Tuesday, April 19, 2011

California pining

Whew!  I am back from my conference in London and starting to feel a little more relaxed.  Well, I felt relaxed this morning, and then the panic about finishing chapter rewrites before the end of the month really set in.  All the members of my panel deemed the session a success, and it was fun to meet so many scholars and hear some great papers.  There were tons and tons of Nederlanders at the event, and I think I may have spoken more Dutch in London than English.
I would write about food in London, but considering the fact that I basically lived off of Pret a Manger sandwiches and Costa coffee for three days, there's very little for me to say on the matter this time around.  Instead, I will do a fluff post made up almost entirely of pictures of my time in SoCal.  Sadly, I didn't take that many pictures in California, I think because we were just busy having a good time with our friends...and oh yeah, getting ready for the conference.  Here are just a few things that made going back to the West Coast so great and just so different from my life in Amsterdam:

Beautiful views on a bright, sunny day at the Getty.  Regan still has a reader card for the Getty Research Institute, which means we got to park there for free!  Admission to the Getty is free, but there is a $15 parking charge, and it's pretty damn hard to get up there without a car.  That is why it pays every once in a while to be a graduate student.

Primo's Doughnuts.  Regan and James are regulars there.  Mrs. Primo even came out to give a goody bag of doughnuts to Regan's sister, who was leaving for Kansas after a visit out to L.A. I love a good doughnut.
Do not tell me that you wouldn't all do the same thing.  I look forward to getting a pedi before each and every visit.  Niek said he finally felt like he was on vacation after his pedi session.  The guy who did mine made a few comments about my runner's calluses, but he assured me that he had seen worse.  His words didn't seem to match with his facial expression, and I think we was relieved when I asked for the "extra" treatment.  God forbid my toes have calluses on them.

Ice cream isn't a food I really associate with L.A.; it's more of a frozen yogurt town these days.  However, if you're going to have ice cream, it will be fancy and made in small batches by cool hipsters somewhere near downtown.  I had some mocha Bailey's concoction and a scoop of a fancier version of cookies 'n cream.  The woman behind me in line asking which ice creams were vegan made it clear I was no longer in Europe.  Like the Dutch would ever consider a non-dairy based ice cream. 
Honestly, there is really nothing more to say about this.  Huevos Rancheros is an amazing dish!  Anything that combines breakfast with guacamole is a-okay in my book.  We went here twice for breakfast.  I miss you already, corn tortillas and avocados!
Last food picture, I swear.  Regan and James wanted to take us to a place in the Art District called, Wurstk├╝che.  I love that the name of the place is in German but on the menu the sizes for the fries are written in Dutch, you know, because they're "Belgian" fries.  They actually weren't really Belgian style fries, but they were good with the handmade Bratwurst and the five kinds of mustard.
I laughed a little when I noticed the children's birthday party winding down in the private events room next to our table.  The cool parents were leaving with their little ones just as the younger crowd was showing up for happy hour.  I guarantee I never had a birthday party at a downtown hot spot when I was growing up.  I ate a lot of Usinger's Sasuage, though.  Does that count for something?

We did plenty of other things in between all the eating: Niek and I got to run up Runyon Canyon a few times, I went to a knitting store and spent too much on fancy types of yarn, we had plenty of good coffee, the conference presentation went fairly well, and so on and so forth.  A big highlight was the hike to a waterfall in the San Gabriel Mountains.

We hiked along the path of a 1920s camping resort.  The above sign was my favorite.  Regan is determined to rent the cottage pictured below for a weekend getaway.
James found a salamander, and then we proceeded to take about a million photos of the little guy before we let him slowly (ever so slowly, it was cold that day) take off for a more secluded spot.
I'll leave you with this slightly cheesy picture of me and Niek at the waterfall.  And before you start thinking, "Whoah, Diana, maybe you did have a few too many helpings of taco salads and french fries," I promise I have come by that little belly honestly.  It's only going to get bigger this summer, and hopefully in the fall I'll have a little person to show for all this gestating I'm doing.  L.A. was so much fun, and I miss all my friends so much already.  However, it's a good feeling to be home in Amsterdam.  I've got tons to get done in the next six months, and it's hard to write in L.A. on vacation.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The plural of conference is insanity

I have a piece of advice for graduate students:
Do not, under any circumstances think that presenting at two conferences in the span of one week is a good idea...ever.  This is especially true if you have to cross nine time zones to go to your first conference and then re-cross those time zones to go to your second.  If you find that you absolutely must present at multiple conferences, even though I have told you not to, at least don't be a procrastinator like me and make sure you finish both of your papers well in advance of the deadlines.
I was in L.A. last week giving a paper on a panel with Regan and our friend Naomi.  L.A. was awesome, and I can't wait to post lots of pictures of delicious food and one really fun hike to a waterfall.  The conference went pretty well, but it came at the end of our trip.  By the time we got back to Amsterdam on Monday morning, I was wiped out.  I have spent the last few days either sleeping off the exhaustion of jet-lag or freaking out about a paper for another conference that is so not near to being done.  I'm not sure I can put two coherent sentences together at this point, let alone an entire paper for a very important conference.  I'm terrified that I will embarrass myself and forever brand myself as "that woman who gave a shitty paper about intellectual networks in Asia."  Isn't that everyone's fear?
I have to get back to my paper now, even though I would prefer to be doing almost anything other than what needs to get done.  Stress makes me want to avoid that which I need to do most.
That was my advice to you for the day.  You are welcome.