Monday, September 28, 2009


You may have noticed that I changed my blog background recently. Earth Day is cool and everything, but I needed a change-so fall it is! I've been thinking a lot about seasons lately--not the "seasons of life" or "seasons of change" or whatever, but the actual seasons of the year. Summer. Fall. Winter. Spring. Being from Kentucky I'm used to four very distinct seasons. New England has them as well, but they're definitely different. So I thought I would write about how they're different TO ME (please don't start responding saying I'm totally wrong about seasons here, it's just my take!), mostly because when these Yankees hear I'm from the South they automatically say "Oh well you must not know what winter's like!" Yeah right. Read on for my response...

We'll start with Summer. First I should define what I mean by summer, and I'm sure this completely changes how I decide when summer begins and ends. Summer is, for me, a time of heat, thunderstorms, lightening bugs, gardening, reading, swimming, camping, and generally doing outdoor things. And mosquitoes. Summer in Massachusetts (and mind you, I've only been up here for two summers so I'm still learning on this one) is a rather short affair. It actually starts in earnest around the actual start of summer (June 20-21st-ish) but ends around Labor Day weekend. Yes, it is still warm after labor day, but the nights are getting cooler and there's a very very slim chance that I would even consider going swimming outdoors. And I feel like I can't wear white shoes, which is weird because I never had this hang up back home. Strange. Sometimes summer comes even later--I wasn't in Mass for summer this year, but from what I heard from R it was pretty cold into the beginning of July. Cold and rainy. And I should point out that Massachusetts doesn't have much in the way of thunderstorms (my roomates from MA my first year in Boston had no idea what to do during a tornado and didn't believe me about the sky turning green). In Kentucky, summer starts in mid-May (sometimes earlier) and goes until early October (sometimes later). There's not really an "Indian Summer" (I don't know the politically correct name for it so I apologize to those who might be offended) in MA that I've noticed, but there is at home. Just because the leaves are changing doesn't mean it's sweatshirt weather.

Fall, for which New England is famous, is longer here than in Kentucky. For example, it's already gotten down into the 30s at night. Oh yeah and my definition--fall is a time of colder nights and warm-er days, with temperature highs ranging from the 40s-60s. Leaves are changing, geese are flying...and college football is being played. Woohoo! This is pretty standard in Massachusetts, I've found, but fall starts earlier than the actual autumnal equinox and ends in November, be it early or mid or late. In Kentucky it tends to be about the same length, but starts and ends later (October-sometime from late Nov. to early Dec.).

Winter. That time of year when it's always dark and it's under 40 degrees day and night. OK listen here Yankees-you don't have to corner market on winter. Seriously. I keep trying to explain to people that we HAVE winter in the upper South. We don't get tons of snow as consistently as New England does, but yes it snows and yes it gets cold. Just ask anyone in Louisville about the ice storm last year. Or the January of 1994 and they'll explain to you about winter. In fact, I'd venture to say that the midwest can trump New England's winters anytime. It's so friggin' cold out there. The main difference between winter in MA and winter in KY? Length. I swear the winter up here goes from December (or November) to March and it's awful. While I still act like I'm 10 when it snows (because it wasn't common enough back home for me to get used to it) I quickly tire of it when I am helping R shovel day after day, or when I'm worried about R because he fell on the ice or is shoveling more with a bad back. Boo hiss.

Spring. Spring is hard to grasp, I think. Temps are back in the 50s and 60s, but there are the inevitable cold snaps. Spring in KY would, I'd say, start in early March and go to mid-May. There will still be snow once and a while on Derby day, but for the most part things are getting green. Spring in New England is even harder to get a handle on. I met some folks I went to high school with the other day in Cambridge, and we all agreed March is the hardest month for a Kentuckian in Massachusetts. For us, March is when things green up-everything takes on that greenish-yellow haze, thanks to the pollen. And through your tear-filled eyes you could see the daffodils starting to say hello. March in Kentucky has such wonderful green potential. March in Mass? No dice. Everything is still brown. It's still cold. And it's probably still snowing. I have a really tough time in March, tougher than at any other season change. The winter's worn me down and my clock has already switched to spring. But it's still brown and dead-looking. Granted, this does make April that much nicer and provides a very Easter-y feeling to the appearance of all things green, but that doesn't make up for the March doldrums. Say what you want about February, but March is worse.

So there you go. In case you hadn't figured it out, I'm a complete nerd about the weather. When we were little, my sister would watch Dirty Dancing, my brother would watch the Wizard of Oz, and I would watch the Weather Channel.

