Archive for the ‘daily life’ Category

My Twitter feed is chock full of tweets about the Virgin London Marathon that is happening today in.. duh.. London, and it reminded me that this time last year I was there. It wasn’t the weekend of the marathon but it was the weekend of the volcanic ash cloud craziness. The Icelandic volcano kicked off on the Thursday and it  grounded flights right, left and center. I’d been in London that week for a series of meetings with my (now ex-) company and our entire global team was stranded there. It was a very odd time. There was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. I made the decision to stay in London since I was due to fly back over at the end of April and given that I could stay with family so I wasn’t running up a hotel bill and I got a refund on my personal flight so it was a win-win for me. As it turned out everyone flew out within a week or so of the volcanoes initial explosion but it was an odd situation to be in. I think it was the uncertainty that flummoxed everyone.

April is always a fraught month for me, volcano or no volcano, as it signifies the lead up to my exams. The juggling of day job and studying comes to a head and leaves me with stress dreams, an uncontrollable blinking eye and a heart that feels like it is going to burst out of my chest at any moment. Things are a little different this April as I am minus the day job but with three final exams to prep for I feel like I have too much stuff going on in  my head. Thankfully there is some cross over between Greek Drama, Women in Antiquity, and Nero to Hadrian. Yesterday I managed to wade through The Aeneid (one of my many bete noirs) and I am actually feeling excited about re-tackling Lucan’s Civil War on Monday. Imperial epics are probably the toughest thing I’ve had to study as they purposefully set out to be disjointed and fucked-up texts. Going forward I’ve decided to think of them as Klingon epics as they might be easier to make sense of with a couple of glasses of blood wine.

I’ve written and re-written this post a zillion times and then it struck me that it should be more about recovery than discovery. So here I go (again) – a few days ago Alex developed Bell’s Palsy. I know what the fuck is Bell’s Palsy and why does it sound so Scottish? Bell’s presents as paralysis of one side of the face. It is commonly mistaken as a stroke, and diagnosed through the lack of other symptoms.  It comes on suddenly, and without warning. That really is the frightening bit but it clears up over time (generally weeks or months).

If it had happened to me I am not sure if I would have carried on as calmly as Alex. Alex being Alex reasoned that since he didn’t have any other (stroke-like) symptoms that it probably wasn’t a stroke. So he of course finished off the rest of the day without mentioning it to anyone because you don’t need to be able to move both eyebrows to program just one will suffice. He did however call me to so I could set up a doctor’s appointment for the next day because not being able to move the right side of your face isn’t normal.

Before the appointment I emailed one of my friends that trained as a nurse not so much to fish for a diagnosis but to get a feel for the types of questions that Alex should ask. My real fear was that the doctor was going to dismiss the symptoms but the fabulous Nurse Debbie came back straightaway to tell me that she thought it sounded like Bell’s Palsy. My gods Nurse Debbie is better than WebMD (which hadn’t yielded anything useful), and the symptoms were a match (even the photo on the wiki page kinda looks like Alex). Much relief all around but when I told Alex and he was all “Bell’s what?”, and all I kept thinking was that it sounds like he’s got something from Edinburgh. Something classy. Something Scottish. How bad can that be? (Bell’s Palsy is named after Charles Bell the 18th century neurologist who connected the disorder to the facial nerve. You see prior to Scotland many being known for deep-fried Mars Bars we use to be known for our doctors, scientists and philosophers. Hello, Enlightenment.)

The doctor came to the same conclusion as Nurse Debbie and has put Alex on a course of steroids, physical therapy and he needs an MRI (just to be be sure). Alex is taking this bump in the road like a champ. It’s not great but it definitely not the worse thing that could have happened. I’m channeling my inner Jewish mother and trying to cook food that is interesting, and easy to eat. He might have a Scottish disorder but I don’t think he wants to live on porridge.

I have three articles on Antigone that I should probably be reading but I am so brain dead from a day reading endless articles about Tacitus, and churning out the world’s longest essay plan that I need a break. So, I’ve popped this week’s Chuck on, and I’ll throw out a few bullet points on how I’ve done this month on my ’34 in 2011′ challenge:

  • Pretty much studying full-time, and it really is making a difference. I’m further along in January than I’ve ever been before, and my aim is that by April I should be able to spend the that month just doing essay plans and past papers
  • Started off the bread baking easy with soda bread (yum!) and I think in February I’ll try my hand at a regular white loaf
  • I love Evernotes. In fact I love it so much I wrote a blog post for my university study blog about it
  • Only managed to read one non-school book in January, and it was a so-so P.D. James murder mystery but I did read a book about Spartan Women, and those women were fierce (or at least the myths about them are)
  • Been doing lots and lots of cooking, and trying to use up everything in my pantry which makes for some interesting meal combos. Best new recipe from this month is the Chinese no clay-pot chicken with soy and ginger – so yummy and easy!
  • Knitted a pair of mittens as a leaving gift for a friend and ex-colleague. They over well so going to knit a few b’day gifts
  • I’ve been flossing but there is nothing like not having dental insurance to motivate you to floss

I’m focused on three things at the moment: keeping warm, studying & Netflix! You’d think after a zillion winters on the north-east I’d be use to the cold and the snow, and more cold and more snow. But, no. Sure the snow is fun at first, and since the UK got snow before us this winter my reality practically imploded. But now we’ve had lots of snow I’m bored of it. Unfortunately, the Weather Channel didn’t get my memo because there’s yet another snowstorm heading our way this week, and it will drop 12ft of snow or something like that in the next few days. The only upside of all this snow is that they keep salting the sidewalks so that should keep the demons at bay for a bit though the salters need to pay more attention to thresholds.

