Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: The Year in Review

A few days ago I was thinking, "rats...I haven't blogged yet in December" and then I realized "New Year's Eve post!" I'm going to re-use the format from previous years, so here we go!

School

  • I took my qualifying exams. I'm really glad I never have to do those again. But finishing them came with an upgrade to post-qualifying status and a pay raise, so it was a worthwhile experience.
  • Classes were pretty cool. I took this statistical programming (SAS) class which I really enjoyed and ended up being very helpful to my current research.
  • I've done some research and obtained results! And those results aren't null! I submitted abstracts based on those results to a few conferences and found out that they were accepted and I have to give a talk on one of them next spring...in Amsterdam!
  • I tutored Gross Anatomy this fall and was reminded that I love teaching and that (thankfully) research is not the be-all-end-all of academic life.
Travel (since school is my job, there's no "work" section)

  • I went to California for the first time! I got a scholarship to attend a conference in San Francisco, and I stayed with family in Oakland. It was a lovely place even though I'll probably never live there because I'm poor. I'm looking forward to being able to visit the bottom half of California some day.
  • I also checked Iowa off of my list of states I need to visit when I attended for a research training meeting. Iowa was decidedly less interesting than California, but there were some cool things in Iowa City, and getting to stay in my own hotel room never hurts at all.
  • I also went to Pennsylvania three times. The second time I brought a man with me.
Church:  The most exciting thing was that after five years of just participating, I finally got to be in charge of the Relief Society Christmas Concert! I had been gunning for the job for a while, so I pretty much felt like Professor Snape when he finally gets that DatDA teaching position, though fortunately I didn't Avada Kedavra the Stake President at the end of it (though I was pretty stressed, so I wouldn't have ruled it out). You can watch a video of the concert here.

This is pretty much how I conduct.
Relationships:  Exactly a year ago today, I invited this really good friend of mine over for a New Year's Eve Frasier-watching marathon. The next night we went on a date to see Vanya, Sonia, Masha, and Spike at the Huntington Theater. We're getting married in 28 days.

2015 has been a good year.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Life as of Late: November 2015

This is a blog post that I'm mostly only writing because I haven't blogged at all in November (yes, I'm terrible). It's because I've been really busy! Here's what I've been up to...

Traveling!
I traveled a lot in November. After thirty years of not going to California, I finally went to California. I won a travel award to go to a Rheumatology conference in San Francisco. The conference was okay, but the San Francisco experience was pretty neat. I did most of the touristy stuff (minus Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the house from "Full House"...next time). Also, I ate at In-N-Out Burger for the first time after hearing every Californian ever talk about how great it is. It was just okay (cue Californian gunfire). What also made it fun was that Fiance came with me and that we stayed with his sister (and her two redheaded twin boys) and that his other sister (with two adorable not-redheaded children) came to visit as well. I have officially met all of the in-laws.
The random guy in the picture is my fiance. He's okay.
My other travel of November was a very short (so short that it was so not worth all of the hassle involving O'Hare) trip to Iowa City to meet some of the people that I do research with. I got to give a presentation and learn about clinical data collection. I also got to stay in a hotel room by myself which was pretty awesome. And it turns out there's a Teddy's Bigger Burgers in Iowa City, so I got to have some Hawaiian nostalgia in the Midwest.

School!
School has been pretty okay. I'm not taking any classes right now, which is boring because I like being in classes. I have been doing some light teaching in the form of Anatomy tutoring, and I got to give a lecture in one of the forensic anthropology classes.

Research is dominating a lot of my school time. I've submitted some of my research results to present at some different meetings (one which is super relevant to my future career goals in San Diego, and one which is less relevant to my career goals in Amsterdam...#thestruggle). My first "real" committee meeting is this week, so here's hoping they don't kick me out without a diploma.

Churchy Stuff!
The only churchy thing I'm involved in right now is the Relief Society Christmas Concert. This is the 17th year that the concert has been happening and the 6th year that I've done it, and I am IN CHARGE this year! (Well, in the artistic sense I'm in charge, there's also a coordinator who is amazing and doing all the logistical stuff that would drive me crazy.)

