Last night I spent two and a half hours writing. Not typing, but writing. You know, on paper with a pencil. I was taking a midterm for my Feminist Economics class (which I absolutely love, by the way) that consisted of writing two essays by hand with a pencil goodhellwhoDOESthatanymore! I ended up with sixteen hand-written pages and cramps so severe I’m pretty sure I have sprouted advanced carpal tunnel in my hand and wrist. My fingers are sporting this odd claw-chic shape and I still don’t have feeling back in my right thumb. (Am I complaining? Why yes, actually, I am. When was the last time you lost feeling in your thumb for twelve hours? It’s whine-worthy, trust me.)
I’ve mentioned this Feminist Economics class (FemEcon) several times to several different people and the general reaction is “say WHAT?!” Without actually giving you an actual syllabus, let me try and explain.
We study economics through a feminist paradigm, with female-specific issues in both micro and macro-levels of econ. Are you still with me? We’re basically talking about the different issues women face and the gap between males and females in respect to money, wages, and economic equality. It is fascinating. We’ve talked about everything from eating disorders to domestic violence and divorce, honor killings, the “glass ceiling” of wages and promotion in the business world, micro-credit and property ownership, politics and campaigning, maternity and paternity leave after a baby is born or adopted, stay-at-home wives and mothers and their contributions to society, child care, traditional masculinity versus modern masculinity, the feminization of poverty…I could go on, but I won’t. I can see your eyes glassing over. This class is cross-listed at the University as an upper-division Gender Studies class and it is the most human look at economics I’ve ever seen. I love it.
I do not, however, love scribbling furiously with a cramping hand under a deadline. Also? Typing after such a writing marathon is still difficult–my right hand just won’t work right. I would like to place some blame on my professor, a Turkish-Israeli, Jack-Muslim* hippie with a severe nicotine twitch who used to work for the U.N. in women’s development, but she’s just too fantastic. I could never blame her for my clawed-up fist. Did you read the part where she worked for the U.N. in women’s development? Yeah. That. When I grow up, I would like to be a little like her, but perhaps without the twitch.
*Jack-Muslim is her term, not mine. Basically, it’s the Islamic equivalent to a “Twice a Year Catholic” using colloquial verbiage.
The Strand Bookstore
Doesn’t that just look fantastic? The Strand boasts 18 miles of used books. I feel giddy again just thinking about it. Eighteen Miles! Swoon!
These leather-bound titles were my favorite. They had an entire section of them and I wish I could have brought them all home.
I could have stayed here for a solid month and still not have made my way around to all the interesting nooks and corners. I did not, however, bring a single book home with me. Even at their “used” prices I felt they were exorbitantly expensive. Their used prices were about 75% of the cover price, which is a nice discount. But when I’m used to paying $2 dollars for a hardback book at the Booksale, 25% off seems like highway robbery. I made a list of titles that looked interesting, and I will keep an eye out for them in Phoenix.
*I’d like to thank Erin and RA for indirectly introducing me to The Strand. RA organized a fantastic online bookclub last year where Erin led a discussion for “The Secret of Lost Things“, which takes place in The Strand. I’ve wanted to visit it ever since.
The New York Library
Do you remember that moderately bad movie “The Day After Tomorrow”? Remember how they hole up in the New York Library until Dennis Quaid comes to rescue them? Yep, pretty much I’ve wanted to go see that library since I saw that movie. So while in NYC I dragged my long-suffering friend Josh and a handful of highschool kids* onto the subway and down to the library. I’m kind of an architecture geek and was hoping to “oooh” and “aaaah” over the building for a while. This building is amazing!
Gorgeous, right? Right. Sadly, every single architectural detail you see right now–from the molding to the columns to the lions and even the stone steps–was completely ensconced in sheet rock, plastic, and “Construction Underway” signs. I was crushed. The inside was still beautiful with most areas open to visitors–but the beautiful outside was hiding. Which I guess means I’ll have to make another stop next time I’m in NYC.
One of the many lobby-areas in the Library. I love all the wood paneling, arches and the castle-worthy sconces/candelabra.
