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Spring Update


I’m supposed to be writing the last of four essays that I have due next week. I seem to be doing everything within my power to avoid doing so this morning. Rather than fighting it, I figure I’ll roll with the lazy until it’s out of my system and try again this afternoon when I’m focused. (Ha! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

I’ve just consumed the much-fought-over leftover enchiladas, much to The Girl’s chagrin. In exchange for this delight, I first offered to buy her an electric screwdriver. Then she told me how much they are. I honestly thought about paying £30 for the privilege of wolfing them down and ultimately downgraded my offer to leaving her the leftovers from the night before. Clearly this was not a fair trade. Tenacity wins again.

We’ve just come to the end of a kitchen remodeling project. It chased us out of the house for two weeks and then into the upstairs bedroom for another week to follow. Even now there is dust circling my dainty sinuses like so many villains twisting so many handlebar mustaches. But the kitchen is GORGEOUS (and orange! You know I actually live here now that there’s orange paint on the walls) and we’ve been cooking up a storm (see above re: leftover enchiladas.)

There isn’t terribly much to report, to be honest. The Xmas holidays were spent here in London. It was intense to be away from my Mom for the first time in 37 years. At the same time, come the New Year, I was literally exhausted. First, I’m crap at time management. (see this blog post rather than my essay for a lived embodiment.) Second, somewhere over the course of last 17 years I turned from an aimless slacker into a laser beam of eye-twitching perfectionism. I don’t know if you’ve tried being a completely disorganized perfectionist but the end result of this combination is kind of an Ouroboros of stops and starts in which the unrealistic expectation I have of being able to explain life, the universe and everything in my first year undergrad coursework is hampered by my tendency to stop reading mid-sentence and watch cat videos on YouTube. The pressure I put on myself when writing essays is borderline ridiculous and can result in things like crying/whining and/or the justified insistence that others not do incredibly rude things like breathe or chew within earshot. The Girl was fantasizing (during Valentine’s drinks, mind you!) about shipping me off to the Aran Islands when I write my dissertation. I told her *she’d* have to go, as I’ll need to be near the library.

The social front is largely unchanged. I know some lovely people. I hardly ever have time to see them. I continue to be a heckuva lot older than my fellow students, some of my profs, and many of my seminar leaders, though people continue to not have any idea that this is the case. It’s weird and vaguely annoying, especially when seminar leaders do things like squee and say “OH MY GOD!! NO WAY!? YOU’RE, LIKE, 10 YEARS OLDER THAN ME?? THAT’S SO WEIRD!!” in the middle of class.

I’ve formed some casual hallway friendships with fellow students, which is nice. And last week someone came up to me after class and invited me for coffee next week because I’m smart and seem to be the only other person in the seminar group that has an opinion on anything. It was a really nice compliment and, as per usual, I was so thrown off by the kindness and so completely socially awkward that I probably came off like an absolute jerk. It’s really common for me to hear that others think I’m stuck-up or self-absorbed. Truth is, I’m just REALLY AWKWARD and painfully shy. And no one ever believes me about it. It’s sort of the opposite of chronic bitchface. When people see me interacting with people I know and am comfortable with, I look really friendly and approachable and relaxed. So when they come up to me, they expect the same treatment which, were I not a complete social dolt, would probably be the case. Instead, they get stammery responses or awkward silences which, based on how they viewed me prior, seems like an intentional thing. Alternately, I may be really nice and funny and have a totally normal-seeming interaction and then totally not remember the person the next time I see them. Problem is, I absolutely have NO recollection for faces or names, especially when I meet people in group settings (which is mostly where I meet people.) I don’t have recollection because, largely, I’m just trying to SURVIVE stranger interactions. It’s not that I don’t like people. I really, really, really do. I wouldn’t even say I’m a true introvert. I’m somewhere in between. I love talking to people. But it takes a lot of energy for me. So where I may seem really present and connected, and I actually *might* be in the moment, because of the overarching awkwardness of mitigating my shyness throughout the entire evening, I sort of become a social goldfish. I survive, even enjoy, one stranger interaction and then am so consumed with the business of surviving the next that I immediately forget what happened just before it. Thus, the next time someone sees me, because they’re, like, normal human beings, they might actually remember who I am and/or having a conversation with me and expect our acquaintanceship to continue in the standard linear fashion. I, on the other hand, will likely be right back at square one and then be so consumed by guilt and embarrassment at not remembering that I will be even MORE awkward than ever. It’s not until conversations happen in quieter spaces, or come with deeper meaning/some point of reciprocal connection, that people actually get embedded into my sieve-like mind. So, to anyone reading this who has experienced me as a stuck-up jerk, I’m really sorry about that. I probably think you’re really neat, or would if I remembered. I like most people. I’m just AWKWARD.

Well, now. Not sure where that tangent came from. Maybe I should have the above printed up on little business cards to hand out to strangers at parties. But then, I’ve always been this way. I got an email from someone I went to high school with. Apparently we were friends. We hung out. We did donuts in my car in the snow in the abandoned school parking lot. I remember NOTHING. Her name doesn’t even sound familiar. I’m guessing it’s a survivor thing. Clearly I have ‘issues’. 😉

Anywhoo – not that any of this has anything to do with London. Except that I continue to be awkward here. Big surprise.

As for school, I’m in the Reading Week of the Spring term. Reading Week is supposed to be a week off of classes in which you are expected to catch up on all the reading you didn’t get to do and/or do additional readings to further your understanding. In reality, it’s the week where everyone scrambles to write all the essays they have due the week following. Because I am doing a joint honours program, I have more work than most. But the trade-off is that I get to see how media and anthropology can interact which is especially helpful given what I want to do in the future.

Earlier this week I did my first school-sanctioned fieldwork. That was really amazing. I came away from the interview with a renewed dedication to figuring out a way to spend my life doing exactly that: Interviewing women about their experiences and then somehow showing others how beautiful they are. The Girl noticed the spark in my eye that she hadn’t seen in ages. I miss activism so much, especially social organizing. It’s hard to not have time for it. I crave that unique connection all the time. My head is spinning with ways to make this my reality. Thankfully I have a few years to figure it out.

I head back to Portland in mid-April for a little over a week and I can’t wait to see everyone. Even more, I’m looking forward to the month we’ll be spending there over the summer. It sounds so luxurious. I feel like I’ll just be rolling around in all that love and connection and the different kinds of comforts that exist in Portland. London is amazing, but I haven’t had time to really make it home yet. Hopefully I’ll be doing that in the months before and after PDX.



  1. Renee Bianchi

    Sending love. Interesting post. Thinking about it. I love you…. and your photo with your girl!

  2. Stacy Bias

    I love you, too!!


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