0

If I Start Cleaning, Will Spring Come Faster?

A legitimate question.

I spent a good few hours today cleaning the apartment. Mostly it was straightening up bookshelves and getting some of the crap off my dining room table, but I also went into my walk-in closet and attacked it with a vengeance, cleaning off the entire floor and the bottom shelf, throwing a good deal of stuff away, and reducing it down to about 3/4 of a large, rectangular box.

Will spring show up now?

25

Malaise-y Susan

So, normally I don’t do this – or at least not here, that is – but I just have to say it. I’ve been super down lately. This blog is about stories and fun and jollity and stuff like that but I haven’t been feeling it, so it’s time for a get-real post. And if you don’t like these kinds of posts, you can come back tomorrow for something different.

It’s just been really weird for me lately. Spring semester is going along pretty smoothly, I have several conference papers to work on, along with an article and thinking about prelims, but I’m just not feeling it. I don’t know if it’s the body image issues I’m going through right now, or general loneliness, or depression, or stress, or just “winter malaise” of single-digit-weather Wisconsin. But something is just not right in Jacob World, and it’s bugging me.

“Ya wanna blog about it, Jacob?”

Well, that’s kind of what I’m doing. I guess. I don’t know.

I’m just grateful that I haven’t been totally alone for too long this week; WeKache was here to visit, and then I had lunch with the Gellers, which is always super nice, and maybe we’ll hang out tomorrow, and then on Purim on Wednesday.

I guess I’m just nervous about the show. This coming weekend I’m committed to be in the theater from 9 AM to 7 PM on Saturday, and then 10 AM to (potentially) 11 PM on Sunday. Then, after next Monday off, I’m in the theater for at least part of the day every day for the next seven. And then there’s everything else…film festival…APO…dance…school…

Wow, what a disappointing 400th post.

Oh, and there are two different dresses. TWO DIFFERENT DRESSES, PEOPLE.

4

A Goat, My Throat, and a Big Yellow Boat

Since it’s too cold to think of anything creative or fun today, happy Year of the Goat! I always thought that Chinese New Year was a good reason to celebrate as any, so eat some goat cheese pizza and listen to Phoebe Buffay’s song “Parading Goats” on YouTube (starting at 4:15)

And then, there’s my throat. And my head, and my chest, and my nose. They are not having this winter, especially not the sudden Arctic cold snap that’s hit Madison this week. I think it was a high of 3 degrees today, and the wind was so fierce it almost knocked me off my feet while walking to class. My circulation is terrible, so I’ve been having nosebleeds on the daily, especially when I come from the cold into a particularly hot room or building. And now my nose is stuffed, my lips are dry, and I’m becoming a mouth breather.

It’s what I call sick-not-sick.

Yeah, I am sick, in a way, but not sick enough to stay home from school or not do anything. That’s why we have tissues, hand sanitizer, soap, water, and paper towels. As long as I’m not coughing or sneezing up a storm, unlike some people in my classes, I am of the firm belief that I am not sick, even though I kind of am.

Well that was pointless.

And about that boat…yeah, no big yellow boat in this story, I lied.

There is, however, one right here:

There you go.

Also, yay for another six-continent day! Reporting for duty: North America (Canada, USA, and Antigua and Barbuda), South America (Argentina), Europe (Finland, France, Spain, Ukraine, and UK), Africa (South Africa and Tanzania), Asia (India and Philippines), and Oceania (Australia).

0

More Realistic Motivational Statements

Let’s get real here: motivating yourself sucks.

Motivation is tough. It’s not even the fact that I’m a PhD student; it’s still so freaking cold outside that I need a mountain of motivation to get myself out of bed, fed, clad, and off the couch every day. I managed to move from bed to couch at around 11 AM, but didn’t even leave the apartment until 5 PM. Granted, it was hovering around 0 degrees for most of the day, but I could’ve gone to the gym or something. Instead, I watched all the YouTubes, did all the crossword puzzles, watched blog stats, played Word Strips, and finally spent 2-3 hours agonizing over a dramaturgy project like a maniac before leaving the house to get Target and food.

Thursdays are always like this: I go to bed the night before thinking that I will get started on things on Thursday and not put them off until Sunday night. I spend the majority of Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday doing anything but work (social, tv, even cleaning the apartment), and then freak out Sunday night as I attempt to read several hundred pages while I hate myself for having wasted 4 days. Monday through Wednesday are pure torture as I spend every free waking moment working or worrying, only to breathe a sigh of relief on Wednesday night, promise myself I’ll do better next week…and then the cycle continues.

