Alan turned in his dissertation yesterday morning.  He got four copies (180 pages each) printed and bound: one at Staples, three at the university print shop.  He stuck around school most of the day to field any potential phone call regarding paperwork.

At 3:30pm I picked him up.  We hung out at home for a few hours.  We were going to go out, but Alan seemed pretty bushed.  He wanted hamburgers and milkshakes for dinner.  I wanted to go to a movie.  I swung by Wegmans and got supplies for milkshakes and burgers, along with some cheese, rice crackers, and raspberries for an appetizer, and a six-pack of beer.  I also got a movie from Redbox.

Alan snacked while I cooked up a couple of hamburgers.  For Alan, I pressed some jarred jalapenos into the patties, and topped the cooked burgers with pepper-jack cheese and arugula.  I pressed my patties thin and cooked them until they were really brown on the outside.  I melted some cheddar cheese over the top and ate them with a fork and knife (no bun).  Alan wanted a vanilla-caramel-bourbon milkshake like he had at a restaurant recently.  I think I did a pretty good job of replicating it.

We watched the movie, and went to bed early, chatting for quite a while before nodding off.  Copper came up and snuggled between Alan’s knees and mine.  Ptoley looked out the bedroom window for a while, and then went downstairs to sleep, as is his custom.

It was such a regular, mundane evening (dinner, movie, bed), but we haven’t had it in so long.  It felt like the best, most romantic date ever.

I got back to tiling the bathroom today (I’m off to mix up another batch of mortar after this), Alan read some wikipedia articles (a hobby of his), and mowed the lawn.  We’re headed out to a restaurant tonight to celebrate a friend’s birthday.  It’s nice to be back to a rhythm: work, rest, friends, chatting, down-time, entertainment, cats, food.  I’m very happy :)



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So Alan’s still working, but he’s almost done!  He’ll submit his paperwork and dissertation this Friday (June 28th), and defend his dissertation the week of August 5-9 (the day isn’t certain yet).

I am at that particular moment where the work to be done seems overwhelming.  There was a point every semester of school when I’d look at the syllabus to see what remained–assignments, papers, tests–and decide that it was impossible to get all that done in three weeks (or however long was left in the semester).  Of course it would always get done.  And the best way to ensure that it will get done is to start working.  But I would always panic and despair.

I was in the basement today cleaning the cats’ litter box, looking at the pile of old kitchen cabinets, some old bath towels that I’ve wanted to donate to a shelter, the old refrigerator we moved to the basement when we bought a new one three years ago that mostly has old bottles of ketchup in it, disorganized home improvement tools, cleaning supplies, cans of paint.  We need to replace our furnace before we put the house on the market, and I’d like to get the basement cleaned out before we do that, and oh, there’s just so much to do.

I’m an aspiring minimalist, which is hilarious if you know how much I like stuff.  It’s not that I like having stuff just to have stuff.  I like having the right stuff; the right tool for the job.  The reality is that I often buy the wrong tool, then buy something else to supplement it or partially replace it, and then maybe finally buy the right tool.  The problem is then I have four tools, when I only want one.

Minimalism is more of a philosophy than an aesthetic.  It’s often coincident with a spartan aesthetic.  Alan likes the spartan look.  He’d be content with very little furniture and white walls.  I like a house to feel cozy and inviting, which is often coincident with clutter, but not necessarily.

Alan’s been pushing for us to get a Japanese futon for our next bed.  Our current bed (frame and mattress) is one that we got for free from a friend, who got it for free from her parents.  It’s ancient, and probably full of all sorts of dust and allergens, but we’re poor graduate students, so we use it.  Rather than buying a new bed, new box-spring, and new mattress, we could buy a Japanese futon mattress that goes on the floor.

I’m trying to imagine a house that’s minimalist, partially Japanese-inspired, and cozy.  It’s doable, right?  Floor pillows are both Japanese and cozy.  We could still have a couch.  I already don’t want to dedicate a whole room to dining; Alan and I could eat at the coffee table, and we could pull out a folding table and chairs for company.

But here’s the thing: it’s fun to imagine a new house with a new aesthetic.  But in order to get there, we need to seriously thin out our current possessions (yard sale coming up!), sell our house, buy a new house, and then buy stuff for that house.  The whole idea is just a lot to take in today.  Tomorrow I’ll sort through a few boxes and it’ll all seem better.  But today… oof!



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Week Wrap-Up // Link Round-Up // Jun 15-21


Well, for all my hopes and dreams that Alan would be home with me now, he’s still working.  He had a week of cushion built into his schedule, and now he’s using it.  That’s what it’s there for, I know.  I admit I’m bummed, though.  I know it’s just one more week, but I miss my husband!  From 2:30pm Sunday to 8:30pm Tuesday he was at school for all but 6 hours.  He worked 48 of 56 hours!!

This week was also my sister’s birthday.  She’s 25 now, which I cannot believe.  I guess I can’t believe that I will be 30 this year.  When did we get so grown up?

Finally, this week was the week I decided to open a solo-practice law firm in Hartford after we move!  I will focus on providing legal services to non-profit organizations that work with the city population.  It will take me nearly a year to get ready: I won’t be licensed in CT until next May.  I am reading books on small business and having a blast dreaming about providing legal services without a middle-man!

For some reason the internet didn’t grab my attention much this week.  A few links of interest after the jump Continue reading

Korean take-out picnic

The picnic blanket is this one, which I bought two years ago and really like.  This looks like the updated version.  It’s only big enough for two people, fyi.

Lunch from Sodam Korean restaurant.

Picnic in Mount Hope Cemetery.

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“I always think that”

[conversation takes place on the phone]

Eliza: I wanted to let you know that I started to dig through the papers on the desk.  The house might be in the it-gets-worse-before-it-gets-better phase when I go to bed.  So if you get home and the house is a mess, that’s why.

