the sometimes senseless ravings (and the occassional rant) of an aspiring marine ecologist who may enjoy killing things a little too much

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Philly, Here I Come!

it is official now, guys. chad and i are going to philadelphia in march. that will be an extremely busy month for me, with two scientific conferences (one at the beginning of march and one at the end of the month), the usual pilots games, probably a camping trip to port st. joe with the in-laws, and now a 4-day, 3-night excursion to philadelphia. i'm going to freeze my ass off in philly the 2nd week of march, but i'm going to love it. if i survived connecticut that time of year, i can definitely handle philly.

i bought our tickets for the flyers/panthers game on march 8th today. i even saved us $13 by ordering them through (where season ticket holders and others can offload tickets they aren't going to use) instead of through ticketmaster or the flyers website. that $13 kept the order from being over $200 (yeah, dudes, NHL tickets are pricey...well, good ones are pricey). they're pretty good seats. lower level, 12 rows up, in the corner, at the end where the flyers shoot twice. basically, they're in the same place as our seats in pensacola, only a few rows higher up. and they're better than any seats we could get by ordering them through the flyer website. i checked. and there were worse seats selling for more dinero on stubhub. i think i did good, especially considering that $80 each for the tickets, the 10% stubhub fee and the $12 shipping and handling charge (2 day shipping via fedex) still came out to be less than the total price would have been through other methods.

i also booked our flights and hotel today. we will be staying at the holiday inn philadelphia stadium, which is just about as close as we could get to the wachovia center. no parking trouble for us. we aren't going to bother renting a car while we're there. we'll take a taxi from the airport and then take the subway and trolleys wherever else we want to go. we'll be flying out of pensacola (which is $80 cheaper than flying out of mobile and the same price as gulfport) on march 7, hanging out in philly before the game, cheering on the flyers against florida march 8, then taking a trolley tour of the city on march 9, visiting the liberty bell and the constitution center and whatever other historical places we feel like, and we can't forget that we'll also visit the rocky statue and take lots of pictures. then we'll head back home on march 10.

i can't wait. i'm so excited. hopefully, the flyers' atrocious preseason record isn't an indication of how poorly they'll do during the regular season. i want them to actually win when i go to philly.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

One Step Closer

that's right, guys. i am one step closer to getting my Ph.D. i FINALLY got my prospectus signed today at my committee meeting, and i've set a general time to take the dreaded comps (late spring). i was going to do this before maine, but then my mom got sick and stuff, and i lost my head. so today it got done. i just have to email my outside committee member (he's in pennsylvania) and see if dr. v. can sign his name, and then it goes to the department chair and off to the folks at the graduate school. and then i get a raise. yay!

i got another piece of exciting news today. you know what that was? in may i'll probably get to go to the bahamas for a week for free. yay again! dr. v. told me he was close to saying 'yes' to teaching the coral reef ecology class, which spends a week in the bahamas, and he said, "and i'll need a TA who can collect parrotfish-grazed turtlegrass for her project." sweet! that TA he was talking about is none other than yours truly. i've got a pretty sweet advisor, dudes.

it was also decided today that i should present at two conferences this spring instead of just the one that i was planning on. that's fine by me. i can do essentially the same talk at both of them. one will probably be at DISL (the one i didn't plan on), and the other one is in atlanta at georgia tech. my little italian friend from maine is supposed to be at that one. i'll miss 2 ice pilot home games, though, which is sad. :-( the conference is march 21-25. perhaps there's an interesting thrashers game during that time that i might convince someone to go to... hmm. san jose on the 22nd is the only home game during that time. i dunno about that one. maybe not. oh well.

