Day 5: Carmel and the creeps

Worked all day, so nothing crazy exciting could really happen during the day (though there were some awesome doughnuts). Getting ready for upcoming programs, mainly. Dinner was more ham salad, this time with some hot sauce and fried eggs.

Greens, eggs, and ham. Har-de-har.

Greens, eggs, and ham. Har-de-har.

I tried Sleeping Giant with the dog again today, and we ended up crossing the street to wander Quinnipiac’s campus. It’s absolutely gorgeous and was totally designed to complement its location at the foot of Mt. Carmel. I don’t know if the park is too dark or too rocky or gravelly for her, but we could have wandered along the campus walkways all evening if not for the stuffy air. And yes, her panting was exacerbated by me encouraging her to run.

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Not summer camp. This is their School of Arts and Sciences.

At home, I made the mistake of putting on a Haunted Histories DVD from the library. It was from the History Channel, so how scary could it be? Well, it creeped me out so much, I hung out in the bedroom playing smartphone games until it ended so I could avoid seeing any photos they might put up on the screen. To recover, I put in an Usher concert DVD (another library goodie). I can’t be scared when Usher’s dancing around, showing off his moves and singing about making Usherlove all night.

Day 4: birds and Bob

I started the morning watching a catbird pitifully trying to eat from my suet feeder. To be clear, I don’t mind them eating the suet. I like them. Not quite as cute as wrens, but not awful like the starlings that swoop in and sit on top of the feeder and bully the other birds with their size and loud caws and general starling-ness. I had to rig the feeder so that only upside-down eaters like woodpeckers can reach it, and this morning I was trying to reach a compromise with the catbirds by offering them cornflakes and walnuts.

Watching intently for any signs of interest.

Watching intently for any signs of interest.

Hubs interrupted my birdwatching, and we ended up skyping for two hours until I had to go to work. He looks healthy and happy for the first time in months, which I’m glad to see. Work went fine considering I was away almost two weeks, and I managed to not go overboard at the grocery store on my way home. I used leftover ham in a dinner that was unquestionably inspired by this Italian hoagie-like salad that Smitten Kitchen just posted.

So much ham to use up...

Still so much ham to use up…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided to force Lola out into the neighborhood, by making her run down the hill. It turned into a 40-minute half-walk, half-run. By the time we got back I was a little sweaty and kind of amped, and though I wasn’t planning on doing any exercise due to the back soreness, I pounded out an hour of Bob Harper. I am a machine!

Things are definitely feeling okay around here. I mean, it would be great if hubs was here, but I’m feeling like I can manage things for now. I have some missions that have to be accomplished, anyway. Like getting this dog to learn “wanna run?”

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Day 3: Interpol and interaction

I weightlifted this morning, which went pretty terribly actually. I lowered the weight on my deadlift to try working on my form and still ended up with a sore back, and I could only do a third of my normal reps for my ab exercises. Eh well, I still showed up and did it.

I subbed for two hours – though it’s quite a drive, it’s still a little money and some social interaction. A coworker mentioned that Interpol was playing in New Haven tonight, something I’d completely forgotten about. So at home I defrosted some leftover meat and threw together a lamb-udon-spinach-red pepper soup, tried to walk the dog (she wasn’t having it), and changed my outfit about eight times before settling on my standard “I’m a married woman leaving my house for something slightly more exciting than work or groceries, like maybe I’m going to Chili’s” outfit: jeans, flowy tank, cardigan. I have no idea how people dress for shows. As it turns out, everyone else wears their “I’m going to Chili’s” outfits nowadays. Even Interpol.

"What we really need to do is create a powerful sense of dread." - Super Hans.

“What we really need to do is create a powerful sense of dread.” – Super Hans.

Wearing all black suits, just as I’d hoped. The guitarist was a lot of fun to watch, and the band interacted with the audience more than I’d expected from a group with their persona. They started with “Say Hello to the Angels” and did “Stella was a diver and she was always down” in the encore, both of which made me super happy. Definitely glad I stayed up past my bedtime for this.

Day 2: doing slightly better.

Ran errands. Tried to take the dog for a walk at Sleeping Giant State Park, but she lasted five minutes. I took her home and went straight back for a trail run that turned into a really shitty run / hike. I don’t know if it’s because I gained a couple pounds the last few weeks or the sudden increase in temperature, or the fact that I had a pack full of water on my back that I’d never run with before. Something made it a gigantic mass of suck. Did I mention I fell, too? Not enough to hurt anything but my pride. I was in there for an hour and a half, braving waning daylight and bog insects and feeling frustrated and very, very alone.

For dinner, I made broccoli soup with leftover blue Stilton from our trip to Vermont, a simplified version of this recipe I found. Pretty tasty! Watched a few episodes of Samurai Champloo and only fell asleep on the couch for an hour!