Being Engaged!
I'm engaged (whee!) and wedding planning is the absolute WORST. Seriously; I now understand why so many people just shack up instead (don't worry, ladies from my home ward, I'm not shacking up). But we're doing the tiniest tiny wedding ever, and hopefully it'll all come together at some point. Updates to come!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Theatre Review: Clown Bar (Theatre on Fire, Charlestown, MA)


I'm about to try my hand at reviewing The Theatre.*  I'm also about to review a show in which my fiancĂ© played a lead role, so you might question my objectivity.  Just to show you that I can be objective, here's an example of what a non-objective review would look like.
Clown Bar by Adam Szymkowicz is about a handsome, sexy, dashing clown-turned-cop named Happy Mahoney who, while on the quest for answers about his brother's murder, reunites with his old flame, Blinky Fatale, a skanky trollop who--SPOILER ALERT--totally had it coming.
That's not the review I'm going to write.  This is the review that I'm going to write.

Adam Szymkowicz's Clown Bar is directed by Darren Evans and produced by Theatre on Fire at the Charlestown Working Theater on Bunker Hill Street.  There are three performances remaining:  Thursday through Saturday, October 22-24, and if you know what's good for you, you're going to attend one of them.  Even if it weren't chock-full of slapstick gags and raunchy humor, its mere 70-minute runtime makes it accessible and approachable to even the most skeptical live-theatergoer.

Clown Bar is set in a bar, obviously, but the exciting twist is that the theater is also the bar!  As audience members, you feel like extras in the show going on all around you.  The only downside is that it's hard to see every moment because the actors are playing to the entire room, but if anything, that only makes you want to see the play another time from a different seat (which is totally possible, due to their affordable and flexible pricing**).  To complete the bar experience, there's a bartender, Foolish Todd (or Todd the Fool?), serving drinks if you're into that sort of thing.  If you're not into that sort of thing, be prepared to be mocked for your teetotaler ways by the clown patrons, who will interact with you prior to the performance.  Also, be prepared to be propositioned by Petunia the clown (Annie Hochheiser), who has perfected the art of letting her boobs do the talking.

After some mingling, crooning, and brief-but-blunt announcements about turning off your f**king cell phones, the show begins!  Happy Mahoney (played by Christopher Sherwood Davis) enters the bar on a quest for answers (or revenge, depending on whom you ask) about the death of his brother, Timmy (MacMillan Leslie).  Davis nails the mannerisms typical of the noir detective, though if you know him in real life, it requires some suspension of disbelief to see him as as intimidating, hardened detective.  You can't, however, doubt his sincerity for a minute.  This is best seen in one of the play's many flashback scenes--a conversation with Timmy explaining the pecking order of the clown car and the grandeur of circus life.  Such ridiculous subject matter has never been so moving.

As Happy continues his investigation, much clown-on-clown violence ensues.  Just as the testosterone levels are about to skyrocket, enter Blinky Fatale (played by Emma Goodman), the sultry burlesque dancer and Happy's former lover.  The burlesque routine wasn't my favorite part of the show--something about the amount of clothing at the beginning/amount of clothing at the end/length of the routine ratio was off, or possibly, as a lady with lady-parts, the idea that other ladies' lady-parts might be revealed at some point doesn't have the same tantalizing appeal to me as it would to other people.  Nonetheless, Goodman reveals herself (no pun intended) to be a very competent dancer.  Despite being a younger actress, Goodman has a very mature voice that fits the role of femme fatale perfectly.  "Clown Love" (aka the epic five-minute make-out scene between Happy and Blinky aka the thing I'd been nervous about having to sit through ever since Christopher told me he got that part) was performed brilliantly and was a huge hit with the audience, hitting the perfect balance between sexy and campy.

The ensemble cast is strong, all members contributing a different nuanced layer in the complex world of underground clown life.  The most outstanding clown, however, was Dusty (played by Chris Wagner), the clown crooner who stole the show with a monologue about his dead cat (and other misfortunes) all the while completely oblivious to a gun standoff right under his nose.  The way Wagner portrays pathetic is comic perfection.  This was definitely my favorite moment of the whole show.

I once asked Christopher what makes a director "good," to which he replied that the best-directed shows are shows in which you don't notice the director.  This is probably why (in addition to my knowing very little about theatre) I don't really have that much to say about the director.  The show was seamless, and the nonsensical world of seedy clown crime seemed perfectly natural.

Clown Bar isn't going to be that play that makes you reexamine your life (unless your life is clown-crime-related, I guess), but it is darn good entertainment and a fantastic production.  I highly recommend spending an evening in the Clown Bar.

Tickets and more information can be found here.
Content Warning:  language (PG-13/R), sexuality (PG-13), and clown-on-clown violence (PG)



*Say this in the most pretentious way possible when reading aloud.
**You can pay $0, $10, or $20 for a ticket!  But unless you're completely and totally destitute, don't be a jerk, and pay $10 (or $20!).