So far, I’ve only wasted about 70% of the day; I read and took notes on half a chapter for Monday. PROGRESS.

Motivational quotes are all over my Facebook feed, and they’re all just, so, trite. So, in a vain attempt to be creative on a frosty brain that is resisting the urge to resist doing work, here’s a list of realistic motivational statements.

20 Totally Made Up Realistic Motivational Statements/Suggestions/Stuff/Things

  1. This one is from my dad – the best way to confront a crisis is head-on. Except if that crisis is a speeding car coming in your direction.
  2. Don’t tear out your hair; nature will do that for you.
  3. Nobody is grading how clean your apartment is, so cleaning it can wait. Unless you’re having it shown, in which case, clean like a crazy person for 30 minutes. You will feel so much better, and ready to work after a short break.
  4. Shakespeare didn’t write all of his plays in one sitting, you don’t have to either.
  5. If it’s on TV, chances are it’ll be on again. If not, it’ll be on the Internet. If it’s really important, like the Olympics or the Oscars, just wait for the BuzzFeeds, they’ll edit out the boring parts.
  6. If you actually get stuff done, you’ll be able to concentrate on beating that game and know that you earned that time.
  7. Move to a different spot on your apartment. You will be able to see yourself in a different light.
  8. Think of someone really successful. They are most likely slacking off right now, so if you do your work right now, you’ll be one-up on them in your own mind.
  9. You know how much you hate that person who’s gotten all their work done and is now bragging about it? Beat them to it. Works every time. And it’s even better when you tell that person “oh yeah, I just did nothing all day,” secretly knowing that you did, indeed, do the exact opposite.
  10. Pretend like there is a bomb in your apartment and if you can hit that “I’M DONE” button (aka “save” or “send”) before a certain minute/hour, the bomb will be destroyed and you will have saved the world. Yes, THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD. You’re Buffy.
  11. Make that an actual button. Have your mom/dad/sister/friend’s number programmed into your phone, and when you press “save” or “send” simultaneously press your phone and then tell them about it. But check the time first, and calculate time difference.
  12. Make dinner or a yummy treat and race against the oven timer to get your work done.
  13. So many amazing things were invented by unmotivated people. Think of how much you could do in a motivated state of mind.
  14. If you miss that TV show, there will be no consequences. There are always consequences to not finishing your work. Nobody likes the c-word.
  15. Tell yourself that if you don’t do your work, you will end up living in a dollar store shopping cart with an needle full of cocaine in your arm and stray, rabid cats licking your bare feet. That is a scary, scary thought.
  16. Think of someone who told you that you couldn’t do something. Do your work to spite them. Let hate fuel your rage, and channel that into doing your work.
  17. Heat up soup or make coffee or something, then challenge yourself to get something done before it cools. Cool = failure.
  18. Someone else, if given all the work that you have to do, would throw up their hands and call it a day. If you can even do a little bit of it, congrats – you’re not that person.
  19. Remember – somewhere else, someone is being arrested, being stoned to death, getting dumped, giving birth, getting divorced, getting a shot, starving, lost in the woods, locked their keys in their home/car, or has twice as much work as you. Revel in that for a moment, then do your work.
  20. Just fucking do it. Just go over there, not here, not on the couch, over to the desk, and fucking do it.
0

Knock-Knock, Who’s There?

First of all, big welcome to visitors from my three newest countries: Austria (wilkommen!), Mexico (bienvenidos!) and Guam (hafa adai!). And an even special welcome to getting visits from all 50 states with my first click from Montana. In your honor, I will post a picture of your flag.

Well that was fun.

Wouldn’t it be disappointing if that was it?

Anyway, second of all, where did all the people who were visiting my blog go? Please come back. I had over 600 of you the other day; what did I do wrong? Was it something I said? Can we patch things up?

But that’s not the actual post either.

So, I don’t know what’s going on with me lately – maybe an advanced case of frost on the brain, because it’s halfway to March and it’s still so fucking cold – but there has been weird stuff going on around me.

Maybe I’m spending too much time alone, but I’ve been hearing weird noises in my apartment. Not just at night, but during the day as well. I mean, there are the normal sounds – cars, motorcycles, garbage trucks, loud music playing, people talking, blenders whirring, and when I’m in my bathroom, the farts, flushes, and showers of the people above/below me (totally gross, btw, and one of the reasons I can’t wait to leave here) – but then there are sounds.

