Sunday, August 28, 2011

In the Aftermath of Hurricane Irene

As if we haven't all already heard enough about Hurricane Irene in the past few days...

I survived Hurricane Irene, if that wasn't already obvious (this is not zombie Mel or an imposter--who would go to the trouble?).  At about 8:00 yesterday morning I woke up to high winds and rain lashing at my window. Shortly thereafter, the power went out.  I was expecting this to happen, yet I spent a bit of time hum-hawing as to what precisely to do. Should I get into my bathtub (the one slightly safe place in my apartment) or hold off unless things got worse? How would I know if things got worse? How bad were present conditions? With no TV or internet (I didn't think to get a battery-powered radio) I had a difficult time finding out what exactly was happening in the world around me. Looking out my window, I could tell things were pretty bad (high winds and rain whipping almost horizontally through the trees) but was it bad enough to go into hiding?  The power began to flash in and out periodically until about 10:00 AM, and I learned from the Weather Channel that Irene had hit Nag's Head at about 7:30 AM, the state was going to get a shit-ton of rain, an this thing was not going away anytime soon. I spent some time in the bathroom (I still wasn't up to actually crouching in the tub yet) reading Bleak House by Dickens with a flashlight and a lit candle (couldn't decide on that either). Yet after a while doing that, I said "meh, whatever, the windows aren't going to shatter anytime soon" and went back to bed. At about noon I decided that even a tropical storm/hurricane wasn't a good enough reason to sleep in that late, and got up. After reporting my power outage to the utilities company, I began my day.

It quickly became clear to me that I would not do well in Olden Tymes where there was no electricity, running water, TV, or internet.  Unlike some of my friends, I didn't find it extremely entertaining to watch the goings-on outside as a way to pass the time, perhaps because nothing really happened around me.  With that said, I DID look out the windows constantly to check the intensity of the storm.  Fortunately for me, however, I am a big reader, and read Dickens by flashlight.  Yet I can't read Dickens all day (who can?) and so I searched for another way to pass my time. Sudoku, a trashy romance novel I only read periodically, an anthropology journal (only for a few minutes, sooo boring), solitaire with real cards as I listened to Sarah McLaughlin, listening to the radio (forgot that my ipod has an FM radio tuner, ha), and...was out of ideas after that. I was NOT about to work on my thesis. Screw that.

I tried journaling, but all I could get myself to write about was the storm, the power outage, and my resulting boredom.  The point of relaying all of this, I guess, is to say that I finally began to learn the art of Doing Nothing.  Being so constantly bombarded with media in the form of TV, radio, Internet, etc, I was at a loss when it was all (or mostly) gone. I had my cell phone which could access Facebook and Twitter, but I was trying to keep my phone turned off to conserve the battery, which meant I only turned it on to 1) bug the utility company (once), 2) update my Facebook status so friends and family knew I was okay, an 3) check to see if anyone had tried to contact me. A few friends texted to see how I was doing, which I really appreciate. Anyhoo, this art of Doing Nothing was a challenge for me. The silence became suffering, and even with music I couldn't find anything else I wanted to do after I exhausted all the aforementioned activities. Thus, I found myself staring out into space, at the wall, at my couch, etc.  It got me wondering, especially after reading Dickens, about life in "Olden Tymes" and how spoiled I am in comparison. I don't know how to live (well) without electricity, running water, TV, computers, etc. I can barely cook with a stove, oven, and microwave, God forbid I have to do it in the 19th century.

The power finally came back on at about 7:00 that evening, as I was watching Monty Python on my computer (I finally broke out the DVDs even though I was trying to conserve my computer battery).  I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and celebrated by watched TV and Netflix for the next three hours while surfing the internet.  Today has been beautiful, and I've ventured outside and taken some pictures of my apartment complex and campus to show friends and family the extent of the damage.  I haven't seen too much flooding, but a lot of trees fell, and classes at ECU have been cancelled tomorrow.

The above picture is of the front yard of my complex from my front door.

As you can see, my car survived :-)

Some of the tree carnage I encountered on campus. About half the courtyard was taped off.

The bridge at the bottom of College Hill Drive. It was blocked off (obviously) due to high water and broken branches all over it.

Well, that's all for now. I hope everyone who was in the path of the hurricane is doing well!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bucket List

A thunderstorm is rolling in, and I felt like updating this blog, but had no particular ideas about what, exactly, so I thought I'd share what I have on my bucket list thus far. I actually have a list saved on my computer (dorky, I know), that I try to keep adding to. For those of you who are unsure what a bucket list is, it is a list of everything you want to do before you die. Considering I'm only 25 years old and in good health, hopefully that day is a long way off.