And for those of you who were interested, my favorite season is summer.

Oh and I also like to keep track of the seasons with the beer selection...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Car Craziness

For those of you who have known me since high school, you may (or may not know-college friends definitely will) that I inherited the family car curse. My dad's dad had it, my dad has it, and I got it too. Most of my cars have been complete clunkers-they work at first, and then make a rather rapid and sudden decline into the abyss. This continued until I met R, who is a super human car guy. He's done tons of stuff with vehicles-it's a real gift he has. I mean, most people could probably fix a car well enough (even I can change the oil and change a tire and air filter and battery and know where the alternator is) but R has a feel for things that most people don't have. So when it came time for me to get rid of Clifford the big red truck, I told R to pick out the car and I would drive whatever it was. He insisted I have a say but I told him that would just bring on the curse. So he found the car and checked it out and gave the go ahead. All of the issues I've encountered (KNOCK ON WOOD) have been fixable by my super mechanic man.

But seriously, there's a limit to things. R actually told me the other day that he was planning on taking the fall off from car duty. This is HUGE. He hadn't told me this before and only told me when it was no longer going to happen (you'll find out why below). He loves his cars, and while he isn't one to neglect me in order to work on one (at least intentionally, sometimes he gets carried away) he does enjoy wrenching and getting things done. And since we both have 1.5 hour commutes each way to work every day, we have to keep the vehicles in working order. So the fact that he was going to take the fall off-except for minor stuff like oil changes, etc.-was a huge deal. But it is no longer to be.

A couple of weeks ago while fixing something totally unrelated, the transmission on R's Subaru (Rudy) died. He was afraid he'd done something to cause it, but it was just an unhappy coincidence. I'm just glad it happened while he was wrenching in the driveway and not on the road way. This happened a mere two or three days after a radiator hose blew on the way home. That happened to be a Thursday, the day when I go into Cambridge to do academic stuff, so I called a good friend who came out, picked R up, and they went to the car parts store while I sat with the car. R came back, fixed the car on the side of some neighborhood road with nothing more than the store parts and what he had in his trunk, and we took my friend out to dinner. Then the transmission died while he was finishing the work from the radiator hose bursting. SO...he had to decide. Keep Rudy and find someone to replace the transmission? Part it out? What to do? R has decided to replace the transmission himself (he only made this decision after tons of research. I didn't help. While I have a grasp on car mechanics greater than most women my age, I think, I still don't get what he's talking about half of the time). Then he had to locate a parts car, which he found and bought last week. This weekend was spent doing some preliminary work so that he could get started in earnest this weekend.

While this is all going on, my car's alternator dies on my way to my first Sunday at the church. I'm crying on the side of the highway while the car won't start, trying to figure out why this is happening to me. R comes out (he was going to stay home to take the kittens who we thought were sick to the vet) with a battery and tools and we get the car rolling and get to church. Then the car dies again on the way home. Turns out it was the alternator, so he took the alternator out of the undriveable Rudy, put it in my car (Beethoven) and voila. Driveable car.

In the meantime, R's been driving the car that was supposed to me the replacement for Beethoven, and will be very soon (Jack Sparrow) when I switch to an MA license. I'm hoping this will be tomorrow. So I'll drive Jack and R will drive the Vanagon (Magic) until Rudy is up and running from Project Lazaru.

Phew. You think I'm done? Think again.

R got rear-ended yesterday on the way to work. The driver side rear bumper is punched in and the back light is all cracked up. It's fixable, but just one more thing we have to deal with now.

I'm thinking someone should just give me a Honda Insight or a Subaru Forester. And give R a car too. He can fix cars like nobody's business, but doesn't he deserve a break? Sheesh.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

U2 Review and Various Other Things

Sorry for the hiatus. I started a new job and all, so I've been trying to get things up and running there. Anyway, I'd love to say I'll blog more often (I always think that when I come back from a little time away) but I will just skip that for now.

Monday night R and I went to see U2 in concert at Gillette Stadium.

