2014 In Review

It’s so easy to focus on the negative.

bitchyAs 2015 relentlessly marches toward me (only an hour away, at this point…), I have been forced to reflect on the past year. My knee-jerk reaction was one of ambivalence, heavily leaning towards negativity. The “bad” things that happened this year (big and small) are the first things to pop into my twisted little head. Robin Williams passed away! The Colbert Report ended! Oh, and a great deal of painful (and expensive) health problems have plagued me since the beginning of the year, and they are bothering me as I sit here and type this.

Moreover, there is the matter of Percy. When I lost Gary last year, I was absolutely heartbroken. He was 12 years old and I couldn’t stop repeating “he was too young!” (Looking back at this, I could just choke on the irony) Eric convinced me the best way to move past my grief was to get a kitten. Almost exactly one year later we got Percy,  2 month old Exotic-Shorthair  — my first cat that I didn’t get from a pound or find on the street (out of the 12+ cats I’ve had in my life), but a breed I’ve wanted for an incredibly long time. Gary’s death gave me a new respect (fear?) for the brevity of life; when we got Percy, I made an active decision to love him with my whole heart, every.single.day., and devote as much love and attention to him as I possibly could.
Then, 2 months later, we suddenly had to rush him to the emergency vet and put him to sleep. Even though it has been about 7 months, I am still swinging between overwhelming heartbreak and numb disbelief.


This is all very sad. And easy to dwell on. But forcing myself to sit down and write out of the “good and bad” of this year made me realize: 1) how many AWESOME things happened this year and 2) Percy’s death and my health problems shouldn’t overshadow all of these things, but rather make me thankful. Because life is fucking short.

I am so thankful for the amazing things that happened this year!

Click below to see an awesome-ly long list!

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Au revoir 2012!

And so ends one of the craziest years of my life.. Not necessarily the bad kind of crazy (although lord knows, it had its moments). I made a lot of progress this year and met a lot of goals, especially in my academic life – which these days is my life. I passed my 15 hour paper, as I blogged about earlier. But even more exciting: I passed my language exam! I spent a lot of time worrying about that stupid thing, I really can’t express how happy I am that I passed!!! I also applied to two academic conferences and got into both (including the International Congress on Medieval Studies). I also just realized I got an A+ in every seminar I took  in 2012…
That was a lot of bragging, wasn’t it? But as I blogged about earlier, I need to start acknowledging my accomplishments and stop fixating on my (real and imagined) failures.

Even more exciting than all that is: Eric passed his latest actuarial exam is now an actuary! He gets a new job title, letters behind his name, etc etc.. He still has to be inducted in to the ‘society,’ which will take place mid-May in Vancouver (and I’m going, yay!). He is the hardest working person I know, and I’ve watched him work towards this for years. It’s so so amazing to see all those late nights and lost weekends finally come to fruition! Of course he still has a few more exams… ugh. However, once he finishes that he will be a “Fellow” and extra cool 😉

My top 5 books I read this year:

My photos from this year are a probably a better way to catch up with some of the stuff I did this past year, click on the pictures below to see more!
Spring and Summer:



AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND…… here is Gary in a tie, just because I can. Isn’t he dapper?


And here is a song I’ve been listening to lately – the newly released piano version of an old Rammstein song, Mein Herz Brennt!

Catching My Breath

Somehow… I survived the semester. I finished a month ago, actually. I am only just now catching my breath. It was all worth it, I suppose, since my grades were waaay better than I could have even hoped for! However, I spent all semester repeating “just make it to summer” and now… I’m stuck facing all the things I have to do over the summer. And I’ve spent the majority of the past month sitting down with whatever-it-is-I-should-be-working on and just.. staring off into space. I also have a lot of health issues that I ignored all semester that are now biting me in the ass. I want nothing more than to crawl back into bed and sleep for a solid week. But I can’t, and now, somehow, it’s June. Blech.

Why am I whining? I’ve had some really good times the past month. Firstly, amaaazingly, I saw Rammstein (again). This time I brought a giant German flag with me. It was one of the best times I’ve ever had! Words really can’t describe how incredible their shows are. Neither can pictures. But just for fun, here’s a couple I was able to capture between all the jumping/screaming/singing-my-own-German (as always, click to enlarge):


Even crazier: a couple days after the concert my mom was shopping at Fry’s Electronics and saw Schneider!! I’m so incredibly jealous!!!! I also feel super lucky that I have such an awesome mom – would yours recognize anyone from Rammstein? 🙂

Eric and I also worked on ‘upgrading’ our bedroom. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for years, and finally got the money/time to do it. We got everything from IKEA and it took us 2 days of shopping, assembling, etc – which I thought might turn into The Ultimate Marital Test but it was actually tons of fun!

Ok, here goes some IKEA fangirling: We got the Malm bed and nightstands – which look SO cool, almost like they are floating! We also got two framed drawing collections for above the bed – one is from Da Vinci’s sketchbook and the other is Picasso’s sketches of animals. ART HISTORY. ANIMALS. I love them.

We also used the Dioder lightstrips to do some backlighting behind the headboard. It looks really awesome – click the pic to the left to enlarge (the exact lighting doesn’t really come across through photos…).

