Showing posts from 2009

The last day of 2009...

What a crazy year this has been!

The best of it?...

1. My preliminary exams are finished and I passed!
2. I spent a month in England and Scotland, expenses paid.
3. I reconnected with some great friends, deepened existing friendships, and met some really great new people.
4. I went on paranormal investigations!
5. I have a Kindle!

Most important: everyone is here and we had a great holiday season.

Here is to 2009 and a great 2010!!

I have to say it...

I LOVE my Kindle. It is the best thing I have bought in a long time. Most of the titles that I want are free and it takes no time to download them. Hooray for technology!

A local favorite: Hokkaido

I won't go into too much detail about the Japanese restaurant Hokkaido, because most of the Tuscaloosa readers will know the place well. It is located on 15th St. (where the old Great Wall restaurant used to be). You have to get there by 11:15 or 11:20 for lunch because the parking lot fills up really fast! The bento box lunches are great, the grill is excellent, and the sushi is fantastic. However, these aren't necessarily the only reasons to go. The best reason: Charles. Charles is the manager and he is wonderful. My boss and her husband and I go there every week and Charles often makes a point to come over and speak to us. He knows our names and knows what we like to eat, as do the waitresses. The service is excellent in spite of the fact that they are constantly slammed. Still, Charles is the bomb. Charles is from China. He has the cutest two kids (a boy and a girl) and his wife is pregnant again--and even though we don't know her, we are all excited!

The best thing ab…

Rethinking Tuscaloosa: A really long post, but not a rant.

I often find myself moaning and groaning about Tuscaloosa. Most of my complaints have to do with the perils of living here my entire life...things like the annoying traffic that inevitably accompanies the return of students and football fans, the insane liquor laws, the sameness and the smallness of many aspects of the town (not just geographically), the gross misunderstanding of those new to the area, etc. Some of my complaints are valid and would apply to almost all of the United States. For example, the history and beauty of a place like Oxford, England, is impressive on a scale that isn't available here. The sense of culture and tradition associated with Tuscaloosa often revolves around football, the university, or a mistaken depth associated with certain social aspects of our town. These things do exist, but they are not always the most in depth experiences...though they can be. In other words, some of these things don't compare to something like my experiences when I liv…

Me at Three!


My new favorite magazine...

I have seen the BBC Knowledge magazine in my bookstore for a while now. I thought about buying it several times, but only today did I actually pick up a copy...and I am really glad that I did. This magazine is great for anyone who just wants an eclectic mix of subject matter. I guess that in some ways I could compare it to something like Mental Floss (another magazine that I like), but the articles in BBC Knowledge appeal to me a bit more just because of the subject matter. Here is the URL, but, unfortunately, their Web site really needs improvement:

In this issue, there are articles about US television, Somalia, the death of language, the Holocaust, space, polar bears, etc. Basically, the magazine has sections dealing with Science, History, and Nature. The "Update" section is especially nice because it provides little bits of information about breaking news in the three major categories mentioned above.

Anyway, just thought that I would …

Ho, ho, ho...

Merry Christmas!!!

Anne Rice's Facebook Post:


ADVICE TO A NEW WRITER: There are no rules in this profession. Do what is good for you. Read books and watch films that stimulate your writing. In your writing, go where the pain is; go where the pleasure is; go where the excitement is. Believe in your own original approach, voice, characters, story. Ignore critics. HAVE NERVE. BE STUBBORN.

I have to say it again...


Roll Tide!!! And how my mom has taken football to a whole new level...

Today, we played against Florida...and, holy crap...we WON!!! Ever since my mom retired, she has become a football fanatic. It is really hilarious. She can't move from the television and has to scream as loud as she can for every good play...and curse as loud as she can for every bad play. It cracks me up! So, tonight, I made dinner while she and dad watched the game. I had to take their food to them in the living room because they wouldn't move at all! All my life, we have NEVER watched football. However, starting last year, they became crazy fanatics. So, from their mouth and mine:


To NaNoWriMo or not to NaNoWriMo...

...that has been the question. However, I just don't think I can do it this year. If I do, I will have to get started in the next couple of days and write a lot! But, with the prospectus on the table and all of the reading I need to do right now...well, I don't think I can write my trashy novel just yet. Still, part of me really wishes that I had the time.

