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Today was a work day and I was out of the house by 6:15am. I had two papers left to grade and that was fast enough to do on the subway. I got the email to sign up for Folder Review, where we meet with our Directors to discuss the papers so far, but I got it on the train. I couldn't do Google docs on my phone. By the time I got to campus Oct 20th was gone, so I ended up signing up for October 13th. It will be a time crunch and a lot of work this coming weekend, but, on the other hand, I will have the weekend of 15-16th free when we go visit Bear's parents. And I can enjoy all the Halloween/pumpkin/October activities with no guilt.

Work itself went well. We did lots of revision for Paper 2 today and I don't have to do any grading until Thursday. Yay. I didn't take lunch with me today, so I bought a chicken salad wrap, and it was pretty good. The way back took forever, though, waiting for the subway and having it terminate earlier so having to wait for another train.

RS Games started today. The stories are posted on AO3 this year, which I like. The first story I read today was already tugging at my heart. Remus/Sirius pairing is so great on angst.

I watched the 3rd episode of "Luke Cage" last night. I'm really liking this show. My Dad has been watching "Daredevil" and not feeling it. Then he checked out "Luke Cage" and he's already ahead of me. "Jessica Jones" is still my favorite of the three Marvel Netflix shows, but Luke Cage is certainly good.
some spoilerly thoughts )

Book Meme
3. A book you found overhyped, and why
I find some classic sci-fi overhyped at times. Two books that come to mind are Ender's Game and Dune , especially Dune . My Dad gave me both for New Year present in 2010. I was excited. I read them and finished them and I can recognize why others love them so, but I just had issues with both of them. Maybe I was expecting more, especially of Dune. Ender's Game was ok, but I just hated the last chapter. It seemed to come out of nowhere and just soured me on the whole book. With Dune I just couldn't stand most of the characters. And there is only so much politics I can take.

I just looked at the tags for both books on my DW blog - here were my thoughts at the time I read each:

my old blog entries on Dune )

my old blog entries on Ender's Game )
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I finished commenting on all the rough drafts for Monday, so I had half a week free of grading. That was good since my RS Games story was due on Wednesday night. I finished writing it on Tuesday, staying up until 12:30am and sent it off to Bear for a quick proofreading. And I sent it in on time on Wednesday night! Yay. Of course, on Thursday, I just had to look at the prompts again and got another idea for a new story. I emailed the mods, and now I have a few weeks to write a pinch hit as well. I have all the grading to do now, but I really should just write more and deadlines are a wonderful thing.

On Thursday, I collected Final Paper 1, so I need to grade them by next Thursday. And as usual I'm procrastinating. I'm just got to my parents, since Bear has a weird schedule this week and can't watch Tanya his usual Monday. That means I will have more time at work since my commute is my Dad driving me to and from work and I can grade a bunch.

So on Thursday, I took a night off and actually watched some TV and read my book. I checked out the premiere of "This is Us." I really miss "Brothers and Sisters" and I'm hoping for the same type of feel. I liked the pilot enough to check out more. I'm going to give this show three to four episodes and see how it goes. I'm not really checking out any other new shows, other than "Luke Cage." "Flash" Season 2 is coming to Netflix on Oct 4th, so that will keep me busy. I did watch "The Good Place" today and while it was a little amusing, it's not for me right now.

I did finish a book and am almost done with another, so I'm really having a good reading month. My Dad was showing me his Goodreads a few weeks ago when I was here last and I saw that one of the books he read this year was Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold. I've been meaning to read her for a while, so I connected my Kindle to his Calibre and downloaded so many books. And once I finished Uprooted , I knew I wanted to do Bujold next. I'm on the women writers in sci-fi and fantasy kick. (I'm reading Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones now and I put Jemisin's "The Fifth Season" on the waiting list in the library).

Shards of Honor - with spoilers )
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Thursday was my first day of classes. Since I'm staying at my parents' this week, my Dad drove me to work on his way to work. We had to leave early so I was there by 7am. The offices don't usually open until 8:30am but there are comfortable couches on the second floor by the offices, so I sat there, ate my bagel with cream cheese, drank my tea, and read my book. Grace, one of the secretaries, actually came in early by 8am, so she opened all the offices and, most importantly the printer/copier room. And since it was the first day of class for me, there was a lot of printing (which is one of the reasons Grace came early - there is usually lots of teachers who need to print a lot. I was first and got it all done fast.)

After printing and photocopying everything I needed - syllabi, my semester class breakdown schedule, first day writing sample, reading guide, reading homework for Monday - I also printed two potential essays to choose from to teach as the second essay in a few weeks. Our textbook is being updated next year and the department wants us to pilot a few readings to see how they work and what readings to keep in the old textbook, since after essay 2 the students need to connect two different essays.