ooh! but chad and i ARE seriously considering taking a trip to philadelphia this year. probably in march or april when it's not ass cold there. then i can lick the liberty bell! like on how i met your mother! if we go, we'll spend a few days and explore philly while we're there, eat real philly cheese steak and all. let's hope this really happens. if it does, we'll know soon, 'cause we'll order our tickets (and our plane tickets) far, far in advance. i like not taking regular classes, because i'm not limited in when we can go. awesome.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Back in the States

hello all. i am once again back in the states, using my own computer instead of one with a spanish keyboard with extra keys and some in the wrong places. i was very excited to come home, though i had an excellent time in spain. when we got to the airport in memphis yesterday, kate, rochelle, and i were all excited about boys who don't look gay (i.e., no man capris or man purses), waiters who split checks and actually come to your table to check on you without your flagging them down first, not having to argue with people in a foreign language, being able to use a debit card anywhere, and a whole host of other american conveniences that i totally take for granted. it was an extremely long trip (23 hours if you count the time when we left our hostel), and i was beat when i got home. no jet lag on the return trip, no siree. i only slept for about an hour during the entire 23 hours we traveled, and we only got about 4 hours of sleep monday night in madrid.

our three nights in madrid were pretty excellent. just was worried about me, kate, and rochelle being alone in such a big city in a foreign country, but we took care of ourselves just fine. we literally took every form of transportation available while we were in spain - cars, planes, trains, taxis, buses, subways, and the airport shuttle. it was pretty crazy. we took a train from alicante to madrid on saturday and checked into our hostel, which we've been told was pretty sweet as hostels go. we were so starving when we arrived that we ate at burger king because it was the only place open (it was 5 pm, way past the spanish lunch time and way before the spanish dinner time). then we went out for a tapas dinner later on that night and split a pitcher of sangria. i was poco borracha on the walk back to the hostel. then we crashed relatively early because we had kind of a big day planned for sunday. between burger king and dinner, we met a bunch of people in our hostel by just hanging out in the common room for a while. they were a pretty cool bunch.

anyway, on sunday we visited el rostro, the huge flea market in madrid. i bought a really cute skirt there, and kate bought the same one. we got a wee bit lost on the way there, but it was ok. we stopped to take my picture by the la latina metro stop. the market was phenominally huge. we walked around there for hours. we saw a guy trying to steal a bunch of perfume, and the police took it away from him, then he tried to take it from the police, and they started hitting him with their night sticks, and the guy was still trying to take stuff from them.

after el rostro, we took the metro over to all the museums. they're free on sundays, which really cool, and that sunday was the last day of the picasso exhibit at museo del prado, which was even cooler. so we walked around the prado for hours, too, and it was awesome. i was disappointed in the lack of prints for sale in the gift shop, though. they had some postcards featuring some of the paintings, but they only had a couple of my favorties.

after walking all day long, the three of us went back to the hostel for a siesta, then we went out for a tapas dinner with our roommate michaela. after dinner, we met up with a bunch of people from our hostel and a couple of others in the area for a pub crawl. it was so much fun. we paid 10 euros to visit 4 pubs with a free shot and a discount on drinks at each one and then free admission to a salsa club. it was such a long night (we were dancing for 6 hours), but it was so much fun. everyone was pretty drunk. we got to meet tons of cool people through the pub crawl, though. we hung out a lot with a gay english boy named david, and he was a hoot. i danced salsa with him for a little while. unfortunately, i'm not good at salsa dancing. there was also an australian boy who was sort of stalking me all night. i'm pretty sure he said his name was bone. weird. he was cute, but he was a little frisky, and kate had to rescue me from him once on the dance floor at the 4th bar we went to. at one point at that bar, i was really hot and sweaty from all the dancing (as was everyone else), and i turned to rochelle and yelled over the music, "rochelle! blow me!" we do this thing where we blow on each other's faces to cool us off when we're hot and sweaty, but it sounded very inappropriate. david was like, "did she just shout 'blow me' in a club?" and the australian boy was like, "did you just say what i think you said?" then rochelle blew on my face and it was all good.

the australian boy had a spanish friend from the santa pola area (that's where we were before we went to madrid), and his name was juan. he said he didn't really like santa pola and that it was no fun. i told him that i had a ton of fun in santa pola at the clubs near the castle. he was all like, "what castle?" so that was weird, because the castle is right in downtown santa pola. anyway, since i managed to have fun in santa pola and i mentioned the castle, he started calling me the queen of santa pola. and then he bowed. it was kind funny, but also kind of weird.

