Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Things are pretty cool, except that I'd really like for it to be Thursday night instead of tonight. Tomorrow, all I have to do is spend time tweaking the paper and waiting for the day to be over. I know that's just a bad way to live, but for tomorrow, I'm afraid that's what's going down. Burning a day. Waiting for the night to come and go, and I'll probably go to bed really early so I can turn in the paper and go catch a matinee of X2.

And I have to comment on the freakin' American Idol thing -- if nothing else, just because Janine's watching it in the other room, and they've trotted out Burt Bacharac and now they've got all the remaining monkeys skipping through the aisles and chirping like a GD 60s variety show, the kind you can gawk at in mixed horror and disbelief on PBS every now and then. And it seems like the Holy Grail of these shows is to produce the next Celine, the next Whitney, the next Mariah. Why in god's name to do need more of those neurotic, plastic narcissists? Is there really a clamoring mass demanding a new singer who can get up into the dog whistle range? Does it bother anyone that Kelly Clarkson has zero artistic freedom in probably anything she'll ever do? Or that she probably couldn't actually create anything remotely interesting anyway? Kelly Clarkson and Saudi Arabia: two things that really don't need to be rich.

And Reuben's in the bottom two? What hath God wrought?! That guy rocks!

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

It's the eve what's sort of the final d-day for the thesis -- I submitted the final draft to the two hold-outs of my committee last Friday, and I'll be hearing from them as to what needs to be changed before I hand it in to the graduate college this Friday. When I do that, it's all over, and presumably I get my degree and ponder the next phase. But the rub is: will the changes be of a cosmetic enough nature that I'll be able to incorporate them into the paper before 3 pm on Friday? And even if they're too extensive to handle this week, will I be able to pass it off to my committee chair, who thought it was peachy weeks ago, and get my degree anyway behind the other committee members' backs? Would I even contemplate such a thing? Bet your ass I would. Especially when I got the White Stripes playing on my computer, "In the Cold, Cold Night," and everything's feeling surrealistically amoral at the moment anyway.

Hope it doesn't come to that, though -- I have no idea how extensive these changes might turn out to be, and god knows I can throw down a boatload of research in one week while parlaying two jobs and dishes and laundry and whatever else, but I've been smelling the end of the road -- the life without the thesis or schoolwork or objects limiting the transition to something beyond crappy research assistantships with clinically insane directors. I'll put my name to a Collected Works of Barney if it means this thesis goes away at the end of the week.

Happily, my committee chair called tonight and asked me to stop by tomorrow with that page of the thesis that gets signed by the committee chair and the committee chair alone, which validates it for submission to the graduate college. And, as Harry Connick once said, I'll be there with bells on.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

The end is near. So tired. Must carry metric shotload of books back to car. Sleep, wake up, read more. What kind of people are these academicians? Animals!

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Actually, not so bad a week -- not yet, anyway. True to form, the final paper's due to the committee (well, to two of them anyway -- I get the distinct impression that two really want to see some significant changes, one wants to see some minor revisions, and one probably hasn't done more than skim the first draft I gave him two weeks ago. Fortunately, the latter prof's the chair, and the one signing the final copy), and I still have quite a way to go tomorrow. Which suits me fine -- got the day off, so here's what happens:

Get up, go running for the first time in days and try to work off all the freakin' nervous food I've been pounding over the past few days.
Go to a coffee shop -- maybe Bentley's, maybe Ground Floor, maybe Coffee Xchange -- and irrigate my bloodstream with enough nerve juice to keep me in a rictus grin until lunch. Do work.
Go to the library. Do work. Eat another pack of Starburst and hope I don't become diabetic before my paper's done.
Carry 80-lb milk crate full of books back and forth from car to third floor of library. Develop hernia in last good inguinal canal.
Call committee member and ask him what the hell that reference he gave me has to do with my paper.
Become annoyed with punk-ass 20-year-old at table next to me for breathing too loud.
Try to ignore siren song of Cardinals' internet broadcast for three hours. Try to get it through my head that listening to the play-by-play will not affect the outcome of the game.
Curse myself for not having written more the night before. Which, I guess, is tonight.

Song in my head at the moment: "Lonesome Sundown" by the Halo Benders. Like a cowboy ballad sung by Matt Turley with a cold. Great stuff!

And I never snorted coke off a runaway's ass (re: comments from a few days ago). It's those things we never dared to do that we regret.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Very bad week for me, I can feel it. During the defense, it seemed as if everything was winding down -- the director of the anthro department assured me that I did fine, everything was going very well. Then I met with two other commitee members yesterday, and it became all too clear how much more I have to do with my thesis. This week. Then give the penultimate product back to the committee on Friday, they read it and respond, then hand in the finished copy to the graduate college on May 2. And I have a long, long way to go before any of that happens.

