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I'm nearly done with my first draft, and I just wanted to share a few tips with you all out there who may be wondering how in fact one stays sane while writing a large document without the slightest bit of input from you thesis committee. I would say, it's mostly in the planning. So before sitting down to write, make sure to gather the following supplies, your sanity will thank you later!

1) Snacks. You will inevitably feel the need to munch, and it's better to be prepared so that you aren't constantly running across the street to the deli to snag some Hostess cupcakes which while delicious will totally wreck your awesome new diet plan (cook it yourself!) and your many trips to the new gym will be in vain (thank you $10/ month gym membership!). I would recommend cocoa-covered almonds from Trader Joes (thanks Cathy!), protein = good, chocolate while sitting inside depressed on a sunny day = even better!

2)Booze, and lots of it. But you have to be smart. You don't want to get drunk because you'll just have to rewrite that awesome(ly horrible) passage you just wrote later, which will be a major bummer and time dump. Buzzy or a little tipsy are good compromises and usually the writing isn't unsalvageable. Wine makes you feel a bit like the best lush writers of the past, but if you're like me it makes you sleepy (not good!) so beer...or liquor if you can pace yourself with sips.

3) Multiple Packs of Gum. For those times when you're stressed, sick of munching, and have NO intention of becoming a chain smoker. (you know I'm serious when there's gum involved)

4)A different book, knitting, or other project for when you just can't take sitting in front of your damn computer screen for another second or you WILL throw up on the keyboard. Hobbies are good evasion techniques as well. Suggestions include juggling, becoming proficient at musical instruments, and dancing.

5) 2-3 cigarettes. As a contingency plan. For those times when it is Friday night, and you're alone, and maybe tipsy, working on this by now God-awful project and all you want to do is go to the bar. Having a pack of gum on hand to erase the memory of the horrible thing you just did to your lungs is useful. CAUTION: No more than 2-3 or you will pick it up as a habit (I've seen it happen), which aside from the health risks is a)expensive as hell in New York State, and you will be a poor college student (do the math) and b)will force you to stand outside for at least five minutes at a time every couple hours during the coldest days of the year (no thanks!). See tip #3 for alternatives.

6) Cleaning supplies. Your apartment will never be so clean as when a paper is due.

7) Gym membership. For you will become a sedentary creature, which will not do wonders for your waistline. Plus it helps with stress-relief (all-important) and is totally worth it. Get one, even if it is the cheapest one in town. You will be thankful later.

8) Plenty of good food for some home-cookin'. It'll help keep your spirits up and body healthy as you focus in on the final push. Also, you will appreciate every complete, home-cooked meal you treat yourself to, because that is time that you spend not working on your thesis. Like tonight I made a pan seared tuna steak, mushroom couscous, and fresh steamed broccoli. Delicious!

9) Finding your personal source of motivation. Because it sure won't come from anywhere else (::cough cough:: thesis committee::cough cough::) I would say spite and/or anger work pretty well (true story)

Additions/recommendations welcome! Also, why is my lemon emoticon wearing an eye patch for "determined"? Also also, why isn't there an emoticon for "delirious"?

Dinner, Round 1

Last night instead of reaching for boxed pasta and a can of sauce, I made the effort for something different: Scallops (first time I've cooked them), fresh broccoli in a balsamic glaze, and a baked potato with fresh chives and sour cream (also, strangely enough, the first time I've baked a potato...) And the results? Delicious! I pan seared the scallops in butter and garlic and then deglazed the pan with beer and made a sauce for them. They mostly cooked correctly, but heaven watch out for undercooked scallops... even slightly and the gag reflex is thinking you're coming down with the stomach flu. The broccoli was scrumptious! Much Much Much better than the frozen stuff in a bag. And who doesn't like a baked potato with fixin's when it's a sloppy mess outside?

Tonight will have no such experimenting, though. My entire program is going to Taste of Thai on the Commons for Michael's birthday dinner. Can't wait!

A New Adventure

SOOOOO this peskaterian thing has been off and running for well over a year now, and so far so good. And now I think it's time to shake up the diet a little more and learn to cook along the way! Now I know cooking projects are all the rage thanks to Julie & Julia, but this is less a self-betterment plot than a rail against BIG FOOD. (see i'm not picturing agro-industry or the processed food nitch when politicians throw around the term BIG FOOD, but a 4-story tall carrot storming a city or a can of soup as large as an island floating out in the indian ocean)

See my plan is thus; if I'm going to eat it, I'm going to make it. As in no more brownie mix, we're making them from scratch now. Because really, cookies shouldn't come from a plastic bin or cellophane nor should soup be loaded with enough salt to attract a herd of deer (you're from the country when you get that reference...). But I'm going to have to be reasonable-- I'm in grad school and real food, not edible food-like stuffs, is super expensive and most of the time, I just don't have the time. So this is an experiment... I will not question products at restaurants unless I suspect they have meat (see peskaterian above) and I don't think I'm going to be baking all of my own bread, but maybe I'll purchase it from the local bakery instead of the mass-produced sponge off of the super market shelves. Because I don't plan on going food-crazy in attempting this, it's not like I'm trying for an all-raw diet or that hunter/gatherer crap. In the end, I think it'll be healthier since my food won't be as processed as most of the American diet and it'll discourage my recent brownie sundae binge since brownies will take a lot more effort.