I half-expected The Beast or some other fantastical creature–a gargoyle maybe?–to come bounding around one of these corners. Alas, no such magical creature, disguised prince, or AWOL gargoyle presented itself. Sigh, such a gorgeous building.
I spent an hour or so in this reading room with a fascinating volume on the ancient Greeks. Man, I wish I had more time to read something like that all the time–I need to be done with required school readings, stat. (This is wishful thinking, my semester started yesterday.)
The Museum of Natural History
I dragged a small group of highschool kids out of bed early one morning (early being, you know, 9:00 am) to go visit the Museum of Natural History. This is by far the largest museum I’ve ever been to–with levels and floors and extra exhibits in new wings and old wings–it went on forever! I can’t begin to recount everything we saw–but some of my favorites were the geology and space exhibits depicting different composites that make up the earth and how, exactly, the earth fits into our solar system. I loved the Japanese exhibits that detailed how to make woodblock prints. Ditto on the ancient Chinese exhibit. The museum had Egyptian mummies and Tibetan temples and an entire room of ancient pottery. I was floored by the sheer volume of artifacts from various African tribes, and how similar and different they were from each other. There were stuffed animals and cases of small reptiles and rooms of skeletons of Jurassic-era animals.
The dinosaur bones exhibits were perhaps my favorite, they were just so enormous! I mean, I know T-Rex is huge and all–but it’s different when you are standing next to him and staring at his teeth and claws. Yowzers!
Wooly mammoth, anyone? Dumbo? Buhler?
Yeah, suddenly The Night at the Museum franchise is no stretch to me–this place has EVERYTHING! Recommended.
*A note about the high school kids: I was a chaperon for a high school tour-of-sorts. Kind of random, totally awesome. They were a great bunch of kids and we had some good times. I’d go on vacation with them again in a minute.
Starting when I was a little girl–like, eight or nine–I have been sketching houseplans, designing front elevations of buildings, and begging my mother for another pad of graph paper. Preferably the little-grid kind because then you can draw something larger, fancier, more elaborate without taping eight pages together (which, don’t get me wrong, I did as well).
When I was in junior high I received the first year textbooks from the University of Utah’s architectural program as a Christmas gift. I read them several times, as well as dozens of other books on architectural design, architectural style, and architectural icons.
And then I fell in love with Frank Lloyd Wright, the greatest American architect and quite possibly the most influential architect in the world. I love him. I love his work, I love his buildings, I love his style, I love the way he used space and the outdoors and….I could go on and on.
Frank Lloyd Wright lived and worked in the Midwest most of the time–his studio and home was in Wisconsin, he called it Taliesin (TALLY-essen)–but in his later years he developed some pulmonary problems and his doctors told him he needed to leave the harsh Midwestern winter for a warmer climate to save his lungs. So, he packed up his family, his students, his drafting supplies, and drove to Arizona and camped in what would later become Scottsdale. Frank and Olga Wright were the first Snowbirds! At any rate, he eventually built a studio and living quarters at Taliesin West and every fall the entire posse drove down to Arizona and every spring they went back to Wisconsin. The architecture students still follow that same routine today. Fascinating.
I won’t geek out about this too much, I have been wanting to go to Taliesin West for years and the whole experience was similar to my excitement at walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, or hanging out on Baker Beach in San Francisco admiring the Golden Gate Bridge, or swooning at the Seattle Space Needle or the Hoover Dam outside of Las Vegas. Hrm, apparently it’s no secret that I’m a nerd when it comes to buildings and bridges and the like. Goodness, I’m such a nerd. Moving along. If you’re interested there are about a million sources to find information on Frank Lloyd Wright’s life, his work, his amazing skillz and his general Awesomeness.
Breezeway along the main living area–studio, kitchen, dining room
Inside the Dining Room, which sits about 50 people. The chairs were made on-site based on design from 1914, they are like modernish ice-cream parlor chairs. Sorry for the blur.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s office, he loved the color red and it is everywhere in the house. Swoon!
Living room, the chairs look funky, I know, but they are remarkably comfortable. I don’t love the lime-avocado green carpet with the red floor particularly, but whatever.
