October 9th, 2017

Charah coffee

(no subject)

My weekend has been utterly and absolutely free of any and all PhD-related work. Sometimes, I have to seriously remind myself that I am officially in my third year and I have written a grand total of two chapters out of the five that I have planned. I need to buckle down, stop feeling lazy, start focusing again; I need to pretend that there's a deadline breathing down my neck for me to take this seriously. But first, there are all these books on national identity and nationalism that I have to read before I can write the next part. Seriously, every single chapter feels like a brand new PhD. I'm not sure if this is a good thing for its overall depth and quality; but I guess it's at least keeping things fresh.

Having said that, I have been busy with journal-related work. I cannot remember if I have mentioned this, but I am now the Editor-in-Chief of the international law journal here, and the start of term means the start of the most intense period of this job. I've had to email people to set up things, speak to the new PhD students about the journal, sit in the atrium of the law faculty at the LLM subject forum to promote the journal for 4.5 hours last Wednesday afternoon, and I'm going to have to update the editors' handbook tomorrow morning and make sure that there are no typos, punctuation mistakes, and unnecessary spaces between words and such. I remember going to the editors' training two years ago, looking at the powerpoint slides, and spotting a typo; I was definitely thinking, 'Really?' It's almost as if this anal retentiveness is second nature to me. I don't even know why.

So I have been busy with all that. I have not been doing enough work on my thesis. It is actually rather scary, and so I don't want to think about it.


I played some tennis with Etienne this morning. I'd been playing no tennis at all save for my Friday morning lessons. Today was the first time I've played in a couple of weeks. I started off sluggish, my contacts gave me problems, felt like I couldn't see; but I think it got better. I was practising my approach shots just like what I learned in class, and I'm happy to say that my volleys have got better. It's not like I'm doing anything radically differently; I'm just remembering what Theresa (the super amazing coach at the club who played on the WTA tour and even played Round 1 at Wimbledon - how amazing?!) said about not stopping when one approaches the net, just keep running and let the momentum do half the work on the volley. Very good tip.

I do think that my approach shot is predictable, though - it's always the forehand to the right-hander's backhand corner. Apart from how it's an obvious approach shot to play because the backhand is typically the weaker side for the typical person, I just really like this shot. I really like hitting the forehand up the line. But I should mix it up. We will see.

Etienne hit some great down-the-line passing shots. I really like hitting with people way better than me; it helps me improve. That said, though, he kept lobbing me when I was at the net, trying to get me to practise my overheads, but he didn't understand that I cannot practise a skill which I do not possess. I do not have an overhead, plain and simple. When I finally did try, I swung, and I hit nothing but air. I burst out laughing after that, and so did he.

The weather was actually quite nice. It was forecast for 12 degrees and cloudy so I wore a 3/4 sleeve top that's also rather thick; it turned out to be a bit too warm under the sun. That was not a bad thing, however; anytime I get to sweat in this country at this time of the year is a very good thing indeed.


I had coffee and cake with Matt in the afternoon today. It was lovely. We went to a new cafe on King Street; I had a flat white and a brownie. The brownie was amazing. It was funny how I was taking these small bites, and when I offered some to him, he forked off a big chunk and shoved the whole thing into his mouth. It wasn't a big piece of brownie, so that big chunk was like, a fifth of the whole thing - and it was gone in an instant! I suppose he's not someone who likes to prolong something pleasurable, savour something tasty. It's not a negative judgement, of course. I was just quite amused by this obvious contrast between us (just one out of very many others, no less).

It was my first time drinking coffee with him. How weird, right? How weird that it's unusual for me to have coffee with the guy that I'm dating when it's what I do all the time - by myself, with a book, with friends, on a date, with my parents... It was also the first time that I saw him on a weekend afternoon, and probably the earliest that we'd ever met (3.15pm). He usually works weekends, so even if we meet on a weekend, it's usually in the evening, and so it was nice to see him in the afternoon.

He tried my flat white, said it was all right; I thought it was a bit bland. He doesn't like milky coffee and hasn't had milky coffee in years; he doesn't even taste the coffee that he makes. 'That's how good at my job I am,' he said, when I expressed incredulity and wondered how he knew whether it was good. It's something to do with the milk and how it's steamed. I always forget these technical details. But anyway, needless to say, I like his coffee better.

