Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I bet this will be a long one.

And now, yet another post brought to you by Nicole's Insomnia, in hopes that recapping events of late will help Nicole's Going To Sleep.

I had a bit of a bout with general grad-student funk last week, brought on by who knows what -- not feeling like I have a grip on my thesis project? being baffled by conflicting results? wondering what I'm supposed to do next to understand what in heck is going on here? seriously doubting that there's a way to figure it all out?

Walking past the graduation set-ups on campus each day added to this, coming with it a general reflection on the passage of time. Not taking/teaching classes kind of makes the year seem seamless; an academic year's time only marked by the number of undergrads that crowd into study halls before finals, their subsequent disappearance and the shocking emptyness of the entire campus, and chairs and tents being set up on the lawns. So I've been reflecting on graduation day, a silly and wonderful ritual, happy yet bittersweet, totally irrelevant yet important in that romantic notion of academic tradition. Pomp and circumstance, indeed.

And then, of course thinking, dammit, am I ever going to graduate the way things are going? ARRRRGH.

So on Friday I dragged myself into the lab the long way around campus, hoping to avoid intruding on the ceremonies and the smiling happy people in robes, lest I meet their faces with looks of jealousy, sadness, a sneer, etc. Grump-tastic, huh?

And then H. and C. rolled into town. Mood-funk lifted.

It was H.'s idea to visit, inspired by her love of the Decemberists -- two shows in one week for her! They totally rocked, btw, and finding out Rebecca Gate was opening was an added bonus for me, although she kinda got swallowed up in the size of the venue and among the chatter. It beat Springwater's shitty sound system, at least.

But while I was all game about H. visiting, I remembered that the next day I planned on going to Steeplechase, so I asked her during my last ATL trip if she'd be interested in going. And she was. And C. too.

So, now, for the record, first I take these kids to a college football game, next to something slightly akin to a ginormous frat-party. C. asked if he came to Nashville again if I would take him to church. I think I need to look up scoring tickets for a TBN show. Or the pentecostal services they have at the Ryman, which my roommate has been to (working as an usher.) Her stories are amazing.

Anyway, thanks to some of your helpful comments when I wrote about this last year, I realized my ridiculous naivete in describing this event. But in my own defense, going to the track as I knew it was not a social event in the sense of "society," so how was I supposed to know it was an old money thing? Horse races are fun! And this was the joy of what I knew, plus packing in food and drink and being on grass!
Well, minus legalized wagering. This concept, horse racing as sport without betting, I had to explain to my parents three times in all.

Despite periodic thundershowers, the weather was pretty good -- not blazingly hot like last year -- and the rain was fun and brought us together, literally, thanks to the tent/canopy thing H. borrowed for us (thanks x's infinity, really.) Also, for the first time in my life I participated in setting up a tent-like object. OK, I only tied down a piece of the tarp to the frame, but hey, I felt a little closer to nature.

You should have seen us all standing around the thing wondering why it was so short before we realized it had extendable legs. Just to give you a sense of how outdoorsy we all are.

Might I add at this point that they installed a jumbotron across the track, right in front of our spot, which was cool, although at some points I felt like I was sitting at the drive-in.

Anyway, people watching was great too, as always. The rain made for extra interesting events (like the people across the way who made a beer/ice slip and slide out of a tarp. Crafty!)

The newbies we brought along (four in all) gasped in amazement at the affair, and were amused. "This is nuts!" "I've heard people wear these things, but I've never seen it with my own eyes." "Can we do this next week?"

At one point walking through the infield, H. and I drafted tiles for a hypothetical Steeplechase bingo board, with Hipster Bingo fresh in mind after I used it for a mix CD cover for her recently. Well, it was hypothetical. Until Sunday, after they left, when using everyone's suggestions, I drew it up in between napping, cleaning, and taking walks. Seriously. Amazingly simple thanks to images lifted from the steeplechase, Brooks Brothers, and Ralph Lauren Polo websites. Nothing says to your friends "thanks for visiting!" like a commemorative JPG file, right? Er....

Anyway, so those events, offset by "normal" things -- also a cookout welcoming A and S back to the US from France, post-steeplechase dinner at a friend's condo, coffee house outings, DJs spinning at virago -- was the weekend.

