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Capital City

Excuse me, have we met before?
I thought I heard you say
Those words
So near
I can almost recall what it was
Who it was we had in common

I’ve been here so long I’ve forgot
The place I had called home
The faces
And friends
I thought maybe you were one of them
Our parallel souls crossing paths

But I find myself here again
Always haunting doorways
I might open one and find myself
Just as I remembered I was

The same immutable contents
That soul-deafening reach
Both proud
And distant
Unlived life spilling ever over
Into my own sterile cup

Future pick-me-up

Just in case I need this later:
“Written with a clarity you rarely see these days”

1 down.

solipsism amok

I am the pillar, not the light.

However much I thirst to shine, to beam knowledge and brilliance across the seas, I can never be the crystal.

I am the pillar.

Steadfast, stalwart, dependable, solid.  Never wavering, growing only upward, reaching for the heavens but bolted to the ground.

I am the pillar.

Immobile and unwavering, stubbornly convinced of the integrity of my base, the construction of my form.  Solid concrete, from heart to skin.  I cannot be moved, I cannot be swayed, I am and only am what I am.  Extant, immutable.

I am the pillar.

Filled only when others fill me.  Remorsefully purposeless without a carefully nurtured flame, propogated by others, a mere shell awaiting a use.

I am the pillar.

Beset by barnicles, moribund in fog.  Begat of good intentions, but so singly-purposed as to obsolesce into fallowness.  Bereft of purpose.

I am the pillar.

A monument to faith, quaintly atemporal, belying the naievity of woman who dreams but doubts.  An obelisk dedicated to frictionless momentum, future forged by the first forward push.

I am the pillar.

Let Alexandria burn and build again.

We both saw this coming.

It’s on, tomorrow.  It’s my last scan.  My last bit of data collection.

My life is snowballing, thundering down a gully toward some unknowable future.  It’s all coming at me so fast.  My route branching in a thousand directions, each segment of which terminates in some unseeable end.   Every juncture presents me with the opportunity to alter my future, and every juncture reminds me that I’m already on the way to some result, some destination.

This week my brain caught fire again – a conflagration of ideas.  These moments are my most high-spirited, my most optimistic, my most productive, and to my own eyes, almost oppressively important.  The essence of my life shifts, albeit minutely, to putting in the work the last mental pyre set up.  There’s not much stopping my momentum when this spark takes, but it’s worrisome knowing that my intellectual life depends on these randomly distributed flames.  Though in all honesty it’s not as barren as that; the simple fact is that no fire burns without fuel, and with enough fuel and my brain as flint, something will catch sooner or later.

I’m sinking back into PDP modeling,  I find connectionism to hold great sway over me, and it captures my imagination better as a model of neural networks and cognitive processing abilities than any others I’m familiar with.  To make matters worse, I have been completely unenamored with phonological theory since my existential falling-out with Optimality Theory several years back.  It surprises me a great deal that some of the progenitors of OT also have a background in PDP, since the two are not particularly compatible.

I keep putting connectionism behind me as a child’s model – an intellectual fantasy that is too inherently appealing to be taken seriously.   I can’t tell if trying to work in a connectionist framework damns me to an outsiders future, but I can’t help but dabble.  I’m in this PhD business to indulge my intellectual fantasies, and hopefully to do some good research along the way.  I know myself too well to think I could very long justify giving up a model I like because it does not hold a prominent place in linguistics or cognitive science at the moment.

Today I made the first move in the new direction.  I solicited a professor with the architectural blue prints of my second qualifying paper, the first approximation of a connectionist model that incorporates the better part of several other theories in an interesting and potentially tenable way to model perception and sound change.   If it’s accepted as a topic – which I’ll more or less know by the end of the week – I’m afraid I have to formally hand in my structural linguistics passport and ally myself instead with that scourge of that theoretical social sciences…  I’m going to have to declare myself a card-carrying psycholinguistic sympathizer.  Even my former plans for myself can’t escape my brain fire.

Formal phonological theory, I’m breaking up with you.  You do not have the grounding in cognitive principles I need.   So long as you can’t fulfill my needs, I must look elsewhere.  And that elsewhere is neural modeling and neurolinguistics.  Places where there’s more to life than a well-warn philosophers armchair.   Where there is data – quantitative data!  Measurable outcomes!  Biological correlates!  You’ve told me the truth is not out there – but it is.  It’s inside every language user at every moment, and it’s there for the taking.  I’m sorry it didn’t work out between us, but I need more than you can give.  I’ll never forget you and all you taught me.  I’ll carry forth those lessons into these new and exiting lands.  But you’re holding me back.  And I have so much to accomplish.


So we meet again, blog.

It’s 7:30, and I’ve just sat down at my desk to start my night of work.  I was anticipating being a little more busy today, but this morning I got the very pleasant surprise of getting my paper deadline extended until Monday.   So now I actually don’t have anything due this week – just two papers to finish by next week.   Life is good.

