elirrina: (hair)
I've been working on drafts of my dissertation chapters all summer at my parents', since I didn't have anywhere to come back to after London, and now I'm moving back into town with a new flatmate and getting ready for TAing two classes in the fall and teaching one in the spring. I had a three-day drive back from Kansas, and now I'm very nearly finished unpacking!

I'm on a medieval list-serv, so I get lots of conference calls for papers, and I just got a pretty fascinating one for next year's International Congress in Kalamazoo: the Societas Daemonetica is having a "Hell Studies" session, and the theme this year is "Jailbreaking Hell," and it's going to be about hell's boundaries, hellmouths, and "figures who pass through (and around) its gates." Nothing to do with my topic, but hellmouths are pretty interesting in medieval art, so it would be fascinating session to attend if I have a good reason to attend Kalamazoo next year.

Florida being Florida, it just started pouring outside, while simultaneously being brightly sunny. I think I had gotten myself to forget what the humidity here is really like. I am enjoying seeing everyone again, though.
elirrina: (Marian)
Wow, I haven't updated this in a long time.

1. I made it back to the States and am visiting my parents for the greater part of the summer, in between traveling to see family and weddings. My parents' town is not London with all its entertaining distraction, so I should get a lot of writing on my dissertation done, in theory.

2. Kalamazoo & the International Congress on Medieval Studies happened! My paper went really well, and I might get to publish it! Also, I got kidnapped periodically by my professor to meet people, and also to discuss what I have been doing for the past year (I'm on target, apparently, hurrah!). And scholars that I quoted in my paper attended my session and liked my talk, so that was really exciting.

3. After returning from the conference, I got to actually unpack, because my dad's intern who had been staying with my parents moved into her own apartment, in preparation for her upcoming marriage at the end of the month. I suspect the next week and a half are going to be busy, since my parents are both involved.

4. We had friends with adorable 14-month-old twin boys who like to get into everything visiting this past (extended) weekend! I think everything breakable has been returned to its original location.

5. My parents and I went to see Star Trek tonight! We've been watching the series(es) since I was 5, apparently. I didn't realize the tradition went back that far, but Saturday night was always pizza and Star Trek night. We enjoyed the movie very much! And Mickey Smith joined Star Fleet in Future-London! One more excellent bingo connection!

Surprise!

Jul. 8th, 2012 10:10 pm
elirrina: (waterfall)
Yesterday I went to my friend J's flat for what I understood to be a belated Independence Day party where a group was going to watch the musical "1776." When J opened her door and let me in, a bunch of my friends, sitting on the various couches, all yelled, "SURPRISE!"

me: I- wait- I'm... not surprised that you're all here?
J: We have English food!
me: Okay...
E: I was afraid I wasn't going to make it here before you!
me: But- I saw you- I was right behind you in the parking lot...
E: I know!
me: I'm so confused. What am I surprised about?
K: You're going away!
me: Oh. OH! Thank you!...?
J: We're still watching "1776."
me: Okay.

Then the group all continued to look at me as I awkwardly took my sandals off so I could come in properly, so I decided I needed a cup of tea, which broke things up and then we could all start eating the "English" food. I'm not sure where they came up with the menu, but there were open faced sandwiches with cucumbers and shrimp and some sort of sauce, lemon bars, crackers with egg salad, and snickerdoodles. J had bought English breakfast tea and pulled out all the other types she had, so I guess that was legitimizing English factor.

I was surprised that J had managed to invite art historians and people from my church small group, since she goes to a different church - our overlap is swing dancing. But she had met J (a guy from art history) at a party last week, and she already knew B (a guy who goes to my small group and also swing dances). So she was resourceful.

We also discussed the relative inappropriateness of the party theme.
me: So... we're having tea and "English food," and we're watching "1776"?
J: Yeah, I couldn't find another time, so I figured we should just combine the parties! I got J to invite the art historians, and B invited your church people, but then he's not coming because he has to go to the beach. I think.
me: Doesn't he hate the beach?
J: That's what I thought too.

