Thursday, September 30, 2010

Life update, and the classic problem of the dishes.

Let me just say at the outset that I am definitely writing this instead of an analysis of Wuthering Heights right now. It's okay. My class was cancelled. I don't have to feel guilty about not utilizing my time surplus to its most productive extent. The analysis can wait. The analysis can wait.

Sometimes I don't recognize myself. Three years of undergraduate endeavor has turned me into—or brought out of me, rather—a producer who can't sit still, who isn't happy without doing two things at once, who doesn't have time to get bored because all time must be occupied well, who squeezes 60 or 65 hours' worth of work into a week and still has (a little) time for friends and boyfriend. I'm at a nadir in time demands right now (my two second quad classes haven't started, and neither of the editing projects I've agreed to have begun yet), but I still feel the pull of "Be productive! Be productive! Or you'll never get everything done!" tugging at the edge of my consciousness. It's all I can do to make myself write a whiny, confessional blog post.

But that's not to say I haven't been busy. Things just seem to happen; responsibilities just seem to fall in my lap. And I can't say no to an opportunity—and I even tried to this semester, just to see if I could. Nope. My planner is a better recorder of my recent life than my short-term memory is:

August 26: PW pictures 7 am—I'm on the campus newspaper for the fourth year. Who else would want to take responsibility for the shaky writing and indefatigable typos? This of course also includes waking up at an unconscionable hour for staff pictures because "that was the only time all eleven of us could meet." Good thing I don't have a morning routine.

Rob meeting 9 am—I edited a paper for a professor going to a conference (the same professor whose dissertation I edited last summer). He's one of the most helpful people I've ever met, and he's gotten me several jobs through his referrals.

Grading 2 hours—Another professor asked me to be her grader this year, making her the third prof I've graded for. I love grading. It's the most flexible, mindless task I have.

WC 1 pm to 4: 30 pm—I'm continuing the position I had over the summer because the person I was filling in for moved across the country. I'm an administrative assistant according to my job description, and every day is different: scheduling, phone calls, mailings, inventory, and lots and lots of InDesign as of late, because I'm creating a journal out of the past two years of senior honors projects. I'm also working on my own senior honors project, editing a collection of essays about life after college for women, as part of my position.

September 14: Meet prof 8 am—One of the jobs that my helpful prof got me is editing yet another dissertation. This one is set to start whenever he emails me his first chapter.

September 17: Department party 6 pm—The lit department holds a giant party every year at the home of one of the profs (a strikingly modern and eco-friendly home designed by an architect-husband, incidentally), and this year, my roommate and I brought a swath of not-really-affiliated people to crash. We laughed at the costumes some people elected to wear, jumped on the trampoline, and cringed at the karaoke. Good times.

September 21: Coffee meeting 9 am—I received an email a couple of weeks before this from a professor who said he had passed my name on to a man looking for student editors. I got in contact with the guy and found that he was looking for a more creative, hands-on editing experience than I normally give, so I told him I might not be the best person for the job (see? Totally tried to say no). But he said that after looking at my resume and talking to my references that I had invaluable experience and insight. So I agreed to meet with him in the coffee shop on campus. He was eccentric but apparently well-to-do, and he was willing to pay me just to read through his manuscript and give suggestions, so I told him I'd do it. I'm supposed to get the manuscript this weekend. We'll see how it goes.

September 23: Coffee meeting 9 am—Another professor told me he had given my name to a student of his who was interested in editing. She was a nursing major, he said, but her real passion was editing. I told him I'd be glad to meet with her and give her any advice I could. So we met, and I felt the strange feeling of being an expert of sorts on something. I've so often been the interviewer, not the interviewee, and it was a little exhilarating to be sourced for information.

September 29: Career opportunities seminar 4:15 pm—A professor emailed me a couple of weeks ago asking if I would appear on a panel to talk about my internship experience. I told him I didn't have much but that I'd be glad to do it. So I showed up with nothing but my internal resume, introduced myself by observing that I knew everyone in the room (I did) and saying that some of the audience members might just as well be in my spot, and gave a rundown of all the non-campus publication gigs I've had during college. The other three panelists were either in or finished with grad school, and I can't imagine I was that helpful to the seminar, but the host prof summed up my advice as "take initiative and make contacts" and one of the other panelists said he was a little jealous of the internships I've had.

Dinner 6 pm—The Point Weekly staff has dinner at the university president's house every year, so I jumped in the car right after the seminar and went to a delicious meal and schmoozy conversation—super entertaining.

