The Laursonian Institute

The Laursonian Institute

An exercise in thoroughness

The Laursonian Institute RSS Feed

Archive for December, 2008

Dreaming of a Puce Christmas

I feel like I’m starting to get antsy for the new quarter.  It’s great that I feel this way already, so soon after the last quarter ended.  I feel envigorated, enthused by my coursework, and ready to plunge headlong into it all again.  I already miss the routine, the sense of purpose, the daily friend visits, and the challenges.  I miss feeling like my days have a purpose.  I’m never great at being unemployed unless I’m actually on vacation somewhere.  Having a bunch of household busywork to do isn’t really satisfying my want to create and to succeed, though I think at least half of that is because I’m not creative enough to inspire myself to do something big.    And I think this must be part of the reason I’ve been so moody this week.

The other part, as always, is the general holiday ennui I get.  I know after enough holidays in my new environment all this will be something to look forward to, too, but for now, all that occupies my mind is how much the holidays are lacking in the things that really mean “holidays” to me.  I’m trying my best to make that not true, by doing all my own traditions the best I can, but it’s odd when I feel like I’m the only force behind them and that they’re inherantly not special to anyone else.  I’m looking forward to the cookie decorating party on Tuesday… I’m making mom’s old standby sour cream cookies and frosting them with all the little sprinkles and candies Steeny sent down, and even using my same old cookie cutters that Mom must have sent me at some point.

I do a lot of yearning for forgotten items and things of my life that Mom and Dad threw away, but Chrsitmas is one time when all this stuff really shines for me.  Mom must have known how important all this Christmas stuff was (is) to me, because out of all that I lost, I have so much of the real Christmas stuff.  I have most my favorite tree ornaments, and I have my stocking, and I even have my cookie cutters so I can make the very same people, the very same candy canes, and the very same stars I’ve been decorating for as long as I can remember.  I know every place the cookies tend to fall apart (boy’s arms), which cutters you have to push down extra hard on (candy cane), and it’s as if every possible decorating scheme is already there in my head.  And I can remember all the great decorating parties of yore.. like the time Lonnie turned a boy into the terminator, or the ones we frosted all in puce… this year I think I might even make some dinosaurs!

These holidays to stress me out, both in the regular gift-buying ways, and in the mental fighting-off-resignment kind of ways, but every year I think they get better.  And they’re always so lovely with the Lawyers.

To ponder.

Oh holiday cheer, why are you so fleeting?

Candied everything

Whoo!  Finished 3 of 5 of xmas gifts today, and they turned out pretty darn well.  Looking forward to the last couple!

What else happened today… boy, not much.  Finished the book I was reading.  Went over to the Lawyers’ place for dinner (yummy meat loaf!) and did puzzles and had egg nog and such.  Holidays!

Now I’m all tuckered out again.  Just a few days left till Christmas… and nada mucho left to do.  It feels so good to have gotten the family gifts off, though I’m looking forward to getting my sister’s birthday stuff soon.   Might go hit up the city on Monday.  So festive!

Alright.  I guess I’m too tired to really blog properly tonight.  Hurrah for holidays.  Off to bed.

Bing, etc.

Not feeling so much like blogging tonight… I’ve got a snuggly kitty and a snuggly husband both waiting for me in bed.  I’ll only list today’s triumphs (and note that today was also a day lacking in failures):

  • mailed north and southbound packages!
  • mailed christmas cards!
  • finished 2nd of 5 xmas made-food goods
  • started 3 of 5!
  • also started first attempt at homemade yogurt… will check in tomorrow
  • ordered pizza, since food-makings were fairly exhausting
  • picked up bike from bike shop!  like new!
  • got another few christmas presents squared away
  • saw Lewis’ family (including sister!) and had a nice evening with them
  • watched a Bing Crosby movie!

Phew.  Good day.  Tomorrow’s feeling like it’s going to be even better, since I think I’ll be able to wake up to the feeling that I’ve not got anything reaaaally pressing to do.  Woot to that.

We all want you to go, so what’s the hold up?

Hurrah for game nights.  This was a good one!  It’s always lovely to have Heather and Kevin over… and I really needed it today.

I got up pretty early, but it was so cold outside I didn’t really want to get up.  Frost all over, and even at 9:00 it was still only 32 degrees by my thermometer!  Warmed up decently as the day wore on, certainly nothing like the big snow they’re getting back home.  I’d give just about anything to be stuck in Seattle inside a toasty house and surrounded by snow.  Listening to everyone get all giddy and half-assedly panicking about it is enough to make me pretty homesick.

I’ve been feeling a bit like I’m in a void lately.  I’ve sent out several emails about nothing important, but not heard back from anyone.  I started to wonder if my email was even working.  I made some phone calls, appointments, all that… but as soon as I’ve done it, it no longer feels real.  I’ve taken care of some business, but it doesn’t actually effect my life.  I just go on, through the motions, doing what ever it is I told myself I was supposed to be doing… not because I want to, but because some past me decided I was supposed to, and so that’s what I do.  It’s a little like I’m driving as fast as I can down the freeway with no destination, but with a series of directions that say “turn left now” and apply regardless of my location.  For instance, tomorrow I know I must send two packages.  I can’t remember what I’m putting in them, and keep forgetting whether or not I’m done shopping for the people they are intended for.  But regardless, the physical boxes with peoples names written on them will be sent and thus Christmas will be saved.  I guess.

