What I’ve been up to

So, after reading all of Kiyomi’s many updates for the past few days or so, I am inspired to update again. While my would-be enchiladas entry may have made some readers hungry, I guess it doesn’t really reveal anything about what I’ve been up to lately.

One of the main reasons I haven’t been updating as often these days is I just feel so busy. Actually, I’m not. I obviously have enough time to be making complicated new recipes on weeknights, so it’s not that every moment of my time is just crammed with work. In addition, I have no midterms at all this semester, so I can’t claim those as my excuse either. Mostly, though, it’s my thesis that’s taking up my time. Even when I’m not writing or researching, I know it’s there and that I have no excuse for not working on it. It’s staring me down, basically, and making me feel guilty whenever I’m not tending to it–like a pet cat, really, but not as cute. In reality, I spend far more time on my thesis than probably most other students, just because I’m really dedicated to it and to history as a field of study. I love what I’m doing, and so I’m willing (and eager) to put in lots of time to make it perfect. The trouble is I have really high standards when it comes to research. I think I’ve probably done more than enough to write a good paper, but I can’t stop when there’s so much more out there to be found! And I really enjoy the process itself. So I’m always dogged by either my love of the work or my feeling of obligation to it, and this just makes me feel like I’m loaded with work even when I’m really not. That said, I really DO need to work on my thesis this week because it needs a complete fix-up before I turn it in for the undergraduate library research prize on Monday.

I am actually feeling a little better about my workload than usual today (I suppose this is why I feel I have the time to update) because I’ve finished half my reading for my other history seminar for next week (a big thanks to Prof Nylan for giving us this week off! She’s a taskmaster, but she’s an understanding one). Normally I always forget to devote time to her class because I’m too busy working on my thesis, and so I end up finishing my assignments hastily, the day before (or the day of) class, and only partially completing the reading. But this week’s reading is fun, and we have two weeks to work on it, and I kept prodding myself to actually get started early for once. So that’s a load off my mind.

I do wish I had more time to spend on piano. Last semester I practiced almost every day and really drove myself to improve and play the best I possibly could. This semester, because of my thesis, I just haven’t had that kind of time. My practice hours have degenerated to the point that I now only enter the practice rooms three times a week–once on Monday and once on Thursday, both just to practice with Erik, and on Friday morning when we have our lesson. I don’t even practice on my own anymore. It’s horrible. On the other hand (no puns meant), I do have somewhat of an excuse, because the mildly developing tendinitis in my left hand really does physically prevent me from practicing as often as I’d like. This makes me really sad. I don’t know if it would even be good for me to keep going with formal study of piano; if my hand gets any worse, I won’t even be able to do much research or cooking, even drawing or writing by hand, and you can imagine how pathetic and miserable I’d be then. So piano is turning into kind of a Jekyll/Hyde thing for me this semester. I love my lessons and they make me so happy. They’re in the morning so my hand is usually just fine, and I really do love playing. But at practice at night, I never have the energy to really get into it, and anyway my hand hurts! So I get unhappy and cranky about it. Bah. This worries me constantly.

So. Being busy. I need to be pretty productive all this week because I wasn’t able to do any work at all this past weekend. Caroline came to visit, which was fun but inhibited me from any sort of productive activity, and that includes cleaning my apartment, doing dishes, etc. Actually no, that’s a lie. I did completely clean my bathroom while she was here. My toilet apparently just couldn’t handle the stress of serving two people (no, that can’t really be the reason) and it just died. In fact it overflowed, just to prove its point. That was disgusting. I had to call up the manager and get a plunger from him. With Caroline directing me from the dry safety of the hallway–without making her sound like some kind of toilet queen, she’s really knowledgeable on this subject… or maybe I’m just useless–I unclogged the toilet, cleaned and disinfected it, and mopped the floor something like four times to make sure it was really clean. Then we went to Ross and got a cute star-shaped bath mat to replace the one that got soaked in the overflowing (EW). Such an adventure. But while the bathroom is now cleaner than before her visit, the kitchen is messier, and I’ve been playing catch-up with the dishes for two days now. I hope this doesn’t sound like I wish Caroline hadn’t visited! I’m glad she did. We had some great talks and it was really fun having a roommate for a weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚ And thanks to her suggestion I have discovered a new love: crepes with Meyer lemon juice and superfine sugar. Mm.

My weekend really perfected my pancake- and crepe- flipping abilities. Saturday, the first day that Caroline was staying with me, she showed up in the rain so I thought it would be nice to have some hot tea and buttermilk pancakes. Whatever you may think about Martha Stewart, her buttermilk pancake recipe really is wonderful. While Caroline had a hot shower, I mixed up the batter and started cooking. Since I only have one pan, making a full batch of pancakes takes forever, but they were quite worth it. (This is a problem. Now I really really want pancakes. Doh!) After eating our fill, we ventured out into the rain to see Daniel speak his genius thoughts at the Cal Day Engineering Panel. We had had some conniving thoughts to act dumb and ask embarrassing questions, but instead we sat in the way back and mostly just listened. (If you look in the audience photo, you may be able to see us in the very back row.) To my surprise, I enjoyed the panel. I guess we don’t usually talk to our fellow students about their general college experience, so it was interesting to hear what people had to say. I actually learned a few things. ๐Ÿ™‚ And Daniel stood out as one of the most intelligent and relevant of the speakers on the panel. The rest of them by and large only served to reiterate all the stereotypes of engineers as nerdy and incapable of communicating with humans, not computers; even the girls were like this, and I say this as a feminist. Even the ones who were more articulate were not relevant. They just sort of went off on their own experiences and didn’t really address the questions people asked. Hearing about people’s experiences, while helpful, is never quite as helpful as directly addressing someone’s concern… On that note, some of the parents and students asked really nitpicky/dumb questions, and that was annoying.

After hearing Daniel, we felt like it was only logical to go visit Jennifer, so we went to see her and somehow while there decided that food was in our near future and needed to be obtained. We called and invited some other people, then went to Berkeley Bowl and bought supplies. Amazingly, we stayed within our budget of $5 per person. We were even fifty cents under that budget! Astounding! So we came back to my place and washed and chopped and cooked, and eventually produced a large stack of crepes, which we filled with: Roma tomatoes, Humboldt Fog goat cheese (my new favorite goat cheese, and I think now everyone else’s too), Monterey Jack, sauteed red onions, sauteed cremini mushrooms, chopped chives, beef and onions that Albert made, and scrambled eggs. Very yummy. Then we had a ‘food comma’ (like a food coma, but it’s only a short pause between foodings) to recuperate, so we played games and talked and just generally hung out. After a suitable length of time we got started on dessert, which consisted of yet another stack of crepes, with possible fillings: Nutella, strawberries, caramelized bananas, and Caroline’s limone e zucchero (the Meyer lemon and superfine sugar combination I mentioned earlier). Yummy stuff. And it was wonderful to hang out with our high school friends again. Every time we do this I am reminded again what good friends we have and how lucky we are.

So that was my day of eating nothing but flat dough things (pancakes and crepes). Really, I didn’t eat anything else! No lunch in between! Now I’m back to rice and noodles, and happy about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

I think that’s all for now. I should really get to that work I claim I have so much of. ๐Ÿ™‚

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]