Tuesday, November 30, 2010

There will be days like this

Life really is a box of chocolates. I started off last week in a really bad mood, and have somehow ended up at the other end of the spectrum about 7 days later.

Last week was just incredibly tough for me. The cabin fever at home was just getting worse, and I was starting to panic about my research (or lack thereof). There was also a misunderstanding between myself and the morning receptionist about December leave, which meant that I ended up being asked to work the last 2 weeks of December, which was a little more than I had bargained for. My mom and I had a fight about the dishes, I got mild gastro and I was just tired, upset and hopeless about everything.

I have no idea what changed everything. I suspect that having a good sob and mini-therapy session at Kirstan's place on Tuesday helped. Playing with her Boston Terrier puppy probably helped too. Either way, I started feeling better and actually managed to get some work done, even though I had to work 2 extra shifts at the vet. And the vet and I just dissolved into insanity on Friday afternoon, which saw us trying to calculate the bill for my cat (who was in a fight with another cat) using a pair of red and black Wine Gums. It is probably best not to ask!

The weekend was utterly insane. As I'm working so much in December, I decided to try to get as much of my Chrismukkah shopping done as soon as possible. It also means I can avoid the huge crowds in December (at least that's the theory). So, I dragged HOMSI off to Eastgate on Saturday. This may sound cruel. but I was hoping to get him to start his shopping, because he usually does it on the 24th of December, amidst the last-minute panic. My efforts were unsuccessful though, as he only bought 1 thing the whole day. I was pretty successful though, and only need to buy gifts for the other receptionists at work now! Win!

Sunday was filled with food and people and more food. My work Christmas function was a breakfast buffet at 10:00, and I then raced off to HOMSI's mom's place for family lunch. After that, it was off to a braai at a friend's house. I got home after 19:00, having eaten dessert twice.

This week has been pretty mad so far. I worked both shifts at the vet yesterday, and my 15 year old dog had to be put down, which was really sad. And my car nearly got stolen - something that I've been strangely calm about. As the saying goes though, there will be days like this.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Another crazy weekend

After last week's general inactivity, I was hoping for a calm weekend and some time to get my research in order. I don't know what it was about last week, but I was just overwhelmingly unproductive. I level some of the blame at John van der Ruit's book, "Spud", which I started reading last Sunday and which was so brilliant that everything in my life basically came to a standstill. Eventually, I gave in and decided to just finish the book so that I could get around to doing other stuff once it was done. My knee was also really bothering me last week. I think it had something to do with the cold, rainy weather. It just ached for about 3 days and made concentrating on things difficult. And in the midst of all this, I started going a bit mad from being at home with my parents all week. By the time I got to work on Thursday, I was rather glad to be out of the house and even printing accounts became strangely fun!

I woke up at 6:00 on Saturday morning and read for a bit before having breakfast. I wasn't in too much of a rush to do anything, especially since I had a terrible headache. Luckily, my headache disappeared, because I ended up rushing to work, because the other receptionist was sick and couldn't come in. I spent the morning at the vet, which was quiet because it's the middle of the month, and then rushed home to get changed before lunch with HOMSI. We had lunch at Sandton (mmmm.... Wraps...) and then spent most of the afternoon wandering around the mall and looking at the camping shops. We should probably start our Christmas shopping, but that just seems a little too scary right now! I have got some ideas for gifts for HOMSI at least (I'm now paying attention to what he eyes in the camping shops). After this, we headed off to his place and spent the rest of the evening looking through the property guide.

Sunday was completely frantic. HOMSI fetched me at 9:30, having navigated his way past the 94.7 Cycle Challenge. The race is fairly problematic for him, as it starts and finishes near where he lives, in Kyalami Estates. We manage to make our way to the Lifestyle Garden Centre to do some shopping though, and then some general wandering around, followed by the most amazing chocolate cake at the coffee shop in the nursery. It had Lindt chocolate icing. Need I say more?

We were reluctant to try to get back to his place in Kyalami, so we decided to go to Cresta to see a movie. This didn't really work out, because the power went off in the centre as we arrived. We then decided to go to Brightwater Commons to see what movies were showing there, and by that time I was in need of lunch. After a toasted sandwich at a coffee shop, we gave up because it was so hot and drove back to Kyalami. We were quite lucky that we did go back to his place, because something strange had happened to the washing machine, which just kept filling with water - water which then ended up all over the kitchen floor. So, a large part of the afternoon was spent sweeping water out of the kitchen. After that, we went for a walk around HOMSI's area. Most of the land consists of equestrian estates, so we walked down to the lake at the bottom of a hill near where he lives and watched the birds which live in the reeds.

I'm now frantically busy with my research and really hoping to make some progress. And wishing that I could get it all done so that I could go on holiday, which is looking increasingly unlikely. Oh well... Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Procrastination and insanity

I'm back - from a neuro assignment, 2 exam equivalents, marking 50 tests and 50 essays, a 5 day hike and a semi-comatose post-hike sleep.

The end of October and the beginning of November were utterly mad. I had to write a critical analysis of a journal article for my neuropsychology course and ended up being 27% over the word limit and unable to edit anything out. Eventually I just handed it in out of sheer desperation - and was quite relieved when my lecturer took mercy on me and gave me a first, despite my blatant disregard for the word limit of the assignment. While doing the assignment, I also had to mark first year tests and essays, which resulted in quite a bit of insanity. This had a lot to do with a student who had written her essay as a story ("in 1999, lots of people knew about HIV..."), the complete lack of referencing, my inability to give students a first for writing a comprehensible essay and not suspect that the whole thing was plagiarised and the bizarre mention of people being used as "excape goats" in 1 test that I marked. HOMSI found the whole thing hilarious and really enjoyed reading some of the tests (or trying to, given the general bad handwriting trend). I also use him as a testing mechanism for spelling - i.e. if my dyslexic boyfriend can correctly spell a word used in an essay, when a student using MS Word and a spellchecker cannot, I feel entitled to make a comment about spelling in said essay.

After the marking it was onto my 2 exam equivalents. 1 was a mini research project. Luckily, I only needed to make minor corrections from my first draft and handed in a few days early. the neuro exam equivalent was far from friendly, however, and I ended up reading tons of journal articles until my mind was filled with information on the neuropsychological effects of HIV. Somehow, all the articles seemed to cite one another and it felt like I was going around and around in circles. I finished the exam at 10:25 on Friday, 5 November, and HOMSI arrived at 10:30 to repack my backpack and pick me up for the hike.

The hike itself was awesome and deserving of its own post, which will follow shortly, along with some of the 300 photos that I took. After 6 days away, it was bizarre to be back in Johannesburg and general civilisation and I've been having serious withdrawal from not being on top of a mountain or walking through a forest. I also ended up invigilating a 3 hour exam the day after we got back from the hike. After 5 days of walking, my feet were far from impressed about having to walk for another 3 hours!

The past few days have been fairly uneventful. HOMSI and I went to the zoo with Sarah, Graham and baby Joshua on Sunday, which was lovely, and then we had lunch with my parents for my mom's birthday. My work ethic seems to have died a slow and painful death, mostly thanks to John van de Ruit's book "Spud". In desperation, I stopped nagging myself about working and finished the book last night, just so that I'd no longer have any excuses about not working! I'm holding off buying the other books until my MA is done!

And now I'm off to sort out some stuff for my research, which really, really, really needs to get going! Happy Thursday!