This morning I gave my cognitive neuroscience talk, which was the thing I was dreading most all quarter.  I practiced it three times this weekend, and looked my slides over with Lewis already, and I think it all paid off.  I felt very comfortable giving the talk, and I think I sounded like I knew that I was doing.  There was only one question from the audience, which was the part I was really dreading (the students in this class are a little… brash and cock-sure sometimes) and it was only to ask if the scan parameters I quoted was really what they did – which it was, of course.  So yay!  I also got to go first, so it was really great to get it out of the way, and be done for the rest of the morning.  And nearly the rest of the quarter!

I’m at the point where I can list all the places I need to be and all the things I need to do: two Ling 1 lectures to attend, one to collect homeworks, and one to hand back papers, one section to teach, one study session to help run, one informal paper discussion to give, and two papers to hand in.  And in 8 days, I’ll be completely and totally done until nearly October.  Incredible, isn’t it?

The only other piece of news on the Laurfront is that I seem to have contracted Davis allergies.  Yesterday on the way home from sushi, my eye sort of itched.  By the time I got home, my eyelid was all poofy.  I washed it off and it went away.  This morning when I woke up, my *other* eyelid was swollen.  It felt like it was twice the normal size, and I had trouble looking in all directions.  But I took a shower, and by the time I was done, it was pretty much gone.  Same thing happened this afternoon – suddenly itchy eyeball, which puffs up as soon as you scratch it, and goes away 15 or 20 minutes after you wash it.  Yuck!  I haven’t the faintest idea what it is that’s setting me off like this, but I’m putting my money on pollen or dust of some kind.  Davis is well renowned for being one of the most allegry inducing places you can live, and I guess my allergy-free self finally met her match.


I think it’s that time again. That’s “final papers and presentations in the next two weeks” time. Where I sit around all day doing god knows what, but seemingly getting work done, and leaving myself with nothing to blog about. Yeeup.

Well, we did take a few hours off today to take Lewis’ parents to high tea at Ciocolat for Francie’s birthday. That counts for something, right? Woot!


Ah, Monday nights.  Monday nights are my slow n’ easy yoga nights.  So round about now, I’m feeling all relaxed and ready to crawl into bed for a restful sleep.  It’s always somewhat difficult coming home and trying to decide what to do with myself in these last few hours, but tonight I think bed might win out.  Bed and some enjoyable (though still school) reading.  It’s the first time I’ve really read science papers outside my discipline, and it’s funny now how relaxing the old structural linguistics books are.  These cognitive neuroimaging papers are going to be the death of me!

Today was a nice and abbreviated day.  The reading group I thought we had finished setting up apparently didn’t fit enough schedules to go through with, so it’s sort of indefinitely on hold.  That’s just fine with me, the short day was nice.  CogNeuro was a little troublesome this morning because I hadn’t realized we were supposed to read the papers other people were presenting on in advance and come prepared with questions and all that.  So I don’t think I got any participation points, and it bothers me somewhat that it appears my professor writes down the name of everyone who talks in class thus somewhat obliging everyone to have something to say all the time.  I understand it’s supposed to make us critical thinkers, but I feel so far out of my domain on these cognitive neuroscience topics, especially the vision research we’re talking about right now, that I seem to either have no questions at all, or they sound dumb to me.  Oh well.  I’m running through my “options” mantra and reminding myself that ones days worth of performance is nothing that needs to reflect on me generally, and I’ve got all quarter to get myself going on this.  Not to mention, I’m feeling a bit pleased with myself for understanding any of what’s going on, and if my deficit reflects itself in an absence of participation… that’s fine.

So I spent the whole rest of my day reading cogneuro papers, and preparing myself for reading more neuroling papers soon.  I got that all squared away pretty early, so I still had time to pin and cut Lewis’ jammies!  It’ll all be coming together before I know it.  I just hope they fit.  The material is really comfortable, so I’m not too worried about them being cozy, but it would be nice if they fit in some rational way.  Then I took myself off to yoga, and sort of failed to get in “the zone” cause the room was rather crowded and the lady next to me was quite distracting. At the end, though perhaps not feeling all centered, I am at least feeling all stretched.  I’d go so far as to even call myself relaxed!  And as I said before, that’s my only gym goal.  So hurrah, another success.

Now I think Roman Jakobson and I have a study date!


Yoga. So tired. Sadly more grumpy than relaxed. Going to bed now. Section tomorrow at 9. Then a long, but hopefully relaxing day?


My day can be summed up in one word: Bollywood! Another wonderful trip to see the Askers in Fremont, Afghan food and Bollywood as always. So good!


Today: two papers finished, turned in. 20 phonology finals graded.

Tomorrow: neuro quiz, grading. celebration?

Tonight: hopefully sleeping well, not having any kind of panic in the night. i’m really tired of feeling like an ape is sitting on my sternum.