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Archive for October, 2008

and put me a peg leg on

Hooooboy.  It’s a week.  It’s midterm week for my chilluns.  I feel like I’ve been doing nothing but work for this class in the last week (overlooking, of course, our oh-so-important data gathering fieldtrip Sunday I failed to write about).  I spent all weekend grading papers and homeworks and writing the midterm for this Friday.  Blurg.  I got no reading done, and have been generally lacking in sanity for a number of consecutive days.

I just need to focus on getting through tomorrow, and get through Thursday.  I have some freedom thereafter.  No sessions on Friday, one class canceled on Thursday.. if only I didn’t have to present a few papers that morning anyway.  Sigh.  But it’ll be alright.

I guess I was just hoping that I’d feel footloose and fancy free after the scariest part of my quarter, collecting data, was over.  But instead it felt like the last milestone before the marathon.  I didn’t know I could “buckle down” any more than I have been, but there you go.  A few nights worth of being up at 8 am and working till midnight is starting to wear on me a bit.  But I think I can hold out till Friday.  Which is also Halloween.  Maybe I’ll get a chance to carve my pumpkin that afternoon?  Seems sad that it would happen after Halloween…

I did sign up for classes today, and pretty much get (finally) caught up on my work that’s been slippery-sloping (if you will) since last week.  Pretty soon here I need to pick my paper topic for my theory class and get moving on my research.  Classes for next term are looking really neat.  I’m taking Advanced Semantics, the Philosophy of Language (why do I do this to myself?), and the introductory Functional Cognitive Imaging (where I get to learn to read fMRIs from a cognitive science standpoint) …  It’s quite a load.  Also, I’m the reader (as in, paper grader) for Intro Phonology, which ought to be righteous.  I’m a bit nervous overall, but it should be good to sink my teeth into some serious theory and stretch my wings / broaden my horizons into the more concrete brain science business.  I hope!

Alright, it’s midnight already and by my count I’ve finished everything on my to do list today and more.  Quite a bit more.  Go me.  Go me, to bed.

Blog fail.

Too tired!  Too busy!  Too overworked!  To blog!  How ridiculous.

It Varies from Season to Season

I’m sitting here, listening to the ‘Cab, wearing my Sonic Boom shirt, and thinking about a place far away.  This has been a hell of a week… I’m really sort of starting to lose my “everything is going fine” shine and feel like worry is setting in thick and strong.  I sort of finished grading my essays today.  Finished in that I have the initial grades done, but they need to be looked over again and compared against the other TAs grades to make sure we’re on the same scale.  I also maybe got the microphones for Sunday secured… lets hope so.  I’m going to sign up for classes next week.  Next quarter is sounding really great to me these days.  Three classes… no TAing.  Phew.

There’s a part of my soul that feels cowed.  Like I threw my hat in the ring, and now that I’m in the ring, I’m not sure what I’m doing here.  I feel like I’ve spent the last 6 years working for this moment.  And I’m not feeling very exuberant.  I’m feeling scared, and stressed, and cowed.  I hate to think I’d give something up solely because it seems to hard, but I’ve been called a quitter before.  And it would be disingenuous to suggest I never quit things for being hard.  I’ve done it pleanty.  But I don’t think this is one of those times.  I worked too hard to be here, and I really don’t have anything without this.  This time, there is no “normal” to go back to.  Trying harder is really all there is, because my whole life looks like chaos without grad school.  I don’t think I could ever stomach failure on that grand of a scale.

But god I’m tired. And I feel so inadequate.  And nights like this, part of me sees going home to Seattle as an easy escape.  A place where people don’t have expectations of me, and everything is familiar and calm.  How ridiculous that I feel like I fled Seattle because people had expectations of me I didn’t want to deal with.  Life isn’t always very straightforward.

Blink Blank Blunk

This whole week has been ones of those where at the end of my day my whole body just shuts down.  I sit down to blog, knowing I have lots of stories to share, and my eyes slowly close, I sink in my seat, and my brain starts to run, run….

The last several nights I’ve had a hard time getting to sleep despite being as tired as I am now.  At some point work tapers off and exhaustion sets in, but my brain never stops worrying about what I’m doing, or need to do, or should do, or might forget to do.  There are so many tiny pieces of input into my day I really need a better way to organize them.  I like to think I’ve got a good short term memory, but with as much reading and learning and the all-exhausting taing I’m doing, there just aren’t any neurons left to fill that purpose.  Things just fall right our of my head, like a sieve.  It reminds me of laundry day, where at the end of the day you’ve folded so many socks you can’t carry them all at once, but you try to anyway.  No matter how big of a handfull or armload you think you can carry, you inevitably drop a bunch of socks on the way to the drawer.  Those socks are my thoughts.  And they keep spilling on the floor.