This was effective. I am feeling more settled and tired now. If you read down this far, you must be, too.


Blogger hermance said...

Kudos on making a great mix cover. I'm having a lot of nostalgia for the days of homemade cassette mix covers because covers today seem more ephemeral. Now that folks can load up tunes onto their computers or into their MP3 players, the mix itself has become a much less static thing. And so, I wonder if the mix covers I make (especially since most plastic CD covers I use are those thin ones) end up getting shoved somewhere out of site or live under some drivers seat, etc. So, thanks for sticking with it. I still love--and strive for--a good mix cover.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Thanks Elizabeth. I, too, have given much thought into the mix cd issue, remember tape-trading days fondly, and agree with what you wrote. But I'm personally torn between that and my love for itunes/the ipod.

I've found that one drawback to my fondness for making mix-cd covers is that it makes my cd-mix-making turnaround time even hella longer than it already is. (I hope that statement is noted by those it applies to.)

Also, sometimes, when I make a mix cd in return for someone's, I get comments like "Oh, you made this all fancy, now I feel bad about mine." Which makes *me* feel bad, so... Away with the guilt! I don't expect 'em back! I just like making them!

And, also, looking at this now, I can't believe how long this post (which I barely remember writing) ended up. So kudos back to you for finding those links buried in this ramble.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 2:17:00 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

Well, it was a long post, but it was entertaining. And this really brought a smile: "You should have seen us all standing around the thing wondering why it was so short before we realized it had extendable legs. Just to give you a sense of how outdoorsy we all are." I could picture it. :)

Sounds like you had a great time!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 4:54:00 PM  
Blogger hermance said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 7:35:00 AM  
Blogger hermance said...

Nicole, I didn't mean to disparage the portability revolution. Right now, I'm able to listen to Mac singing "Drill Me" with wonderful gusto, and I didn't have to think for one second what music I wanted to bring around with me today.

But it's undeniable that it means mixes (even the ones I receive from others) are likely to disappear into the shuffle of life. I guess it's all they say about empowering the user! (That last statement was made at least partially in gest.)

I definitely can relate to what you were saying about how you hate for others to feel guilty when they get your mix covers. I love making covers, but I understand that some don't. So, yes, banish cover guilt!

And, btw, I never am nostalgic for the actual making of tape covers. Computers have made that so much more joyful. I remember how carefully I used to have to cut out pics from magazines, the frustrations of glue stick, etc. Look, crafty I am not...

I'm sure you've seen it, but have you ever visited: http://www.artofthemix.com. Now, those people are serious.

Hmmm...it's possible that this comment is even longer than your original post. How's that for pathetic!?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 7:37:00 AM  
Blogger Jerry said...

And just to go on record. I hate the IPOD "shuffle" and think it's destroying listening pleasure. So the mix CDs I receive still get recorded in my Itunes as a mix and I listen to it as such. There are SOME ways of retaining our -slight- autonomy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 2:12:00 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

This comment thread may be longer than my actual post... but it's more interesting.

Jess: Glad you enjoyed!

E: Thanks for the link. I haven't seen that site before and I'm eager to check it out.

Y'know, I've been meaning to post a mix on here, (away with the formalities, in a zip file, a la one I got from on blogotheque.net) but, well, never got around to it. It sits, larvae-like in a half-formed iTunes playlist, waiting to be hatched.

Jerry: I think the shuffle's good from the portability aspect (like for the gym), but yes, it's in no way a 'pod replacement.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 5:34:00 PM  
Blogger hermance said...

Nicole, if you're curious, my mixes on artofthemix are posted under "elizzzabeth." I haven't posted one up there in awhile. The coolest thing about the site, in my opinion, is being able to search mixes by artist. It's fun to see who else is mixing the somewhat obscur-o bands I like.

Thursday, May 19, 2005 8:32:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Man, you can never go wrong with the people watching.

I am always fascinating by what people wear to certain things. Or the various stages of fashion or levels of dress. I go to the flea market in town on occasion and am always amazed at the huge cross section of fashion you can see. I'm sure at the Steeplechase, its' a bit more regulated and less all over the board, but I bet it's no less interesting.

OK, I need to get out now and find one of those life things I've heard so much about...

Thursday, May 19, 2005 3:20:00 PM  

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