we got home from the pub crawl around 5 am and slept for a few hours. then we got up and took a bus over to san lorenzo de escaloria to visit the monastary and stuff there. it's where all spanish monarchs are buried, and just told us it's a good lesson in spanish history. and when we got there, it was closed. that was disappointing, but we walked around the outside, which was beautiful and HUGE. then we walked around the little town for a while and had lunch, then headed back into madrid for some sweet shopping. we hit a souvenir shop and then a bunch of really expensive stores. and then we found it. the one store that made us all extremely happy. H & M. i know we have them in the states, but nowhere near mobile. and we found such cute stuff for so little money. i bought the cutest top for 2.90 euros. i literally squeaked when i found it. ask rochelle, she was there, and she made fun of me for it. i also bought a couple of super cheap tank tops and an adorable striped, short sleeve, button up shirt that i couldn't live without. in fact, i'm wearing it right now. i love it. it has a bit of spanish sluttiness to it, since the highest button is pretty much right between my boobs, but i still love it. that was a trend we noticed in spain - slutbag. we saw a 14 year old wearing ho-veralls (overall shorts that were pretty much up her ass), and we never felt like we dressed slutty enough to fit in at any of the clubs we went to. or even slutty enough to go shopping. that's how slutty the girls dress there on an everyday basis. everything is super short, super tight, and super low cut. and a lot of it is weird. but like i said, i found some cute stuff too. but i hate european sizing. it makes me feel fat. i bought a pair of shorts, and i had to get a size 40. ick. give me a size 8 or 9 in the states over a european 40 any day. i could fit a 38, but i felt like it squeezed in odd places, so i went for the bigger size.

after shopping, we went to dinner at the vacquita argentina, a little restaurant right near our hostel. i got veggie lasagna, and it was delicious. we ordered wine with our dinner, and when we told the waiter our first choice he looked horrified and asked, "are you sure?" so kate asked if it was really bad, and he recommended a different one for us. it was pretty good and not very expensive. that whole experience was pretty funny. after dinner, we went back to the hostel to pack, and we had a new roomie. it was an american boy who's been studying arabic named tully. i liked him. michaela was on the prowl for a cute spanish boy, but we told her to go for tully. he was american, but he was cute. and funny. he seemed like a nice guy. too bad he only got there the night before we left, so we didn't really have a chance to hang out. he was trying to study for the GRE while we were packing, and i'm sure he got nothing done.

so, that was our stay in madrid. the next morning, we caught the airport shuttle at 6:30 and began our long, long series of flights home. and i'm really glad to be back.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I´m Here for the Party

so, today was our last official day of the spain course. and, of course, we had to have a party to send off the class right. so, we had a huge shindig here at the lab last night. i don´t think i´ve mentioned that we american girls might have frightened the cute spanish boys here just a wee bit. i think they thought that kelly and i were stalking them at lunch, since that´s always when we´d see them. the two grad students who have been here since we arrived are named fran (short for francisco) and andres. they don´t really have much confidence in their english skills, so they were a tad afraid to talk to us at first. so kelly and i started talking to them at lunch every day. this was pure coincidence. they always just happened to come into the kitchen every day while kelly and i were eating. kelly and i are kind of silly together (as you might imagine), and i tend to talk sort of fast (as i´m sure you know). so they always had to tell me to slow down, but they were perfectly capable of having conversations with us in spanglish. my spanish isn´t great, but i can usually get my point across. anyway, i think they were a little intimidated by our hotness.

so, we kept trying to convince fran and andres to come out with us one night, and they both said they would definitely come to the party (which they did). it was a blast. one of the guys who works here made a HUGE bowl of sangria, there was much beer, and we did apple pie shots (apple juice, vodka, whipped cream, and cinnamon). i think i may have had a wee bit too much to drink. oh, did i mention that i haven´t slept since 11 am on thursday? it´s about 2 am saturday morning right now. i don´t possess the brain power to figure out how many hours i´ve been awake.

anyway, back to the story. there was much drinking, much dancing, more drinking, a little chasing, and lots of fun. we really brought fran out of his shell at the party. he´d always been a little shy before that. andres, on the other hand, is a dirty, dirty boy. but he´s a nice guy, and i took lots of cute pictures of myself with his camera.