Wednesday has to be my worst day.  I know Fridays I teach more, but they have this added bonus, a character of flippancy almost, because they’re Fridays.  I know that all I have to do is make it through that two hours of teaching, and I’m really off free for almost three whole days.  Nevermind that I do more work in those three days than the remaining four, but there are no social obligations which takes the pressure off quite a bit.  Except, of course, this weekend.  But sociolinguistics just wouldn’t be what it is if I didn’t have to do something as partially terrifying as asking pointed questions about strangers’ lives.  And this is the one and only time I have to do this.  In the forseeable future.  Ish.

I don’t really feel like talking about class today.  I did a lot today.  I’m now two-thirds done grading essays.  I remembered (whoo!  remembering anything!) to print out a bunch of papers I need for my 260 project.  I even read half of one.  I got my section done, and it went pretty well, despite my total lack of semantics knowledge.  I did a million tiny tasks this morning… tried to set up an email list, sent some emails I needed to do, and this evening I got my schedule for next week up. My schedule for next week looks, if at all possible, scarier than this weeks.  But I think after this, it levels out.  I present in 260 on Tuesday, and that’s the only thing I need to do (officially..) besides the final project in any of my classes.  Phew.

But really the only major happening of my day was that my tire was again (arg!) flat when I got out of section.  And I put new tires (actual tires, not tubes) on my bike just two days ago!  Anyway, it did make it obvious that my 5-times-patched tube was inadequate, and I was meaning to get new tubes anyway.  So I took it to the bike shop (by which I mean Davis has about nine..) and they had just enough time to change my tube before they closed.  Yay.  My bike always rides so well with properly inflated tires, and it turns out I was way under inflating the new tires.  My old ones were 65 psi, but the new ones go up to 100, which is way firmer than I’m used to.  Rode home like a dream.

Came home to my wonderful Lewis, who hugged my stressful day away.  And then made me delicious dinner.  The ol’ quinoa stuffed baked squash bit of heaven.  So tasty.  And I am so ready for bed.  Here’s to tomorrow, an easier day than today.


Redwoods this time.  Not so many semantics trees.  I’m feeling rather too tired to post anything proper as I didnt’ get any sleep last night… and I spent all day grading and reading.  So instead I’m going to post this picture of the Redwood Grove I took today and pretend that my life and my brain are as serene as all that.  Enjoy:

These trees have no branches!

Is it me or do none of these trees branch?

Day of Day of Day of Day of Day of Weeks

Recursivity.  It’s consuming my life.

What I mean to say is the students are learning about recursivity.  And TAing is taking over my life.  We just had the essays turned in today.  And we had our meeting to plan the midterm today as well.  All I can think about is that in the next 11 days I need to have 75 papers graded, 75 more homeworks graded, I need to write half the midterm, hold my this-week sessions, and hold study sessions next week.  On top of my actual school work.  What a whiner I am.

School work is actually going pretty good, I think.  I’m starting to get not-ahead (as opposed to way ahead, or actually behind) in my reading, which I don’t like.  I may be able to catch back up again at some point, but it’s certainly going to have to wait till this TA stuff has crested.  Oddly, after my midterm stuff, I think the real Laurie-doing-lots-of-work stuff hits the fan.  As in, I need to figure out what my final project for 200A is.  Though the bulk of my 260 work is going to get done in the next few weeks anyway… I lead discussion next week, and we should be gathering our data this weekend or next weekend or both.  Whoo.  I’m going to be glad to have October over for so many reasons.

Lawyer Hall Soup!!

Lawyer Hall Soup!!

In much more chipper news, I made soup tonight.  I’ve been thinking about replicating the fabled-and-delicious Clare Hall Soup which was for some reason a daunting undertaking.  (I can’t help but point out that the link above seems to suggest the soup is different every day. Unless something drastic has happened, this is categorically false. Clare Hall Soup is the same soup every day, which only slightly modulates in color.) I pulled out my trusty Constance Spry (I love that book!) and found the only recipe she had for pumpkin soup, banking on the idea that Clare Hall Soup was orange because it involved pumpkins.  I’m still not entirely sure that’s true, but that’s neither here nor there. At any rate, a surprisingly little amount of work went into the soup and as quickly as I could boil potatoes and then throw them in a blender… I had soup! And fairly Clare Hall-y soup at that! I’m really quite chuffed. Proud foody picture to prove it!