Not much new is going on. I am guest lecturing in another professor's class tomorrow, so that should be fun. I hope I do well, anyway.

My biggest problem is trying to stay motivated this semester. I had so much stressful crap early on that now I am just exhausted and don't feel like doing anything. It took all of my energy to get up in front of my students today and teach Thomas Hardy...and I love Thomas Hardy. Ugh. Anyway, maybe it will get better.

I will have a little bit of a break this weekend (from school, anyhow). My friend, Melissa, is getting married and the wedding is in Mississippi. So, I will leave on Friday…

Susie + Darwin = dissertation!!

I hope, anyway! So, I am getting all up into Darwin these days, hoping that my suspicions about the connection I see between his work and the work that I study is actually accurate (wow...that is a bad sentence). Anyway, I am excited about it. It is actually kind of nice to read his stuff after reading the other literature. So, from the depths of evolutionary study, I sign off.

I have to say it... family rocks. Celebrating passing comps is a great thing. My family has been great!

On another note: as I mentioned to a friend today...I really think graduate school is an experiment in masochism. You have to be crazy to do this.

Sylvia Parker's article about my dad:

The Original Crazy Teens:

My dad (far left, standing with guitar) posing with his band, The Crazy Teens, when they recorded "Crazy Date"...

One hoop down...three to go

Well, I passed my qualifying exams so that is one burden off of my shoulders. Now, I have the prospectus defense and the dissertation and dissertation defense to look forward to!

In any case, though it was an exhausting experience, at least the exam is over. I was completely exhausted after writing for four hours and really couldn't relax until I found out that I had passed (a few days later).

Now, I am in the process of trying to figure out exactly what I want to say in prospectus. I think it is starting to solidify more in my head, but I am still tired from the exam and all I can think about is getting sleep!

No joke.

Panic Attacks: The New Black

So, as far as the title of this blog is concerned, basically I am trying to say that panic attacks (not the clinical kind, just the "susie" kind) have become a regular part of my wardrobe/lifestyle. I am feeling very stressed out. Ultimately, everything will be okay. But, for now, I am losing sleep and getting sick and feeling miserable in general. Of course, once Oct. 15 passes me by, I will feel somewhat better. I am trying to get in plenty of exercise (in attempts to maintain good health and to exhaust me enough to sleep). However, last night, I was wide awake until after 4 a.m. Ugh.

Anyway, other than that, I really don't have a lot to say. I am getting over the usual fall virus/funk that circulates on campus. I am reading way too much literary criticism. I am trying to be a good instructor, but it is hard on certain days! I think I just need some time to decompress.

Susie steps into technology...

Blogging from my iPod!

Yet again....another rant.

Please cover your mouth when you cough. I am sure we all know this, but I sat across from a grown man in the library this morning who hacked up a lung for over an hour and just didn't care that he exposed the rest of us to whatever funk he had. Can I ban him from the library? Please?

I need another summer break.

Not for fun. I need the break to finish my reading list without cramming the last things in like mad.

My head is going to explode.

My new pet peeve...

People who are talking on a cell phone, take it into the bathroom with them, and continue to talk on it while, um, doing whatever they need to do.

This happened in two different public restrooms today.



In what universe is this appropriate?

There isn't a conversation important enough that you can't take a break to take care of business. The only time this would be appropriate would be if you fall in the bathroom and cannot get help in any other way. You don't need to talk about your date, your parents, your sister's deadbeat ex-husband, or your kid's teacher. You NEED to put the phone down. I am quite sure that this even violates the most redneck version of Emily Post out there. DON'T DO IT. I BEG YOU. It is disgusting.

Close to having...

...a panic attack. This semester is already stressful and it is just the first day. Things keep changing and I need stability, people!

The new semester approacheth...

Well, I have been back in Tuscaloosa for two weeks now. I am very happy to see friends and family again, but I REALLY miss England. I miss the walking and the food and the depth of my surroundings. Super Wal-Mart just doesn't do a thing for me after enjoying high tea in the same surroundings as Jane Austen or reading in a library surrounded by countless illuminated manuscripts. I feel sad.

Final Banquet and the hell of Atlanta

Friday night, our group had its final banquet. Friday afternoon, I wandered Oxford and spent two/three hours reading and typing in Duke Humphrey's Library. Good thing too...I found out that they are planning on closing it as a reading room and opening it to the public for the tour. It is a shame because the mystique will be totally gone!

