Religion, Barnard College
"Keeping Their Parts: The Archetype of the Virgin Martyr in Performance"
ONE FOOT OUT THE WINDOW
yesterday in the HDR writing workshop group a documentary maker was asking about blogging in relation to phd work, he was probably referring to something very different to the sort of writing that happens sporadically here but whatevs, I’ll give him the credit for potentially getting me going with this again.
so here we go, another attempt at the notes on phd lyf blog. I’ve gone part time. Not sure why I did that. I’ve never studied part time before, I tend to be more of an all-in or all-out kind of person. but basically my phd is about writing about recent experiences and I’ve been uninspired to write. as dad would say in an infuriating teenage girl voice, it’s time for me to get a life. My primary supervisor recommended that I take time off between honours and starting my phd and i decided not to. a year and a bit later, I can see where she was coming from. last year was great, I really enjoyed the preliminary process of designing the project and then rising to the challenge that is confirmation. I spoke at some conferences, met interesting people doing sometimes similar work to me, and had a few pieces published.
then I went away to america with elaborate plans for all the writing I would do. I bought a laptop I couldn’t afford and went into all sorts of other debts. in six weeks traipsing across north america I wrote one below average poem and the 9 or so blog posts for mum and dad that I put up here. retrospectively that was probably always going to happen. Laura started full time lawyer work last week so the last however many months have been dedicated to not working 9-5 (essentially behaving like degenerates).
I’ve decided that what I need is to be challenged in a way unrelated to university. I’m becoming a bit sterile in my thinking, in my points of reference and in my aspirations. so here I am: part time, trying to figure out what I want from this year and applying for grad jobs that will be difficult in all sorts of ways that I am not used to.
in the meantime I have a phd to care for. this may be too lateral but I keep thinking of facebook’s sheryl sandberg talking about not leaving before you leave (she was talking about women who are planning pregnancies but maybe a grad job would be similar?) and I know that if I am going to take a leave of absence for a year or two next year I need to do as much as I can before then. now i’m getting wanky, it’s probably the inspirational music playing in the next room.
so none of that was really about my phd. I’m going to try (again) to make this a regular thing where I might actually write about readings and what it is like to put together a creative writing practice-led phd.
WE’RE STILL JENNY FROM THE BLOCK
this is the last little blog post. I’m in santa monica on my own with all sorts of hostel creepos always ready for a chat. the biggest thing in my life is that I have become a bit locked on to selling our gps. when we bought it at walmart the sales assistant told us that they had a 30 day return policy so laura and thought we were bonnie and clyde planning on returning the gps after almost 4 weeks and getting our $$. but now i’m in santa monica which is an hour away on a bus from the nearest walmart and frazzled at the thought of giving up on the criminal scheme. i think i’m going to have to give it away to a stranger so it doesn’t get thrown out. aside from the gps obsession being alone is pretty uneventful. i’m alone because laura has left. her flight was two nights ago, so now she’s home in melbourne and sending me photos of her and princey all stoked on each other.
anyway, laura’s guest blog left off in arizona. after arizona we had a big fight and broke up for a few hours. then we forgot about that and drove to yosemite. all the books and all the internet advice says you can’t enter yosemite national park without tyre chains in winter but lucky for us it has been a very mild winter on the west coast and there was no need. yosemite was majestic, those enormous sequoias were mesmarising (all the m words). we almost made it a mile up hill to the lookout point but gave up and found our own, probably much less impressive, spot to stop. turns out laura and i are very different people. she is slow like a donkey going up hill but runs like a maniac on the downhill. i am a fierce samurai striding up but particularly awkward and cautious coming down. we had really good lunch in yosemite at the deli, i was still hungry and ordered second lunch then laura ate some and got too full and became very strict about our spending. we were just realising we had no money left.
we drove to san fran after yosemite. laura had being saying that it was overrated and that she didn’t really want to go back but i insisted so we went. when we arrived we found out parking cost 35-50 dollars a day. at this point we decided it was probably time to ditch the car. by getting rid of it almost a week early would save just under $400. we dropped all our stuff at the hostel and took the car to enterprise.
in memphis lovely helpful morgan had told us that we needed to give them a credit card to have on file but that when we paid we could pay however we wanted. enterprise in san fran told us they would not accept our travel money cards because they don’t accept debit, only credit. we explained that they function the same way and then we were told this long elaborate story about how they have machines from the 70s that can’t take money from debit cards… we said just try it has worked in the middle of nowhere, surely it will work here. apparently they had already tried and it didn’t work. we had already moved all our money onto the travel money card to pay the 2300 dollar bill so we said that they’d have to find a way to get the money off that card. thus began a feud that will never die.