let´s have a look at some photos of the madness, shall we?

here´s me wrestling whipped cream away from fran. he had sprayed it on me and nicole (also in the pic), and i wanted to get him back.

here´s one of fran taking an apple pie shot. it takes a lot of hands to coordinate those things.

now here´s one of andres after his team lost three rounds of flip cup in a row. for some reason, the idea to remove some clothing if that happened materialized. i never removed any clothing.

so, after all the madness here at the lab, just wasn´t ready to let the party go yet, so he took some of us into town for churros and dancing at a club. there were five of us who went - me, nicole, fran, just, and mercedes (one of the female grad students here, whom we just met). we ended up having tons of fun. fran even danced without any coaxing. he even twirled me of his own accord. then i twirled him. the nicole and i twirled each other, and just danced on a little stage thingie until he was mobbed by 40 year old women. it was funny.

see, the reason that only 5 of us went was because everyone else was in bed. because we didn´t leave until 3:30 am. and we went to the aquarium in valencia today. so we had to catch a train at 7 am. so nicole and i did not sleep. we got home from the club at 5:30, showered, and headed for the train station. then kelly and i had to take down an experiment after we got back from valencia at almost 10 pm, and i have been attempting to burn all of our pictures to dvd, but i am having some difficulties. seeing as i haven´t slept in nearly two days and that i am going to madrid tomorrow, i think i should go to sleep now.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


you know what´s almost as bad as losing your luggage in a foreign country? getting sick in a foreign country. that happened to me yesterday, and i still feel shitty today. after kelly and i collected our seagrass from the way salty mediterranean yesterday, my throat started to hurt like whoa, as kelly would say. i thought at first that it was just because i´d gotten so much salt water up my nose and in my ears, but i just kept feeling shittier as the day wore on. it was really bad because last night was our big party night in alicante, and i felt horrible. just ended up taking me back to the marine lab early (well, not exactly early, but earlier than everyone else).

we started out our trip to alicante with a tour of the castle there. it was really cool. then we girls did some good shopping while the boys hung out and had a drink or two. i bought some sweet knee length shorts and a really cute pair of brown sneakers. i also stopped at a pharmacy and bought some aspirin because my throat was killing me at that point. i took three, but it did nothing for me. we met up with the prof from the university of alicante for dinner, and we ate around 11 pm, which is pretty typical for spain. we had pitchers of sangria, which was really tasty, but i mostly drank water because i thought i was going to hurl. i didn´t eat much either, even though the food was tasty. whenever we go out as a group we always order about ten or twelve different tapas (snacks or appetizers) and split the ticket. all of it was tasty, but i didn´t feel like eating.

after dinner, we were planning to meet up with one of the grad students from the lab here for drinks and dancing. we did that, but i still felt like shit, so just took me home early. well, not really early. it was about 3 am. everyone else got home around 6:30 am. we all slept until 1 pm, then jose luis (the prof from alicante) came over and cooked us paella and made us mojitos. the magical mojitos perked me up a little. jose luis said it was vitamins for me. mojitos are really freakin good, dudes. we should all drink more of them. after paella and mojitos i went back to sleep for 3 hours. i think all the sleep did me good, though.

i have more, but i´m kind of tired. here are some pictures for your entertainment. i´ll have much more to tell you later, i´m sure.

this is nicole kissing antonio on the cheek at dino´s.

this is me and kelly cowering in fear at the bull run.

these are the bulls we were cowering in fear of.

this is an exapmle of all the sweet man capris (ignore the guy in the foreground).

this is antonio sticking his tongue out at me after he got into the whole ´sweet americana taking his picture´thing.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mullets & Man Capris

check it out guys. the boys here in espaƱa dress funny, and they dance with each other all close like girls sometimes do in the states. we went to the festival in santa pola last night for the running of the bulls (in which i did participate after all), and all of us americanas had a good laugh at the way the boys dress. they wear man capris and tight t-shirts, and they carry man purses. oh, and the mullets abound. but not just mullets. special european mullets in many different varieties. oh, and rat tails.