The theme of the first half of the semester (first 3 readings) is activism. I'm starting with the intro to Kristof and WuDunn's book Half the Sky about how essential it is to help women all over the world and how that help will elevate not just women but the countries and whole of society. There are a lot of heartbreaking and inspiring stories of women in this book. I love that book; I read it in 2009, and I've taught this intro before. I usually try to introduce the concept of "agency" to my students with this essay. And for the 3rd essay I'm teaching Malcolm Gladwell's New Yorker article "Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted". . He raises concerns with the long term impact of social media "weak tie" activism and questions the ability of this kind of activism to actually change policy. It's a great article to argue with and will lead to second half of the semester about the impact of social media and tech on individuals and the impact of the new communication style.

What I needed is the bridge between these two essay. I was torn between the intro from We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author, and
"The Matter of Black Lives" by Jelani Cobb, New Yorker from March 14, 2016. So I printed both essays and read them before my classes started at 10:20. And "The Matter of Black Lives" is the clear winner for my sequence. It concerns itself with US activism, social media activism and its impact, and about marginalized groups, which would fit really well with both Kristof and WuDunn and with Gladwell and will build with each essay assignment. And for me it was an educational article since it tries to organize how the movement grew and to give it context. I felt hesitant about teaching this before since I feel like I've only known enough about Black Lives Matter from the periphery and the internet but not the essential things about it. But this essay is good for that and I like the idea of giving my 18 years olds some background too so they can follow the news. I felt like I learned a lot just by reading it. And I'm still thinking about the questions it raised. The feminist essay is good too, but it feels a little too basic to me (I did study women and gender history at a graduate level at one of the best universities in the world for women and gender, so this is probably just my bias, and my students would find good ideas there, but I also want to challenge them a little more).

It felt really good to read though, to read deeply, to take notes while reading, like I was clearing cobwebs from my brain. After being home all summer with my toddler, my brain certainly needed it. I'm read many fiction books but I really needed to get back into work mode.

Classes themselves went well. It was 20 minutes of intro, going over the syllabus pretty much, and then the students had to write a writing sample for me for an hour. So easy day. During the first class I actually worked on my fanfic story for RS Games. I printed what I had so far from Google docs and wrote about Remus and Sirius in longhand. I wrote two full big pages and I felt so incredibly productive. It's due in two weeks so I really need to just finish it. I have the bones, I just need to write it. But it was flowing well, I know where I want it to go and the characters are almost writing themselves, so it's just the matter of finding the time. And during my second class I read the writing samples from the first class. I found two students who had very weak samples, so I brought those over to the director as they should be moved to a section with extra reading help.

My classes were done at 1:20 but I had to wait until 5 for my Dad to pick me up. I tried career center as they were having a workshop at 3 but as I thought it was full. So I decided to go get my school ID updated. It was very, very hot and the school buses between different campuses were very full so it was a bit of the wait. The faculty HR office where they do IDs is a the furthest possible location, so it took a while to get there for about 2 minutes of "here sit for a pic, here is your id". But I got it done and most of the rest of the writing samples so I don't have to think about it anymore.

Yesterday, was very very hot again, but Tanya and I went to the playground in the morning anyway. She being very 2 lately with a lot of not listening and complaining. I think it is a little worse because I went to work. She's definitely having a little more trouble falling asleep. She is staying with my parents tonight while I go back to Brooklyn for Yeva's birthday party at the Russian restaurant. Bear is good with bedtime routine but not actual going to sleep part - she usually wants me or my Mom for that. So we figured she should stay here and my parents would drive her back in the morning. I'm not looking forward to leaving her overnight - I only done it a few times before, and only once when we were not on vacation in Florida with her just a couple of rooms away - I know I'm going to be worried and will miss her a lot. And I'm just not looking forward to this party. But I have to go since there was a whole drama about it.

We still didn't get the Recognition Agreement. I keep calling the mortgage broker, he keeps blaming the bank's attorneys - it is really frustrating at this point. Fingers crossed that this would finally resolve itself next week and we can submit it all to the board.
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RS Games are now over with the author reveals so I can now talk about the stories I wrote and post them elsewhere - and share them here. And yes, "stories", plural because I ended up doing a pitch hit in the middle of October. I realized only a few days that both stories end up letting Remus escape his lycanthropy - huh, I guess I had a theme.

The first story, Moon Dog , was inspired by the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. I played it while writing the story and one of the commenters said the rhythm of the words reflected it, which was quite accidental on my part. In the story, Sirius the Star hears music and comes to Earth to meet the beautiful musician (Remus).

My pitch hit ended up being a Space AU. It is called Sailing Far Beyond the Air . It is very short, less than 2000 words, because I only had a few days to put it together but I might end up exploring the idea later. Sirius grew up on the colonies of Mars where most pureblood families live (I basically adopted canon to sci-fi) He finds Earth very confining - so the story explores Sirius' ideas of freedom and imprisonment (which fit the prompt I used). It is character study really, with Remus playing a small role in the end.

