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Wow it's been a while you guys. Let me get you caught up on my past three months:


Now you're caught up.

So obviously I've been bloody rotten at keeping up with you guys, and will likely remain so for a while. If you've got good/bad news to share, need to whinge on an empathetic shoulder, or miss me horribly and yearn for my glorious conversation, drop me e-mails at zenithblue@gmail.com. I am also bad at keeping up with my e-mail right now but I will do my best to stay in touch. I am also get-in-touchable via facebook. Just don't try to get me in on Mafia Wars, I am trying to graduate my program with at least a part of a novel.

I miss you all and hope someday I'll have a slacker job again whereby I can surf the net all day and read your blogs. Love.
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This Tuesday [info]deadkytty9 and I ventured, finally, to  the Harry Ransom Center for their tour. That's right; I have been here for two years and have not yet really explored the HRC (though I did go to one of the reading rooms with my Romantic Lit class, where I got to breathe on Cassandra Austen's personal copy of Emma). The truth is I have been intimidated. It's a huge collection, and trying to figure out where to start and how to proceed gives me the fantods. Ridiculous, really; I'm going to pass up one of the best reasons to come to UT Austin just because I've got the Stendahl shakes? 

So, let me tell you what we saw just in the lobby and the gallery (disregarding the milliions of manuscripts and artifacts within the bowels of the collection): a Gutenberg Bible (illuminated with what looked to my undiscerning eye with blue Bic pen); the first photograph; an exhibition of Fritz Henle's photography; a hundred plus beautifully bound and beautifully illustrated copies of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat (which became a Victorian sensation upon its translation in 1859 by one Edward FitzGerald, and as you can imagine is treated with all the cultural sensitivity one can expect from that particular time period); and one of my favorite Frida Kahlo portraits, "Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird."

Evidence that we do more at UT than paint ourselves orange and pound the snot out of Sooners. Though we do that too.


It's odd to know how much stuff we have, and while I'm glad a lot of this material is in the hands of trained archivists in one of the most climate-controlled environments in the state of Texas, I do wonder if there are places and people that have firmer claims to these treasures. Still, collecting all these physical artifacts in one place makes good sense from a research perspective. The collection is fully open to memebers of the public, as well, which I find beautiful. You too, dear reader, can waltz into the building and read Tennessee Williams' first draft of A Streetcar Named Desire (spoiler alert: Blanche and Stanley run away together in this version. No joke.). You can walk into Earl Stanley Gardner's living room. You can read Carson McCullers' letters, Edith Wharton's letters, Henry James' letters, Paul Bowles' letters, and so on.  

Also if I ever have any degree of success as a writer the HRC is my retirement plan. Selectively, of course. The eight-grade Newsies fan-fiction and the blues song I composed for a grade-school project on Roald Dahl's BFG might not make the cut. 

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In Carlos Fuentes' Aura there's a scene in the middle of the book in which the second person narrator--so, "you,"--looks out the window and sees that "five, six, seven cats...are all twined together, all writhing in flames and giving off a dense smoke that reeks of burnt fur." And then you go back into the house and head down the hallway to fuck your boss's niece and the scene is never explained or referenced again. Well, that's magical realism for you.

This week, I think I edged closer to comprehending the complexities of gatos en fuego. I turned on my oven to roast some pecans. Suddenly, one of my foster kittens, Azuki, came bolting from behind the stove like the proverbial Chiroptera out of hell. I didn't even know there was a hidey-hole back there for him to get into. He was covered all over with a fine dusting of black stuff. "What did you get into?" I scolded. "Meow," he said.

When I brushed him off, I realized he hadn't gotten into something; the black stuff was the outer layer of fur burned to a crisp down his back. He had a slightly...sizzled odor.

So we all learned a valuable lesson. I now do headcounts when I turn on the oven, and Azuki, I suspect, will never venture near a stove again.
are you gonna eat me? )

zenithblue: (anne bonny)
In the office where I've been temping this week, one of my few regular responsibilities is to send out an e-mail when the taco lady shows up with her cooler. I've taken to just placing "tacos" in the subject line, and then in the e-mail's body simply writing "...are here." Because why write "tacos" more than once?

This afternoon, the company's CFO sent out an e-mail. It read:

"please say hi to ee cummings who is covering our front desk"

So I sent him back a reply:

"since hunger is first
who pays attention
to the syntax of things
will never give you tacos"

Meanwhile, all day, the rest of the office has been stopping by my desk in confusion. "I thought your name was Jennifer?"
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A half dozen MFA students with a sudden surplus of spare time equals what? Birthday tribute videos, that's what!

We're all pretty good at lip synch too. )
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It has never been a better time to purchase an exclusive Abernathy Green t-shirt, designed by our own [livejournal.com profile] drawgirl. Why? Because [livejournal.com profile] drawgirl  and her boyfriend Slasher both got laid off their respective jobs this week. Merry Christmas, guys! 