When Frank Lloyd Wright purchased the land for Taliesin West, he also purchased the water rights. 500 feet down they found an underground river and besides several water features, the whole campus is remarkably green for being in the middle of the desert–free water will do that.
Inside Frank & Olga’s apartment on-site. Everything is low and modern and in delightful 70′s colors. Sigh…I was so giddy. Still am, I suppose.
Filed under: All the World's a Stage..., Proof that I'm a Nerd, Utah: Life Elevated
It is a well established fact that I can be a total nerd. And a snob. And I feel like my complete love and adoration for all things Shakespeare is a pretty good summation of both of those traits.
My weekend Adventure started at o-dark-hundred in the morning, I picked up Andrea and we headed south towards Cedar City, UT for the Utah Shakespearean Festival. On the docket: Henry V, performed in the fantastically reproduced Globe Theatre at Southern Utah University. People, it was a-may-zing! We managed to score fairly decent tickets for closing night and had even studied up on the play the week before, watching the Kenneth Branagh film-version and read along–she in her book, me on my fancy-pants phone–to make sure we understood all the plot points. (By the way, this version was released in 1989 and I’m pretty sure was one of Christian Bale’s first films…he’s The Boy and he’s handsome, even in 1989.) Andrea was so kind as to translate all the French bits for me, which was fantstic. My memory of junior high French has somethig to do with a massive crush on a blonde boy in my class and a teacher who moonlighted as a country western star.
I don’t reall know how I can explain how much I loved watching Henry V. The play follows Henry V, Prince of Wales and King of England as he takes over France. There are battles and a whole slew of side characters that will inspire you or make you laugh. Henry V uncovers several treasonous plots against him and has the scurvy knaves put to death to preserve his country. He loves his people and on the eve of their big battle against the far more numerous French army, he prays for them in one of the more moving speeches I remember seeing live. Brian Vaughn plays Henry V and after about 2 minutes I not only had decided that he was better than Kenneth Branagh, but I also had a huge HUGE crush on him. Oh my goodness, that man can act! Swoon! (See: heidikins is a nerd.)
Now, some of you may know that I volunteer at a local high school in their theatre department. I am kind of a “Jack/Jill of all trades”, I direct, I design costumes, I make costumes, I boss high school kids around…it’s great fun. I’ve been doing this for three years and have absolutely loved it.
That being said, as part of the Utah Shakespearean Festival there is a high school competition that goes along with it–I have coached a team with my best friend–who is the theatre teacher at this particular high school–the last two years and they have brought home a lot of trophy-hardware and some amazing memories. The Shakespeare adventure for this year started over the weekend and our first meeting is this afternoon, and I’m thrilled. Admittedly, I’m probably still on a Henry V-Brian Vaughn-induced high, but I am really excited for this next adventure. We compete in mid-October and there is a TON of work to do between now and then, the least of which is turning 45 high school students into warring Greek and Trojan soldiers, fighting to the death during the Trojan War. (Yes, Shakespeare wrote about the Trojan War, it’s all in Troilus & Cressida. Unfortunately, Brad Pitt will probably not be making an appearance.) I’m scared, I’m not gonna lie. That’s a lot of armor and a lot of swords given to minors.
So, I’m curious–do you like Shakespeare? Can you name more than 3 Shakespeare plays? Does your knowledge of The Bard extent past Leonardo DiCaprio and Mel Gibson? Am I out on my own here? Someone, please admit you are as nerdy and snobby as I am and actually like Shakespeare. Anyone?
Filed under: AwesomeSauce, Favorite Things, Proof that I'm a Nerd, Revvin' Red Roxy, Utah: Life Elevated
People, I have a crush. A really big one. There are times when you just can’t get someone out of your head, you think about them all the time. Thinking about them gives you butterflies and you are constantly reliving the last moments you spent together. You secretly hoard any shred of evidence you have of your time together and make grandiose announcements like “This will change my life!” You feel like doing cartwheels and are perpetually googly.
I’m totally there.
Did you see my crush? Frankly, I don’t know how you can miss it. You know how I get nerdy-obsessed with things like bridges and buildings and dams, right? Well, you can now add “vast expanse of salt” to that list.