My favorite story of the Games was a Muggle AU called No Longer Easy On the Eyes by [ profile] nerak_rose. It has Teddy and Harry and a wonderful slow burn of a relationship between Remus and Sirius. It is long 26K but I couldn't stop reading and it didn't really feel that long at all. I just got caught up by the wonderful storytelling.

And now I need to write my story for RS Small Gifts - I'm feeling some self imposed pressure, since my last two stories for that fest are by far my most popular ones (judging by AO3). I also want the recipient to be happy with it. But I think my idea is good enough. I'm going to incorporate Russian New Year holiday traditions in it so that should be fun.


A few days ago I finished the 4th book (out of 7) in the Accursed Kings series by Maurice Druon The Royal Succession . It a historical fiction that is about the succession to Regency and then the Crown of Philippe V of France who ruled from 1316 to 1322. I really love this series. The prose flows so easily and the historical details feels researched and accurate enough (although dramatized accordingly). He often included details like types of dresses the royalty wore or what was pillaged in a castle based on actual 14th century accounts.

Sometimes, I can't read historical fiction if the characters are too far from how I imagined them from studying the history (I'm a medieval historian by training, specializing in 14th century England). But this series works so well for me. In this book, there is a plot involving the poisoning of a baby - and that was very hard to read - too graphic. Now that I'm a mother it is certainly hard to read about terrible things happening to kids (and Yahoo keeps putting gruesome things involving children when I go on it, despite many times I click on the button to remove those kinds of stories.)

So the series continues to be great and next up is Isabella, wife of Edward II. I'm really glad this series is finally getting a good English paperback treatment with Books 6 and 7 coming out soon.

TV: Grimm
Grimm S5E3 )

Cross stitching
My friend Janna is having a baby girl at the end of February so I decided to make a small birth record counted cross stitch for the baby. I picked a 5X7 design of a toy train with animals - it is nice and colorful and a project small enough to be manageable. I haven't cross stitched for 15 months - last thing I did was Tanya's birth record, so it was so nice just to do a little bit today. And I love projects with bright colors.

Today, I just wrapped the fabric in masking tape and found the center. Then I did two strands in orange for the giraffe. I made a mistake, which I thankfully caught before I finished the first strand; the fabric needed to be in landscape but I started doing portrait automatically. Good thing I realized it and was able to pull the stitches and start over again on the proper side.
Catching a mistake in time.
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30 Days of Me Meme

Day 28: Your to-do list

Well, my to-do list is pretty short since I finished most of the things I needed to do this week. So the next few days, I need to grade 5 midterms a day, I need to make soup for Tanya tomorrow, and cook for me and Bear on Saturday and call the dentist to set up an appointment to replace a crown. And catch up on RS Games stories.

30 Days of Fanfic Meme

28 – Have you ever collaborated with anyone else, whether writing together, or having an artist work on a piece about your fic?

I was supposed to collaborate with an artist on the History Big Bang I did a few years ago. But the artist never submitted the work based on my story - so I guess that didn't work out. Other than that I never really collaborated with others.

Supernatural S11E2 )

On the train home today I was reading Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home." It's really, really good. I can certainly see why it's so acclaimed. I like the discussion of different authors and philosophers in between the ordinary too. Chapter 2 made me contemplate the nature of grief and upset and how I reacted when my grandmother died or when my Dad got diagnosed with thyroid cancer 5 years ago (he is great now. Great 5 year check up a few weeks ago. Yay!). I don't cry at stressful moments, my head gets super logical and I go into problem solving mode with lots of research. But I do remember that when my grandmother died, that whole first day was surreal in the way I perceived time and just sensitivity to the environment and the different way my brain seemed to work.

RS Games rec. I read this story today called fell in love once and almost completely and it was absolutely brilliant. This is the summary: "When Remus is four, his father kills a werewolf in front of him. Eleven years later, he meets an unfamiliar boy with a scarred face and a secret." This is the story of what happens if Remus wasn't a werewolf but Sirius was. All the characters - Remus, James, Peter, Snape, Sirius - are perfectly themselves but different due to circumstance. It is such an original and fresh take on the Marauder's story. And a lovely romance too. I highly recommend it.
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30 Days of Me Meme

Day 17: Highs and lows of the past year

Almost all of highs and lows of the past year are related to taking care of a baby. There is sleep deprivation - she slept through the night one time so far in 14 months. There is worry about how and what she's eating, etc. There were times where I was super cranky or tired or had many days that got very tedious. But there was also lots of joy in watching her learn to manipulate toys, roll over, sit, crawl, walk and now talk. I got so happy when I showed her a giraffe and she lifted her head high for the first time. It's the little things.

Lows in general, probably just trying to figure out job stuff and feeling down about that whole thing - I really would like a decent paying full time job - who doesn't.