He told me that Afternoon Tease is closing, probably tomorrow, when we were looking at this Cambridge food and events magazine on the table and saw a picture of the delicious Guinness chocolate cake. I was devastated, and so I said, 'Can we have cake please?' So I had a brownie and a cake today. I shall not have any food of this nature for at least the next week. I've started using the oven in the kitchen and I made two batches of brownies...I don't think they were that fattening because the ingredients were bananas, unsweetened almond butter, unsweetened cocoa powder (is this ever sweetened?) and - this is the source of the non-natural sugar - some dark chocolate chips. They don't really count, do they? I mean, that was the whole point of baking, something that I'd never done before in my life: to satisfy my craving for cakes and sweet things, guilt-free. But alas, I felt guilty anyway. I kept thinking about those chocolate chips that I added, the amount of sugar in them even though it's not that much, even though I don't even know what it works out to proportionate to what I made. Shit, maybe I really am unhealthily obsessed with my weight.

Anyway. So we went to Afternoon Tease. He had a carrot cake and tea. I had the chocolate cake. Fuck, a piece of heaven in my mouth. The carrot cake was also delicious, too: sufficiently moist and cinnamon-y. Why is Afternoon Tease closing?!?! Where the hell am I going to get my cake fix on my cheat days???

He had this funny look on his face, like he was trying very hard to concentrate, when I went off about this cashmere sweater that I bought from Uniqlo which was on discount and which was too big and how I had to return it. It's nice that he still makes an effort to listen to me when I'm talking about something in which he literally could not be any less interested: clothes.

He had to go at about 5.15pm. He helped me fix my bicycle, the one that I bought from Raffie but have used a grand total of two times and which basically sits in the bike shed and collects dust (literally). While standing outside the gate to the Village, we were discussing when to see each other next or something like that; then two Chinese girls walked past us, entered the college through the gate. He turned his head, looked at them.

I couldn't resist. 'Were you checking them out?' I exclaimed.

His reaction was priceless. 'Oh come on!' he said. 'Of course I wasn't!' I burst out laughing.

I got a taste of my own medicine, though, when, moments later, some other random girl walked past, and he said, 'I checked her out.'

I would like to see the look on my face in that moment: the moment when I turned to look at this random girl. I didn't even see her face, just her backpack and her clothes which I can't even remember anymore. In this moment of me putting my eyes on this random girl that Matt had purportedly checked out, I was silent for too long; I looked at her for too long. What thoughts went through my mind? When he said, 'I'm only kidding. You're so jealous!' and I replied, 'No, I'm just thinking she's not even pretty', was that what I was thinking? How could I have thought that if I hadn't even seen her face?

I wasn't actually jealous of that random thing. But I was a bit jealous, I think, when he said that he's possibly playing squash with some scientist mother person whom he talked to at work about how he wasn't sleeping and she suggested exercise and somehow it became 'let's play squash together!' I asked questions about this person without making it come across as I was asking questions about this person (though I wish I'd asked more), but I wonder if it was jealousy. Why should I be jealous if he plays squash with presumably customer? If I am, what am I jealous of? I can't be jealous of this person, that she's going to play squash with him, because I don't even play squash, so it's not as if he's doing something with her that he would or could do with me. Maybe it is jealousy insofar as it is something that I can't - or do not ordinarily, at any rate - do with him.

Or maybe the twinge of jealousy that I felt in the moment was due to a completely irrational and without basis feeling like I was being replaced. But since he is clearly not replacing me at all, and certainly not with this person who has kids (and presumably a husband, though this is definitely not a necessary condition), then there is absolutely no basis to feel this way. And it's not as if I am worried that he'd do something; I am a very trusting person and he's a trustworthy person, and I know how much he values me, so that's not a factor.

So I decided on this: I am possessive. I am possessive insofar as I don't like other people - women, usually - having designs on my man. I'm not saying that this person is; all I'm saying is that my reaction was more from a place of possessiveness than jealousy (though it's a 99%-1% mix of both, if I'm being honest).