We have been sleeping on a mattress that is not only past its prime (we got it from Eric’s parents, who got it from Eric’s grandparents…), but we both found it really uncomfortable. Which isn’t good! You spend a third of your life asleep, so your had better damn well be comfortable!!! So we got the Sultan Finnvik mattress and OMFG is it amazing. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like a memory foam mattress but WOW. Now It’s even harder to get up in the morning. I know I’m not alone: the cats won’t get off the damn bed! Example:

We also got the Sultan Laxeby slatted bed base which probably adds to the extreme comfort and amazing-ness of our new bed. I read a lot of horror stories online about the assembly and instability, but we put the whole thing together (King size) in only 60-90 mins, no injuries, and it hasn’t fallen through or anything. All this talk about my bed makes me want to go take a nice nap with the kitties – but instead I have to go learn the French language… quel dommage!

Sto Lat!

Today is my grandmother’s birthday. I keep this picture of her near my desk:

It was taken in the Wildflecken displaced person’s camp after WWII. It reminds me everyday how lucky I am, and how strong she is – strength I wish to emulate. Happy Birthday babcia!!!! Kocham Cię!

Mad World

Over winter break I wanted to write up a “year in review” for 2011. But then I didn’t have the time, so I amended it to “the year in review through pictures.” But then I had a hard time deciding which pictures. I had a lot of good times in 2011, and almost every picture reminds me of something that makes me smile 🙂

Now it’s halfway through April 2012 and I still haven’t posted anything.  (By the way, I have barely taken any pictures all year – no time, it hurts me)
SO. I am just going to link to my Facebook albums instead. DEAL WITH IT. 🙂

Summer: click [here] or the pic below

Fall: click [here] or the pic below

Winter: click [here] or the pic below

For earlier in the year, such as our trip to Chicago, you can just go to my album page [here] and surf around.. they are kind of all over the place!

Alright ya’ll, I’ll post a real post later. I have a wedding to get ready for – time to attempt to look like a lady!

Through One Hoop, Several More To Go

Part of the grad program here is submitting a “qualifying paper” – I did mine a lot earlier in the program than usual, and with very little editing and somehow… I passed! Not only passed, but with flying colors!! In other words: serious pwnage. Passing isn’t a HUGE deal, and I don’t usually like to flaunt my accomplishments (even the ones that are a huge deal). But I need to start giving myself credit where credit is due. I rarely congratulate myself; instead I just think “wow, you didn’t mess it up…” That’s not healthy. Plus, the sheer amount of positive feedback I’ve received re: this paper has been an amazing boost. And lord knows I need a boost to get through the next few weeks! Anyway, it’s difficult to even write about this, especially since this isn’t really something to shout from the rooftops but… baby steps! Plus my life is boring I don’t have much else to blog about…

This year I am the secretary of CoGAH (Council of Graduate Art Historians). On Friday (March 30th) we had the 6th annual CoGAH symposium. We had amazing speakers from all over the country and managed to pull it off without any real hiccups. Although planning this symposium was a lot of stress, I am so glad I got to spend so much time with my fellow members – those peeps are awesome!

Ok, it’s time to get back to writing about medieval bestiaries… once Gary gets out of the way (see above). Despite Gary’s attempts to sit on my book, mouse, and keyboard, I just wrote quite a bit about medieval perceptions of sea urchins. Yeah, I live life in the fast lane. Before I go, I want to share this quote from the 13th century:
“If sparrows and crows had the dictates of reason… how many cities and castles could they not burn down? If they enjoyed reason and were equal to men, could not all the birds and beasts mass together and destroy the human race?”  –
Aelred of Rievaulx Dialogue on the Soul
This TOTALLY reminded me of the movie The Birds! While looking it up I came across this clip, which I really should share with my animal studies peers… it totally made me laugh. Once this semester is over, I need to watch some more Hitchcock!

Alfred Hitchock’s trailer for The Birds

Queen of Infinite Space

So the past few months have been… rough. To say the least. I don’t want to get into why, but the good news is: I am out of that situation. However, I have still been feeling rather sad. Probably because I’ve been doing super constructive things like asking myself “whhhhyyy did I let this happen to me!?” etc. To make matters worse, once the problem was put to bed, I was forced to look at the pile of work I have been too distracted to finish. It’s incredible how easily making a “To-Do” list can completely destroy any modicum of happiness you may be experiencing.

So. The other day I decided to actually take a break (what!? WHAT DO THOSE WORDS MEAN?) and not do a single school-related thing. all day. I was cleaning off my desk and I ended up with a small pile of To-Do lists from the past few weeks. I decided to hang them up and take a picture of myself in front of them – it was supposed to be a light-hearted zombie-esque photo, but instead this is what I was confronted with:

(click to enlarge) That is not a happy face. And this is how I look 95% of the time these days.

After seeing this picture, I kicked my ass into gear and now I am TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF. This is a great time of my life – I will never be this young again, I have an amazing husband and family (and kitties!), I love my peers, my advisor, my research… why am I feeling so down because of someone else? Why am I wasting this amazing (crazy) time!? I am almost halfway through my Master’s program (omfg). Is the next month going to be a nightmare as I scramble to finish my work? Hell yes. But soon enough, it will be over and I will miss it all.

Ok, now it’s time to work on my paper while blasting really cheesy “inspirational” songs…