But overall, I'm surprisingly optimistic lately and pretty happy and I know its mostly because when I start to feel down, I look at Tanya's face. And it is perfection personified. She makes me feel happy for sure.

30 Days of Fanfic Meme

17 – Titles – Are they the bane of your existence, or the easiest part of the fic? Also, if you do chaptered fic, do you give each chapter a title, or not?

When I have a prompt, titles are usually easy since I often take them from the prompt - whether a line of the song or a phrase. Otherwise, I don't overthink them - I just take a few options and pick one. Sometimes I would use a song title of some kind if I'm stuck.

No, each chapter doesn't get a title. Just 'chapter 1' 'chapter 2".


October is here and the temperature dropped to cold in one day and it has been raining. Today it rained all day, non stop. More rain tomorrow, so no birthday party since it was supposed to be in a park. We'll try again next weekend. (Next weekend I have a wedding and now a birthday, while on Monday I have to have my mid-semester meeting with a director as work - I really need to make sure I finish grading all the papers. Thank goodness for small classes this semester).

In more awesome things that make October a wonderful month, RS Games have started posting! This fest has really good quality stories and art so if you are into Remus and Sirius, or just good fic, this is the fest to be. I've been participating since 2011 and it is just so much fun to read. RS Games has been posting for 2 days and already there are two brilliant stories that I simply loved: best combination of angst and hope.

First story is called Any Other Night . Here is the summary: "In 1977, Remus and Sirius set about trying to kill the moon, and years later, in Azkaban, Sirius reflects on this and on his damaged relationship with Remus."

The prose in this story is beautiful. Very lyrical quality. The story is from both points of view which works really well. It is the best imagining of the escape from Azkaban I read and an interesting take on early romance.

Second story is called If This Life Isn't Enough . Here is the summary: "Sirius' memory has become a strange thing. It's veiled in clouds, but he looks for sunshine anyway."

If you like delicious angst, angst that touches your soul in all the best ways, that brings out all the emotions, this story is for you. There is hope in the end, but this is a story of Sirius trying to piece his memories together after Azkaban and focusing on the end of the First War. It offers the best explanation of why Sirius never tried to proclaim his innocence and has a great characterization of Peter. There is a brief Remus POV of heartbreaking variety.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Monday, June 8th, 2015 08:52 pm
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June is usually a busy time for me, where nearly every weekend is scheduled. There are at least four birthdays, a Broadway show, and Father's Day which is big in Bear's family (he was born on Father's Day). I'm also the kind of person who likes set plans and I get uneasy with last minute changes. I also really dislike being late and can get cranky to make sure we all leave on time.

This June is already telling me to be more flexible and to relax a bit. We had to postpone the aquarium trip from last week to the 15th. Then, Bear actually looked at the Broadway tickets he bought and instead of the 13th, they are for the 20th matinee. I planned the week and the appointments and visiting my parents around the 13th, so they can babysit. Now I guess, we will stay an extra day in Staten Island and my Dad can take Tanya for the baby train ride he wanted to do. And we can go to the beach. And instead of going to Bear's parents for the whole of Father's Day weekend, we will just go on the 21st. At least this weekend we were able to do everything we planned.

On Saturday, Bear's Mom turned 72, so we drove to Long Island for the day. We stopped by a shopping plaza so Bear could go to Michaels to get a big set of colored pencils as a present - she got herself one of the new adult coloring books, and I went to a supermarket to get a bouquet of flowers. Tanya and I already bought a card. We had a nice low-key day there. Tanya played on grass for the first time. There was ice cream cake. I got presents too - a light summer shirt and pants, a biography of Romanov sisters that was on my wish list, and a coloring book too. And Bear went on a long walk with Tanya in the middle of the day and I sat luxuriously on the couch reading my new book. It was lovely.

On Sunday, it was time for my birthday gathering with my friends. I picked Brooklyn Bridge Park. That place is pretty new and very crowded but very pretty. It was Tanya's first subway ride - she liked it. We met up with my friend Janna and her baby Jo at the subway stop and walked to the park. It took a while for Yeva and Marianna with family to gather. Meanwhile I got some Indian pancakes at Smorgasburg. There were so many vendors; I wish I could try it all. We mostly hung out at the playground on Pier 5. My friend Olya came for a bit too; I haven't seen her in a while. I wanted to find some grass to sit on but with so many babies and feeding them, and naps etc, we kind of just stayed at the playground. Still, it was nice to see everyone. It's always cute when Ida and Tanya try to interact. Yeva got me an awesome bag with stacks of books on it and an umbrella with books, plus Ahava cream. Janna got me a gift card. Olya got me a chocolate bar which made me feel bad because I didn't have anything for her (we share a birthday, she is just three years younger).

So overall, a lovely weekend.

Prompts for RS Games went up on Friday. Usually I pick word prompt or at least song lyrics. I tend to be literal. By this time my top three choices out of five were audio/visual. I got my number one choice, and had a lot of fun coming up with a story. I really like my idea, I'm excited to start writing. (I shouldn't really elaborate since it is technically a competition and only my team is allowed to see my ideas so far).