they said they were going to use the credit card they had on file. i told them that that card had a limit of 500 (all lies but we didn’t want to end up with 2300 extra in american dollars that we would have to change back plus all the credit card fees for currency changing and international transaction fee). they kept us for the next 3 hours. turns out the manager wasn’t there and they were all totally incompetent/terrified of her. they drove us to banks so we could withdraw and pay cash. our cards had a 800 withdrawal limit per day so then we had 800 in cash in our bag and still couldn’t leave. we tried money orders. at safeway they only took money orders from cash. at the post office they only took money orders from debit cards and ours was apparently a credit card. we asked about other enterprise offices, if they had computers made more recently than the 70s (did anyone have computers in the 70s?) we were told all of the enterprise offices around the country used the same technology.
after like 2 and a half hours of elaborate plans to get at our money by any means other than using an eftpos machine, the guy who had been driving us around everywhere said we’ll go to a few more banks then as a last resort try your travel card. laura and i did some frowny-faced communication and asked the man why they would be trying the card as a last resort if they had already tried it and it wouldn’t work. he was panic face. another story about how when they do it sometimes it does weird stuff. we were all please elaborate, what sort of weird stuff. deer in headlights. laura had said a while back that they were worried about fraud with the pre-paid card but i had thought surely not. even if it wasn’t our card and we stole it it’s the bank who takes the loss, not them. anyway, we realised she was right. told him to take us back to the office, we were going to keep the car and get rid of it in LA. when we got back the girl who was meant to be in charge while the manager was out told us she couldn’t release the car back to us. but then said she would try the travel money card again. obviously it worked straight away so finally we could leave. THE MOST FRUSTRATION.
the guy said something about being glad it was all sorted and then LT went off. told him he would never have our business again, that they were useless incompetent, had wasted our day, then started with rude hand gesture after rude hand gesture as we walked away. when we rounded the corner she looked at me like she was going to be in trouble for being so rude but i was laughing/hugely relieved she hadn’t picked up a rock and thrown it through their window. if anyone made it to the end of the rant please rest assured that we are masterminding a letter of complaint of epic proportions.
the next day we had the first and only morning apart for the whole trip (in retrospect it would have done us some good to have had more of these). we did this because i wanted to go to alcatraz and laura had already been. it was good timing because her birthday was coming up and she kept ruining all my brilliant plans for birthday presents. the whole trip she had been looking for a wallet to replace her one that was falling apart but they were all too big or too shiny or any number of other issues. so after alcatraz i went on a mission to find the perfect replacement wallet. it took me to lots of strange old men’s shops where i was quite out of place. after looking at lots of wrong wrong wrong ones my brain was jelly and i couldn’t remember what brown looked like. i was meant to be meeting laura at 3 and it was almost time. i walked into one last place. there were very eccentric italian men who were very helpful. the wallet they showed me looked right but all of a sudden i thought it might be a better present to get her a wallet that was totally different to the one she had already. you know, big and bright coloured. she’d love that. luckily the man behind the counter wooed me with a lovely gold box to put the small brown wallet he had shown me in. it won me over.
when i got back to the hostel laura wasn’t there. she had left clues as to where i had to find her. it was mission after mission in san fran. i found her an hour later at dolores park which had the most beautiful views of the city. then we went to the GLBT museum near the castro and fell in love with the transwoman in the documentary that was playing about her life. the area was very hipster/middle aged gay male. flags everywhere. laura was loudly complaining about pride and being a general menace. so we bought groceries and got out of there.
the next day we got on a bus to LA and stayed in chinatown and had delicious chinese for dinner. LT has taken to being a rude lady calling me a rice chaser. then it was laura’s birthday. she got a birthday tattoo in the morning. we had delicious sandwiches and fresh juices (thank you LA for the fresh foods) and then moved from chinatown to hollywood. we had a great tapasy dinner feast with yum cocktails and then watched forest gump because laura had recently discovered that i had never seen it. we’re all about the party, obviously.
for the last few days we moved to santa monica to be by the beach and to be slack. before Laura left we went on a massive ferris wheel on the beach and then went out for a lobster dinner that was more decadent than we could afford. so now i am abandoned and surviving off beans, or something a bit less drastic. and that is the end. see you all soon! peace out homeboys.
WE STILL KENNY FROM THE BLOCK (Guest blogger Laura Tan)
The Grand Canyon is so vast you have to look away because your brain is telling your eyes turn it off I can’t comprehend. We had a scary walk on some slippery ice on a trail through the canyon. Then Romy asked me if a deer was a mule.
After the grand canyon we had a night in vegas, we weren’t going to go because lame gambling etc but decided to go get a fancy hotel suite and hang out there for a night. There was a bath in the livingroom and balconys looking at the strip which was tacky-amaze, we got what is apparently the best thai in the usa for dinner (our score: 7/10) and watched bad tv from the bath. Since vegas Romy has been reeling from being thought to have been a 33 year old woman when trying to buy beers at wallmart after the shop assistant entered her birth date into the computer as 1979. She has since been threatening to ‘get fit’ and cut her hair even shorter.
we drove to Tempe, AZ and met up with ASU pals Courtney and Laura2 to watch their softball game, they were all blind drunk and the whole thing seemed dangerous as to me. They lost. Afterwards we went to the vine and shitLaura beat me at an arm wrestle.