Anyway. It’s going to be a heck of a long week. And I’d better get some sleep if I’m going to manage to plow ahead tomorrow. Phew.

Aw, rats.

We had some.  In our grape vine!

So today was grapevine trimming day.  The Lawyers came over this morning and we cut down all the non-woody growth on the vine, which should be its natural wintering state anyway.  Found out that we didn’t have an infestation by any name, but definite evidence of prolonged hang-out-itude, so it’s good we were on top of it to dissuade any rodents from wintering with us.  We also took down the very poorly placed hackberry that was dangling threateningly over our neighbor’s yard.  It seems to be a volunteer from many years ago, but it was growing right against the fence and in between two obviously planted birch trees it seems to have been choking out.  Most (all?) the hackberries in Davis are unhealthy anyway, so it was sort of a matter of time before this one got all yucky and dripped sap and goo all over.  This is why our neighbor wanted it cut down!

Anyway, it does make us the tree-killin’ neighbors.  Our local busybody (and resident 8-year-old) was rather perturbed about the grape vine (though it’s in our back yard…) though hasn’t seemed to notice anything about the tree in the front the city cut down last week, nor the hackberry we took out.  He’s selectively protective, though I do have to allow the theory that since his best friends used to live in our house he has fond memories of the grapevine and/or palm tree.  It is a little suspect, I completely admit, that we moved in here two months ago and have lost three and a half (if you’re counting all the grapevine we took out) trees.  The city tree took everyone by surprise, though, since it turns out they didn’t tell anyone they were going to cut it down.  We just came home and it was gone!  Sounds like (from the Lawyers’ side) we’ll have some new trees in soon.  The city owes us one, too!

Other than that, it was papers, papers, papers today.  Finished the second section’s worth of homework from this week, and read the paper I set aside for myself today.  Should have perhaps done a little more with my evening, but I was feeling quite off post dinner and decided to take the night off.  Been spending a good amount of time getting Firefox all gussied up since I realized the new Ask doesn’t get along with Opera.  I was getting a bit tired of having to switch between the two for all my Flash based stuff as well… but I’m not sure how long the Firefox trial will go.  Just giving it a whirl for now.

Big small day tomorrow.  It’s Monday, my blessedly least intensive day, but it’s also the day the undergrads need to turn in their first essays!  Hopefully that won’t be too much chaos, but you never know.  I’ve already had a few last-minute panickers, but nothing too intense.  I’m more worried about the content of the essays and grading them than anything else.  Plus I have a lot of homework to do tomorrow… Lewis and I need to whip up an “interview schedule” for our socioling project, and I’ve got more exciting reading to do.  Egad!  It’s certainly never dull around here.


What a wonderful day!

Got up early, but spent most of my day grading the first set of homework.  That stuff really burns me out… but the kids seem to be getting syntax more than I feared they might, so that’s great!  Maybe we won’t have so much work to do this week to get syntax whipped into shape.  Yay. I also made cider this morning! It’s delicious and it makes the whole house smell nice while it steeps. I even used our own homemade apple juice from a big bag of jonagolds I juiced a few days ago. So tasty.

As soon as I was done with that, I was ready to get out of the house!  Lewis and I borrowed a car and got ourselves down to a bike shop to fix my poor tires.  Turns out I have an abnormal tire size, so the first shop sent us away with a referral to a different shop.  Second shop only had one set of tires that would fit me bike, so that’s what we’ve got now.  They’re “slicks” (as in, have no tread) which I’ve never ridden on before, but as the guy at the bike shop helpfully pointed out, the barely treaded and now worn down tires I was using were essentially treadless anyway.  Gave the bike a test drive this evening with the new gear, and so far so good.  It’s also nice to have brand new tires that don’t have any structural problems or previous wounds.  If only I could say the same for my tubes!

Anyway, after the bikeventure, we took ourselves to a pumpkin patch to pick out some halloween friends!  Getting there was a bit of an adventure, actually, since Lewis and I had borrowed the manual transmission Bug, and neither of us have driven stick for quite some time.  As it turns out, all my years of Giles (approximation here, not my car, but an identical looking one) played out in my favor. New VWs have touchy clutches, though the actual shifting is much smoother and less of a workout than my dear Giles. That poor guy had such shifting trouble! Anyway, I ended up driving to the pumpkin patch cause the stick was getting the better of Lewis. Must admit, it was fun!