Anyway, final banquet began with drinks in the Provost's garden. It was a lot of fun. The weather held up well and it wasn't too cold for a change. We had our Pimms (many of them) and enjoyed the beauty of the garden...

Here is the Provost's house and part of the gardens...

More of his private can see the college behind...

Me, looking tired after typing/reading tiny print...

Allen and I in the garden...

After drinks, we went to the hall for dinner...

At the high table for the final time...

Leaving Oxford was sad, but, thankfully, basically uneventful. We did have to call for a second bus because there wasn't enough room for l…

An afternoon at Duke Humphrey's

After visiting St. Mary's this morning (see post below), I met up with Allen at the flea market. Then, I picked up a cup of coffee and met Allen's class for a walk to Keble College (founded in 1870). Keble is amazing for a Victorianist. Its design and architecture combines everything that symbolizes the era...especially in the chapel. The thing is, people want to define the Victorians, put them in a little spot and say: "This is what makes a Victorian" or "This is what defines Victorian." But you just can't do it. As my director says, the Victorians are just "messy"...and it is true. But that is what makes them so great. You can find something for everyone and just when you think you have them figured out, well, they completely contradict themselves. The architecture of Keble reminds you of gothic/Middle Eastern/high church. Here are the photos from Keble:

Detail above the chapel door:

Inside the chapel (sorry that it is so dark!):

The hidden tre…

"Keep out of my way, people!"; Or, How to run to the top of St. Mary's tower in under three minutes.

I will get to the title post in a minute...

Anyway, yesterday, it rained and rained and rained. In the morning it wasn't raining and I went on a really cool tour of the Bodleian, going through the Radcliffe Camera and the underground stacks.

Side note: Actually, today, I am going to Duke Humphrey's Library to read. Here is a really quick video (I don't know who did it, but you aren't supposed to video or take photos!):

Then, I ate lunch at Edamame, again. It was fantastic. I got soaked walking back. Later in the afternoon, Allen and I went to the famous Eagle and Child pub for coffee. Here I am at the famous C.S. Lewis and crew table:

We got back around 6:30 and dressed for dinner with the Provost. It was wonderful. His house is here at Worcester, of course, and it was completed in 1776. He is a charming man and makes everyone feel quite welcome. It was all very formal and beautiful. We had drinks for half an hour and then dinner at a beautiful table, surrounded by gorge…

Blackwell's giftcard!

The faculty just gave me a Blackwell's gift card! I am in a new happy place!

London: Part 2

After yesterday's ordeal, one would suppose that I would stay away from the train stations. However, dealing with Americans who feel a sense of entitlement drove me to the brink and I needed a day away. So, this morning, I hopped a train to London. I originally planned a morning at Harrods, but I was feeling impulsive (big shock) and decided to go further up the Circle Line. I got off at Victoria Underground Station and used my fabulous map. I walked all over, seeing Buckingham Palace, the parks, Parliament, Downing Street, Big Ben, the London Eye, and, best of all, Westminster Abbey.

I can't say that I found my happy place right away. Traffic wasn't too bad and I am prone to walking in the middle of roads (actually, I am pretty used to it now). So, I walked down Buckingham Palace Road (Street??) and made my way to the palace. I wanted to see it and the Queen Victoria monument (of course). But, I saw little at first...It was PACKED. I hit it right at the changing of the gua…

The Great Bath Adventure!

So, today I went with a group to Bath. We had a late tour (at 2:30), so we left Oxford around 12:45. All was well on our trip to Bath. Our tour guide was a sweet little old lady who promptly informed us that the tour would last for over 2 hours. (We thought that it was only about 1.5 hours.) I ducked out after about an hour because I had reservations at the Pump Room for High Tea. I had a little time to kill, so I went through the Bath Abbey. It was lovely.

High Tea in the Pump Room...a wonderful (and wonderfully expensive) experience. There was a lovely trio playing music and I really enjoyed myself. After that fun time, I went on a tour of the Roman baths. I have to say that it was a bit smelly down there this afternoon...

Anyway, after that, I made my way back to the train station. I shouldn't have bothered because all of the trains were canceled due to signal issues. So, a couple hundred people gathered outside of the train station with the assurance that a bus would take us to …