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Monday, Dec. 29, 2003 - 6:05 p.m.

My favorite place in Columbia made headlines today. So maybe there are three things I miss about South Carolina now: L, Ronnie, and Congaree National Park.

Russell and my mom are making dinner. I am wearing a new winter hat, having just finished a martini and a few more chapters of Ripley's Game. So far this break I have read the first two Ripley books, plus The DaVinci Code -- that last one is a bestselling thriller. I haven't been able to read like this in so long; for the first time in years, I don't feel like every book has to be l-l-lit-er-uh-cher. I just feel like reading.

I've also read a book called Nothing To Do But Stay at the request of my Grandma. My mom's family is Norwegian and from northern North Dakota, like the author. Many gory details of cold and difficult prairie life abound. And I read the actual book version of Lileks' Gallery of Regrettable Food (present from Russell). Next up: Patricia Highsmith's biography.

Aaaaaand...PhD applications are completely in and finished. Now I just have to wait.

I've also had a flurry of bad ick from the semester that just ended. I have never before had a grade appeal from a student, but this semester I've had three from one class. I don't know what the deal is. I am the easiest grader in the universe. One kid got a B+ and had expected an A. I do feel bad about that one, but if I'd rounded him up, I'd have had to round everyone else up, too. Two other pleas were from students who received Fs. One has just been in denial, I think, having not come to class for months on end. He has been lying to his parents as well, because I just received an email from them addressed to ALL his professors, just making sure he had indeed failed every single one of his classes. I also heard from a kid who hung in for the whole semester but didn't turn anything in -- he expected a D, not an F. I know this is all their problem, but three in one class is weird, so of course I'm doubting myself quite a bit. Hopefully this will be the last I hear of any of it.

Wednesday I head off to Albuquerque to see the lovely Bettina and celebrate New Year's with Russell's friends (who, fortunately, range in age considerably. I would have to giggle at myself at an underage New Year's party.)

Um? I talked to Mary? Walked in the desert? Really, there is very little to report here, or I don't feel like reporting it very well, or something. Soon I will be back in South Carolina, stressed out and ranting. For now, I just read and drink and eat and wander. It's good.

One more order of business: my friend Matt (whom I've mentioned before) has started a journal. Hooray!

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