So... lots to update.
Getting out of CA was complicated. I got less sleep than during any finals period, ever. But unfortunately, planes and move-out days wait for no woman. I think I got about 13 hours of sleep over 3 nights. Packing was horrible -- you have to take all your stuff, which was perfectly organized and placed just as you liked it, and cram it into boxes, forcing you to realize just how much crap it really takes to make life "comfortable." Turns out, it takes a 5x5x5 cube of material to keep me going. During the wretchedness that is moving out, I kept somehow having these wonderful moments. Dropping by Jill's, dinner with Lupe & Marissa after a day of storage trips, a late night visit with Jessika.
Friday morning was particularly crazy. I slept on the couch with my beach towel and hoodie (everything else was packed), and got up after about 4 hours of sleep. Finished packing, ran to Jill's apartment to give Jesse one last part I forgot for the espresso machine, negotiated with the cleaning crew to make sure I could leave my luggage in my room for another hour past my official move out day (turns out there was no problem), went on one last trip to the storage unit with Lupe and Marissa, got back just before my super shuttle to the airport was supposed to arrive, dropped off my keys at the office (after propping the apt. door open with frozen tamales, which I had to clear out of my freezer), was late for the shuttle... The driver gave me a hard time at first, with the "your pick up time was 9:30," but finally calmed down when he saw how flurried I was. We even made up on the drive -- he offered me gum.
The flight.was.ridiculous. The plane out of SF was packed -- they had like a hundred stand-bys vying for spots. And, since I used a free ticket voucher, guess what seat they gave me? You got it: a middle seat toward the back. I hate sitting in the middle for a number of reasons. First: Since I'm small, people seem to think it's OK to invade my seat space. Come on folks, give a girl an armrest! Second: Because when you're as sleep deprived as I was, you really want to sleep. But guess what?? You can't lean your head to the right or left, and the seat backs were designed for tall people, so the head rest is just NOT comfortable. And thirdly, because if you want to use the restroom-as-coffin, you still have to bother someone. In Chicago, I had to take the usual 5 mile walk from terminal B to C, involving the under-ground trippy light show. I was pretty hungry: Eating mainly leftover stuff from my cupboards (rye bread, an apple, trail mix, you know). But I figured instead of eating crappy fast food (and heaven forbid a single restaurant carry a single vegetarian meal besides a salad featuring iceberg lettuce), I'd have a nice Starbucks drink (because heaven forbid a coffee place that's not a national chain get a spot in an airport). Merrie recommended the blackberry green tea frappaccino (which was pretty good), and so I figured I'd make it to Madison without collapsing from hunger.
Well. Of course, the flight was late. We saw our boarding time come and go, much as every other flight from Chicago to Madison was delayed. Something about an "aircraft arriving late." So we finally got on board. And guess where our friends at United had me seated this time? In the LAST row, RIGHT BY THE BATHROOM. Which stinks even when no one's in it. And not even in the middle: in the aisle, even closer to the stink pot. Oh, and our like 30 minute flight time? We didn't get started on that for another hour after finally boarding. We sat, on the f*ing plane, in a line of like ten aircrafts, for a freaking runway, for an hour. That's TWICE OUR FLIGHT TIME!! Seriously. The goal of airlines should be to take less time to get you from one place to another than driving. (And in this, they completely failed me. Andrew could have driven to Chicago for me and home again in LESS than the total time that I was there.)
Anyway. Very happy to be in Madison with the Andrew! Eating real food again -- pad thai and mango fried rice and home-made chili and veggie lasagne and stuffed zucchini and portabellas and tilapia w/ mashed sweet potato and challah french toast... Catching up on sleep. Going to the farmer's market every Saturday. Eating ice cream. The first couple of days were spent in grading -- one afternoon at the terrace, one evening during Andrew's ultimate frisbee game... then finally sat down and finished them. Then I took another day or two off... Visiting used bookstores, shopping for new clothes and flip flops, journeying through the mega-supermarket that is Woodman's...
Then I started the quals studying.
So here are my general concerns:
1. Middle English. Especially in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Our list SAYS "to be prepared in Middle English," but it's written in a northern dialect... not in Chaucer's London Middle English (which became the predominant form, and fed into our modern form), but a form that is difficult enough to warrant translation in the Norton anthology. So... yeah, I don't know what I'm supposed to do there.
2. When the list says "selections," does it really mean I only have to read 5 pages from the Norton's excerpt? Especially when the actual work is like 100 pages? Confusing. And further, when it DOESN'T say "selections," but the Norton has basically all of it, can't I just read that??
3. Early American Lit. Not a fan. Maybe I'll like it once I get to it?
4. 18th century, in general. Never took classes in it, never really studied those early novels, never read Restoration plays. Oops.
That's about it. So far, I've re-read Beowulf (it never gets old! Grendel eating men in the Mead Hall, Beowful diving into the swampy pit haunted by reptilian monsters, the dragon guarding the treasure hoard), and read through my Chaucer Canterbury Tales. Next I'm onto Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (woohoo). The experience of re-reading is intriguing... the bits I remember from Mrs. Jackson's class in high school, and Prof. Brownlow's survey course at MHC, and studying for the Literature GRE last year...
Other big news: Finally saw Brokeback Mountain. I get the fuss, but it wasn't my favorite movie. Dropped in on Annie's study group, and got some sense of where I should be in a month with my reading. Went with Andrew, Annie, Greg, & Emily to see Rogue Wave and The Stills (so good! And Rogue Wave played the song Lindsey gave me on a mix CD!). And last night we had Andrew's friends John & Katie over for dinner -- we had dinner out on the rooftop for the view of the Capitol.