Some of the sounds are perfectly normal in context, like knocking on a door. Sometimes I hear other people’s apartment doors being knocked on, but I know when it’s mine. The past few days, I’ve been hearing a very near knocking sound, and this morning actually rushed to my door, finding no one there. Also, there’s tapping, like someone is gently tapping on the walls. Sometimes, in the area of the refrigerator, I hear a snap/crackle sound, like the fridge is adjusting itself.

I’m not sure I believe in ghosts; I certainly haven’t seen any, and other than that one day in the religion center where a stereo spontaneously started playing in the Hillel Lounge in front of me and two witnesses, not much in the way of supernatural experiences. But if this building’s haunted, I deserve the right to know.

I don’t want to wake up one morning to see…this.

Yes, I’m looking at you, Jennifer Connelly.

Wait…I don’t have a tub.

Phew.

Safe for now.

0

It’s Colder Than A…

Okay, this is it. It is officially cold outside.

How cold is it?

TK TK gifs

By the numbers, it’s -23 F here in Madison.

Negative. Twenty. Three. 

And that’s not even the coldest on record here.

But it’s cold enough that two of my meetings tonight were cancelled, and that all morning classes at the University of Wisconsin are cancelled tomorrow. And hopefully the afternoon ones too, not that I don’t love Irish drama but it would just make my day even more special.

And since it’s cold enough for that, it’s officially too cold to think.

So I’m going to let Google do the post for me today.

Going back to the initial question…

How cold is it?

I’m going to defer to Aubrey Plaza on this one.

2

That’s So Random: Myths, Misconceptions, and Mind-Numbing Cold

Quote of the Day:

“So, how about this cold weather?” – Every single newscaster in America.

Seriously. It’s cold. Really cold. Almost every state had record lows today. It was way below zero in Madison, so I’m glad I was in Baltimore, which was…15 degrees, the coldest January 7 since 1994. That’s more than the number of miles I traveled today (about 1, if that) and hot beverages I consumed today (2; 1 coffee at home and a caramel macchiato from Starbucks). I went to the gym yesterday, but the thought of returning just chilled me even more, and not for any sort of dislike of exercise. It’s mind-numbingly cold. It’s just about too cold to think, so I came up with this idea based on a book I found at The Book Thing the other day.

But first, my post about Africa yesterday attracted more hits than ever, and brought readers from two African countries that were new on my blog counter, so welkom to South Africa, and karibu to Kenya. In addition, I also received a visitor from Denmark, so valkommen to you.

Back to the topic of the day. I picked up this book entitled The Book of Myths & Misconceptions. So I’m going to pick a random page, learn something new, write a hundred words or so on the topic, and top it off with a funny animated gif.

So…here we go.

Page 325: “It’s Over There: The Real Battle of Bunker Hill.”

The story: June 1775 – a violent battle occurred in Charlestown, Massachusetts, just across the “dirty water” of the Charles River from Boston.

The misconception: The battle occurred on Bunker Hill, hence the name.

The real facts: The battle did not occur on Bunker Hill. (Go figure.) American soldiers under the direction of Col. William Prescott started out on Bunker Hill, digging into the side of the hill, when Prescott discovered a hill that was easier to defend, so he moved the whole shebang to Breed’s Hill, a slightly lower hill about a half mile away. The next morning, Col. William Howe and his redcoats attacked, and won – but due to bad maps and the tide, lost a thousand British soldiers in the process, more than double the number of American casualties.

My thoughts (pretty much unfiltered, stream-of-consciousness, first-thing-that-comes-to-mind:)

The Revolutionary War. Something I haven’t thought about since probably high school. Seriously. I don’t think I ever took an American history course in college, at any level, and haven’t studied American theatre in that era. There wasn’t that much to speak of, except Aphra Behn’s The Widdow Ranter, the first play written with an American setting. But Aphra Behn was British. I used to live in Massachusetts. I spent a few years going to college there, at UMass Amherst. I love Amherst. I miss Amherst. Our mascot was Sam the Minute Man. Probably no other school is known as the “Minuteman,” which is why UMass is the awesome school that it is. The only thing that annoyed me was when I came home and everyone, my family included, asked me how Boston was. I was like “I don’t know, how is it?” because I did not live there, or anywhere near there. In fact, I’ve been to Boston a grand total of four times in my life: once on my first road trip with Dad, once to visit Boston University, once to catch a plane after my dreadful Brandeis University visit, and finally, for the 2008 APO National Convention. In June, LMDA will be in Boston, so that might warrant my fifth-ever visit. It still makes me cringe when people asked me what going to college in Boston was like, because I actually didn’t do that, unless you count going to the boy scout reservation in Sudbury twice for camping trips, including the first one when my big, Yukie, took us on an “alternative” route through tiny, winding roads that I later learned were along the New Hampshire border. Oh, Massachusetts, you with your deceptively long roads through nowhere. And your boring license plates. Because the spirit of Massachusetts is…

Oh, and here’s a picture:

There you go. Not much fun to be had at such a bloody battle.