Studying is going well. It’s bliss being able to make it my main focus, and other than being a wee bit stressed over having three essays due next week I feel like things are falling into place. I guess we’ll see how frazzled I am next week.

So that just leaves Netflix. Ah Netflix, the auburn haired siren that tries to lure me from my studies everyday. Since I am on a extremely limited budget (beginning to feel like Flora Poste from Cold Comfort Farm who only has 100 pounds a year to sustain her in stockings and cakes) Netflix is my only way to consume films so I manage my Netflix list like a Wall Street trader. As soon as I read about a film I add it to my queue, and then regularly check my queue to see release dates, and move things up accordingly. It’s all about monitoring the markets… I mean the DVDs. There’s a few films I want to do proper reviews on because they really blew me away, but until I get to that here’s a few bullet points on what I’ve watch this month:

  • The Special Relationship: This is the third outing for Michael Sheen as Tony Blair, and this time the focus is on the “special” relationship between Blair and Clinton. It was an interesting trip down memory lane, and surprisingly puts Blair-Bush in context.
  • The Town: Loved it, and it gets it’s own post later this week.
  • The A-Team: In the spirit of the recent Star Trek re-boot this also nails it. Strong cast (especially Sharlto Copely as Murdock) that embrace the silliness of this franchise. A solid popcorn flick, and I hope they make a sequel.
  • Buried: I was blown away by this film, and it will get it’s own post because it’s a smart film that not many people have watched.  You think it’s a film about a man trapped in a box but it is actually a political statement about the state of the US economy and the war in Iraq. So clever, and thrillingly entertaining.
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Yes, it’s silly and Cage wears a very silly wig but it’s fun.
  • Dean Spanley (Netflix Instant): I don’t know how to describe this film but it is a gem of a movie. An Edwardian tale of stiff upper lips coated in whimsy. The gentle tale of a strained relationship between a father (Peter O’Toole – Yes Lawrence of Arabia in his best part in decades) and son (Jeremy Northam), and their quirky friends from the colonies (Bryan Brown and Sam Neill). Such a strong cast. They must have had a blast filming.
  • Love & Other Disasters (Netflix Instant): Aviod. Aviod. Aviod. Only watched this because Netflix had billed Paltrow on par with Brittany Murphy. Blatant false advertising as Paltrow only appears at the end of this hideous mess of a movie. Ugh.
  • Death at a Funeral (Netflix Instant): This is a remake of the 2007 British film of the same name that I watched a few years ago. It’s a scene for scene remake, and I fell asleep.

The days between Christmas and New Year are a bit like no-man’s land. One year is nearly over, but the next is yet to start. Should I busy myself with clearing out my closet and getting all the over due task of ’04 out of the way? Or focus on filling in my nice shiny new diary and working my way through my Christmas DVDs?

In the UK pretty much everything grinds to a halt till the 2nd, but over here we bravely soldier on. Of course in all my previous incarnations I ended up working those days. Part manning the fort, part lack of judgment since I would always use up all my vacation days before years end. Not that it bothered me that much. The office would be a skeleton crew, I’d sit and read awaiting the crisis that would justify my presence. Until that is we forgotten few would head to the pub.

merry boxing day

Posted: 12/26/2004 in daily life
Tags: ,

I dropped the ball with regard to my Christmas Day post. Gifts, meringue making and socialising got in the way of blogging. So here are some of my favorite things about the yule tide period, in no particular order:

  1. Excessive use of fairy lights and all things that twinkle
  2. Stunted oranges (not chocolate but clemintines, satsumas, etc)
  3. Mince Pies
  4. Wrapping presents whilst watching While You Were Sleeping (one of my favorite Christmas films)
  5. Christmas trees – something very pagan (or should I say German) about having an evergreen along side your DVD collection
  6. The coming of Leah – I love that Christmas co-insides with me (and Alex) making it all the more special
  7. I will never be too old for chocolate money and all things associated with Santa Socks
  8. In the UK Christmas television specials dominate, not so over here where festive episodes air at the start of December – allowing us to catch up on DVDs, Radio 4 specials and games
  9. Panicked shoppers emanating merriment and mirth as they push you out of the way on busy streets
  10. Skewed gender roles (men in frocks and principle boys who are girls) in the British tradition that is pantomimes


Posted: 12/24/2004 in daily life

A fitting article from the beeb, I think I fall into the category of a geek widow and I guess that would make Alex a film or narrative junkie widower (it always cuts both ways). Not that I am complaining, there are far worse things that your other half could get up to in the wee hours and I have never seen it as a point of conflict within our relationship. As long as you are honest about it. Of course it could be said that Alex has ‘converted’ me. I can’t imagine sharing a computer (don’t we all need our own one?), I no longer buy a daily paper (save trees read it online) and I have a blog because of him, but I still can’t play video games for toffee.

Why do the main stream think it sad if you stay up late programming, blogging or gaming but if you spent the same amount of time reading something they deem worthy, painting, writing or composing then it’s not an activity to be ashamed of but intellect at work.