If cute-culture is not your thing, check out Slasher's Jack of No Trades line for a more aggressive, political look.

Abernathy Green and Jack of No Trades shirts are comfy, high-quality, and sweatshop-free. This is a great time to support an independent artist and get a cool new shirt for the new year.
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Of course I'm bloody ecstatic.

Amidst all the celebration, I think it's worth remembering:

I believe Obama will be a fantastic leader. But he has no magic wand. He's not going to patch everything overnight. He will not be able to accomplish any of this change without us.

Stay vigilant, stay involved, stay invested. This is your democracy. It's only as healthy as you make it.
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is mah birfday where r caek, dammit!?
more cat pictures

a notice

Aug. 12th, 2008 10:25 am
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I have three weeks left to finish all the writing I can this summer. As a result, I'm weaning myself away from livejournal for a little while. If anyone wants to talk to me, e-mail me directly--zenithblue@gmail.com. I'm still here, and not so busy I don't want to hear from people--I just can't keep up with my friends list right now.

zenithblue: (delerium)
1. [profile] drawgirl is here. WOOT. Bring on the Mexican martinis.

2. New Janet Frame story--posthumous of course--in the New Yorker. It's incredible.

3. Muppet Show soundtrack on repeat in my vehicle.

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So now that I'm finished with my semester, I can get started on the real work. My program offers us a certain amount of money towards "professional development," which we can take for almost anything--conferences, production costs (for the playwrights and screenwriters), or summer writing projects. I've taken some summer money so I can get a jump on the novel. Here we go.

Thing is, the money is very generous, but I'm in the unfortunate position of having $17K in student loans that come out of deferral the instant my semester ends. As in, now. So the money I got from the Michener Center is going to be quite thin, and I'm in the process of tightening my belt. Anyway, the point is, I have a small list of the same 5 cheap meals I've been eating on and off during various harsh times for the past decade (baked potato, egg stir fry, eggs and toast, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, spaghetti and sauce), and I'm looking for new suggestions. What's your favorite easy-to-make, money saving meal? Post it here and earn my gratitude.

I'm not a vegetarian, but I like to eat vegetarian as often as I can. And the meal suggestion doesn't have to be totally dirt cheap--I'll splurge on things like fresh veggies a couple times a week. Thoughts?
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Many glasses of wine later, [profile] drawgirl and I had resolved all the details of my wedding. Not only will it be a theme wedding, but it will be a pirate theme wedding. And not only that but it will begin with the boys on one sailboat and the girls on the other sailboat and the girls boarding the boy sailboat (maybe while swinging on rigging lines!?!?!?) and grabbing the boys and taking them back to the girl sailboat and then the wedding happens! I plan to wear a blue naval jacket and a hat with a feather. AND there will be rum.

No this is not a wedding announcement, by the way. This is just the wine.


Mar. 3rd, 2008 09:32 pm
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Of the 360 warm/hot days of the Texan year, I picked the nastiest, wettest, coldest one to get locked out of my house. It wasn't even my fault; my key didn't work in the back door lock, which I didn't know, since I never really use the back door. But now that the doggerson is back there, I managed at 10 AM to get myself stuck outside with no cell phone, no jacket, and no computer. Luckily I had my Wollstonecraft so I went to class and shivered for two hours, then got on the school computer and e-mailed Hodge in Houston who called the landlord who called the locksmith. Finally at 5:30 PM I was allowed back into my house, after a full day of shivering and misery. This was the suckiest day I have had in a year.

In further bad news, the doggerson has no microchip. I'm in a tizzy because I don't know if I can afford to keep him, but he's more or less the perfect dog for me temperament-wise. I'm trying not to panic. It's only been one weekend that he's been here, and there's time for his family to find him. I got some flea treatment so now I can shut him in the garage for the night--I felt bad that he was stuck outside for the rainstorm last night, but I really don't want my cats getting anything from him.

Now I'm supposed to work on homework--I'm supposed to write a happy ending to No Exit, which frankly I just don't much feel up for. I might just have a bath and read some shojo manga instead.