But all's still Jake. If nothing else, I got that kick in the ass that we all get, and understand eventually that we're better off for having received, even if we're temporarily dismayed while it's occurring. So I spent all day today at the library, got some new sources, stressed out, ate a whole pack of Starburst, drank some Pepsi, swallowed my pride after a professional editorial working-over was performed on my paper... And that's the tough part -- it's very easy to be pleased with myself after pumping out something I feel is exceedingly witty and melodic. Then someone who's been doing hardcore editing work gets ahold of what's meant to be a very serious piece of work and shoots down all my witticisms as too colloquial. What the hell's wrong with colloquial?! It means "conversational!" What are they afraid of? The goddamn post-processualists are reducing the academic literature to an undecipherable verbal equivalent of a Jackson Pollack painting, I'd think conversational language would be an appropriate reaction against deliberately obfuscationist Ivory Tower jargon. Academia ala Garrison Kiellor -- mark my words: it's the new trend of the ego-suppressing intellectually curious!

Had a lot of wine. Listening to goofy music. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Friday, April 18, 2003

Oooooh my, very sleepy. I've actually been staying up for hours tweaking the hell outta my thesis like it was some kinda kinky S&M chick with a bruise fetish. I'm off to bed, but I want to wish Dan & Stacy bon voyage, and I hope they actually make it off of that flying steel death-trap known as an airplane. Have fun!

And be sure to check out the Halo Benders. It's like cool kareoke with a guy who tries to sing but can't really, and a guy who really knows he can't sing but does anyway. Sorry, that's the best I can do. Good group. I can say with confidence that all of you will like "Don't Touch My Bikini," as long as you're not expecting "good." If not, download their cover of the Smiths' "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want." Good times gone insane.

And there's heavy stuff going on in the world we should all be concerned about. God, I feel lame.

And I got a friend with a link none of you can beat -- a slick, articulate travelogue outlining her adventures in Australia and SE Asia, complete with maps, slideshows, and Ayn Rand. Boo-yah! And no, I'm not just making her up -- she is my friend.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Nail me up, boys -- it is finished! The defense is, anyway -- I was given a multitude of suggestions (and in the mouths of thesis committee members, that's read demands) for improvement of my paper, which is going to take quite a lot of time to implement, but the end's in sight! Very congenial, very helpful, not a one of 'em actively wishing me a total crushing failure. All over in under two hours. How to celebrate? Maybe a long line of Harvey Wallbangers, all the way down the bar...

Thanks again for the encouragement -- it did actually register through all that panicking this morning!
The day is upon me, ladies and gentlemen -- less than three hours to go before a panel of seemingly well-meaning and beneficent professors sits me down and asks me any questions they want, weighing my answers against the profundity of the discipline and the integrity of the anthropology department. No easy pass for you, not from this school. How does your thesis bear out the intellectual legacy of Franz Boas? Do you believe your interpretation of archaeological praxis sides more with the philosophies of Max Ernst or Anton LaVey? Who the hell do you think you are? ARE YOU LOOKIN' AT ME?!

Anyway, thanks for the well-wishing from those of you who wished me well. I'll be back in a few hours to let you know how it went. Until then, I'll be sitting here, wide-eyed, whistling "Toot-Toot-Tootsie" to myself through my clenched teeth.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Two days left until the defense -- I spent most of today at work, not working, but reading over all-too-familiar texts that went into my big-ass paper, making corrections suggested by another one of my committee members (also the head of the anthro department), and trying very hard not to get distracted and download the new Matrix trailer and a clip from the new X-Men movie. And, of course, I downloaded both. But I still got quite a bit of work done. Damn, they both look fiiiine -- if this stuff had have come out when I was a kid, I'd probably be completely freakin' unsufferable to most of society nowadays. We're breeding a whole new generation of uber-geeks, God bless 'em.

And in reaction to Stacy's posting a new blog link every hour and a half, here's one from me: Heather Reddig. Dan met her long ago and chatted about Othello or Lear or some such. Pretty soon, we're not going to need -- we're going to be able to follow links to everyone we've ever known and read about their up-to-the-minute doings and thoughts on existence. Wanna know what Vicki Stump's up to? She just ate a burger. It was good.