This was also where Col. William Howe coined the famous phrase “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” 

Oh, that image search at least yielded a comic strip, so enjoy:

2

Take This Snow and Shove(l) It

It snowed yesterday.

It snowed…a lot.

Well, here in Baltimore at least.

Granted, I haven’t seen any massive snows yet in Madison (or none that I think are that massive) but this snow is pretty deep for the East Coast. Driving back from dinner last night, we saw some religious family’s car in a ditch; no, I’m not generalizing, they were transferring stuff to another car and all the men were wearing black hats. It was pretty to watch it fall as day turned to night, but when I woke up in the morning it hit me. Not the snow, but.

THE SOUND.

Plunk. Plunk. Plunk.

My sixty-seven-year-old father, out there with the broken brown snow shovel that belonged to my grandfather. The first thought that hits me is that how does a snow shovel have that much value either monetarily or sentimentally to be kept around for this long without us buying another. The second thought is usually interrupted around this time by –

“…go outside and help your father/come here and help me.”

Begrudgingly, I usually put on my coat/boots/hat/gloves/scarf and head outside to help. My brain sends out messages like, “why, snow, why?” and “why have I been appointed, no, relegated, to being the snow shoveler?” and “couldn’t the parents have hired someone to do it, like they usually do when I’m not around?” and “why don’t we live in a warmer climate?” and “is this the only reason that people have children?” and “why is there stuff blowing at me when it’s CLEARLY NOT SNOWING ANYMORE?” All these thoughts were going through my mind this morning as for the first time in a very long time, I shoveled snow.

In Massachusetts, it snowed, but I lived in a house where shoveling snow was not my responsibility. When I lived in Israel, it snowed just enough to mess up everyone’s schedule for a day, all for some frost on the ground. Ironically, the winter I spent there was that of Snowmageddon here in the USA, and I reveled in that joy, and now that I’m forced to live in a cold climate, Israel actually got pounded with shovel-worthy amounts of snow, so I reveled a little bit. When I lived in Houston, I remember getting blank stares after explaining what an ice scraper is when a friend found mine sitting in the backseat of my car. In Wisconsin, I live in an apartment, so the only snow removal I do is wiping the car and scraping the ice, which is a little annoying but once you make a dent and heat up the car, nature does most of the rest.

But getting back to this morning, I bundled up against the cold, initially wondering how hard could it be. I don’t know how long I lasted – it was probably around fifteen minutes – but it felt like hours. It sucked. So much. Just because we live in a house with a driveway that isn’t even that long. I did a few hard squats and lifts here and there, but I spent more time pushing the snow with the back of the shovel to pile it up on the sides, doing one REALLY tough ice scrape and then chipping away lightly at that spot for a little bit, and even kicking the snow out of the way. I have to give him credit, my dad did do most of it, and granted, I should help out around the house now that I’m home for a few weeks, but does the outside of the house operate under that same clause? By the time I’d finished clearing some semblance of a path and had run out of thoughts, that feeling emerged beneath my gloves; that lovely feeling of being so cold that if your fingers were to be cut off right now you really wouldn’t even notice because they are so numb that oh my God I need to go inside RIGHT NOW because I’m losing it. And them.

So, I put the shovel back, went back inside, took off my gloves, and wondered if my fingers would ever be functional, again, or if I’d have to type from now on using the Voice function on my new iPhone and if so I need to practice with that. But then, there was the glory of making the magical drink called coffee and slowly getting the feeling in my fingers back again, with each revitalized digit sending waves of joy, pleasure and accomplishment.

At least I got some exercise…question mark?

Anyway, on a happier note, I chose yesterday afternoon to drop my car off at the shop to have some things fixed on it, and when my mom took me to pick it up this morning, it was all shiny and clean from sitting inside a garage all night. As I drove home, I tried not to make eye contact with any other motorists; not everyone wears mittens these days.