I'm going to Portland on Friday, and because I'm so stressed right now it's becoming hard for me to look forward to. It just seems like a lot of work, when I want to have a few days to do nothing. Well, since I'm staying with [profile] drawgirl I should be able to balance a major slack binge with some fun and excitement. Would it be totally lame if I spent part of my vacation in Portland re-playing Final Fantasy VII? And if it is lame, do I even care?
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So given that I've gained 15 pounds since my wrist injury, and given that I'm bored as shit with the elliptical trainers I've been using for the past eight years, I plunked down some money for a class pass at the UT gym a few weeks ago. The first week gave me quadriceps so sore I couldn't walk for days. The second week gave me calves so sore I couldn't walk for days. I'm not even kidding; I was gimping around like a gimp. My conclusion based on all evidence is that my body has gotten so efficient at the elliptical trainers it's not really a workout anymore, no matter what I set the damn machine to. I mean, I've been doing the elliptical about three times a week, so I didn't think I was that totally out of shape. But now that I have a masochistic teacher exhorting me to  quote unquote "push it! Push it hard!" and leading me through motions that more or less shock my body out of all complacency, I'm forced to conclude that I simply haven't been exercising on those machines, probably for a while now. This is a good thing to realize. I am at the highest pants size I want to be at.

As a side note, let me say that when I overhear someone say "I love abs work," I want to punch them in the nose. I realize this is unfair. I have been known to utter the phrase "Hey guys, let's strap sixty pounds to our backs and go out into the woods where we'll have to dig our own ditches to poop in and eat half-cooked ramen for dinner." I can't imagine various friends and acquaintances haven't wanted to punch me in the nose for such statements. But man, when I lay on my back, the first thing I think is, "Ah, my old friend corpse pose. Maybe I can snag a nap while I'm supposed to be meditating." Not: "Ah, I'm on my back. Time to force my torso upright against all dictates of gravity."
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Sep. 12th, 2007 05:53 pm
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So yeah, remember when I was all worried I was going to be lonely while Hodge was in Houston? Ha, wasn't that adorable? It was almost like I forgot that I'm now in school. That I'd have, you know, homework.

I don't really have time to be lonely.

I used to be so good at school. Now I'm six years out of practice. It's not exactly like riding a bike. It's more like...playing a musical instrument, maybe. I'm getting the hang of it again but in the meantime my head hurts because I'm not used to reading the notes, and my hands are sore from being forced into fingerings I only half remember.

That metaphor went on a little bit too long. I can't help it; I get carried away.

In any case, school is good, things are good, but I'm a little overwhelmed right this minute. If I've been flaky in the communication department, apologies. I hope you're all well out there in internet-land.

I hope my theory isn't true, that you don't all cease to exist when I'm away from my blog. I don't want to imagine you all languishing in the cold void of space. My imaginary friend died when I was little because I forgot to feed it. I just can't face that kind of loss again.
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So the desk is now officially an existential crisis. I'm not being melodramatic here. It's been a whole saga and every day I go into my office feeling cheery and hopeful that a vague desk-shape might start to appear from the MORE THAN FIFTY PIECES (!!!) that came in the box from Office Depot. And every day, when I slink out of the office, I feel like seppuku is a viable option. This constant discouragement is certainly not helped by the fact that even finding the desk was an ordeal. I 1) went to Ikea, 2) picked out one I liked from Ikea and got my heart set on it, 3) discovered that the one I picked couldn't hold a keyboard tray, which since my joints are now mush from five years of library work is a necessity, 4) went to the office store, 5) picked out one I thought I could live with, 6) was told it was out of stock, 7) tracked down another one at another Office Depot, 8) purchased the thing feeling excited that an end was in sight. And that was three days ago! Three days, of MORE THAN FIFTY PIECES of heavy desk debris scattered across the floor of the office!

And one of the MORE THAN FIFTY PIECES was broken, so I have to wait for the replacement to come in the mail before I have a hope of finishing the stupid thing.

Every painful quandry I get into (with the help of the utterly useless directions) gets resolved just in time for a new painful quandry to rise up.

I hate it.

The desk saga has also happened in concert with the destruction of my coffee maker. The carafe broke and it's out of production so I can't get it replaced, but I'm too stubborn to throw away an otherwise perfectly good coffee maker. The sad thing is, it won't actually percolate without the bloody carafe pressing against the drip just right. So I've been standing at the coffee maker pressing a spoon up to the drip to force it to give me caffeine. But seriously, there is just a shade too much antagonism in my life right this instant.

Of course, then I get back to the book I'm reading (Cormac McCarthy's The Road) and I feel like an asshole. Okay, so I have to jerry-rig my coffeepot. I'm not yet digging dirty seeds out of hay bales to feed my starving child.
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1. Move is slowly coming together. Cats need health certificates, and I'm slowly trying to acclimate Jack to the car (he's terrified of it and yowls frantically every time it starts moving. Meanwhile, Bodhi's just like "Hey this is cool, but can I have a phone book to sit on? I can't see out the windows.")  [profile] hplovescats and I need to plan our route and start making motel reservations that are pet friendly. Oh, that's the other update: Hodge is moving down with me now instead of next year. I feel kind of guilty uprooting him. That said, he's from Austin and his family is there, and I don't think this is the worst move we could be making. Also, we're hoping the Austin post-production industry will be fruitful for him.

