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Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Year in Review/The Year in Preview

At the end of this Year of Our Lord 2006, I would like to express gratitude to God for these outstanding (of many fundamental) demonstrations of His care for and grace to me since last December 31:

1. Godly husbands and wives for old friends, many of whom had become increasingly pessimistic about the likelihood of ever being married.

2. The thriving of my honorary nephews and blood niece. They've grown and developed so many skills over this past year--it's been a pleasure to watch!

3. Good physical and mental health for me—the colonoscopy/endoscopy in the summer came out clear, I have not suffered any major depression, and the OCD continues to be under control. Blood loss has been minimal over the past twelve months, and no bones broken that I know of.

4. Successful completion of one-third the Biohazardous Threat Agents and Emerging Infectious Diseases MS program.

5. A new living situation with a fellow female believer and a kitchen with counterspace and functional appliances.

6. Another successful year selling my jewelry, with the handiness of the credit-card machine.

7. Continuing and new friendships. God has blessed me over and again this year with the special outreach and care of friends--people who fed me, prayed for me, sheltered me, moved me (and all my junk!), cheered me, hydrated me, watched out for me, and loved me. Praise God! Thank you to all of you, dears--I hope I can be half as faithful and self-sacrificing as you have been!


And, in the vein of last year's "Beyond-Wildest-Dreams Hopes" (one, concerning the "get first article published" did come true, although not in a history journal--in a biomedical newsletter!), here are my crazily ambitious wishes for this year...

1. Finish translation of "Two Motherlands, Two Fatherlands" and sign contract with major American and British publishers for it to be produced for the English-speaking market.

2. Actually get first HISTORY article published in refereed journal.

3. Be awarded the Washington Universities Consortium grant to travel to Russia in March to work directly with the author of "Two Motherlands, Two Fatherlands" for the first time in almost 4 years.

4. Pass my History Ph.D. comprehensive exams in late Spring/early Summer and apply successfully for dissertation research-grants.

5. Complete another full-time semester in the MS in Biohazardous Threat Agents and Emerging Infectious Diseases program and be on track to graduate in May 2008.

6. Have the website featuring the art produced by my Atlanta brother and me linked by at least 25 other websites/blogs and move up to the top of the Google rankings.

7. Have a fantastic romance and fall in love and get married to a good-looking, smart, kind and gainfully-employed Christian guy and be pregnant with quadruplets by this time next year. Last year I went for triplets and forgot the gainful employment. I'm upping the ante this year.

8. Win a place at the exclusive annual summer crafts festival in Cary, NC.

9. Learn to dance. Better. Didn't happen last year--maybe this one!

9. Have lunch at an exclusive London restaurant with legendary actors Judi Dench and Peter O'Toole.

10. Buy a house.


Hmm...let us see how many, if any, of these wild near-impossibiities become probabilities and then actual events over the next 365 days!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Inner Kitty Cat

I have so much enjoyed having my little niece here for Christmas--she's a cuddly little creature (not even two, and barely that many feet tall), learning new words every day, from colors to objects to names. In the summer, when she first started talking to any extent, she learned animals and their noises, as most American (and, I would suspect, those of all other cultures) kids do. She formed an early fascination for "doggies"--when I visited in the early fall, she went around saying "woof" at intervals--then she became enamored of "kitty cats", which she pronounces "ki'y cats" (they are much less big and scary than most dogs, after all). And they are so soft! She actually got to pet one several months ago, and stood in rapture, my sister reported, her tiny hands clasped, just overcome with the thrill of it all. She doesn't have any pets at home other than fish because both her parents are severely allergic.

About five days ago, late in the evening, she, my mother, my sister and I were all in my parents' bedroom, watching her explore my mother's shoe collection (my niece loves walking around in big people's shoes--they are three times the length of her feet, and I don't know how she does it, but she manages). Eventually fatigue set in, and I laughed at something someone said, and she decompensated. "Ki'y cat, meow, meow," she said, beginning to cry. She proceeded to weep and meow pitifully for the next few minutes, until her mother picked her up and carried her off to bed. It was simultaneously hilarious and heartwrenching to hear her small "meows" of woe.

Since then, although we've not encouraged it at all, we have noticed that whenever she gets truly distressed, she mews.

I've long referred to my friends' felines as "furry nephews and nieces," but I never thought my own little baby human niece would find her deepest emotional expression in cat language. She doesn't purr when she's happy, though: she just giggles. :)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Finito

Finished grading all those European History essay papers this evening. Grueling trench-work. Georgetown undergraduates, by and large, cannot write. Atrocious grammar, occasional egregious spelling, stinking syntax, topic sentences as flat as flounders. No logical progression, and such oh-so-delightful misperceptions as thinking Sir Thomas More, author of Utopia, was a Reformation Protestant. Of *course* the pope would canonize a heretic!