Friday, October 16, 2015

My Important "Twenty-Something" Experiences

My birthday is tomorrow, everyone!  Now that I'm about to turn 30, I'm looking back on what I did with my twenties.  Have I done all the "twenty-something" things that Society and The Media and Mindy Kaling have taught me to do in that decade?  In honor of my last day of being 29, here are 29 things (in no particular order) that I've done that I think qualify:
  1. Lived in a major U.S. city
  2. Lived by myself in a (different) major U.S. city
  3. Bought real furniture (okay...Ikea furniture mostly...but the fancy stuff...no LACK's or MALM's up in this hizz-ouse) and also a rug and throw pillows and a cedar chest
  4. Hosted multiple legit dinner parties
  5. Went speed-dating
  6. Went to two real weddings as an actual invited guest (not like one of those Mormon "invite everyone with a refrigerator" open reception ordeals).  One was a Mormon temple sealing, the other one was a gay wedding...so I guess I have yet to attend a stereotypical bride-and-groom-walk-down-the-aisle-and-afterwards-you-eat-chicken-or-fish wedding.
  7. Was a bridesmaid (twice, but only disliked the dress once)
  8. Kissed a guy for the first time (okay...maybe this isn't a "trademark 20's experience," but better late than never!)
  9. Got to be someone's first kiss (this was something I didn't think would happen in my 20's outside of some weird fantasy scenario where it's World War 1 and I'm a fancy French prostitute that all the young American GI's visit so they can "become men"...I swear this was a movie with Matthew Broderick)
  10. Kissed a guy on the top of the Empire State Building*
  11. Kissed a guy who was not currently my boyfriend (although it's less exciting knowing that he had been my boyfriend previously)**
  12. Got my heart seriously broken...but later got over it
  13. Moved to a tropical island following getting my heart seriously broken
  14. Chose the "dream job" over the "dream guy" (who ended up not being the dream guy--quite the opposite, actually--so good call there)
  15. Got dumped
  16. Did the dumping
  17. Made a determined plan to keep a relationship with a man platonic but ended up falling in love with him anyway
  18. Met his parents and spent many major holidays and family events with his family and then took him home to meet my family
  19. Got freaking ENGAGED!!!!!!
  20. Pierced my ears (again...better late than never)
  21. Felt the joy in rebelling against my father's wishes by putting holes in my body
  22. Graduated college
  23. Got a master's degree
  24. Actually used the master's degree
  25. Felt the overwhelming terror that comes from the knowledge that I still have to finish paying for the master's degree
  26. Started a PhD
  27. Went to multiple rock concerts (and by multiple I mean three...but my cochlear hair cells...)
  28. Met my favorite artist following a rock concert
  29. Spent more on a piece of clothing than on groceries


*Mindy Kaling definitely would approve of this one.
**This is making it seem like I've kissed way more guys than I actually have.  But according to Society, being in your twenties means kissing pretty much everyone, doesn't it?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Five!

My blog is five years old today--exactly.  It was just a coincidence that I checked today to see when my first posts was, and it was on September 13, 2010 that I wrote my "Obligatory Introductory Post."  I guess I should make my wooden anniversary toast-post by reflecting on my first post ever.  Here goes!

For one thing, I decided that food blogs with a million appetizing pictures are annoying.  Just give me the recipe already!  Okay, maybe one picture of the process and any illustrative pictures of difficult processes would be fine, but I don't need to see a picture of the dish from every angle as you tell the story about how you came up with the recipe and which of your nineteen kids you made it for.

I should also talk about this blog's namesake:  "Skeleton Song" by Kate Nash.  A few years ago I actually got to see Kate Nash perform live (although she didn't sing Skeleton Song...sad).  But I told you about how Kate Nash came into my life, right?  It's all because of my best female friend, the Tacy to my Betsy, the Ann Perkins to my Leslie Knope, LT.  She is basically the only person who I don't live near anymore that I'm still friends with...probably because she is the only person whose snarkiness matches my own.  But it was because she gave me a ride home from church one day in her giant boat of a car that we became friends and, less importantly, I got introduced to Kate Nash's amazing first album.

What else?  As you likely know if you know me or if you've read my blog, I graduated with that M.S. in Forensic Anthropology, worked as a Forensic Anthropologist for a little while, and am now in the middle of a PhD program doing research on something not nearly as interesting, but still public-health relevant.  But I'm still a bone lady at heart and I desperately hope to get back into anthropology once I have those magical three letters after my name.