Isn’t it beautiful? I’m afraid I’m falling in love.
The Bonneville Salt Flats are about 120 miles west of Salt Lake City and I can’t believe, as a Utah native, I had never been there before. Kind of on a whim, HRH and I woke up early on Sunday morning and headed toward Nevada. By 9:00 am we were on the vast expanse of sparkling white salt, a place so flat you can actually see the curvature of the earth and my crush hit me full force.
The Salt Flats are really left overs from an sea bed from Lake Bonneville, an ancient lake the size of Lake Michigan that covered the bulk of western Utah and small bits of Nevada and Idaho. Over time the lake mostly disappeared–the Great Salt Lake is the only remaining puddle–creating the Salt Flats of the West Desert, which is the best place in the world for land speed records.
I seriously considered taking Miss Roxy out for a spin on the Salt Flats. Their dry and flat nature makes them perfect for breaking speeding records. My next trip I’ll detour over to the speedway and see what she can do without speed limits and cops and the like.
I am already planning my next trip west, I would love in the evening and watch the sun set behind those mountains. I would love to lie in the middle of the flats and watch the stars come out. People, I’m seriously crushing.
I know you’ve all been sick before and I know it sucks to hear people complain about it, and I know that my being sick isn’t terribly different, but I’ve done a lot of math here and…ok, don’t be scared, it’s not a LOT of math…but it’s there, so don’t click away yet, alright? Ok. Thanks. You’re the best.
5 Boxes of Puffs with Lotion, $11.95
2 Boxes of DayQuill, $15.96
1 Box of NyQuill, $7.98
1 Bottle of Mucinex, $13.59
1 Box of Sudafed, $6.49
2 Bottles of Zicam, $13.98
1 Jar Vaseline to heal cracking nose, $1.99
1 Tube Natural Ice to sooth chapped lips, $1.57
1 New Concealer to hide burst blood vessels in my face, $4.49
1 Waterproof Mascara to mask drippy-watery eyes, $4.63
2 Gallons of Orange Juice–no pulp, $6.37
2 “Coldbuster’s” from Jamba Juice with an Immunity Boost, $12.94
1 Humidifier–thanks Handsome!–to help me breathe at night, $23.69
1 Box Clorox Wipes to sanitize work station, $2.37
My B.O.S.S. is a soulless, merciless man who refused to let me take a few days off work to deal with above issues because “It’s the busy season and you can’t afford not to be here”–hearing him start coughing and complaining of a sore throat…Priceless.
**It should be noted, all drugs were taken in strict accordance with instructions on box/bottle and were not ever combined. I did not have freaky-psychotic episodes in the middle of the night after NOT taking Sudafed and Mucinex together where I believed myself to be 5 different people, and was actually convinced that this was my new life. Five different women; Rose, Leslie, Becca, Theresa “my friends call me Tessa”, and Siobhan. Nope. That absolutely didn’t happen.
I collect several things and I personally believe that they are more-or-less worthwhile and charming collections.
I collect books–current tally is somewhere in the thousands.
I collect shoes–current tally is one-hundred eighty-three. Pairs, 183 pairs.
I collect purses–small ones mostly, different shapes and colors for different moods.
I collect postcards–kept in a box, waiting for inspiration to do something fantastically creative and…and…any ideas?
I collect recipes–I don’t try them all, but I love reading & collecting them.
I collect bedding–all sorts of different colors and a pile of throw-pillow covers to change things up as well. I can’t paint my walls (dang landlord!) so I change up my duvet covers and Euro shams.
I’m sure that if one of you came over to my house and dug through my stuff you would find collections that would completely baffle you. Alright, granted there are a few random things I collect. Spices, picture frames, every single paper statement for the last five years for my bank accounts, credit cards and utility bills, organized by year and type of statement/bill. I realize that last fact alone makes me a freak. Don’t shun me, just send help. Lots of help.
So, I went over to someone else’s house and dug through their stuff, and yowza! People have random collections of stuff! Admittedly, there was some fine-tooth-combing over of the collections; my brother and his family are moving to Arizona this week and I went to help them pack.