And I think we're caught up. The only major obligations I have on my calendar right now are a dress rehearsal tonight and a performance tomorrow night for a poetry reading/concert a professor asked me to participate in. I'm introducing William Blake and reading two poems by him right before they're sung. What a good time.

Are we at the classic problem of the dishes yet? This semester has been longer than I thought. When I began this entry a half-hour or so ago, my hands were still crinkled from washing dishes. This wouldn't be worth noting if some of the dishes had been mine. Or if this hadn't happened every week since the beginning of the semester.

Here's the thing: I tried to let the dishes sit. I did. I came home yesterday from seminar/dinner schmoozing, and there was a sinkful of dishes. I wanted to do them very much. But I restrained myself. Even when I saw the mug of tea that had molded. But I woke up this morning and blundered into the kitchen as per usual, and I could smell them. There's nothing more revolting in the morning than smelly dishes. So I did them. All of them. Except for the molded tea. I considered it for a moment, then picked it up, hesitated over the desk of my roommate, and finally plunked it down next to her computer.

How long should dishes sit? Twenty-four hours? Two days? Because at the two-day mark, I can't stop myself from doing them. At the beginning of the semester, the sinkful of dishes didn't surprise me, even when none of it was mine. Four people make a lot of dirty dishes, I reasoned. I have some spare time—why shouldn't I help my roommates out?

But then I started noticing whose dishes were whose. And I started noticing who actually did the dishes. And it became increasingly apparent that two of my four roommates made a worthy effort to keep things clean, and two of them did not. And guess which two I share a room/bathroom with? I'm fine with neither of them making an effort to clean the bathroom—I understand that I probably have a higher standard of cleanliness than they do, and that their powdery makeup on all of the flat surfaces might not bother them, that maybe they don't notice when the garbage can is overflowing, that it doesn't occur to them to disinfect one of the germier places in a house, that refilling the toilet paper isn't a priority for them.

But the dishes happen at the crossroad of our apartment. When you neglect them, you're neglecting the space of four people instead of two. And you're making it harder for them to function. And I'm more than a little offended at the discourtesy.

I don't want to be in this situation. I don't want to be the passive-aggressive roommate. I've considered email, pointed Facebook statuses, sticky notes—but I've refrained. And yet I just can't bring myself to a face-to-face confrontation. I don't want to create resentment. And I don't want to make my roommates' home hostile to them. Why should I require everyone around me to uphold my standards of cleanliness? I don't require that they work as many hours a week as I do or get the sort of grades I do. Why would I expect them to be as concerned with hygiene as I am?

But the molded tea is on her desk. And it's going to stay there.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day 6: San Joaquin Ridge hike.

This was the longest hike of them all—a consistently uphill trail from the Minaret Summit trailhead over a broad, gravelly rise.

I was clearly prepared and well-seasoned by this time.

Exciting chair-like tree formation.


The mountain lupine carpeted the ridge and met the sky over every hill.

Tiny flowers peppered the pumice-dirt; everything was smaller and more exposed at this elevation.

The trail ended at Deadman Pass, 10,242 feet above sea level.

We stopped for lunch and shade. Mark explored the snowbank that Daniel and I are looking at in the picture above this one.

We rested.

And then we geared up for the pleasantly downhill walk back.

Butterflies were everywhere, including in this picture.

The rounded vistas were striking, and the distance we covered almost daunting because we could see so much of it at one time.

We happened off the trail at one point to discover this igneous outcropping.

So much volcanic rock!

And so much snow—in July.

Snowball fight.

Daniel plucked some flowers for me and I stuck them in my hair<3

After we returned, Daniel and I decided to frolic in the meadow behind the cabin like we'd planned on doing all week.

The meadow became golden in the rays of sunset that peeked over the mountain range.

And later on, Daniel caught me doing laundry. I can't tell you how great it was to have a washer and dryer.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day 5: Panorama Dome hike.

We were exhausted after the previous day's excursion, so we opted for an easier hike, to Panorama Dome.

I adore SLR shots of wildflowers. Adore them. That's why there's an embarrassing amount of them in the file from this trip.

Looove them.

Panorama Dome lived up to its name. The curve of the earth was rather astounding.

I have this thing for lichen. I don't know what it is, something about the bright lime green in the middle of nature. Love it.

On top of the dome!

Mariposa lily. We saw these everywhere.

Daniel and I decided to take a short cut that turned out to be rather longer and more painful than we expected. But it was beautiful.

Following the deer paths through the scratchy manzanita, we came across an actual deer.


The hill we conquered. We had more than our fair share of battle scars from the undergrowth. So much for a shortcut...

We ended the day at an overlook. If you look closely, you can see the cabin we stayed in, on the left.