0

An Adventure in Snow and Ice

Last night I got an idea for a story to write, so I stayed up writing until 3 AM for no good reason at all, after which I told myself I’d get up at 10 at the latest…yeah, didn’t happen. I was in bed until the afternoon and then on the couch, not doing much, until I got dressed, dragged myself out into the snow to Michelangelo’s for a cappuccino and sandwich around 3:30 (ironically, when it started becoming night again). I decided to head out to do some last-minute shopping before the trip: Marshalls, Walgreens, and Metcalfe’s, for some candles, toothpaste, and last minute sustenance items for tomorrow’s drive back to Baltimore.

Walking back to my car in the dark, I realized that the accumulated snow on my car merited a cleaning, so I figure, no problem, ten minutes. I wipe off the snow, and what greets me is something that I’m completely unprepared for…

ICE.

Not just ordinary ice, thick ice. Coating all the windows, front, back, and side.

I took out my ice scraper and began to…well, scrape the ice away. Seeing as I couldn’t find a single spot in which to stick the scraper end, I bashed it into the windshield hoping I wouldn’t shatter it (that’s not possible…is it?) to make a small crack in the impenetrable wall of ice, and used that to scratch a tiny hole that slowly grew bigger. I did the same on the side and back. A half hour later, I had barely made a dent in the windshield, but decided to go anyway. I got into the car, with about a ten-inch window of visibility towards the front. Ok, I’m just going to have to duck and be extra careful, I said to myself. With the defroster cranked up and the wipers going, the back window was beginning to thaw out and I could roll down the side windows for some extra perception, but the windshield was going to be a problem. I just hoped that I’d make it out and back alive.

My first stop was going to be Metcalfe’s, so I prepared to turn right on Langdon, when I realized…I can’t see a thing out of the passenger side of the car. Well, left turn it is then.

After a few carefully navigated turns, I found myself on Johnson Street, which was slightly more paved than Langdon. At this point, I was starting to feel a pain in my neck from the awkward angle at which I was twisting it to see out the sliver of non-iced windshield. I can’t go on like this much longer, I gotta stop, pull over, and scrape some more. The problem: there was nowhere to pull over and there were other cars on the road as well, making it difficult to change lanes or make any sudden stops.

The heat generated from the car started warming up the bottom of the ice sheet so that if I sat with my head forward, granny-style, I could see the whole road through the thin strip that was slowly getting clearer. Only that hurt my neck even more, so I kept going.

All of a sudden, it got darker. It was then I realized that I had no idea where I was driving, or what road I was on. All I knew is that I was heading east. Then I realized I could barely see in front of me. Were my lights on? I turned my brights on just in case. Wait a minute…had I scraped the snow off my headlights?

Fuck.

I was driving on a dark, country road with an ice-covered windshield and the only light coming from a car that was behind me, shining on either side. This wasn’t good.

However, I was keeping within the lane as best as I could, obeying the speed limit (like I had an option) and remaining on the road without crashing. I saw some lights up ahead – maybe there’s an intersection coming up. At this point, Bonnie Tyler’s “I Need A Hero” came on my iPhone, and with a chorus of dun-dun-da-dun-dun, I was tearing through the wintry road like a crazy person, the ice melting away just enough to get a clear picture of the whole road if I looked forward a little bit. It felt so intrepid, like that daredevil showdown scene in Footloose, only with just myself, a bunch of snow and ice, and no Kevin Bacon.

At the song’s end, I came to a large intersection – Route 15 – where instinct told me to head south. I had no idea how far I had gone – perhaps I was in Columbia County by now or something – but the intersections on this much larger and better-lit road bore names that I didn’t recognize. Just when I felt hopelessly lost, I saw a “Welcome to Madison” sign, and the lights of West Washington in front of me, ensuring my safety. The icy windshield was about half-gone. At a red light, I opened the Maps app on my iPhone. I had taken County Road CV out to just past the airport, where I have to go to pick up my dad tomorrow. Unfortunately, I missed the turn onto West Washington, but took Milwaukee Ave to get me there just as well, arriving at the East Towne Marshalls at about 8:15. I parked and turned off the car.

I’d made it. Through the ice and snow, and dangerously low visibility, I rode it out and got there alive. It would’ve sucked on a National Lampoon level if they were closed…

But they were very much still open, so I did some shopping, and then made my two more predetermined stops before getting home. I was about eighty dollars poorer, but my windshield was almost completely clear and I felt so alive.