Until we meet again, adieu.
Urban History- presentation 11/30, paper 12/ 4

Urban Development and Preservation in China- assignment #3 11/18, paper 12/18

History of European Landscape Architecture- paper 11/24, final 12/15

Race, Space, and Place- paper 12/10


Also, I got a tour of the most beautiful abandoned subway station in NYC!

Not to be Debbie Downer but...

Urban History- presentation 11/30, paper 12/ 4

Urban Development and Preservation in China- assignment #3 11/18, paper 12/18

History of European Landscape Architecture- paper 11/24, final 12/15

Race, Space, and Place- paper 12/10


Let's go to work!

These Feelings Inside

I have successfully traveled from Ithaca to Nashville and back.  I don't particularly care for Nashville, and apparently it doesn't particularly care for me either seeing that I now have a lesser version of the plague which requires me to concentrate very hard on not throwing up every time I finish a meal.  Much shenanagans ensued, so check out the numerous pics on FB.

Maybe I'm Not Speaking Clearly...

I've been blessed with the chore of planning a field trip to Nashville for 12 students.  I've begged $3400 in the past two weeks off of various organizations.  We are just in the final steps of finishing the itinerary, which is excellent because the trip is next week. 

When I send out an email saying "our funding got approved, the business office is purchasing our registration so you don't have to worry about it" I mean, the business office has paid for your registration, you do not need to register.  Please read the goddamn email and quit asking me questions.

Then I get told today, today one week before the trip, that an MRP has decided she wants to go.  She was at the last meeting, and didn't sign up for the trip but now wants to attend.  She'll have to petition into the class, but I have no idea where her funding is coming from; for all I know, she'll pay for the whole trip herself.  This also means that our driving arrangements are off and the business office has to be notified that another student is going...

are you f*ing kidding me? one week? ughhhhh

I'm glad I now don't have time to work on my thesis.  I mean, who wants to graduate anyway?

Hours of Entertainment

In case you haven't heard, Tom Delay is on Dancing With the Stars. 'Nough said.

Some People Like the Verb "to be"...

... I am not one of those people.  I mean, someone needs to represent western PA in Upstate! Right?

Which means, I'm back at Cornell for round 2, part 1, final call.  And what better way to kick off the semester than with a brand-new laptop! It's a very exciting upgrade and now my poor six-year-old desk top can retire to being a back-up drive and my TV.  I just need to find a suitable place in my cozy new apartment for this archaic hunk-a-junk (meant with sincere affection) and make some curtains and I'll be set and ready to battle the winter blues whenever they come knocking.  

The semester is also going by remarkably fast (October? cold weather? really??) between classes, PSSO, and my thesis...? Classes are awesome, I truly like them, but I was definitely spoiled this summer with a "real job" in a fantastic city with this great guy and some fantastic friends.  In other words, writing papers is like pulling teeth. Again.  PSSO is on a whirl-wind adventure to secure funding to go to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Annual Conference in Nashville this October. It should be a treat if I can get everyone to agree on how funding should be handled.  It's been making me nauseous, which means I could probably use a drink!   For my thesis I've decided to work on (drum roll, please) the preservation of NYC subway stations, specifically looking at the ones designed by Hines and LaFarge.  I can't wait! As an aside, check out Mole People by Jennifer Toth, if you are interested in some good investigative journalism on the homeless living in tunnels in NYC  that will blow your mind.  If only I could find time to actually settle in and work on it; the one hour a day rule is a start, but definitely NOT getting me anywhere fast.

So that's my life! How is yours?

Also, the Steelers need to quit losing close games.

Jul. 10th, 2009

This summer has been a spectacular experience! I love New York City and all the things I've gotten to see and do around the city.

But to catch you up to speed...

I'm interning at the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, which is the local-level government body responsible for designating and overseeing historic properties in the city.  Seeing how the organization works and how people interacting with the government has been eye-opening.  Mostly I've just been working on a research project on windows, which has its ups and downs. 

I've also picked up volunteering, though they are nice enough to call me an intern as well, at the Neighborhood Preservation Center.  It's giving me a look at preservation outside the red tape which is also a great thing to see.  The director, Felicia Mayro, may in fact be one of my most favorite people ever.  She's just so positive and bubbly and scatter-brained yet incredibly put-together professionally.  I think I like my volunteer position better than my real one.

And then there is New York, one of the world's most amazing cities.  The museum culture is first-rate and almost all the museums have a free night-- sponsored by Target (which continues to make them less evil than Wal-mart).  I've been to the Met for a Francis Bacon show, the Guggenheim for a show on Frank Lloyd Wright (fantastic!), MoMa, and the New Museum.  I've seen Brooklyn institution Rev. Vince Anderson and the Love Choir, who does a take on jazzy "dirty Gospel" in a big-band way.  I've picniced in the park at Union Square and studied at both the New York public library and Avery library at Columbia.  Verlaine's is this great bar in the Lower East Side that has $5 Lychee martinis from 5-10 every night of the week.  I've ate dinner and shopped in SoHo.  Josh's great new roommates for July are from Australia and we got to do the Fourth of July celebration with them.  I've had to start a list of all the awesome things going on here just so I don't forget!

Every morning I wake up and can't believe I'm actually here.  I don't want to leave!