And then F played the song "No Place Like London" from "Sweeney Todd" in an effort to deter me from leaving.

So then at church this evening, H and C (a married couple from my small group) wanted to know how the party was, since they hadn't been able to come. H at first thought it was my birthday, but knew that was wrong, while C thought the party meant that I was leaving immediately. I had to explain that no, J decided that she just needed to have the party now because she wouldn't be around when I actually left.

I also saw B, who wanted to know how the party was, discuss the irony of combining a going-away-to-London-for-a-year party with watching "1776," and explain his beach trip.
B: My co-advisor is back in town, and decided we should have a barbecue. At the beach.
me: And you hate the beach.
B: I do hate the beach! Also, I feel like I've lost 18 hours since he's been back in town! It may not actually be related to the fact that he's back- things may just be getting busier, but I'm going to blame it on him, because now I have to go to weekly meetings. Which are good. But still meetings. And he made us go to the beach.

I'm actually pretty well packed. This whole process is just being somewhat complicated by the fact that I'm going to visit family in Oregon for ten days, starting at the end of the week. In getting ready for the trip, I've been looking at the e-books available from the library, since then I could just take my nook along. I've come to the conclusion that at least half of the sci-fi/fantasy books available electronically are about vampires.
elirrina: (astronomy)
My trip to visit my parents went great, and now I'm back in Florida, where I am supposed to be studying German. I really will study tomorrow. My independent study work is all turned in, and I should be meeting with my adviser to discuss dissertation topics sometime in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, I think I need to go to the beach once more before classes start, providing that it's still oil-free. I'll have to look into that.

On to vacation!

My father works with international students at the university. Basically, he does what the University wishes it could do, but hasn't got time or money for, consequently everyone loves him. He organizes conversation partners, English classes and culture classes, and lots of social events for the international students. During the first week of classes he organizes a tour around town: volunteers drive carloads of students along a path that my dad has organized, and tell them about the city. The tour ends on campus where there is a free-garage-sale-furniture-etc-giveaway. People donate all sorts of things that students need, which then get set up in a parking lot on campus, and then given away.

This means that there is a lot of furniture-moving going on in the weeks beforehand. Which is what I got to do frequently over my break, including the morning of my first day home. Also, one of my dad's interns moved, so we helped out with that too.

My father also likes to make grandiose proclamations about how my brother and I will be inheriting. Who inherits depends on his mood: sometimes it's me, because I am the eldest, sometimes it's my brother, because he's the son. Currently it's me, at least as of last week. A few years ago my brother and I pointed out to our dad that there really isn't that much to inherit. He was momentarily fazed, but got over it.

So I informed my brother that I'm inheriting again, and then my parents actually decided that they need to update their will. I guess my brother and I are still being left to our maternal grandparents, who are dead, and we're too old for guardians now anyway.

This decision was precipitated by the fact that my parents are going to Asia this fall to visit some of my dad's old students. I believe the plan is to visit China (Beijing and Shanghai, and possibly other cities), Hong Kong, Taiwan, (South) Korea, and possibly Japan. I'm envious. My father is apprehensive.

He doesn't really like to travel, neither does my brother, but my mother and I love it. Dad had to be bullied into visiting Italy with me, but ended up really loving Florence. While at home this time, my mother came across a scarf that I'd brought with me - I usually wear it or something like it into church because services are always soooo cold during the summer, with all the air-conditioning.

Mom: This is pretty! Where's it from?
me: Florence - we got it from the same place where we bought your scarf.
Dad: Yes! WE'VE been to ITALY.
Mom: I KNOW. When are you taking me?
Dad: But! I'm taking you to Asia!
Mom: HM.

In random news, my dad, who, by the way, is ordained as a pastor, and is an elder at church, sporadically likes to talk about his past lives. (Not that he actually believes in reincarnation...) This time around he saw an advert for Shark Week and decided that he'd been a shark in one of his previous lives. His usual favorite past life is when he was the Mother Superior from Sound of Music, and sang "Climb Every Mountain." He also asked me to be on the lookout for his past lives from the Middle Ages as I look through medieval manuscripts and literature.