we went to a bar after the running of the bulls (actually, we went there before and after the bulls) called dino´s. there is a waiter there whose name is antonio, and he is muy guapo. he gave us two free shots, and they were yummy. kelly had flirted with him a little the day before, so when rochelle, kate, nicole, and i got there we knew his name already even though we weren´t there when everyone else had gone the first time. it sort of freaked him out that we knew his name. he liked talking to us because it gave him a chance to practice his english. we tried to get him to speak spanish to us, but he said something like, ¨you can speak spanish all the time, but i only get 5 minutes to speak english with you.¨ that was after he gave us the first free shot of black wildberry vodka and lemonade. then everyone else got there and he gave us another one. then marcus bought me a rum and coke with lemon. i usually don´t like alcoholic drinks with soda because it makes the soda taste flat, but that was really good. sometime over the course of all that i started taking random pictures of antonio with marcus´s camera. i think it weirded him out a little at first, and then he kind of got into it. in one, he stuck his tongue out at me. i like that one. after the bull thing we went back to dino´s, and i asked antonio if he would take a picture with nicole, and he said ok. then i was like, ¨kiss his cheek! kiss his cheek!¨so nicole did, and antonio didn´t seem to mind because nicole is cute. marcus´s camera is slow, so they ended up holding the pose for something like 20 seconds, and the picture turned out really cute. as soon as marcus puts his picutres on this computer, i´m going to post it.

earlier in the night, antonio had told just (our prof, pronounced joost) to tell us that the festival wasn´t celebrating santa pola, it was celebrating the fact that he´s not married. then he was asking for my address, which didn´t make any sense, and just was all like, ¨what do you do to make all these men love you?¨ because kate told him that all the boys in maine loved me. rochelle told him i´m married and wanted to know why he wanted my address, but i´d already told antonio that earlier. anyway, antonio just wanted copies of the pictures, and i got his email address instead of giving him mine. the thing is, i´m pretty sure he doesn´t know my name. it was interesting anyway.

as for the bulls, that was freakin´scary. i was the only one in our group who really didn´t want to do it, and when we got there i was more scared of getting lost in a crowd of skeezy men than of the bulls. we´d decided to meet up at dino´s after, but i wasn´t confident that i could find it on my own, and there were definitely some shady characters there. one of them grabbed rochelle´s boob during the bull run. i´m glad i decided not to hang by myself. anyway, i went into the street where they were running the bulls with everyone else. just asked what the plan was when the bulls came, and i said, ¨we run away!¨ so i hung out with andy and carly, and i ended up running and screaming like little girl and hiding behind andy when the bulls came. i never got close to one. carly took some good pictures, though. i´ll post them as soon as i can. after about half an hour, when the bulls really started to get confused and started veering over to the sides i was really over the whole bull thing, and i was scared anyway. when i was hiding behind andy i kept saying, ¨tengo miedo! tengo miedo!¨ so we crawled out under a barricade and went to dino´s. once it closed, antonio told us about a dance club that was open until 5 am (the bull run didn´t start until 1 am, and dino´s closed at 3 am) that was right around the corner, so we went there.

that was the place where we saw all the boys dancing very close to one another. we thought maybe antonio had sent us to a gay bar, but we kept getting hit on by guys, so i guess not. i had four different guys try to give me their drinks. not to buy me a drink, but to give me theirs. i refused. rochelle had some guy try to force a random shot on her, and marcus drank it for her. then this group of 18 year old boys came over and tried to hit on us. one of them flicked his lighter on my nose when i refused the cigarette he offered me. it was weird. then this other kid was standing beside me trying to get me to drink this random shot that had been sitting on the table for an hour. he kept putting his hand on my back, and i kept moving it off. then he tried to give me his drink, and i said no and told him i´m married and showed him my ring. then he left, and when he did he grabbed my ass. i was like, ¨i just got molested by an 18 year old boy.¨ that was so wrong.

at last call the bartender gave everyone in our group a free shot of this really tasty peach whiskey. then we drank lots of water and went home. we went to bed at 6 am. that was insane.