My speed in reading my students' work wasn't helped, of course, by the fact that one of the books on which they could choose to focus was Jean-Jacques Rousseau's The Social Contract. Four days ago, I was ashamed that I hadn't yet read it (what with an MA in a poli-sci field and all)--now I marvel at my previous good fortune. What an irritating man Rousseau was. Apart from abandoning his five illegitimate children to foundling homes as infants.

There really were passages in the Contract that I liked, but they glimmered like diamonds in a dunghill, and didn't accord much with his other pontifications. I spent hours slogging through, pausing to type notes so I wouldn't have to subject myself to the same misery again.

Having previously realized that I couldn't get anything done, reading or grading-wise, in the same house with Little Miss Adorable (aka my 20-month-old niece), from Christmas Day on I stayed at my grandparents' in Middle Georgia (three nights), emerging from my room only to eat and play Scrabble. Returned this afternoon to Augusta, where my friend Audrey arrived from Savannah a few hours later for dinner with my family. A nice time was had by all.

I am soooo grateful I don't have to TA this coming semester!

And no, Salman hasn't called. Am not holding the proverbial breath. Anesthesiologists are always telling one to inhale deeply and count up to or down from large numbers anyway...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

50 Camels, Silks, Gold and Spices?

My dad finally did get feedback on Tuesday's dinner. Salman called him, to ask for my contact information, apparently, since he's returning to Pennsylvania on Christmas Day (has to be at work early the next). Daddy brought the phone to me, where I was holed up in my room grading Early European History final exam ID answers--ex: "Erasmus laid an egg, Luther hatched it" [can that really be the correct translation?]--and told us to talk to each other directly. Over the course of thirty minutes' conversation, we arranged to have coffee this afternoon.

I picked Salman up at his brother's housea little after three, and we went to a bookstore coffeebar, where we sat and talked for two hours. As a result we were twenty minutes late to the candlelight service at my parents' and his brother's church. For another year, small children managed not to incinerate themselves. It was lovely, but all those open flames in small unsteady hands...

In twenty minutes, I'm supposed to pick the man up for the third service of today, the carol service down at my home church, where I went by myself this morning. Should be a good time. Salman asks good questions, and I think he's got a good sense of humor. We'll see where this goes!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

And A Glass of Good Cheer

"I'll figgy your pudding!" I was muttering aloud by the time I heard the third version of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"--complete with the sung threats to stick around until the aforementioned strange sweet was brought out--at the antique mall where I was searching (in vain) for a replacement juice glass, having accidentally broken my dear roommate's just a day or two before leaving for Christmas break. This would be the only one she had of that type, and one in a pattern I recognized from over twenty years' of antique-collecting experience as peculiar to the "atomic" 1950s. I'd looked on eBay first, of course, but also spent more than four hours going through three separate large antique malls in different states on the way back to Georgia on Monday. And came up empty on all counts--I want to quietly replace it before it's missed. Argh. Hence my starting to issue audible imprecations against the piped-in Christmas music. I'm sure that's also one reason that people didn't get in my way as I strode past booth after booth of knicknacks and dilapidated furniture...would you really want to mess with a wild-eyed woman who kept saying, sotto voce, "I'll tell you where you can put that pudding!" and the like?

Still no feedback on Tuesday evening's dinner. Not even, "She not quite forty camel--maybe twenty-five?"

After dark yesterday, my mother and I drove to Atlanta to pick up my niece, and her mom and dad, from Hartsfield International Airport. The traveling trio didn't come up the escalators into the arrivals and baggage claim area until after 11 PM. I drove home, admiring more than a dozen deer grazing along the verge of the interstate (they were very blase creaters, and ignored us little cars and the big eighteen wheelers blazing past them at 70 MPH), and we finally pulled into the garage at 2 AM. Needless to say, I haven't yet gotten the grading done for my TA-ship class. Must start and finish tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Banner Day

Today was Granddaddy's ninetieth birthday. Mums and I went down to his and Grandmommy's house in middle GA to celebrate. My brother Nate showed up just minutes after she and I pulled into the driveway, followed a few minutes later by my aunt, her son and that son's girlfriend. Grandmommy put on her usual sumptuous repast, and we all stuffed ourselves to bursting. Hope, my cousin's girlfriend, had brought Granddaddy two giant tins of homemade cookies, and at the end of the meal (while I was polishing off seconds) he quietly got up from the head of the table and went into the kitchen to help himself to two of Hope's cookies and a slice of Grandmommy's chocolate cake when the others weren't paying attention (I noticed, as I was sitting next to him). My aunt got out her camera to take pictures of him with his lovely birthday cake (with the "9" and "0" candles, not a fire-hazard number of those tiny ones), and inadvertently captured him tucking into his early dessert. Grandmommy served him a piece of his own Japanese fruit cake anyway, after we all sang. She didn't light the candles because she plans to keep recycling the numbers.