I caught just the briefest glimpse of the Tonys yesterday, but that girl singing 'Ring of Keys' from 'Fun Home' was amazing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 08:28 pm
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We got back home yesterday. We left in the afternoon instead of evening like we originally planned and that was a really good call. Bear's parents got chinese food for lunch and gave us food for dinner too and then we were of. We got back by 3 and I could unpack and Bear had time to go to the Russian store to get me groceries for the week. I need my bread. And veggies lIke eggplant and mushrooms. I want to make pee soup at some point too so I needed some leaks.

He left this afternoon until Sunday night and I'm just home alone with Tanya. My parents are coming back from their vacation on Thursday, so they will come visit on Friday. Until then it's just the two of us for a few days. I made her her soup this morning while tomorrow I will cook for myself.

On Sunday, Bear was home and while he took Tanya for a walk I sat on the back porch of his parents' house and read Neil Gaiman. And in the evening I had him sit with her so I could finally finish the book. I've been reading it only on the train to work and then got distracted by Russian Sci fi. It is also easier for me to read me Kindle lately because of baby needing me at night and reading by flashlight. But I finally finished it. I read all the short stories in order. I want to do a separate review but overall it was a good collection but not my favorite. I was anticipating the twists in most of the stories. They still managed to surprise me a bit but it just felt familiar. I did enjoy the latest story about Shadow.

I also finally managed to finish watching the last two episodes of Supernatural Season 10 today. The finale was pretty intense. The emotion and twists were pretty good. The scene between Sam and Dean with Death watching was particularly well done.

On Sunday afternoon, Bear, his Mom, Tanya and I drove into the local town center. It's just one main street and a park by the docks. It's very American to me. And really nice for an outing. We took Tanya on the swings; she saw and interacted with a 10 months old beagle puppy. Bear used to have a beagle and his Mom struck a conversation with the owner of a puppy when we came over. While I'm afraid of dogs, I'm fine when they are on the leash with owners nearby. And I don't want Tanya to have my phobia. And she was smiling widely and trying to touch and pet the dog. It was cute. Bear then drove his Mom home, while I waiting in the park for him to come back. Tanya draws a lot of smiles being a baby. Then when Bear came back, we walked in the town and got frozen custard to share. It was perfect for a Memorial Day weekend outing.

My friend Marianna got me a few Kindle books from my wish list for my birthday. My birthday is not until next week but she doesn't know how the Kindle delivery system works. So I got early awesome presents. I get to read a biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, 'Madame Curie Complex: the hidden history of women in science' by Julie des Jardins, and 'Defending the City of God: A Medieval queen, the first crusade and the quest for peace in Jerusalem' by Sharan Newman.

I couldn't get Internet access on my laptop in Long Island so when I got home I also finally could sign up for RS Games, my favorite fan fest. (Remus/Sirius fest). The theme this year is Sky. I can't wait for prompts.
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My Aunt Vera (my Mom's sister) is visiting from Minsk, Belarus for a month. She came on September 25 and is visiting until October 23. And today, her best friend Marina, who lives in Israel now, is coming to visit until October 23rd too. They are all staying with my parents. So my Mom's house is pretty full. (Their other friend is coming from Chicago for a long weekend too this Saturday. Too many guests :) ) I'm staying with parents this week with Tanya from Monday to Friday and then I will be home for three weeks. My Dad is sad about it since he loves to come home from work and play with his granddaughter.

What this means today is that Tanya has many caretakers and Aunt Vera is out walking with her now while Tanya sleeps in her pram. And I get a few hours of free time where I can go on the internet or read my book. What this means next week, when Bear is overnight at his parents from Tuesday to Saturday, is just me and Tanya and long, long days.

Two things in today's post:

1. I got the new Leonard Cohen CD "Popular Problems." His voice managed to get even deeper. As usual, his songs and his poetry of the songs is fantastic. I even gave my Aunt the iPod on her walk yesterday so she could listen to it. She doesn't speak English but she really liked the voice and the music. And Tanya listened to it yesterday with me too - it is never too early to listen to good music.

2. R/S Games have started posting. It is certainly my favorite fest of fanfic because I love Remus and Sirius so much and the quality of the writing and art always amazes me. I just read a story today "Within White Space" that was just beautiful Muggle AU based of Walt Whitman prompt. Gorgeous. I wrote a story for the fest too; it is a short one this year but their themes always inspire.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 10:24 pm
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I got a lot of little chores done in the morning and was mostly lazy in the afternoon. I wrote and mailed a card for my mother-in-law's birthday, sent an e-card to little Galya who turned 3, took a long walk to get bisquick and cheese for zucchini pie I want to make this week, got lots of fruit too - I love the summer fruit, called the apartment management office to find out that I didn't have to worry about double rent mistake - it was their fault for closing the month earlier than most people send checks in, etc. So just lots of little chores.