Still, it was disturbing to think that I could possibly be jealous. Some jealousy is normal, of course, but I've always thought that jealousy and a lack of trust go hand-in-hand; I suppose it's a bit different when the tables are turned. Nonetheless, I don't want to be jealous; he is right to say that it is unattractive, and I simply haven't got time for jealous behaviour, and so I shouldn't exhibit any.


This entry has taken me way too much time to write. That's why I don't write that much these days; it takes too much time. And I feel like I'm just babbling about nothing in a dull pedestrian anyway.
Charah coffee

What I Did Today

I want some banality in my entries, because why not, so here's a banal recounting of what went on today:

1. I woke up 1 hour and 45 minutes later than I'd intended.

2. After breakfast and a shower, I went to Fitzbillies to do some journal work. The original plan, the same one that was delayed by my failure to get out of bed in a timely manner, was to go there at 10am (HA! I LAUGH AT MY UTTERLY MISPLACED OPTIMISM). When I was finally there, it was pretty much already noon.

3. I spent three fucking hours revising the handbook and emailing someone at the publisher about house style. I'd honestly thought that it would take maybe an hour, an hour and a half at the most, zip in and out, and do some proper PhD work in the afternoon. HA! I laugh at my blank-faced naivete! It didn't help that my stupid Firefox was slow and laggy and was on the verge of crashing, as always. I don't know what's wrong with it. More importantly, I don't know what's wrong with me: why do I keep using a shitty browser? Oh wait, it's because all my passwords are stored in this one and I can't be arsed to start storing passwords in Chrome for the precise reason that I don't remember any of my passwords, which means I'd need to reset pretty much everything if I switch browsers. So utterly annoying.

4. The only saving grace about my mid-to-early afternoon was Matt. Not only did he give me free coffee again, but he randomly gave me a plate of salad that someone had prepared for Instagram. Save for the coriander which will forever be my mortal enemy, the salad was delicious: curried cauliflower, dried coconut, apricots, spinach, some kind of yogurt dressing. YUM. It also saved me the trouble of making lunch/deciding whether to go back for lunch and leave the handbook thing half-done, so yay for that. But I felt really bad about sitting there for three hours and spending absolutely no money, so I made sure that I paid for my second cup of coffee. That assuaged my guilt a little bit.

5. I spent a grand total of an hour doing PhD work. Fucking hell, I am so fucked.

6. The college library is getting too claustrophobic with all the undergrads/new students. I couldn't sit in there for more than an hour when people started coming in to the law room. I think I'm going to have to either work in my room or go to the faculty. Sigh!

7. Tonight's hitting session with Jay was great. He was hitting the ball really hard, and I felt like I was hitting the ball really cleanly. I think my love for tennis is slowly inching its way back into my heart. I hadn't seen Jay for over a week, and that had felt really weird because prior to my two weeks of working on the Yale paper, I'd seen him at least once a week for months on end. We've even started hanging out off the tennis court. So it was nice to see him again.

8. I started watching Riverdale. Hahaha. I'm such a teenybopper.

9. Orphan Black has ended. :( It was a good series finale though. And I just have to record this: I absolutely love - LOVE - Tatiana Maslany's work as Rachel in episode 7 of Season 5. She's great at pretty much all the characters - Krystal is fucking hilarious, and Sarah imitating Krystal was even more hilarious - but I love her as Rachel. That steely composure, slowly breaking down, the beneath-the-surface panic as she struggles to hold on to her cool-as-ice, in-control facade; she conveys Rachel's hurt and bewilderment and sense of betrayal with the slightest flinch in the face, so quick and imperceptible that you'd miss it if you blinked. Her eventual meltdown (though I would hardly call digging out your own synthetic eye with the broken stem of a martini glass a 'meltdown') was not just believable; it was heartbreaking. How did Tatiana make me feel sympathy for this ice-cold bitch? Simply amazing.

10. I'm finally going to London for the first time since the end of July. The mission? To cut my hair. I'd like to do some shopping too.

11. The Yale conference schedule has been sent out. Kaara is going to the conference too! So excited! She's my coolest friend here and one of my rare female friends. New York is going to be even more fun! (Well, I assume she's going to New York. Maybe I shouldn't assume this. But New Haven will be even more fun!)