Nate went back to Atlanta and registered our joint domain name. I'll post it once we have pictures of our work/wares on the website. We hope to have a few things on board by Christmas.

This evening, my parents took me out to a Palestinian restaurant to meet the Egyptian couple they know from church and the husband's youngest brother, with whom his elder sibling has wanted to set me up for two months now. I'd been horrifically nervous about this whole unsought matchmaking process, and thought wishfully about taking on some liquid courage prior to the Arabic-speakers' arrival at the restaurant, but quickly calmed down once they came in and we were introduced. My proposed husband is actually quite good looking, without the slightly cross-eyed deer-in-the-headlights gaze that he sported in the pictures that were emailed to me. He's an anesthesiologist working at a Veterans Administration hospital in Pennsylvania. Quiet, strong accent, with a tendency to talk in a patois of Arabic and English to his sister-in-law and brother. Had never heard of Tom Clancy or Mark Twain or the term "liberal arts education." Has now been (superficially) enlightened on these subjects. A satisfactory evening, really. I am so relieved not to have that event hanging over my head!

Lessee, what else? Sold some earrings to my aunt, picked up my Christmas gift (one of them) for my sister from the jeweler's where'd it'd been reposing for months, saw THE MOST GEORGEOUS three-carat (TW) pair of earrings at the same jeweler's. Fit for a queen they were--a spray of rounds, pears and marquise-cuts set in platinum or white gold. Niiice. Great price, too. But I just don't have the money. If they are still there when I get a "real" job, after I've paid my normal expenses...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Quirk of DC Living

Susan and I had a drop-in party last night. It went beautifully--she has a real flair for low-stress entertaining, and I love to help with events, but not necessarily to take the lead in planning them. The first guest arrived around 5:30, and the last of them left five hours later. We had platefuls of homemade hors d'oerves (both sweet and savory) on the kitchen and coffee tables, bottles of wine and cans of soda on the sideboard, and a gallon of cider steaming on the stove while a Stoffer's lasagna cooked in the oven below. Yum!

Susan did the inviting, and my, what a variety of interesting people she knows! One of the bothersome things, though, is I can't blog in any detail about the folks I met, because it would be a national security issue. Be that as it may, I look forward to reporting many curious conversations, and odd encounters, in this space soon!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Refunds and Re-Routing

One of the necessities entailed in my sudden move of six weeks ago was taking the household gas and telephone bills out of my name. The phone company saw fit to charge me for the portion of the month that I had supposedly used their service, but the gas company sent me a refund check the other day. One of the kinder of my former roommates, Kevin, forwarded the check to me.

It arrived at the History Department today, and I opened it. It was for the sum of four cents. $0.04. It had cost the company 39 cents to mail this neatly-printed check to my old address, and Kevin another 39 cents to forward.

Technically, too, the refund is for all four of us former housemates. A penny each. I emailed Kevin, and told him that I wasn't going to write a check for one cent to each of the guys, and that I probably wouldn't even cash it. Particularly as the gas company misspelled my first name on the "pay to the order of" line.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Back to Regular Programming!

It's so good to be able to blog normally again. This last week was a hectic and exhausting (but extremely satisfying) end to what has been an emotionally, physically and spiritually taxing month.

The Arts and Crafts sale turned out to be a banner event, although it was essentially a one-woman show, what with me manning the tables twelve hours a day. Thank God, Kara, the undergraduate student assistant in the History Department, has such a heart for helping--she showed up at 7:15 AM two days running to help me set up, and popped in several times during the days of the show to allow me a precious few minutes of bathroom breaks. Without her, I never could have done it. We ended up with over four thousand dollars' of combined sales (my jewelry, my friend Hannah's pottery, my brother's woodwork, etc), making over $700 for the History Honor Society. The credit card machine again proved its worth.

My rooming situation with Susan thus far is working out beautifully.

Now, all I have to do this week is write a term paper on a topic I've not yet begun researching. Fun!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Jewelry Work

I was up until 5 AM this morning making earrings, and as a consequence slept until 4 PM this afternoon. Totally missed the Arlington Market, but my main concern is preparation for the Phi Alpha Theta Arts and Crafts sale, which runs for three days at Georgetown beginning Tuesday. There must be enough merchandise, and I've got to make serious money! I have to be on campus by 7:15 each day, and will be working straight through til final packup ends around 7:30 PM. Don't expect me to blog until after all is over and done, unless someone dies or someone proposes to me (preferably the latter!). Oh--I may have found a place to live! Trial period begins tomorrow evening, when I move my air mattress into Susan's apartment just two miles from campus, in Arlington. Thank (and praise!) God! Otherwise, I'd be commuting to and from Fairfax in the wee hours this coming week.