Tuesday, September 28, 2010

flea-eradication project (FEP): part II

today i enacted part II of the flea-eradication project, or FEP. here are some terrifying stats about fleas, according to vetmedicine.about.com:
  • "the total flea life cycle can range from a couple weeks to several months, depending on environmental conditions"
  • "the adult female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day, 500-600 eggs over several months"
  • "flea saliva, like other biting skin parasites, contains an ingredient that softens, or "digests" the host's skin for easier penetration and feeding"
great. so today i vacuumed the whole apartment, wet-vacuumed the furniture, and tossed all of my bedding and blankets in the wash. huck, now used to his flea collar, has been complacent this whole time, watching me with mild bemusement as i run around the apartment like a madwoman. but i can't help it...i'm becoming paranoid about flea saliva.

here is my hope: neither cat has been scratching themselves at all, and in fact if i hadn't seen the little blighter crawling across huck's fur, you'd never think there was a problem. so hopefully i have caught this at the beginning and can terminate it before it escalates into an infestation. but vetmedicine.about.com doesn't make it sound very promising. sigh. pray for me.

Monday, September 27, 2010


ooooh huck has a flea. a flea. no way.

tonight, when i should have been focused on reading the way of the world, i instead looked down at my cat, who was snoozing on top of me, to see a tiny black thing moving across his furry white chest. i leaned forward and put my fingers against his fur, and yes, the little black thing jumped out of sight. definitely a flea. huck, of course, began purring happily because his mama was petting him. totally oblivious.

in that moment i realized just how much stuff huck was touching. the blanket we were wrapped up in together, the couch, the pillows on the couch, my bed which he had just been sitting on moments before. ughhhhhhh.

with a shudder i jumped up from the couch, threw on my trench coat and some flip flops, and ran down the street to, thank God almighty, the 24-hour rite aid. two flea collars later, i came back home and opened the apartment door. there, jack and huckleberry sat on laz-e-boy recliner and couch, respectively, looking trustingly up at me. oh, what they didn't realize.

luckily i was able to get the collars on them with minimal bloodshed. huck has never worn a collar, so he didn't even know what was coming, and as jack ran over to sniff it and commiserate, i quickly advanced from behind and slipped his around him. he definitely gave me a look of betrayal, but they will thank me one day.

they will thank me one day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

red trucks and old photographs

i ought to be doing my homework, but instead i must record this dream.

i was back in my childhood last night. or, not exactly my childhood, but in a state of youngness, if that makes sense. i felt younger. i was in a place that was not mt. riga, but it was like that, but only because there was a house on a lake, and it was familiar. dad and kornelya and jalom were there, so that also doesn't make sense if it was "the past."

but at any rate, dad gave me old photographs he had found, and when i looked at them, i was surprised to see they were photos of me and my childhood best friend, annalise. looking at them made me suddenly recall memories i had not thought about for a long time, and yet, when i recall the images on the dream photographs, i can't say that they were tied to any real life memories.

it was rainy in that dream, and we had a canoe that we'd dragged up out of the lake and were storing under the house. inside the house was dark, but decorated everywhere with fairy lights and various plug-in decorative kitschy items.

in another part of my dream, i'm in a black pinstripe suit and i'm back at my old job, just about to leave, but i realize that the monitor to my computer is missing from my desk, and i don't want to leave before i figure out where it went, or else the new guy coming in to replace me won't have a monitor. i hunt around to try and find it and encounter some woman who i guess is the HR person, but she isn't helpful.

i give up, and am going to go down the hall to join a meeting but i realize they don't really need me for it since i'm leaving, so i keep walking down the hall, and incidentally this building looks like the basement floor to an office park, and when i turn a corner to the left, i see that there is a huge crowd of people swelling through the hallway, trying to get down a staircase.

there is also, really and truly, a big red truck that is amongst the throng and trying to make its way down the stairs. i run over to the crowd, feeling curious, piteous, and obliged to help. i get in the truck and, "driving" try to man┼ôver it down the stairs…but of course, it won't fit. i feel a bit frustrated, but then, what would they have me do? they thank me for trying anyway.

i feel that there were other elements to this dream, but i can't remember them. analysis?