Boxes of ceramic mugs from various employers, holidays and vacations, about a thousand Big Gulp sized plastic cups, five gravy boats (I don’t like gravy, thinking about lapping up thickened animal juice makes me squirmy), eighteen million tiny stuffed animals…who doesn’t need eighteen million tiny stuffed animals? I’m not trying to call out my relations, we all have crazy collections (see above statement regarding paper statements and filing system), these are just new-to-me collections and I am half-fascinated, half-shocked at what items were found. Gravy boats, who knew?
What crazy things do you collect? Better question: what crazy things do you collect that you generally wouldn’t admit to the Internets?
*Um, I also collect Sharpie markers. And coins. And pipe cleaners. And vases from thrift stores. And The National Geographic dating back to 2005 (and I have resisted the urge to purchase stacks of National Geographic from thrift stores…hello, I’m a nerd). Aaaaand, I collect travel-sized hygiene products; I can’t help myself!
Filed under: Favorite Things, Handsome V, Proof that I'm a Nerd, There and Back Again
You remember how I am a sucker for architectural stuff? Bridges on the East Coast, bridges on the West Coast, cathedrals, towers, dams, classic architecture…ya know, nerdy I-used-to-be-a-declared-architecture-major stuff. I’ve been to Seattle twice now and have yet to go to her most iconic monument. (Ok, I’ll stop with the obsessive linkage..see “Proof that I’m a Nerd–with a capital “N”.) I’ll save you the history on the Space Needle, but it was built in the 1960′s for the World Fair with deliciously mod-ish architecture.
I begged Handsome to walk around the entire base taking pictures with me, the sun wasn’t right from this side, the stairs make for cooler angles from that side. I figure since it took him a third trip to his hometown before I got a trip to the Space Needle, he can deal with wandering around the base for an hour.
We did not go up to the top of the Space Needle, because despite the blue-ness of the sky in these photos (Thank you, Photoshop), it was really quite gray and with very limited visibility. What? I like the overcast thing, but I’d rather my archived memories had a bit more color. It should be noted, my scarf was a bright blue to start with, thank you Handsome. If I’m going to spend $18 dollars on an elevator ride, I’d like to see more than 3 blocks; which means that I get to go back on another trip to Seattle, which means you–dear Internets–get yet another rambling post about how much I love architecture (see obsessive linking at the beginning of the post).
I wish I could write something more that is entertaining, or give you fodder to make fun of nerdtasticness…but I can’t help but just look at the forty dozen or so pictures from the Space Needle and just, be happy. So, I’ll just leave it at that. Fifty-year old monuments that bear a striking resemblance to a UFO stuck on top of a tripod somehow make me happy. Shrug.
Warning: This post is practically drowning in history. But, it’s freaking cool history. So try to wait it out and leave the stones marked “nerd” on the ground. Mmmmkay?
So, imagine yourself in a restored saloon-type room listening to the hilarious Ed from the Underground Tour give you a briefing on the beginnings of Seattle. (Even if you don’t read this entire post, check out their website, it is pretty cool.)
In 1889 Seattle was a booming logging town with logs coming down the hill from the forest to the dock so quickly the street was nicknamed Skid Row. (Seriously. I can’t make this stuff up.) At any rate, with all that lumber, the buildings made of wood, blah blah blah, one little fire in a carpenter’s shop covered in sawdust, located beneath a paint store and next to an armory chock full of gunpowder and TNT…well, the fire burned down the entire town in twelve hours.
As a result the city was rebuilt with stone, the fire department was expanded, and the urban planning commission decided to raise the streets by twenty feet to make room for running water and sewage pipes. However, raising the streets of an entire city takes time, and the boomtown of Seattle didn’t have time to wait. So they rebuilt the buildings with the knowledge that the first-floor would eventually be the basement. The city started building retaining walls where modern-day curbs would be–between the sidewalk and the street–and eventually the lower sidewalks were covered with new sidewalks and the underground city was out of sight, out of mind. There are stairs leading down to basement shops all over Pioneer Square, and clouded skylights in the sidewalk that were designed to let light until the sidewalks below. Most people walking down the street assume those skylights are decorative tiling or something, the purplish glass is quite pretty and the basement-level shops were simply extra real estate. Not entirely true, there is a whole city down there. Granted, an abandoned, dusty, half-forgotten city, but it’s awesome.