The Wife of the Wandering Scholar, Day 1

Some career advice from my husband: if you’re considering going for a Ph.D. in the humanities, and you have even the slightest reservation that the program is for you, then the program is not for you. You need to be 110% committed in order to survive. You’re going to be constantly overworked, given a stipend that won’t support you (if you’re lucky enough to get a stipend at all), apply for summer language study grants that won’t work out because of silly institutional policies, your confidence in yourself and your academic abilities is going to be utterly crushed, orals is going to be several months of sheer 250-book torture that will alienate you from your family and friends and screw up whatever semblance of a sleep schedule you had, and then immediately afterwards, when classes and orals are over and you recover your swagger and start focusing on the dissertation, you’re going to ship off to do research, alone, in a foreign country. For a year.

Yep, my husband’s at that stage right now. He left this morning for Petrozavodsk, Russia (an eight-hour train ride northeast from St. Petersburg), for a language course to improve the Russian he’s been learning for the last couple years. He’ll come back in August, stick around for a month, then disappear for The Long Haul to do research in Astrakhan (super far from St. Petersburg) until at least June, and probably longer.

Here, let’s use a map to show it all. I’ve also marked his previous travels in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Dushanbe, Tajikistan:

K's travels

I probably need this map more than you. My geography is pretty horrible.

So yes, he’s 7000 miles away, which probably doesn’t make for the best emergency contact. While my two years of Russian at a small regional university did prepare me to write like a 5-year-old and say “that is meat” and “where is the location of the post office?” and “I live in the factory,” I’m nowhere close to being able to make myself useful in the places he’s going. Plus, I feel like after several years of struggling to pull together part-time gigs, I’m finally getting really close to securing a full-time job. I don’t want to lose the foothold I have here career-wise so I can be a housewife, or domazhena, or whatever.

I’ve been without him before, for a month or so, but not for this amount of time. We’ve been slowly preparing for it. We replaced our Frankencar with a 2008 Prius that drives like a dream and (inshallah) won’t leave me stranded on the side of the road with nobody to call. He returned almost all his library books, and I’ll take care of the remaining half-dozen after I scan them for him. Mentally, I’ve been preparing by rearranging the pantry, trying to come up with single lady meals that aren’t frozen veggies and cheese, and wondering what to do with his clothes and papers. I haven’t reached a better solution than just keeping them wherever he leaves them. The clothing, that is, not his papers. They will be beaten into submission by him in August, or will suffer my organizational wrath.

Aside from getting used to living without him for a year, I have a few goals I want to accomplish. The first time I lost a significant amount of weight was when he went away for the first time, so I’m going to try seriously doing that again and reset from all the b.s. I’ve internalized about weight loss since then. Since it’ll be nice outside for the first part of his trip, it should be easy for me to get outside and exercise, and now that I have a fuel efficient, non-deathtrap car, I really have no barriers preventing me from traveling around the state. I also have all this camping and backpacking gear that is dying to get used now. In the colder months, I could start up a gym membership and really get serious about weightlifting. In the non-fitness realm, I want to write more and try to finish up a few other household projects, like a recipe book and that wedding scrapbook I once thought I’d make. Plus there’s that dog that always needs walking.

This will totally be me. Except, you know, definitely without the Russian.

This will totally be me. Except, you know, definitely without the Russian.

So day 1 without hubs kinda sucked. We’d been in Pennsylvania for a good friend’s wedding and to cram in other visits with family, and it never seems like enough time when we’re down there. I would have liked to stay a few days longer and avoid the empty apartment waiting for me, but I had stuff to do on Monday and figured it’d be best to just go straight home after dropping him off at the train station. He slept in the car like I knew he would (he’d stayed up all night packing), and he felt guilty about taking the time away from me. After we said goodbye at the station in Newark and I started trying to find my way home, I almost immediately got lost trying to get my GPS to avoid the George Washington Bridge. Seeing that it would take me 3 hours to get home felt awful. I stopped at a rest stop for some breakfast and dog-water, and it was really painful watching this girl slowly throwing together like six egg sandwiches while my bagel just sat there, awaiting its cream cheese. This was the last place I wanted to be – I just wanted to get the hell out of New Jersey and back to Connecticut. As soon as I hit the Merritt Parkway, I felt better.

At home, I decided to clean and organize things instead of nap. Probably a good decision. I also repotted all the plants outside that needed some TLC and cleaned up the porch while I was out there. Dinner was Trader Joe’s themed, with guacamame and spinach wrapped in lavash. It’s the first day of the month, and though I didn’t plan on exercising after the huge exhausting trip, I can still start taking care of myself diet-wise.

Considering all the ingredients were like 10 days old, surprisingly good sandwich!

Considering all the ingredients were like 10 days old, this was a surprisingly good sandwich!

I had the first season of Dexter player in the background, and I managed to stay awake until about 8 minutes from end of the last episode. So close! Not that puppy minded, though.