I also spent most of Wednesday talking to my friend Lyndsey online, about writing, history, and the like.

– I finally came clean to my thesis adviser, Dr. LW, that I was getting a divorce.  And though I had been dreading this for some time…it actually went okay.

– Bought a new (to me) car!  And because my camera is being a whore, this is what it looks like (this is not my car, I stole this image from someone else):

Things added to my 2013 jar: Two.

Have a happy Friday and a great weekend!

 

Review: A World On Fire by Amanda Foreman

My work on the biggest book I’ve ever had to read for school has finally come to an end.

Now it is time for the tale!

A World On Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War by Amanda Foreman is less a book than it is an insanely-detailed anthology of two nations experiencing growing pains.  I need not go into detail about the American Civil War — even an elementary school student can give a concise (if oversimplified) summary of the causes and events.  But Great Britain was struggling with a changing national identity in the mid-19th century as well, though it was not as explosive or damaging as America’s.  The Industrial Revolution had changed GB’s economy, Parliament was fiercely divided among Conservatives and Liberals who constantly argued over the pros and cons of the so-called “republican experiment” (a derisive term for American government), and while its former colonies struggled, the British went back and forth between showing their support for either side and maintaining a strict policy of neutrality.

Foreman has done an exhaustive amount of research, yet her writing style is definitely more “popular” than “historiographical”.  The result is a book that can be easily read, yet also used as a secondary source for a scholarly article or paper (hence my interest in it).  Its length, and the sheer volume of information contained therein, were the only downsides in my opinion.  In trying to cram everything — battles, economics, politics, trade, finances, diplomacy — into one book, Foreman wrote something so massive that it’s difficult to wrap one’s brain around.

But it is in the individual stories where she truly shines.  Explaining the motivations and thought processes of many of the players in this extraordinary event in history is what Foreman really does best, and her storytelling is phenomenal.

Length: Goodreads says 988.  My copy was over 1,000, but a large portion of this is eaten up by notes and bibliography.  The actual number of pages read was 817.  Still hefty, but not nearly 1,000 or over.

Recommend: Yes

To Whom: I would generally say to the historian or history-enthusiast; I think it is really too large and detailed to hold the interest of the casual fan.

Rating: ****

Yarn Along! – February 13, 2013

Happy Ash Wednesday!  I guess it seems sort of odd to wish someone a “happy” Ash Wednesday, since Lent on a whole isn’t a very cheerful season of anticipation, the way Advent is.  And it seems like we JUST finished Christmas a few weeks ago.  I am really hoping, after the disaster which was Easter 2011 (D acted like a jerk all weekend) and Easter 2012 (D told me he wanted to separate), that Easter 2013 is a resounding success and a reminder of just why I used to love the holiday so much.

2013-02-11 10.48.01

I am working on a Honey Cowl on US 8’s with a skein of Noro Chirimen that my friend Drea bought for me last year at a closeout sale for $5 a skein (I know, Noro for $5!  It’s unheard of!).  It’s a very soft blend of cotton, silk, and wool — not very stretchy but still nice and soft.

As for what I am reading?  Well, of course, The Behemoth, but at over 1,000 pages (including notes and bibliography) it’s not exactly something I take with me to work, so I leave it at home.  On my Kindle, I am reading Why You Think The Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews from Rome to Home by Dr. Glenn Sunshine, who just happens to be one of my professors.  Dr. S. is big into the whys and wherefores of worldview, and the book is (thus far) very good.  I’m only into like…chapter five, I think?  But I am enjoying it.

Random bonus picture of me with Tabby, my little kitty:

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She was not thrilled to be part of the picture.

Hooking up with Ginny over at Small Things

Anywhere but here

It is Monday.  I had three days off this weekend, but it went by in a blur of snow, shoveling (so much shoveling), and body aches.  Seriously, my everything hurts.  Shoveling 24 inches of wet, heavy snow sucks big-time.

And now I’m back to work.  The state is still technically closed to all non-essential employees, but apparently I am considered essential, so here I am.  My back and shoulders ache, as do my thighs, and all I want to do is go home to my apartment, crawl into bed, and sleep away the rest of the day.  It doesn’t help that I had to catch a lift into work at 7 AM (an hour before I’m supposed to be here) and this day is dragging like crazy.

Did anything good happen?  Well, I started a cowl.  It’s really good, relatively mindless knitting.  I memorized the pattern in about two seconds, just knits, slips, and purls.  I love mindless knitting.

Chipped away a little more at The Behemoth.  It’s just dragging at this point.  I’m telling you, once you get past the Battle of Gettysburg it’s all downhill from there.  The author goes from great battle descriptions to arguments between foreign diplomats, and as much as I love history, I just can’t bring myself to care.

I also watched the entirety of the BBC’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970).  I was…slightly disappointed.  It’s supposed to be the television adaptation of the life of Henry VIII, but after the excitement and drama of The Tudors I just couldn’t get as excited.  I also wasn’t a fan of the way they did the episodes out of chronological order.  I’m going to write a review on my other blog, Historical Anachronism, at some point today.  If you’re a fan of ripping apart historical inaccuracies in films or TV, come over and take a peek.  I’ve also reviewed such “historical” classics as Gettysburg, Anastasia, and Marie Antoinette.

Maybe it’s the metric ton of snow we got, maybe it’s just something in the air, but I am aching for spring right now.  If I talk metaphorically, I feel I’ve been living in winter for so long…and my heart aches for something more, something like a spring.  Flowers, sunshine, warmth, life.

I have to believe it’s coming.

Review: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankel

I know I should be only strictly reading The Behemoth right now (less than 300 pages to go!) but I have to pause and review this tiny, but very important, little read that I actually half-read, half-listened to on my Kindle, a week ago.

In 1942, Viktor Frankl was a psychologist living in Vienna, Austria, when he was arrested and sent in a transport to Theresienstadt ghetto with his wife.  Two years later, he was deported to the death camp, Auschwitz.  He spent the remaining year of the war being transferred from camp to camp, working as a doctor, counseling those in need.  After his liberation in 1945, Frankl returned to Vienna and wrote his (originally anonymous) memoirs about his experience in the camps, entitled Saying Yes to Life in Spite of Everything: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp.  His enduring philosophy was that any suffering or hardship in life could be survived, in fact, glorified, by the sufferer’s ability to attribute some sense of meaning to his suffering.  The book was later published under Frankl’s name, with the new title Man’s Search For Meaning.

The underlying message of the book is that man should not ask what is the meaning of his life is, but rather, what the world and life itself are asking of him.  Through the discovery of his own meaning,  his place in the world, man can understand the meaning behind his suffering, and through that suffering, find purpose and make something amazing out of his life.

This book was brilliant.  I loved it, and my only sorrow is that Frankl is long gone (he died in 1997) and I will never get to go to one of his lectures.  Part I of the book is infinitely more readable, though much sadder, as it is Frankl’s recollections of life in the camps, the struggles, those who died, etc.  Part II is more related to the nuts and bolts of his logotherapy method of psychology, but it is interspaced with stories and examples of how his methodology worked, so it is still quite interesting.  I am not a “self-help book person”, so I was initially hesitant, but I would definitely recommend this.

Length: 184 pages, short but sweet.

Recommend: Yes

To Whom: Anyone who is going through a rough time and struggling to find a purpose in it all; also, those who are interested in Holocaust memoirs.

Rating: ***** of 5 stars.