The good: It was an awesome show-I had goosebumps at times, and not from the rather chilly wind. The set list was fantastic: a great mix of old and new stuff. Sunday Bloody Sunday, Mysterious Ways, One, Where the Streets Have No Name, City of Blinding Lights, and Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For were probably my faves of the show. Vertigo also came off quite nicely. They opened with Magnificent (from the new album) which I love but I will explain more about why that wasn't a favorite below. The staging was pretty monumental too. We were way up in the nosebleed seats (about 15 rows from the very top of the stadium) so we weren't in the thick of things (unfortunately) but you could see the screens and stuff pretty well. At one point R did say, though, that if it weren't for the screens he wouldn't have known there was anyone on stage. Sorry, yo. I am too poor to afford better tickets. The tribute to Aung San Suu Kii (the nonviolent political leader from Myanmar who's been under house arrest for the past two decades) was really gutwrenching--they sang Walk On for that one. I'm guessing that particular date might have some significance but I don't know what it is. Anyway all in all I'm so glad I was able to go. I've wanted to see U2 live for a long time...hopefully I can get better seats next time!

The less good: Traffic. I know this is always an issue with concerts. I've been to my fair share of big events, and I know it's something you have to deal with. HOWEVER-there IS a train station in Foxborough that the MBTA only runs on Patriot game days even though it would severely lessen the strain on traffic if they ran it for weekday concerts like U2. R and I spent more time getting to and from the venue than we did actually at the concert. We missed the opening act (Snow Patrol; would have liked to have seen it but I knew we would miss it because R gets off work late and we even left an hour before he normally gets off!) and didn't get home until 2 AM, only to have to get up at 6 the next morning to drive back to work. Boo. But we did manage to park somewhere 10 dollars cheaper, so that was nice. Also, the echo effect from the upper deck was horrendous. I wish I'd taken ear plugs (I always say this at concerts) as that would have cleared up the sounds and made the music more enjoyable. I could barely tell what Bono was saying when he spoke to the crowd. It was rather ridiculous, but I guess you get what you pay for. Speaking of which, the upper deck was also kinda crappy energy-wise. We were sitting for all of the show (I wasn't going to be the one person to stand up who made everyone behind me stand up because they couldn't see) and so the energy you could see from the field was obviously not radiating upwards. I think Magnificent kind of flopped for me because no one really seemed into it. Yet another reason to pay extra for better seats! My last gripe: the Euro-Latino weird techno rock-y version of I Know I'll Go Crazy (If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight). It's a great song but the version they did was just weird. But I did get a cool hat (for 30 dollars).

So YAY for U2!

In other news, I'm doing PhD apps. I've been reading stuff by the professors with whom I want to work, and tomorrow I'm going to work on outlining my personal statements as well as reading a few things to beef up my writing sample. I'm applying to 9 programs in all (as of no, 1 or 2 may drop out because I just can't figure out a way to make them fit) and I've been in contact this year with folks from 2 school...and I was in contact with several people from different schools last year but I'm assuming alot of the same info is the same. Interestingly enough, BC is looking better and better. There are 3 early modernists in the history department and all 3 have been in touch with me. Hopefully I'll be going for a visit sometime in the next month. The level of...cordiality? Collegiality? Seems really great. One even said she'd be more than happy to serve on my dissertation committee and that I'm welcome to say that in my application. And I have a meeting on Oct. 1 with another potential professor at HDS. I was at Yale last week to speak with someone so yeah. That's good. I just need to finalize recommenders (I've got two of three...debating on the 3rd right now) and that nitty gritty work will be done. Then it's on to the applications! I'm applying to more history programs than any thing else (again) this year. I think it's something like 6 or 7 history depts. and 2 or 3 theology places (can't think of them off the top of my head at the moment).

The job has been going pretty well. I've gotten a really great reception at the church and everyone seems on board with what I'm doing (so far). I preached this past Sunday...the sermon is on the parish website (which you can figure out what it is on my facebook profile...I'm trying to be relatively anonymous on the blog about where I work so random people can't figure it out) and it got a good response. Yay! And this Saturday is the first youth group meeting...AND it looks like I'm going to be putting together a U2charist (a service with entirely U2 music that's dedicated to fighting global poverty...I did one in Louisville in 2006) at this parish. Yeehaw! Hopefully I'll know more about my priestly ordination date sometime soon. I emailed the diocese today but haven't heard anything. Who knows how long that will take!

Beyond that I'm trying to get over the cold I had last weekend. I have been feeling better but today the pressure in my head has been weird. I think it's because the weather has been kinda weird around these parts, so my left ear and right sinus have been off. Ew. And R is sick (he blames U2) so no fun.

Leaves are changing and fall is on the way. It sucks because winter will be here too soon but it makes the drive into work really pretty. I'll try to take pictures and post them for you non-New England folks to see what the fuss is apparently about (I don't think it's any better than back home but whatever).

Alright our kittens are begging for attention so I should go. Hopefully I'll be back on board this blog this time!