Saturday, May 27, 2006

Get behind me, Satan!

This week, I was doing SO well with working. I wasn't doing as much as I would like, but I was working every day, very consistently. I was so optimistic that I emailed my advisor on Tuesday morning to tell her that I would have her a draft in a couple of days.

Tuesday night, I had an allergic reaction to something (Wellbutrin? Funny vegetable at the Singaporean restaurant?) and broke out in a really bad case of hives. Really bad. So bad that I was also running a fever. It is now Saturday, and I still have the hives (although my condition has improved), and still have a fever. I even went to the doctor on Thursday, and she gave me a stronger antihistamine, b/c Benadryl wasn't cutting it. Not helping at all.

So I've pretty much been sleeping all the time, or watching TV, or playing Spider solitaire. I try to work on my paper, but I literally cannot concentrate.

How pissed am I? I think the universe is out to throw up roadblocks in my way of being a productive human being. Well, in the words of the White Stripes, get behind me, Satan!

I am presenting this paper on Thursday- eek! I am pretty nervous about this. I am usually not nervous about presenting, but I am envisioning all these questions that I won't be able to answer, and I'm afraid I will look stupid. Gah. Really, my department is pretty friendly and not antagonistic, so they probably won't be too mean to me, but still. No one likes to look dumb.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Back to The Simpsons

My favorite show, The West Wing, concluded its seven-year run on Sunday night. The show hasn't been the same since maybe the middle of Season 4, but I just couldn't abandon it. It picked up this season, although I couldn't ever get on board with the campaign episodes, and was incredibly bored whenever C.J. (Allison Janney) wasn't featured in an episode.

I thought I would be more upset that the show was ending, but the final episode just showed me that I probably would have faded out if it had continued another season. I don't care that much about Josh and Donna (in fact, they should have never gotten together- Josh treated Donna so badly while they were working together; she could have found someone who didn't patronize her like he did), and did not find the candidates compelling, except for Alan Alda in The Last Hurrah. While many viewers hated this episode, and maybe I only liked it because I watched it a week after it aired, right before watching my tape of Institutional Memory, I thought watching Vinick moping around not knowing what to do with himself was fascinating and sad, especially in contrast with the hustle and bustle of the Santos transition. Alan Alda is really good. Never let it be said that The West Wing suffered from crappy acting.

I felt that watching the Bartlet administration wrap up (both literally and figuratively) was a fitting ending to seven years of the smartest show on TV, even in its dumbest years. (although in its dumbest years, "smart" did not necessarily equal "entertaining.")

And now, I look forward to the next projects of the cast, especially Allison Janney, and I am more than a little excited about Aaron Sorkin's new project Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which will have not only Bradley Whitford and Timothy Busfield from WW, but also Nate Corddry from The Daily Show! Sports Night and The West Wing were so good and so smart that I think lightning will strike a third time (never mind that Sorkin's movies are also really good. The man can write.). There's some concern that it's been overhyped, but I doubt it. I have high hopes.

And failing that, there are always my The West Wing DVD sets.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Best Friend You'll Ever Have

Yesterday, my husband and I met up with our college advisor b/c he came out to our area for an alumni party. He asked if we could meet up with him earlier, so we'd have plenty of time to talk before the hectic cocktail party in the evening.

I choke up just thinking about everything that man did for not just me, but for all his students. He founded the honors program at my school, and I remember when I was a freshman, the alumnus who hosted the party last night was a senior, and he told all of us freshman, "Doc (this is what all his students call him) is the best friend you will ever have" and that was so true. He was our strongest advocate, the one who would bend the rules for you- he would do administrative overrides for DH to take seven classes in a semester, some of which met at the same time, so he could complete his dual degree program in four years instead of five, he printed out my transcript for me, which I needed for one of my on-campus interviews, when my account was on hold b/c of my financial aid status (so I didn't have access to my transcript), he encouraged his students, who were the best and the brightest of the best and the brightest, to follow their own path, and not to worry what anyone else thought they "should" do.

College was not the happiest time for me. I loved my academic program, but socially, it was really tough for me. (incidentally, I found out yesterday that his own son, who is currently a junior at my alma mater, was having very similar issues) I was burnt out and depressed, and needed to take a semester off. I fought with my mom the whole semester about it (I had asked to take the semester off in the summer before my junior year, and even though my dad was on board, my mom said "Absolutely not!", so I decided to suck it up, and went back for the fall. It was absolutely terrible.). It was something I needed to do, and she wasn't budging b/c she was afraid I wouldn't go back. I went to talk to my advisor about it towards the end of the semester, to see what my options were, and I just remember being so unhappy. I can't remember if I cried in his office- I don't think so, but I definitely was miserable and it showed. He said, "Do you want me to talk to your mother?" In that moment, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders, and I knew everything was going to be okay.

My advisor grew up in Iowa- he was an Iowa farm boy, and he has a special fondness for those kids from small towns, from the midwest, from families where going to prestigious schools was not the norm. He got his undergrad degree from Northwestern, and his Ph.D. from Harvard, and has been at an extremely prestigious school with many former students who are in the highest positions you can imagine, but when we met him at the Ritz-Carlton last night, he commented that the Ritz-Carlton was a nicer hotel than he was used to, and it made me realize that he is still, somewhere inside, after all that education and exposure, an Iowa farm boy at heart. I think that this attitude combining pursuing what you want to do with not forgetting where you came from, is what makes him special.