I did make chicken fingers based on Bisquick recipe on the box and watched more SYTYCD auditions in the evening. And I skimmed the Dresden Files book to make me read it faster to get to those scenes between character I want to read closely. So pretty boring day, but that is a good thing.

I did sign up for Remus/Sirius Games on LJ for the fourth year in a row a week or so ago, and today teams were announced. I'm on Team Magic. I do really enjoy this fest and all the people who participate in it - at the end there is much high quality fanfic. Can't wait for prompts on Friday.
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It's Election Day and Papa will pick me up from work so we could go vote. Then I'm going to stay at my parents' house for the night, before heading to work tomorrow. I'm not very excited for the election because I'm not a huge De Blasio fan, especially having spent the summer working for his Democratic opposition. But at the same time, I'm not going to vote for Lhota and other Republicans. Well, my Dad is going to vote Republican so we are going to cancel each other's votes, so that makes me feel a little better. I will, of course, still go vote because I never take that privilege for granted.

My semester has been busy, mostly with grading so I have not been updating my journal. I do read my reading list often but I should try to keep up with my own journal. So I thought that if I focus on specific topics it might help me update at least a few days a week.

I want to especially talk about books that I've read, so I will do an update on that Friday, once I'm done with grading my writing classes.

Here are some general updates:

Two of my friends had babies. My friend Janna had a daughter Josephine (Jo for short) on October 3rd and my friend Tjamke had a son Jasper on September 30th. I went to visit Janna and Jo a few times (including after a really nice dinner with the girls on Saturday).

On the other side of the spectrum, the father of one of my best friends (Yeva) is dying from liver cancer at 60. He has from a few weeks to a few months. We've been trying to be there for Yeva as much as we can but it all feels pretty useless. So just throwing a lot of positive thoughts their way.

In more pleasant events, one of my friends, a coworker with whom I commuted last year, wrote a play called "Side Street" and got it produced last month. I went to see it with very little expectations. It was staged in this small room, with about 22 people in the audience, with four actors. And it was amazing. I had a really great time. The play is about a mother/daughter relationship. The actors were brilliant and I loved being so close that I could see their every emotion. I'm so glad I went.

And Bear and I just booked a trip to Dominican Republic for December, right after my semester ends. I am so looking forward to just lying on a beach for a whole week. I'm already tired from the semester and all the grading and there are still six weeks to go.

And finally, RS Games 2013 are just nearing their conclusion (Go Team Post-Hogwarts), and people can still vote on the stories. I did like the way mine turned out and I'm continually amazed by the talent of all the writers there.

October Catch Up

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 08:50 pm
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I'm going to do a list since that seems to be the easiest way to catch up. So here are my October highlights

• Medusa visiting - I haven't seen her in person in about two years so it was really awesome that she moved much closer to New York and could come visit. We watched silly TV and it was like no time has passed. Great Columbus Day weekend.

• Marianna’s bday - and Adama's too. He turned 40 while Marianna turned 32 and we celebrate at the Indian buffet in Queens we all like. Bear and I took the subway there and had a nice monthly friend gathering. Yeva, Janna and I got them a joint massage gift certificate as a present.

• Battling a cold – now a fun highlight but I did have a big cold for like half the month, I even stayed with my parents one night so I wouldn't have to take the train with the cold when my carpool person was on little vacation. I'm better now but that was not fun.

• Grading and grading and folder review - I did another marathon grading session before my folder review. The review itself went well. But now that I live with Bear, I can't go to sleep at 12 and wake up at 6 to grade. I even slept in the living room so I could let him sleep more. So I need to actually break down my grading so that I could go to sleep like a normal person at these times.

• Ikea and Coney Island Halloween of Horror - October 20th and 21st was a really great weekend. First Bear and I went to IKEA to pick up a living room lamp and a side table (and we ended up with $100 worth of little things). We went to the Brooklyn IKEA in Red Hook, right next to a community farm with a Halloween Fest, so we picked up a little pumpkin for Bear to carve. He later made a vampire face. And in the evening we went to Luna Park in Coney Island for their Halloween of Horror evening. We got discount tickets from LivingSocial. I loved the haunted houses/mazes while Bear loved the rides. I just went on a baby coaster and mild rides - I'm not a fan of rides and turn you upside down. I did cheer Bear on with a cup of hot cider.

• Pea soup and tuna-pasta casserole and cleaning and awesomeness of domesticity - The other great part of that great October weekend was just being at home and cooking and cleaning. I made a pea soup with beef - a first for me, and it came out great. It was just a very relaxing day. Bear and I made the casserole together and cleaned together too and even the chores were fun to do together.

• “Emma” - I finally finished it. I do like Mr. Knighley quite a lot, maybe even more than Mr. Darcy (blasphemy, I know). He is just so practical and says what he means and I love that quality in a person. And I love his relationship with Emma.