1. Swim with whale sharks: This is a totally random first entry to my list.  I read an article about this in a recent issue of Smithsonian magazine, and was intrigued enough to search online for companies that provide this service. is one website I found. I've not done any in-depth research into this particular company or type of tourism, so don't take that as an endorsement. They have some good information, though, and a lot of neat pictures. It looks like a lot of fun, and appears to be relatively inexpensive. Another big plus is that it appears you don't have to have any experience scuba diving or even snorkeling necessarily (I think I'll practice beforehand, though).

2. Write a book: My thesis doesn't count. :-) I'd love to write a novel, as daunting/impossible as this seems.  A short story might be more feasible, but what few ideas I have seem to be so grandiose that they wouldn't work (unless I had a series of short stories...?). That's the other problem: having ideas, if I want to write anything other than fanfiction.  For the time being, I've resorted to random writing exercises to at least try to keep writing.

3. Visit the Western U.S coast: I'm thinking Washington and/or Oregon.

4. Learn yoga: I'd like to take a proper yoga course, rather than the half-assed attempts to try to learn it on my own.  Within the past year or so I've been trying to exercise on a more consistent basis, and yoga has always attracted me as a relaxing and fun way to go about it. 

5. Buy a house: kind of a no-brainer, really. Along with getting a "grown-up" job, I'd like to get out of the renter's market and have a place of my own.  I'm rather torn about whether I'd like to live in the city or the country.  I love nature, having a lawn with trees, and so forth, but I like having things to do and being near everything (a by-product of living out in the country). On a random note, I'd kind of like my house to have solar panels. :-)

6. Write a serious blog: depending on how this blog goes, maybe I can cross this one out? :-P

Well, there are most definitely other things to add to this list, but this is what I've actually bothered to write down so far. The storm outside has abated, and I need to get going.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

So...I Guess My First Official Post is Going to be a Rant

Today I went to a local cafe to work on my thesis.  My books and notes to my right, and earbuds firmly in place, I began to type.  I had been at this for nearly two hours when an older gentleman, who had been talking to an acquaintance of mine, wandered over to my table.  I kept my eyes glued to my computer screen, hoping he was just looking at the bookshelf behind me, but then he asked me what I was writing.  I told him I was writing my thesis (although at the moment he leaned over my computer I was taking a Facebook break, go figure).  He asked me what it was about, and despite my best efforts to explain, never really seemed to grasp it.  This in and of itself didn't bother me much, as anthropology (especially cultural anthropology) can be a difficult subject to explain.  But this guy was an ASS. Our conversation was prefaced by his comment "do you know that only five people outside of you and your committee will actually read your thesis?"  This is a harsh yet somehow oddly relieving fact that I already know, so I let it go. Yet after a brief discussion of my topic, he follows up with this zinger: telling me that my topic sounds "condescending."  This caught me completely off-guard, and I stumbled for words to defend myself.  Mercifully, the conversation did not last much longer before he wandered away.

It's times like these that I really wish I could give people the what-for they deserve. Although I was not overly friendly, I did not abruptly end the conversation as I had wished. I hope that my emotions were transparent enough (they usually are) to show him how I felt. Seriously, who gets off on trolling coffee shops and sparking obnoxious conversations with people? It's not like I was just sitting there talking with those around me or simply reading a novel, I was WORKING! I had earphones in and was typing away with a pile of shit around my computer.  Apparently I need a literal 'Do Not Disturb' sign hanging over my head.   I don't know what it is about me that causes men to think that I want to talk to them when I'm clearly busy with something else.  Just because I'm young, pretty, and in a public place doesn't necessarily mean I'm looking for conversation. I'm also bummed that the earbud strategy apparently doesn't always work.

*Deep breath* well that's all for now. I'm not really as upset as this post probably makes me sound, it's just that the re occurrence of these types of situations really irritates me.  I don't know if it's the idea that people don't take me seriously, have no consideration for my feelings, or some other reason I can't recognize. I know that I'm probably reading into this way too much, so I'll end it here. Chances are he's just a lonely soul who put his foot in his mouth. And I need to stop being so sensitive. My adviser has made his share of enemies as well as friends. Not everyone is going to understand or support my work.  Not everyone is going to understand my need for privacy. I guess that's the risk you run when you choose to work in a public place.

Okay, I'll end now, for real. Over and out.

Friday, August 12, 2011


It's been a while since I've had a blog. I've started this one with the intention of making it more than a diary (like my last one) with thought-provoking observations and discussion-generating ideas (and let's face it probably occasional rants as well).  I've set the bar rather high, I guess, especially as I'm not sure how public I want my identity to be (I had a not-so-great experience with a roommate reading my blog as an undergrad).  For now I'll say that I'm a  25 year-old graduate student in North Carolina.

So...this post is kind of dull, but I'll be sure to post something more worthwhile soon!