Sunday, April 22, 2012

April heat wave brings May....something. I'm drunk.

I'm a terrible blog mother.

There are several things I dislike about living in Washington.
1) For all you "West-Siders," you sound ridiculous saying you're from "the west side." No one except people who live in the Seattle Metropolitan Area refers to it as "the west side" - it has zero meaning to the rest of the population.
2) If I've never heard of a place, there's no sense in expressing shock AND asking me again. I heard you the first time, and answered you accordingly. The western half of the state has a lot to offer, but I don't give a shit about where you went skiing last weekend, which high school you went to, or what neighborhood you grew up in (That last one in particular gets under my skin. It's so offensively arrogant for you to expect me to know where it is - or to care - and shows that you're trying to flaunt the wealth your parents have accumulated which enables them to be able to afford to live in a neighborhood worth mentioning by name).
3) The complete and utter lack of knowledge about the state east of Yakima. Don't treat me like a freak for not knowing every shitty-ass night club in downtown Seattle (Seattle is famous for things like grunge music and heroin overdoses, not its happenin' night life....), and I'll try not to tell you you're a tool for not being able to locate Walla Walla on a map.

Almost halfway through the quarter. This time tomorrow I'll have a big stack of papers to grade, which should actually be pretty okay to read through. The students were assigned a paper on a book called Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling. The book is written almost like a novel, and describes the story behind the Sistine Chapel, the major players (such as Michelangelo and Pope Julius II), and goes into great detail about the technical aspects of fresco and other media. It well-written, reasonably entertaining, and should make for some great papers. Naturally the quality of the papers will also reflect the intelligence of the class in general (I've never been in a class that seemed to really GET IT quite like this group. MAYBE my Russian Far East class a few years ago, but we had some weirdos in that one...). My thesis is going reasonably well, though I confess I've been struggling to work on it (more on that later), and find myself spending most of my time feeling guilty. However, I'm being much more responsible than I have been the last few months, and even applied for a fellowship for the summer. My grades aren't very good (not by my standards, anyway) so I'm not sure if I'll be able to get it, but if I do, it will provide me with a few thousand dollars so that I can take the summer off to do nothing but enjoy the weather and read/research/write. If all goes according to plan, I should be done by December, and will (hopefully) be starting a new job in January.

I've been watching a lot of shows on Netflix recently (I'm paying for it, I may as well use it!). Black Books is a British sitcom about a mysanthropic, alcoholic bookstore owner, his chronically unemployed neurotic Bridget Jones-esque friend Fran, and his well-coiffed manslave, Manny. Although I think the show is a bit haphazard sometimes, the characters are endearing, there is a lot of really interesting humor, and basically I just love Dylan Moran. Kingdom stars Stephen Fry as an East Anglian solicitor, his student trainee, Lyle, their secretary, friends, family, etc. It's got similarly haphazard writing, but it's an incredibly uplifting, charming show, with lovable characters. Since it's filmed on location, it's also got wonderful atmosphere. Midsomer Murders is a police detective show/murder mystery series that takes place in southwestern England, and has delightfully contrived plot lines. Some episodes are virtually unwatchable (each episode is movie-length, so I imagine it was difficult to keep the writing up to snuff!) but for the most part I found it highly entertaining. The lead characters in the original 8 seasons were WONDERFUL. Likewise, MI-5, about the British equivalent of the FBI, is well-cast with well-developed characters. I've watched seasons 7-9, because they star one of my FAVORITE actors, Richard Armitage, as Lucas North/John Bateman. Needless to say, I'm an anglophile who is more determined than ever to relocate (possibly on a permanent basis) to the boggy little island sometime in the future.

Now, for the bad stuff: My dad and uncle (identical twins) have been diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy. Basically their bodies are shutting down. My uncle is currently in the hospital and is so bad he doesn't even know his own son. My dad is a few years behind where my uncle is (he only JUST started showing symptoms), but he's struggling to deal with the situation. Not only is he losing his brother, and losing his ability to control his own body (for those of you who don't know, my dad's entire livelihood until recently has depended on his incredible physical abilities), but as he watches his brother die he's seeing what he can anticipate over the next few years. The bottom line is, my uncle won't survive much longer, and my dad has about 7 or 8 years to live - if he's lucky. I'm not quite sure how I feel about the situation yet, though I think that's largely due to me trying desperately not to face the situation. When I have no choice but to process it, I am desperately sad, and not sure how to live my life. There are so many things I wanted to do with my dad that I never got to do, and never will. I think the most important lesson it's teaching me, though, is to not waste my life. I need to be doing more, enjoying myself, laughing, loving, appreciating life. So I have.