• RS Games - October was the posting month and fairy-tales and legends was just a great theme. And the mods are putting together an ebook, which is going to be like 1000 pages. Pure awesomeness.

• Hurricane Sandy - of course, all our plans for the end of October went out of the way because of Sandy. Bear and I did get an unexpected week at home with no work but it wasn't like a vacation or anything. We went to see my grandparents a few times - they are ok, they just don't have an elevator, heat or phone right now, but their home attendants do check on them and bring them food. We did go grocery shopping for them and Coney Island is getting a bit better and less apocalyptic looking. Going to their building last Wednesday was a bit scary.

• Halloween - since we couldn't really have a proper Halloween and I couldn't go out like I originally planned, Bear and I had a mini-halloween by getting some candy, having the pumpkin and watching "Halloween" on DVD. It is actually the first movie we ever watched together, in that one week in the beginning of college where we were just friends before we started dating. It is once of Bears favorite movies and maybe six years ago, when it was briefly in movie theaters for Halloween, I made sure to get tickets. It was really great to watch it on the big screen.
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I’m in a good mood today. Mostly because I feel productive. I finished the Herodotus reading for class (but I will read the first six books for fun during my commute) and I finished grading the In-Class exercise essays and I made handouts. And for my Global class, we had a Herodotus discussion which went better than a lecture – I felt like they learned something. Hopefully. So productive. And I printed my RS Games story at school so I could proof it on the way home and it felt great to hold a physical copy of the story – all 10 pages of it.

Rewatching Buffy Season 7 is a lot of fun. I dread rewatching Angel Season 4, though. I just want to keep watching Buffy.

I think I might have a few tutoring gigs. One girl needs paper proofing for a few hours a month and another woman a tutor for AP European history for her son – so I think I get to try those out. It’ll pay for the commute, at the very least.
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I just finished typing up my RS Games 2012 story, three days before deadline. I’m just happy I made it – this is probably my favorite fest and I always want to do my best for it. And I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I can’t talk about it before the reveals in November but I loved the fairy tale theme. Now I just need to send it off to a beta. Hopefully, tomorrow.

Today was a pretty rainy and windy day but the sky couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be too rainy or not. So I had my umbrella with me (and I need to get a new one) but I barely used it and seemed to skip the downpour.

My classes went well today – my students were proofreading the first paper and then we did the close reading of some Gladwell paragraphs. The students are getting into class discussion as they are more familiar with each other now.

Last week as Rosemary, my carpool person, and I were talking in the car, we ended up talking about musicals. I mentioned that “Aida” was my favorite and Rosemary never heard it. Well, that was certainly something that had to be rectified. So today I brought my Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Aida” CD and we listened to it on the way home. I had to explain the story to her so I was reading the CD booklet which had the book in it. Listening to song in more specific context made me feel them even more. By the end of the car ride, I was feeling so emotional just listening to these songs I’ve heard a million times. I realized that I love this musical because its female characters are actually interesting and are more than just love interests. And they talk to each other about being the best outside the romantic context too, although they are rivals for the main guy. Aida has other things she has to do like lead her people so the trouble in the relationship is a serious thing like slavery, death and sacrifice of love, and not some superficial reason. And the Princess doesn’t become a bitter rival. In fact, my favorite thing was her character growth on the way to being a Queen. Plus, there are catchy tunes and emotional manipulation by music. But I felt like today I listened to it with new ears and fell in love with this musical even more.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 11:00 pm
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I’m on Team Remus for R/S Games this year again. Yay.

Teaching schedule for Fall for writing came in today – T/F schedule. And good time too.

SYTYCD auditions were great to watch in the background. I want regular season to begin already, though.
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In the morning, I worked on my “Jury” lecture for the afternoon. I think writing the lecture made me keep it all straight in my head more. I do learn a lot when I teach, probably more than the students. For Global I gave the Mongolia lecture on Genghis Khan and conquests. Good lecture day.

I’ve been rewatching “Battlestar Galactica” for the last few months because of Mark Watches reviews. And it is even better the second time around. But I couldn’t bring myself to watch Season 4’s “The Oath” episode and the one following it. It was two weeks since the previous episode for me. Finally I buckled down and watched it today since the review for it goes up on Friday. I think I got too invested in some characters this time around and knowing what happens just made it worse. I think rewatching “Buffy” (that is his next project) will be less stressful!

Today was the official end of 2011 RS Games on livejournal. Team Sirius won but, my team, Team Remus wasn’t far behind. This was my first big fest and I found it a good experience. Plus I get to read and comment on a lot of good stories. And even though I was nervous about it I liked my story for it, despite it being a story about grief. Masterlist of all stories. Now I need to write my Small Gifts story - I meant for it to be extra fluffy but some angst is sneaking in; I can’t help myself.
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I slept for nine hours last night which felt good.