In the morning, I got lost trying to show Romy around what was once my hood. My memory was however tainted by some very confusing and inaccurate north/south directions from Courtney, and I hadn’t brought my trusty compass. Romy made out like I was leading her blindly into the Arizonian desert with no water despite being on Tempe’s main shopping strip for restaurant and bars. We finally found the café I had been looking for and spent a great deal of time catching up on necessary internet chores such as banking and facebook.
That night, we went and saw Volcano Choir with the girls. We had delicious $5 bean and cheese burritos and even cheaper PBR tallboys. Justin Vernon was all hand gestures and swoon central. This was where Laura2 began her incessant mocking of our accent…. basically, the band were UNBALEEVABULL. alhough Romy was stuck between a rock (weird girl with space issues) and a hard place (annoying fratboy with huge inappropriate moshing arms).
We spent the next day in Jerome, an old mining town turned hippy-artistry. Laura2 put her floppy hat on and fit right in, those of us with accents did not. Laura2 and Courtney had bought a dozen doughnuts of varying flavours for the car trip so then we had cocktails and pulled pork in the sun at this place for lunch then went to another place for beers and dancing to some blues with a bunch of old people then we went to another place with millions of kaleidoscopes and then found a van to jump in front of then got back in the car and ate more doughnuts.
Courtney and Laura2 took us to the gaybourhood for a boogie followed by a famously scrumbumtious quesadilla at Charlys- the local cowboy pickup joint. I must point out that Romy has taken to American dancing like a pig to mud- engaging wholeheartedly with college culture which includes getting down and dirty, fully-fledged booty to booty shaking and hair flip-whipping. mY experience was less successful and I got propositioned by an old dude.
On that note, time to pass the baton.
WE’RE STILL JENNY FROM THE BLOCK
After saying goodbye to our kitchy airstream and the backyard farm we drove to dallas to scope out some big blonde hair and cowboy hats. dallas wasn’t all we dreamt it would be, way more city, way less boot scootin’. after getting lost and ending up on highways going in the wrong direction a couple of times and lots of fighting we made it to our crappy motel straight out of crossroads (starring britney spears). we had to do some scary driving late that night, looking for a late-night burger. it was so foggy, we couldn’t see more than a meter or two ahead of us. we were eating late because laura had claimed not to be hungry and because i was working like a maniac last minute trying to finish a job application.
american roads are great but they are covered in rubbish. things come off the back of cars all the time and there are big hunks of tire all over the road. pretty much everyone in texas drives a super sized ute. anyway, in dallas we went to the jfk museum and saw the spot marked on the road where he was shot. laura got very grumpy because i was so slow at reading. after dallas we drove to fort worth which is apparently dallas’ country bumpkin cousin just 30 minutes away. because i was slow at jfk we were too late to make it to the cowgirl museum which was disappointing. in fort worth we saw the old stockyards which are now touristy and saloony, mostly shops and restaurants. we went to this bar called love shack and had the best burger/shake so far this trip. then we chatted to a crazy cowboy pirate who wanted us to give him money to let us have a photo with his guns. we didn’t take him up on his offer but laura got locked on to the gun idea so we found some wooden rubber band guns and found a rodeo park to shoot each other in.
later that afternoon we drove a couple of hours north west to a smaller town called denton. we decided to stop there because we wanted to go to the local gay bar called ‘Mabel peabody’s beauty salon and chainsaw repairs’ but it ended up being a really lovely town, especially around the town square it was really lively and friendly. buuuut the bar was great. it was karaoke night and the crowd was the ultimate mixed bag. there were so many great characters, some overwhelming dancing, a girl next door that sang come together better than the Beatles and a gang of mates straight out of grease. that was a late night, well.. later than we were used to anyway.
the two days were big big driving days as we made our way west. after lots of driving and more burgers and motel after motel we arrived in Page, Arizona. we arrived late at night and ate some weird diner food before passing out. the next morning we grumbled as we left our motel, probably bickering about where to eat breakfast, we walked outside into a canyon. IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL IN PAGE. we went into antelope canyon where the light comes through in all these places and makes crazy patterns on the walls. then we drove to horseshoe bend and lake powel look out points and took off our clothes for a sneaky nudie shot with the sunset. that night we finally watched apollo thirteen (which we had been meaning to do since nasa). Our dinner was also a bit of a fail that night, i got carried away wanting chinese, laura suggested it looked suss but i was like ‘how bad could it be?’ so we bought it. and the answer is bad. very bad indeed. so bad. unbelievably bad. laura has since demoted me from restaurant chooser.
I’m so behind with this blogging I should probably just give up but laura has promised to help by guest blogging so I am persevering.