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:
afterthestorm1-sm 

Fall:
ballerina1-lg

Winter:
boodad-m

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

dapper-med

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

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

Summertime, and the livin’ is… busy

This has been one busy summer! I have work as usual, plus two summer school classes. I took a drawing class and a Medieval art class. Both were fantastic classes, but they sucked away all my free time!


Here is still life I did in my drawing class of a bunch of random stuff. More pictures from my phone can be found [here].

Now I’m on my two week vacation (half over) until the semester starts (my last semester!). I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Sadly, I finished my last Sharon Kay Penman book. Luckily she’s writing a new one, but I will have to wait a whole YEAR for it! Luckily I have had several great books to keep my mind off of it 🙂
I also discovered Netflix. I’ve avoided it for years because… well, I don’t rent many movies. Most movies these days are utter crap. Eric and I go to the independent movie theater, but we usually can’t rent those movies because places like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video have an abysmal independent/foreign section.
WELL, I signed up for a free trial of Netflix and… OMFG. All the classics/independent/foreign/documentaries I’ve been searching for are on there! The best part is that several of them can be watched INSTANTLY on my computer and, even better, through my xbox (and therefore TV)! It’s fantastic!

Eric and I have been waiting for the house stuff to come through. We are pretty close to getting a contract, just have to update the bank on some stuff and we should be good to go! Woo!

Getting Organized (this is boring)

So, in the madness that is finals, I find myself following my age-old study/organization techniques. I think that everyone has their own system of getting things done, but I’ve heard a lot of a book called… well, Getting Things Done. [This] site has a DIY planner that looks kind of interesting (everyone seems to love it). But do I need to fix something that’s not broken?

My current “system” is as follows:
— All birthdays, due dates, appointments, etc are kept in a weekly planner. Specifically, one of the Taschen Diaries. Ever since I started using them a few years ago I always got the Frida Kahlo one. This year, however, I wasn’t able to find one so I got the Van Gogh. I keep my planner in my school bag and desk, but I don’t carry it around with me EVERYWHERE. I also note things like “Saw Slumdog Millionare – it was amazing” When I read my planners years later, it’s little things like this that make me smile. Although I keep a journal, it’s these little day to day things that interest me as well years later.
—- I have a small moleskine that I do carry around with me most everywhere. In there I keep track of all the random things life throws my way: books I want to read, funny overheard quotes, school-related ideas, to-do lists, sketches, gift ideas, etc. The only thing is that it is “unorganized” to other people but … I love the organic layout. It’s my brain, my life, in it’s natural (unorganized) state. I can find things quickly based on my own memory of events and connections I make. It’s the same way I organize my computer files, and it works best for me. However, no one can ever find anything on my computer but me (and probably my small moleskine, if anyone tried).

As for school-specific organization, I always have a multi-subject college ruled notebook for each semester. Most of classes are Art History: I take notes in class, then I later go through and highlight major points that will be on the exam. I star all the sub-points that are important. Then I type out my notes, usually in OneNote along with images of the work of art. Just typing them out is a form of study, as well as re-reading them to highlight. 
Then I make flash cards with the image on one side, and the notes on the back. The Scotch Tape Adhesive Runner has saved my life note-card wise! It’s almost like… liquid tape. I only use as much as I need, it sticks REALLY well, and it doesn’t let the images rip off when I shuffle.
I keep my cards in a system of note card holders. I have small soft cover ones (only $.50) for each class, and then large boxes for each semester. Eventually I throw the cards away, but sometimes they are useful in other classes, so I usually wait a while.

What’s your system for organization?
I envy the people who don’t have much to organize… I don’t think I could survive without my planner/moleskine!

Lost All My Mirth

This semester is coming to a close. As I’m cramming for finals and writing research papers, there is one assignment I’m actually looking forward to. After a semester of writing analysis papers  in my Shakespeare, we actually get a “fun” assignment (they were all fun to me!) – we have to write a movie remake of one of the plays we read. Naturally, I’m doing my favorite play ever: Hamlet.

My favorite version of Hamlet is, surprisingly (even to me), a “modern” remake of it starring Ethan Hawke. Here is his delivery of, quite possibly, my favorite part of Hamlet:

I have of late – but wherefore I know not – lost all my mirth…
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and yet,
to me, what is this quintessence of dust?

I haven’t started writing my paper yet, but I think I’m going to set Hamlet in 1950s France. Why? Because I see Hamlet as an existential play, and he should be right there with Camus and Sartre!

Ok, time to get back to studying 🙂

Llamas

I am currently taking my fourth semester of Spanish. Sometimes (such as now) I need a break from crying over my homework to watch one of my favorite Monty Python clips: the “Llama Sketch.” I use the fact that it’s in Spanish to justify watching it instead of doing my homework hahaha….  It’s been one of my favorites for years, but now I can finally understand everything they are saying! (without the translation lol)

John Cleese: ¡Señoras, señores y señoritas! ¡Buenas noches! Esta noche presentamos con mucho gusto información interesante acerca de… ¡la llama! La llama es un cuadrúpedo y vive en los grandes ríos como el Amazonas. Tiene dos orejas, un corazón, una frente y un pico para comer miel. Pero está provista de aletas para nadar
Eric and Terry: Las llamas son más grandes que las ranas
John Cleese: Pero las llamas son peligrosas. Si usted ve una llama donde hay gente nadando, usted gritar: ¡Cuidado! ¡Llamas!
Eric and Terry: Cuidado, cuidado, cuidado, cuidado, las llamas
(a Thank You to youtube user melinachiro for typing that out)

To be a Monty Python junkie (like myself) you have to appreciate absurd/silly/random humor. This sketch is a good example of that 🙂