Sharon Kay Penman’s new book “Lionheart” came out this week. She writes the best historical fiction because it is so well researched. I randomly picked up a book of hers when I was 15 in the library and I’ve been a big fan. Part of the reason I study English history is because of those books. I got an email from the library today that I have it on hold now. The timing works great since I just finished Cunningham’s “Home at the End of the World” this morning and I can finish “Gateway” by next week and then I can pick up “Lionheart” next Thursday. Richard on Crusade – should be fun.

While writing the midterm question for tomorrow I inadvertently wrote the Assignment 3 question. So pretty much all I had to do for next week is just grade.

RS Games are being very awesome. Today, one story was a combination of Dante’s Inferno and Harry Potter – very, very clever and touching.

Since I’m obsessed with food quality sometimes, this Cracked article just made me shake my head at the food industry again. I did not want to know this about orange juice.
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I woke up this morning with a runny nose and my eyes felt like I was getting sick. I think it is just a slight cold. I took Tylenol just in case and drank lots of tea with lemon and honey. I was supposed to go to Brooklyn to visit my grandmother but I figured I shouldn’t track germs to a rehab/nursing home full of elderly. I worked on my lecture for tomorrow instead. Fingers crossed that I don’t get too sick – I really can’t afford downtime during a full semester.

Work wise I also started grading Exam 1 for law class. They do well in an essay based on monograph and lectures but significantly less so on an essay focused on the primary sources. But they seemed to have learned something. As I’m thinking about my lectures and reading for the second half of the semester, I really think this class is coming together. I added an extra primary source reading for them today on Corpus Iuris Civilis. I’m really glad I’m getting to teach this class.

On the fun front, RS Games started yesterday. Yay. This was the first organized contest I participated in and it was fun writing for it and being part of a team. Go Team Remus! And now there is a month of stories and art. I can’t vote on anything but I get to read something every day. The art has been really good so far, I don’t usually respond to art as much as stories but for the last two days I found liking the art more. I even saved it to my computer.

Mama’s friend Galina might visit from Miami again later this month and I’m actually looking forward to it. The woman is so full of energy and she just brings good vibes with her.

I watched “Walk on Water,” an Israeli movie Netflix recommended to me. I really liked it. It is a story of a Mossad agent that has to befriend the grandchildren of the Nazi war criminal to track him down while coping with a personal tragedy. I just found all the characters interesting and there is beautiful scenery of Turkey, Israel and Berlin. This movies asks many questions and does it intelligently. All characters feel very well formed.

Speaking of Netlix. SNL did a great spoof . (One thing, though, NBC, how come your commercials don’t have buffering problems, just your clips? I probably need to install the new Firefox 5. It plays fine in Explorer.)

Dexter S6E1 )
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Papa and I went to see my Grandparents this morning in Brooklyn. Their building, which is full of old people, had no working elevators. And this was not a new problem. There are fourteen floors and while we could walk up to the eight floor, my grandparents were pretty much stuck. And my grandmother really needs to see a doctor. I’m worried about her because she is not really connecting words together. She understands everything but when she was trying to express a thought some words just seemed to evade her. My grandfather said it happened a long time ago and got better with medication and she was doing better than yesterday, but still she needs a doctor. I really hope those elevators, or at least one of them could be fixed by tomorrow.

The rest of the day wasn’t too eventful. I sort of had the Emmys in the background for a few hours but I really didn’t care for it. I’ll read the winners list tomorrow.

I did write a lot in the evening since my story is due this Friday. It is almost done. Yay.
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Happy Birthday, Yeva!

Friday is not my longest workday but it feels like it since I need to get up at 6:10 to carpool to University. I got an egg on a bagel sandwich and tea at Au Bon Pain and read the National Geographic for breakfast time and then took the bus to my teaching campus and set up there. I had a nice quiet hour and a bit before my morning office hours and I just sat in a café and worked on my RS Games fic.

Today is a rough draft day so I just basically handed out my worksheets and I then could work on grading their homework and looking over the first rough drafts. I need to comment on draft by Tuesday. And I had a student actually come to my afternoon office hours to work out logistics of her missing a week of class because she is going to India for a wedding. Oh, and it occurred to me today that I can actually fix the problem of students having that stupid space between paragraphs but turning on my laptop which I carry with me and showing it to students who still didn’t figure it out on rough drafts. I think I needed to explain it to one student three times since it is obviously so hard to remember which very logical buttons to press. Now I will have to do this in my other class too.

I capped my work day by heading to the main library and reading my Roman law textbook for an hour and a half. Roman family law and marriage law is my favorite part, I think. Very interesting.

After dinner, I got to go rollerblading. I had to stick to the parking lot since the beach road is still too sandy but I was just happy not to be sitting down.

This article made me all emotional today. How an astronaut saw 9/11 from space .

Torchwood S4E10 )


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