Pumpkin patch was great. Lots of good gourds, lots of families and kids, and baby animals! In addition to a pumpkin patch, this particular place had a petting barn! We didn’t pay to go in (since going in pretty much meant the petting, not the looking portion, and it was mostly under-8 types), but we did wander the perimeter and admire all the cute things. They had baby rabbits, chickens, and kittens, and even a baby goat no bigger than our Boo. A very nice touch! So we made it home with our two-gourd bounty (mine, a traditional and stalwart looking pumpkin, and Lewis’ some sort of green gourd) for way less money than I anticipated. Yay!

Came home and sort of completely crashed, as is wont to happen. Failed on the dinner front, though I was all excited to make “Clare Hall Soup” today. Perhaps tomorrow. But importantly, I did manage to finish the reading I had set out for the night, and that puts me in pretty good stead for tomorrow. The Lawyers’ are coming over as well tomorrow for some general maintenance, so it ought to be a busy one. Ah, the weekend.


Oh beloved Friday, you have come to bless me again.

Class was great today.  We started semantics and it was really bueno.  I haven’t done semantics formally before, so it’s great to get a little primer before I take semantics next quarter from the same professor.  I’m really looking forward to it!

Had a delightfully social day after that.  Dionne came by my office hours to chat about our plan for next week to see if we needed to prep anything this afternoon.  We didn’t – hurrah!  Lewis came by shortly thereafter, and then we met up with fellow grad student Ariel to chat a bit about how classes are going and set up a Friday drinks plan for one of the upcoming weeks.  She’s in our 260 class with us, so it was nice to comisserate about certain things together.  She also is TAing this semester, and we’ll be TAing together in the spring.  Woot.

Sessions actually did pretty well!  Much better than Wednesday, despite feeling like it was going to be a flop.  Seems like maybe the Friday kids are whittling down to just the few who want to participate whereas maybe the Wednesday session still attracts those who feel like they should attend but don’t really want to.  Not sure.  Anyway, it’s always relieving to have another week behind us, and moving on towards the weekend.  Next week in sessions we’re talking about semntics, so that’ll be a bit of trouble, but after blazing through syntax today and for once feeling like I know what I’m doing, I’m read to tackle semantics for sure.

Came home and had some vino with Lewis while watching out most recently netflixed movie, Buster Keaton’s “The General”.  How much do I love Buster Keaton?  A lot!  I laugh so much more in his silent movies than I do most of the contemporary “comedies”.  It’s really amazing how much he can do with his face, and how acrobatic he is!  Good times had by all, for sure.  I’m hoping to get a few household-type projects done this weekend in addition to the regular work load.  I think I worked too hard last weekend and it really burned me out this week.  So I’m going to make cider this weekend, and attempt Clare Hall Soup #1.  Really not sure what I’m doing there, but it’s always worth a go.  Maybe some day I’ll figure out their secret daily-changing-but-always-sort-of-the-same recipe!  Also have a little home maintenance to do with the landlord/inlaws, and maybe my first sewing fix-it project.  Oo – and if we can borrow a car — to the you-pick pumpkin patch!!

What good stuff I have in store!  Yay!


It was a good, thoughtful, and even somewhat relaxing day.  Thursdays are great.  Sandwiched between my scary-first-session Wednesdays and my exhausting two-session Fridays, Thursdays are an oasis of minimal effort and extra time.  I don’t even have the rest of the week looming over the horizon.  Just one push through Friday sessions and I’m home free!

One major bonus today was not only making it through classes, and a surprisingly satisfying paper this aftenroon, but that we company for dinner!  The Lawyer’s called right after I had declared that I wasn’t going to make dinner for a while offering to bring us tasty tasty Symposium pizza and salad, and check out some “landlordy” stuff.  It’s a little crazy what a relief it is to have something so simple as someone else providing dinner.  Things are going well for us, it’s just a matter of keeping on top of it all at the same time.

I should really start blogging midday.  It’s easy to remember to do as part of the bedtime routine, but I rarely feel up to blogging much more than the bare bones of what’s been going on.  Too tired to be introspective, I suppose.  Whole heart isn’t in it.  Yawn.