Alan: I always think that if I come home to a messy house

Eliza: Thanks!  Oh, Copper just knocked the pizza box onto the floor.

Alan: I always think that the cats knocked the pizza on the floor.  I never think it was you.

Eliza: Thanks…



The first time the cats knocked pizza on the floor overnight we were mystified–why?  how?  Turns out they like to lick the pepperoni.


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mailing a very special birthday card for a very special sister

mailing a very special birthday card for a very special sister


I walked to the mailbox to send this letter.  It was something of a test-walk.  I injured my Achilles tendon standing on the bathtub ledge prying down plaster and lath.  I’ve had to take a break from daily walks, and I’m eager to get started again.  But my heel still hurts.  So I walked the extensive 7:04 minute round-trip to the mailbox, and when I got back my heel was killing me.  Ugh.  I’m going to try taping it next–I miss the serenity of early morning walks!

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As I’ve alluded in the past few weeks, Alan is finishing up his dissertation.  He accepted a job in Hartford four and a half weeks ago, and immediately went into gotta-finish-the-dissertation mode.

For reference, let me back up to early November 2012.  Alan had just interviewed with a company in DC, and they tentatively offered him a job, which he tentatively said he was interested in.  He started to work hard to finish up: working occasional overnights, working six or seven days a week.  He’s always been a hard worker.  I’d say he’s worked at least 60 hours a week his entire graduate career.  After the DC job offer he bumped that up to at least 80 hours a week.  I didn’t like it, but it seemed temporary–for a while he was hoping to finish before the beginning of 2013.

So at the end of May when he accepted this other job offer (the DC offer was materially changed as a result of the Sequester/Fiscal Cliff budget cut, so when Alan was recruited by this Hartford company, he pursued the opportunity), I was incredulous that he could work any more than he already was.  He had been working 80-100 hours a week for five months!

But he did: he started working harder and longer hours.  Alan’s a night person.  He gets a second wind around 10pm, and does his best work of the day after that.  Additionally, his entire “group” at the university uses the same lasers, so it’s worth it to run a bunch of experiments once they are set up.  And working over-night is good because the rest of his group is generally not there, so the laser is free.

Alan has worked every night for the last four weeks.  He works overnight, comes home somewhere between 2am and 6am, and sleeps until about noon.  Then he goes back to school, and works the entire afternoon, evening, and overnight again.  A couple of times a week we eat lunch together before he goes back in.  And a couple of times a week he comes home at 8pm for dinner, and goes back in at 9 or 10pm.

I am excited because it’s almost over!

The absolute drop-dead date is June 28th–less than two weeks.  That’s the deadline for turning in his dissertation if he wants to defend this summer, and he does want to defend this summer!  He’s aiming to turn it in a week early, so that if there are any issues he can resolve them before the 28th.  So as early as this Friday he could be done with the intense, 125 hour weeks!  We are both so, so excited about that!

People have asked me if I’m excited about moving and selling our house, and I’ve said that I simply cannot think about that yet.  Alan’s crazy schedule affects me: I pick him up and drop him off if he’s too tired to run to work.  I bring groceries by a couple of times a week.  I sleep fitfully until he comes home, and don’t start working on projects (like the bathroom) until after he wakes up at noon.  If I start thinking about the new house and such, I’ll want to talk to Alan about it.  And he simply doesn’t have the spare emotional energy!

So in a week or so our lives (and by extension this blog) will be much more exciting.  I’ll finish up the bathroom renovation, and start on other projects around the house.  We will be researching real estate agents and looking at houses in Hartford (I visited one when Alan interviewed that I looooooooooove, but who knows if it will still be for sale when we sell our house).  I will focus more energy on getting a job in Hartford.  And we’ll have time to do fun things again, like go on bike dates and visit my grandma’s cottage in the Finger Lakes.

We’re close!

tired Alan  |  we went to the Lilac Festival for a delightful day-date before he went into work one day a few weeks ago

Do you have any stories about graduate school?  Did you or someone you love write a dissertation?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


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Week Wrap-Up // Link Round-Up // Jun 8-14


Happy Father’s Day this weekend!

Monday I drove to Niagara Falls to have lunch with my old co-workers from an internship four summers ago.  They are the greatest, and it was so, so good to catch up with them.

Last night I talked on the phone with Alan at 10:15.  He told me he was working overnight, as he has for the last six weeks or so (his typical hours are noon – 4am.  Yes, that’s 16 hours).  I asked him if he’d be home next week at 10:15, hanging out with me.  He said he hoped to!  The end of the dissertation is in sight!!!


Are you a journaler?  I just started a new journal.  This post has me itching to start a dinner diary, too. {Dinner, A Love Story}

My Ladies’ Night has just finished watching Wives and Daughters.  Up next, also by Elizabeth Gaskell, is North & South, which apparently has the most romantic ending of all time (check out the post’s comments).

The grammar of this makes me a little twitchy, but I signed up for iDoneThis.  It’s a simple service that emails you daily to ask what you accomplished that day.  You reply to the email and it keeps track for you.  It reminds me of the maxim: What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.    {via Daniel Pink on Lifehacker, via The Well-Appointed Desk}

This has been all over the internet the last few weeks: Why Finnish Babies Sleep in Cardboard Boxes.  It’s a great example of how systematic problems call for systematic solutions. {BBC News Magazine}

With Google Reader closing shop soon, I’ve transitioned to feedly.  While it’s nice to scroll through all the posts and read those that interest me most first, I really, really miss the “next” button in my bookmark bar.

Do you have any mini-series recommendations?  Any plans for the weekend?  Would you use a cardboard box bassinet? 


photo is homemade cream of broccoli soup with cheddar, which is packed with vegetables and delicious
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