Monday, September 20, 2010

the virtues of mental running and of stillness

i stood outside just now at the bus stop, waiting for any of the 61 buses to take me back home from campus, and as usual, i pulled out my phone to read a book on my wattpad application, since it's lighter than carrying another book in my bag. and then i realized, once again, how bad i am at just standing still, waiting, without feeling the need for my mind to run at full force, and to be constantly entertained with a book.

as a side note, if you see my apartment, or any living space i inhabit, i tend to leave a book in almost every room, including the bathroom, so that any activity that i'm doing can be supplemented with reading. in the kitchen this has become slightly hazardous, as i have a gas stove now, so the potential disaster of open flames measuring over 451 degrees farenheit near paper is…well, you do the math.

and don't blame social media and kids these days and their smart phones for this lack of concentration. as far back as i can remember, anywhere i had to wait, i would spend the time daydreaming and being in my own mind rather than observing where i was. the larger point i was coming to is that my mind is not good at being still and observing. i only seem able to do that at mt. riga, where, arguably, there are better things to observe. but why is that? the immediate answer is that standing at the bus stop is boring, but, then, why is it boring? surely the scene of the bus stop must be one of those moments which a writer ought to cherish–where one can observe the nuances of human nature in the variety of people waiting alongside you.

but i haven't the patience, nor the interest. after all, it is boring to wait at the bus stop, unless something interesting happens, like the guy next to you suddenly pulls down his pants, or sets fire to the bus shelter (which, on second thought, probably wouldn't burn well as it's metal).

but is this–this constant failure to notice, or care to notice, one's immediate physical surroundings–the factor that could impede my progress as a writer? or is the convention of the waiting at a bus stop so trite at this point anyway that there's nothing new to say about it?

one could, for instance, in the course of fabricating what is, after all, fiction anyway, impose figures and sentiments, that one picked up in any old place, on a bus stop scene. and it would probably make entertaining reading.

anyway, the only times when i think it worth sitting still in my mind are these:
  • being at mt. riga
  • reading to my little cousins
  • doing yoga
if you can think of any others, i invite you to add them to the list.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

tribute to past loves in technology

em called me yesterday to ask if it was ok for our little sister to inherit our old imac, which i primarily used throughout high school and college. thinking about it after i got off the phone with her made me suddenly reminiscent of all the old technology i grew up with and loved. is that odd? sounds like it could be a weird ethnography into the life of a childhood in the late eighties/early nineties.

but truly, you could say that technology does become a part of your identity. this imac served me faithfully for 8 years:
i wrote novella after novella on it, played the various myst games that were so amazing, and created art projects of questionable skill in adobe photoshop.

and what about other past loves in the world of technology? here are some that i still think of fondly:

the original nintendo, of course. this must come first as one of the greatest inventions of the 1980's. nintendo was not the first video game system, but it was truly the best.i still value it above all other systems, even though to get mine working now, you have to shove another game in on top of the first to keep the one you're actually intending to play, in the machine:

and then there was lite-brite, which offered endless creative possibility:

and of course, the one item i always coveted as a child but never received: power wheels.
toys 'r us had a little mermaid-themed power wheels that was amazing, but which i can't find a google image of, which just shows how rare and precious these babies were.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

rainy day, rainy day

our first rainy day in pittsburgh for some time now; oh, i love the rain! it makes me feel like christopher robin:

i just got back from class where my professor brought us dunkin' donuts "because it's raining" and we listened to arias from henry purcell's the fairy queene, including my favorite:

If Love's a Sweet Passion, why does it torment?
If a Bitter, oh tell me whence comes my content?
Since I suffer with pleasure, why should I complain,
Or grieve at my Fate, when I know 'tis in vain?
Yet so pleasing the Pain is, so soft is the Dart,
That at once it both wounds me and tickles my Heart.

I press her Hand gently, look Languishing down,
And by Passionate Silence I make my Love known.
But oh! how I'm Blest when so kind she does prove,
By some willing mistake to discover her Love.
When in striving to hide, she reveals all her Flame,
And our Eyes tell each other, what neither dares Name.

youtube an arrangement of this if you're interested; it really is the most beautiful music.

well, my goal for the rest of today is to read, read, read, and to bring back the use of the word "discover" in its original context, i.e., to reveal. i mean, i got my friend monica to start using the word "mayhap" by just saying it often enough around her, so i figure it's only a matter of time before it's the next big trend around carnegie mellon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

the namesake

i took a break from writing my prospectus (which, by the way, is now about the film the women) to eat dinner, fold laundry, and watch my latest netflix rental, agatha christie: a life in pictures.