I learned that my mother is against mixing battery brands. Dad apparently wanted to just put two random batteries into a light that he'd bought for one of his interns, but my mother said he couldn't.

Dad: But they're both batteries! Same voltage!
Mom: I don't care! It doesn't work! I don't like it! Just use two from that new package you bought!

I don't know if I've mentioned it, but I have a serious tea collection. It's getting a bit out of hand. I had to re-organize that part of the pantry when I got home. But my parents have an even larger tea collection, because my dad's students like to bring him tea from their provinces and so on. Also: really pretty teacups and teapots.

One of them, a yellow teapot, gets used a lot. My dad had a bunch of students over for a breakfast-and-lunch-planning session; I sat in for the meal parts, during which the yellow teapot was being used. It has four circles on the sides, with Chinese characters in them, and I wanted to know what they meant, and realized that this would be a perfect time to find out. According to one of the girls, the characters mean "10,000," "life," "happiness," and "none," which translates to a message along the lines of wishing you eternal life, and is one of the standard phrases used when addressing the emperor or your elders. (Something like "May you have life and happiness without end").

On the way back to Florida, I called my parents when I'd stop to take breaks. At one point my mother told me about the latest gift that they'd recieved:
Mom: Guess what we were given? More tea! We didn't have enough already!
She didn't say what type it was. Hopefully more jasmine; that's one of my favorites.

Arrival

May. 12th, 2010 09:07 pm
elirrina: (astronomy)
I made it to Kalamazoo alive, after a reallllly early morning flight to Memphis, Chicago, a misunderstanding of meeting places, and carpool up to Michigan. I've already had pizza at Bilbo's, where most of the food is named after Lord of the Rings characters, and which has a sign out saying "Welcome Medieval Fest" (that caused some murmurs in the car, of course. "It's not a renaissance festival! We don't get to wear costumes!") Apparently eating at Bilbo's is a tradition with the carpoolers, as was playing "spot the medievalist."

I present tomorrow afternoon! (Eeeeeeeek!)

And I can meet Geoffrey Chaucer! Hopefully that won't conflict with any of the other things I'm supposed to be attending!
elirrina: (kaylee)
Woo! I'm going (slightly more) north to visit my grandfather and assorted cousins, and I'll get to visit a friend on the way!
elirrina: (Default)
Since it's a Czech Independence day today, we didn't have school starting on Wednesday! So one of my fellow teachers and I decided to take advantage of our freedom and check out more of the Czech Republic. We took the train to Podebrady (it's not that far from Prague). It turned out to be a very good pre-Halloween trip. We ate at the restaurant Netopyr (the Batcave!), and wandered the town with some of our friends who live there. It turns out that one of their daughters loves black cats (she has one named Susan) and the other has skeleton dolls. (She also has normal ones, but really likes the skeletons. There is a long justification for this that I'm not going to take the time to include. While with them, Mindy and I also got a lot of Christmas shopping done! All I can say here is that I found some really stellar presents.

Then we went to Kolin, and Kutna Hora, where we saw the Bone Church. Apparently some monk was sent on a trip to the Holy Lands in the Middle Ages and brought back some dirt, which he sprinkled in the church yard. Suddenly, people from all over Europe wanted to be buried there, in hopes that more holy ground would give the a better chance of entrance to heaven. All went well, until the Plague hit. Then tons of bones were piled up against the charnel house walls in the churchyard. In the 1800s, someone decided it would be a good idea to do something with all of these bones, and gave the job to a half-blind monk, who managed to decorate the chapel with some really... interesting objects, including a chandelier comprised of every type of bone from the human body, pyramids of skulls and bones, and a coat of arms comprised of bones. It's all very fascinating, of course, but incredibly grotesque. There's some interesting reading material in the church about the symbolism of mortality, and the resurrection, but it all feels rather disrespectful to the 40,000 plus people whose bones are in the church. They were hoping their bones would rest in holy ground, and they've been turned into really weird decorations.

In any case, pictures from the trip are here.

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