Other things...I'm still a morning person.  Music and I had a little falling-out a few years ago, but we're on friendly terms again and I'm trying to do more music-related things (slowly), though my singing voice is a little out of practice.  Apparently I used to describe myself as "creative" and I guess I still am, though I perhaps don't have as much time or motivation to be when I was a wee 24-year old.  Now that I'm a crotchety soon-to-be 30-year old, I'm even more misanthropic, I imagine (though some think that I'm all talk and am actually a softie at heart).  I'm still torn on the cat/dog situation but am at least certain that I don't want to own either.  And open-ended questions are still the worst things on the planet.

So there you have it!  I've managed to keep a blog going for five years.  This last year has been tough, but I'm sure I'll have some more exciting things to blog about.  I am turning 30 next month, after all!



*I guess at some point I decided to try to anonymize my friends when I talked about them in here but apparently it was before I used her full name in the linked post.  Also if I'm going to get super meta and talk about that blog post in this toast-post, I should mention that we broke Gmail a LOT.  Our record subject line had over 1100 emails in it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It's Going to Rain in Boston...

#semiobscurebuffyreference
Raining in Boston has become the new "Dawn's in trouble."  At least they're not predicting any giant hail this time.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

My Sabbath

This is my second Sabbath-themed blog post.  I wrote the first over four years ago.

Recently, the LDS (aka "Mormon") Church has been strongly emphasizing Sabbath Day Observance.  I am actually quite in favor of this, especially since it's preferable to a lot of the other things the LDS Church tends to strongly emphasize (cough--traditionalfamilies--cough).  Over the past few weeks, I've thought a lot about what how I am spending my Sundays and what I can do to make them a little more special and sacred.  I don't go shopping or participate in "worldly" activities on Sundays; I often spend the afternoons/evenings with my boyfriend as we cook dinner together; I even try to watch less TV (my exceptions/foils include "The Great British Baking Show" or a really good SVU marathon).  There has been one small hitch in my aspirations to become more Sabbath-appropriate, however.

I kind of hate church.*

I don't think I always hated church.  I mean, I was never the type of person who would be like "Sunday is my favorite day ever because I get to go to church and feel the spirit and stuff!" (mostly because I've never been the type of person who...felt the spirit and stuff), but over the past few years, church has been difficult.  I don't know why, exactly.  Maybe it's because I don't fit in in my ward and it's hard to not fit in when you're in close proximity to a bunch of people who fit in really well (and the crippling social anxiety doesn't help much, I'm sure).  Maybe it's because the building is always too cold and I'm always starving by the end, and physical discomfort often fuels my rage toward most things.  Maybe it's a bunch of boring reasons that nobody wants to read.

I don't want to stop going to church (I've never actually skipped church and have rarely been tempted to do so).  The problem comes from staying at church.  I can usually make it through the Sacrament before the desire to escape overwhelms me.  Having a boyfriend to sit with in Sunday School has been really helpful, but after that, I am racing toward the bus stop to head home and feeling instant relief once I return to my apartment.  But with that relief comes the gnawing feeling that something must be fundamentally wrong with my spiritual self that I can't feel any peace during a communal worship service.

I fully understand that this peace probably comes from having the proper mindset during church or making efforts to have a positive experience.  (I'm sure this post will yield many comments like, "you get out of it what you put into it" and similar aphorisms).  But that advice only goes so far when the thing that is supposed to make you feel wonderful on the Sabbath puts you in the foulest mood of the whole week.

How can a positive church experience come from turning off my phone during church when sometimes, a text from my best friend in Baltimore is the only thing that makes me smile during Sacrament meeting?

How can it come from attending all of my church meetings when I feel more peace alone in my apartment cleaning my kitchen** on an early Sunday afternoon than I've ever felt in Relief Society?

And is going to church the best and only way I can feel close to God on the Sabbath?  Are more individual forms of worship preferable to hours of negative emotion in a congregation?

I'm writing this post for two-ish reasons.  The first is because I needed to write it down because if it's written down, it's real and tangible and I can understand it better than if I'm just thinking about it on the bus ride home from church.  The second is so other people can read it--people who can give me advice on what has helped them and people who feel like weirdos because they also hate church (of course, these groups are not mutually exclusive).

With that, I say happy Sabbath.



*Please note that when I say "church" I don't mean "The (LDS) Church."  I mean the building with the steeple where I go every Sunday with a bunch of other people.  This seems like a statement that was too important for a footnote, but I couldn't figure out where else to put it in the real text.
**Wiping the grease, gunk, and nonstick cooking spray droplets off of my stove often eclipses the Sacrament in necessity and frequency in my apartment.  Sometimes I have to do it two or three times in one day, and that kind of makes me feel like a traveling General Authority.