1

Garbage Fashion

Some people describe others as the type that could “throw on a trash bag and look like a million dollars.” While I don’t look like a million dollars, that first part is kind of accurate to my recent experience. Let me explain further…

Last week, I took a friend out shopping. We went to H&M, where they were having some sort of crazy Thanksgiving/Christmas/Boxing Day sale. Originally, I was just going to be the ride, but I saw a black coat in my size that looked super warm and comfy, and it was $50 as opposed to its retail price of $80. So I bought it, and dropped another $10 on a matching black and white scarf and two pairs of gloves. When we got home, I realized I didn’t have a hat to wear with it…

Rewind to last month.

I’m walking down the street, and decide, today is the day I’m going to pick up some trash (if it doesn’t look wet, moldy, or gross) and throw it away. I start with some napkins and a scrap of paper, and then, what do I see on the sidewalk in front of me?

A brand-new black winter hat with fleece lining.

I look around for a minute, then shrug my shoulders and pick it up. I shake it, and nothing flies or crawls out, so I guess it’s finders keepers. I throw it into the back of my car and head off.

Fast forward back to the shopping trip. I drop off my friend and head home. As I park my car, I open the back and wonder where that black hat went. Fortunately, it’s still there, in perfect condition, and it matches the new coat/scarf perfectly. It makes my head look oblong if I don’t pull it down enough, but that’s the same with most winter hats.

And that’s how I essentially bought an entire winter ensemble from H&M to go with some garbage I picked up on the street.

2

End of the Season

So, it’s officially the end of the season.

Pumpkin Spice season, that is.

The weather in Madison has dropped thirty degrees this week, and despite not liking Pumpkin Spice Lattes, I do enjoy other pumpkin spice products. Today, I looked for a box of Pumpkin Spice Cheerios in the store and they were all gone. Creeping in behind the Halloween candy, the chocolate Santas anticipate their return.

I guess all we can do now is wait for Starbucks’ Holiday Drinks to come back.

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

Excuse Me, For I Shall Be Exiting Via the Emergency Snow

I should totally not be blogging right now, but today I got my first visitors from a country I have not been to, Ukraine (Ласкаво просимо!) and a country that I have been to, Slovakia (vitajte!).

In January 2012, I got to spend two wonderful weeks in cold, wintry Slovakia (which was not nearly as cold as it is here at the moment, -6 degrees Fahrenheit with a windchill of don’t-even-tell-me degrees Fahrenheit) with Dramatic Adventure Theatre. Jesse and Mary, who have been running this program for a decade now, are fantastic people and I can’t wait until I have the chance to travel on one of their trips again. I went with them to Ecuador as a part of ACTion: Ecuador in 2009 (three weeks after I graduated from UMass!) and was thrilled when I was chosen to be a part of their team in Slovakia. Based on that trip, I made connections and received the inspiration for my thesis, but this post isn’t about that.

Of all the memories and stories from both DAT trips, the one that stands out to me happened on one of our final days on the trip, and didn’t have anything to do with theatre or travel. We were staying at a privat (hotel) in the town of Zdiar, a resort town in the High Tatra mountains, doing independent writing/artistic projects, and preparing for the trip home. My days in Zdiar were usually spent exploring the town with Richard, our group’s translator and my roommate for the trip. One day we were walking back from somewhere (I think it might’ve been the day we discovered the secret resort hotel, but that’s another story) and we had been walking for quite awhile. It was getting late, and my legs were so tired. Our hotel sat sort of in the middle of a hill; to get into the town, you walked up a steep path towards the houses/restaurants/businesses, and to get down the road leading out of town, you walked down a steep path directly parallel to the first. This created a pretty sheer and severe drop, getting up to several stories high, and as it was winter, it was covered in snow. As we passed some children playing with sleds and riding them together down the cliff of snow, I wondered what it would be like to do it. I wanted to slide down the hill too. It sure beat walking. I asked Richard if he wanted to do it with me; he said no, that I had a backpack full of souvenirs (true) and that we didn’t even have sleds (true) so how would we get down the hill? Then, I dared him to go down the cliff on his bottom, and then I realized that that method of nudging does not work in Slovakia. Maybe he would do it if I went first.

“I’m going to do it.”

I looked out over a drop of at least four stories, then took my backpack off my back and strapped it to my front. “I’m going to do it,” I said, once more, as he looked at me, incredulous. “Those little kids just did it on their sleds; I can do it without one.” He still didn’t believe me until I crouched on the ground, then sat and scooted to the edge of the cliff. “Last chance, Richard, come on, do it with me!”

I waited a few seconds, then wrapped my arms around my bag and pushed off the cliff.

Richard couldn’t believe it, and neither could I.

I started off with my eyes closed, but opened them when I started to pick up speed, whipping through the snow. It was incredible. I could hear the roar of the spirit of the avalanche (or maybe just my coat causing friction) and I watched as the scene skewed itself, as if the mountains were moving upward as I landed on my feet, standing in knee deep snow, and now at the bottom of the hill. I dusted myself up and shrieked with delight, I looked up at Richard, waving at him to come down.

He just shook his head and moved away from the edge, continuing down the hill on the same path, whereas I had chosen The Path Less Traveled. Or at least less traveled by crazy grownups. After I checked my bag to make sure I hadn’t broken anything, I proceeded up the less-steep lower path.

And that’s how I beat Richard back to the hotel.

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

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.