Those windows used to look onto the street, now they look onto a retaining wall that holds up Yesler Way. The sidewalk leads half-way around the block and into the basement of another building.
That doorway is a door that now leads to somewhere under the street. Is anyone else fascinated by this stuff?
On the left, retaining wall tons of sawdust, gravel, and general “street raising stuff”. On the right is a building. Walking down a sidewalk, right underneath the current sidewalk.
Want to walk into a creepy underground building? Watch Your Step, and Please Enter Here.
After the streets were raised and the old sidewalks covered with new sidewalks, many merchants used their now-basements as warehouses or something. This one has painted words on the walls for grain, potatoes, and such. There are also signs for old hotels, restaurants, and banks along with artifacts and all sorts of creepy, dusty old stuff. Hey, there is even a legend of a haunted bank vault complete with ghostly woman who was killed a couple of hundred years ago.
After an hour underground with cold, concrete walls and puddles on the floor I was ready to head upstairs and get a cup of Hot Chocolate at the Elliott Bay Book Company; dude, Underground Tours are awesome–but they are also quite chilly. Just sayin’. Um, I think I could spend all day in Elliott Bay Book…wandering around and just staring at the stairs and shelves and little nooks and crannies. It is book lover’s paradise. Tragically, my camera was out of batteries, which means that the Internets will not see any potential evidence of my hugging the shelves and kissing the books and generally making a fool of myself. Not that I would ever admit to that kind of blatant bibliophilia in public. Cough.
I realize that most of the Internets is blabbing about the election and the next president and blah blah blah. I am a good citizen, I care about these things. In fact, I voted last week. It just so happens that I live in one of those states that–regardless of my vote–will remain one of the reddest states in the nation. I still vote. But, because for me and my state, the election is pretty much already decided, I am not going to rant about it until tomorrow.
I want to talk about something else. I want to talk about me. Because, unless you were heretofore clued in, this blog is ALL about me. And all about me attempting to sound smarter by using words like “heretofore.”
The last little while I have come into contact with remnants of various lives that I no longer am a part of. I went to an event full of people I hadn’t seen in years. Years and years. I was so excited to catch up with old friends and hear about their lives and what they have been up to for the last, oh, decade. After 5 minutes I was bored and after twenty I left. As lovely, in theory, as “catching up with old friends” sounds…um….there’s a reason that we haven’t caught up before. We don’t have anything in common anymore. A random comment here or there on a Facebook status update, occasionally lurking in pictures of their new spouse/child/dog, and a Happy Birthday wall-post is enough. I never thought I would say that, but it’s true. There are only a handful of people from that era of my life that I still talk to and now I realize why that is the case. They are the only ones I really care about. I am not sad that I have left this part of my life.
While I was running around my neighborhood I happened to come across my absolute favorite professor from college. I had no idea he was still teaching, or still in the state, and I certainly had no idea he lived 8 blocks up the street from me. He was taking his little boy for a walk and I was doing my best to stick to my Couch to 5K schedule. We chatted for a minute, and he told me a story about how he had a student who reminded him of me and how he was talking about me the other day with his wife. I actually glowed a little inside. I rarely think of Academia without a fond memory of his class, and it just made me all warm and fuzzy inside to think that he remembered me, even just a little. I actually came home and looked online to see what classes he is teaching in the spring because–and here is the Super Exciting and Important Part–I am going back to school!! I have 9 classes left before I graduate and I should graduate by next Christmas. Running into my professor reminded me of all the things I loved about college. The constant learning, the questioning of ideas, the expanding of minds and beliefs…I am so excited to go back to school* This part of my life I can’t wait to re-explore.
*I realize that around mid-terms of my first semester back, when I am working full time and also studenting full time and just trying to keep my head above water my tune will most likely change…but for now, I am thrilled.