being named after her, and being a great fan of her mysteries, i was pleased that the bbc once again has made a great film. the plot basically follows the story of her life, but tells it in an unconventional way, playing with a consciousness about cinema and performance, and playing with the convention of the mystery genre.

the film opens with agatha sitting with a pyschotherapist, who is trying to help her piece her life back together after she has gone missing for over ten days and loses her memory. the therapist is trying to help her to piece together why she went into a breakdown, and what happened to her while she was missing. the thrilling part about this is that this is a true story: agatha christie was actually presumed dead until she was finally discovered in the harrogate hotel, residing under the alias mrs. neel.

it's only natural, i suppose, that a famous mystery author should have such a mystery of her own. but it's also sad that she had such a terrible first marriage. so if you are feeling sorry for her, i will assure you that the film ends on a triumphant note, with her second marriage being to a much kinder man whom she loved until the end of her life: an archeologist, in fact, who just suited her taste for mysteries and drama, and who was able to fuel some of the inspirations behind some of her novels, like death on the nile.

the movie's use of time-stop-motion and filtered lighting is also effective both in creating the sense that, as we watch her personal narrative unfold in fragmented flashbacks, we feel we're becoming part of her psyche as she struggles to remember; and it is artistic, drawing us in by the curiosity to understand what these eyes are that we keep seeing close ups of, or what draws her mind (i.e., our cinematic image of) back to the image of the swing she played on as a girl.

the film's consciousness of its own theatrics, as i say, is also well done–not tacky, but at times heightens the unease of the memories we are witnessing. at other times it's playful, as when the film uses time-stop-motion to let agatha's second husband perform directly to the camera and pretend to be a magician by 'conjuring' up her novels as we are told by her in voiceover about her increasing success as a novelist.

so that is my evening. i must get back to writing my prospectus now, but thanks to netflix for recommending this excellent flick.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

o, my america

i can't offer anything valuable to say about you, 9-11. you know what you are. if you lost someone, i'm sorry. if you didn't lose someone, i'm still sorry.

Friday, September 10, 2010

the fact is that everyone loves times new roman best out of all the fonts. why is it not the default font on microsoft word? i do not like cambria.

Thursday, September 9, 2010



what if i write my research paper, for my film adaptations class, on adaptations of physicality in austen novels in plays and film through present day?

stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

pittsburgh-mt. riga alumni club

i had a great evening last night with what i've decided to call the pittsburgh-mt. riga alumni club, which is kind of like the pittsburgh-gettysburg college alumni club, except we don't get awarded degrees…yet.

at any rate, our branch of the mt. riga alumni club consists of frank and debbie, their friends greg and nancy, the many dogs, and, in spirit, doug and his girlfriend carrie, who were not in physical attendance but who were in our thoughts.

we met at frank and debbie's house, which is a pretty, rambling sort of place that sits at the top of a hill, on the outer bend of a curve in a the road, and looks as if parts of its architecture range from the middle of the 19th century through the 1930's. the walls, furnishings and decor are all in warm, earthy colors, and it was very cozy. parts of the house were in some need of repair, but nothing really major; their house, like them, is sort of casually elegant, pretty enough to not care about perfection. they also have a garden in similar condition, lovely and slightly wild, that falls steeply from the back of the house where they grow some veggies and the dogs like to tumble.

the evening consisted mainly of what any evening involving members of the wells family includes: copious amounts of wine. we also had some great conversation, of course, and talked extensively over family matters, the content of my courses, how nancy was liking her first taste of life outside of new york city (a "novelty" was how she put it), etc.

at some point, someone (ok, frank; these things are always brought up by frank) called us all to remember the ritz crackers-styled 'mock apple pie' that used to be advertised for years on the packaging of any box of ritz crackers. the curious thing about this pie was that it did not contain apples in its list of ingredients, and frank could not get over this, nor let the matter pass until we had dissected the origins and reasons behind such a recipe, with the final mandate that we will eat mock apple pie the next time we get together, which i deeply fear.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

impending doom?

i just looked in my closet and saw my rollerblades, and decided that i'm going to go rollerblading today for the first time in several years. as you can probably imagine, it's going to be hysterical.

it's not just for the classroom!