2. I totally love my sister-out-law, who we'll from here on out call Sis in a privacy-protecting gesture. She is adorable. She's four years younger than we are and she's an artist and designer, but also a big old geek who watches buttloads of Fruits Basket and Inu-Yasha. Also she is helping us find a house. She's been driving around Austin peeking into windows of rentals and reporting back to us. Tomorrow she's going to actually go inside and if she feels good about the house we'll probably sign a contract (since she has awesome taste and knows what we want). I'm really excited to live near her, because she's fun and I've always wanted a sister and I'm totally too shy to tell her I think of her sort of like my sister but I do.

3. Our 4th was fun. We have patio furniture now! After three years of us whining every summer, "Hey, we should really get some patio furniture," [profile] drawgirl finally invested in some and it is totally awesome. We have places to rest our asses, and also shade! So we sat outside and grilled and drank. Then we blew stuff up in the streets.

4. Left a message at infinity tattoo. No one has called me back yet. I am going armed with about 20 Rischa sketches from [profile] drawgirl and a few ideas. I'm hoping we have time to finish a partial sleeve before I take off. That's right, I'm gonna do it. I used to have this fear I was suddenly going to become vanilla in my old age. Considering my aging process has consistently taken me away from soccer mom-dom, I'm not going to worry about it anymore. Also: if I'm going to end up a soccer mom, I will be the soccer mom with the best fucking tattoo and the most pimping hybrid minivan. And the other soccer moms will have secret crushes on me. Rock.

5. I was super domestic this last week. I resized a gigantic old t-shirt (my Reed O-Week shirt with the Trojan horse waiting outside Eliot Hall, which is maybe the dorkiest thing I own? No, that's a lie.) so now it looks super hot on me. And I made my first pie. It was a vegan pie and I'm not so sure the crust turned out but the banana-chocolate filling was tasty. I should have taken a picture of me in the shirt with the pie so you'd see how Doris Day I was.

6. Still sad about the move. Still having wild mood swings. But hanging in there. It's all good.
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Big news, at least for me: I have a new computer.

I can hear the collective gasp of those of you who know me in person, who've seen the machine I've worked on for years, a 1999 blueberry clamshell iMac that looks like an outsized cosmetics case. It was the first computer I ever bought brand new, and I loved it so much (and still do). But recently, it's started shutting down on me at random intervals. I think the AC cord is just not working right, so it wasn't really 100% desperate that I get a brand-new computer, but I decided since I had a tax return coming it was as good a time as any.

I simply don't buy new computers. The first reason is my resounding lack of funds. My family always inherited chopped-up computers from my techie uncle, who just gave us whatever broken crap he didn't want to use himself. When I went to college, I wasn't going to have a computer, but a friend's family gave me their outdated Mac in return for my tutoring skills. I felt like fucking Cinderella, even though it was already several years old. It was my own computer. I set the desktop. I set the screensaver (if anyone remembers the old falling stars screensaver from way old Macs, complete with cool falling star sound effects; I had a dormie who used to say if he felt sad or depressed and I wasn't there he'd sit outside my door and listen to the falling stars, which wasn't as creepy as it sounds since I was his dorm mom and absurdly maternal). My first e-mail account ever got set up on that Mac, and I wrote a lot of my first serious fiction attempts on it. It was mine, mine, mine.

So then a few years later, when I used my permanent fund dividend to buy a sexy new iBook, it was even more exciting. I had paid for it and it was new, just out of the box, just off the conveyer belt. I donated my old Mac to a dormie who'd had the misfortune to fry her hard-drive and never looked back.

But now I've used that iMac--named Violet Beauregarde, by the way (get it?)--for eight years. I wrote 1.5 novels on it, wrote my undergraduate thesis on it, wrote all my grown-up short stories on it. I don't know what to do with it. I'm hoping to find something useful, but for the time being I just can't conceive of getting rid of it.

Anyway, besides relative brokeness, the other reasons I do not buy computers are that 1) I'm vaguely a technophobe and 2) I stubbornly refuse to bow to the corporate whims that try to peddle me a new big-ticket item every few years on the grounds of "improvements" (most of which are meaningless to me). That said, here is a list of things I haven't ever had on a computer: mp3s, DVD player, chat capabilities, photographs. And for the past five years I haven't had internet access. I've weaseled my way onto Hodge's computer to do things like e-mail, blogging, applying to grad school, wasting time on YouTube, etc. But now...now! Now I have my own intarweb! I have the chat and the e-mail and the porn, oh the porn! Hahaha!

So for anyone looking for my chatty chatness, I'm zenithblue on gchat and jenithblue on AIM. And now you don't run the risk of someone replying, "Uh, this is Hodge" when you try to talk to me.

And the new computer? It's name's Veruca Salt.


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