And I must say that Dan's put a bug in my head -- I've been thinking a lot about writing fiction, having taken a boatload of time to write my first non-fiction work (my thesis). I'm still in the idea stage, but I've been mulling the process over in my head. And giving into the nagging possibility that others might know more about it than I, I sent off for a trial subscription to Writer's Digest, and I'll be attending a local writer's group as soon as my defense is finished with. If hacks like John Saul can get published, I sure as hell better be able to!

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Don't have all that much to say today, except that I'm quite pleased that the war seems to be over, so we as a world power can get on with our science lab project of rebuilding another society from the ground up. This is, of course, at the same time that we're doing pretty much the same thing with Afghanistan, which you don't hear much about anymore. The last news I heard from that place was that Hamid Karzai was having to tug on our national sports jacket to remind us that his country's still there and still needs to be rebuilt. But it is nifty to see a bunch of happy people in the streets of Baghdad, even if I am a bit chagrined to hear some of the folks there saying, "Thank you, Bush!" Screw you, Bush, you still suck. The war's over, now people get to watch the economy tank; you should've dragged it on for another year and a half.

Anything else? Nope, not really -- just a conversation with Janine about quadriplegic sex that devolved into an unbearable Fear Factor level of discomfort. Some things you never think would make you squirm, until you find yourself saying them aloud...

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Good things have been happening since I started this thing -- just scheduled my thesis defense date: a week from today (the 15th, 1 pm). Handed out copies of my thesis to my committee members (not entirely polished, but they didn't seem to mind), got back 2 edited drafts, and I'm in the process of incoporating the suggested amendments. Not many! Of course, I was expecting not assorted changes in language and detail. I expected booes. I expected Simon-esque "that was dreadful" naked disapproval. Not that I thought my paper was crap. I just thought, well, they'd think it was crap. The pessimist's x-factor. Seems to be working out fairly well, though -- all I have to do is wow them with my presentation and question-answering. Wonder where I can get some neon.

And now it seems like everyone I tell about this actually wants to attend my defense. What the fuck? I don't want anyone there. I don't want my committee members there. I want to stand in front of an official mirror and give a presentation to a darkened room and evaluate my damn self. Don't come!

And is someone reading this from Ohio Valley College? If you are, let me know --

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Special treat for all today -- a comprehensive listing of scented candle names I thought up and wrote into my Handspring Visor while hopelessly bored, authored sometime between October and January (roughly). Enjoy.

Spiced Tirade
Fir Burger
Winged Death
Beached Whale
Suckling Pig
Durian Fruit
Cigar Breeze
Squeezed Meat
Low Tide
Cotton Panties
Peppermint Bismol
Blue Bogman
Crimson Crowbar
Boiled Poppy
Funerary Bouquet
White Powder
Breakfast Disposal
Unsalted Butter
Old Spice
Mown Weeds
Spring Water
Prom Night
French Whore
Locker Room
Sommes Landscape
Grandma's Wake
Wax Apple
Fried Chicken
Dirt Nap
Pushin' Up Daisies
Rum 'N' Vodka
Buttered Missionary
Whole Grain Alcohol
Yellow Mist
Morning Breath
Musk Ox
Whale Oil
Divine Wind
Golden Shower
Hand of Glory
Betel Nut

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Holy God, that day sucked. I won't get too far into the blood and guts of it, but for #$@^'s sake I hope tomorrow's at least a tiny bit better -- just waiting for my apartment to cave in and my skin to be infested with boils so I can change my name to Job.

First off, I think I may have what's known as a dry socket, the most repulsive name in medicine this side of "vaginal fistula" -- it's when the clotted blood that seals a tooth socket after an extraction comes off, exposing the surface of bone and screamingly sensitive nerve endings to open air, pissing the whole works off no end. It causes a ceaseless sharp, throbbing pain in the jaw and in the freakin' ear, and generally all around the head area. So that starts and accompanies me through my day.

And I don't know if the shooting pains in my face had anything to do with it, but the day was filled with appaling annoyances, not just the everyday, laugh-offable obnoxiousness that we all deal with. The pains in the asses were exponentially more ass-painful. Janine and I changed our minds about our wedding location, and the guy who owns the place we had in mind -- the guy who said anything we wanted to do for our wedding was JUST GREAT with him -- got real ugly real quick over the phone when I said we'd reconsidered.

And the freakin' ISP, which is always quite reliable, wouldn't connect while I'm trying to hook up to the Cardinals internet broadcast, when all I wanna do is splay myself out on the couch and listen to the game and "make myself well" like Eric Stoltz in the movie Mask right before he freakin' dies!

So pity me, dear people -- at least until tomorrow, when I go back to the dentist and have my GD socket packed with pain killers and gauze. Who does a guy have to have sex with to get some morphine in this town?!

Ah, don't mind me.