Which is why we needed to have company over tonight.  To make me operate in the present.  To make me make decisions that had immediate real-world application.  To make me feel like I have my shit together even when I clearly do not.    Though sometimes I think that maybe I do have my shit together, but I just don’t know it, and that makes me feel like I’m losing it.   I feel like one of those tiny dogs who can chase its tail until it gets dizzy and falls over.  I’m getting dizzy, and I’m not doing anything more worthwhile than pursuing the feeling that what I’m looking for is right outside my vision.   If only I could turn around fast enough to catch it, I’d have hope and cheer and holiday joy.

Nights like this make me wonder if this is what’s hard about graduate school as a concept – not the workload, but the mental distraction and state of constant movement.  At this point in my life, with this focus on wanting roots and family, it seems like I should be working in some decent paying job so I could afford all the presents I wanted to send, and so I could spend the money and take the time off to see my family, and maybe even start a family of our own.  But all of that seems infinitely more put-off-able than postponing (i.e., never getting) your PhD.   And I’ve wanted a PhD way longer than I’ve wanted a family, though it seems callous to measure it by that standard.   Everything seems callous when you measure it against giving your everything for your children, even those of the future unborn type.

I just don’t know what it’s all about.


Grades are up!   We’re gonna call this Fall 08, zero; Laurie, 4.00!

It’s nice to feel like my hard work paid off… but also surprisingly underwhelming.  I don’t know if it’s because I feel like I worked harder than I ever have for any classes, ever… or that the grading schemes were really nebulous and there’s not really any reason you would give a grad student who did their work well anything but an A… but regardless… it’s A’s for me!

Why even bother making an appo…

Why even bother making an appointment when they always run an hour late?

My life as a series of disorganized papers

Marginal success of a day.  Started alright – made an appointment I needed to get done for tomorrow.  Sort of petered out after that, though I did get all our old notebooks unpacked and put away.  Six whole boxes full!  Found lots of good stuff, too, from times gone by.  Did a little Russian practice this afternoon after finding my old text book and work books.   I like Russian.

Tomorrow I’m hoping I’m feeling plucky enough to get out to the Bay and get most (or all?) of the shopping I need to finish so I can mail out the two packages I need to.  To remember for next year:  if at all possible, do Christmas shopping for out-of-town family before finals.  Two weeks between finals and Christmas is just cutting it a little close for thinking of what I need to do, doing it, wrapping it, and shipping it without having to spend 100 bucks on shipping.  But I guess that’s what Christmas is all about.

This year I’m especially worried about spending too much and not putting enough thought into what I’m doing.  Normally I put a lot of effort into Christmas stuff, but normally I’m feeling way, way more prepared than I am now.   I usually really love Christmas shopping and Christmas time but I’m feeling really deflated this year.  Burned out, I guess.  Burned out and uninspired.  Like I don’t have my shit together enough to bring anyone joy, and if you’re not going to bring any joy on Christmas, isn’t it just going through a series of half-assed expensive motions?

Perhaps I’ll feel better when I wake up.  My mornings have been pretty productive, and my evenings fairly crashed.  Count this one crashed.

How the crap am I going to get…

How the crap am I going to get all my Christmas shopping done? And packages sent on time?? :(

A misaddressed diatribe

Day three of winter break achieved!

Got up plenty late, since I’ve been staying up far too late doing computer stuff and screwing around.  Had a nice brunch (leftover ham & smoked gouda snackwiches + oranges) and spent a while looking at old photos.  I had been missing the cathartic, quiet, calm atmosphere of going home (Redmond) for my winter breaks and having nothing to do but Christmas shopping and meeting up with friends.  Not that what I’m doing this year is anything more than Christmas shopping and meeting up with friends, but there’s something nice about the feeling of getting away from the usual life and being in a secluded and lonely place like that.  It was nice having my whole day to kill while waiting for Mom and Dad to come home.  It was nice sleeping in the cold and listening to the rain outside, and playing with Eponine and Lucky and visiting my kitty Socks.

At the heart of it, I think I just miss having a home to go home to, and the Mom and Dad I remember from 5, 6, 7 years ago.  I know it’s ridiculous to expect people not to change, even if those people are your parents.  I just feel lately that there’s really no way to fix the rift between me and the people who are my parents who are so different than I remember.  That this will pass, I am confident, but the current situation makes me sad.  Lewis and I talk about this so often and always arise at that same conclusion – that it’s an odd time right now, and that some day it’ll be better.  It pains me that the more I reach backward for anything I remember (and it’s almost always anchored to places) the more the real world moves forward and the further away anything I know gets.  It’s completely counterproductive to be spending my mental time and energy pining for things so categorically rejected from my life, and failing to make meaningful connections with the people and places my parents of the here-and-now represent.  It makes me feel like a whiny, spoiled, undeserving and entitled child.  And moving on from it makes me, the child of the people, places, and circumstances of my history, want to kick and scream and demand that someone own up and admit that giving up everything I know was cruel.  And that’s the impass we’re at, and we’ve been at for years.

I’m upset by so many decisions my parents have made, and especially their last few moves (to Redmond, though that’s fading, but especially to San Diego) and I really just want my parents to acknowledge that the path their lives take effects more than just their two souls.  They have children, and I wish it felt like our feelings and lives were in consideration at any point.  It’s always been the subtext to Mom’s dialogue that having children so early and marrying who she did robbed her of the chance to do so many other things in her life.  I can’t imagine the stress and pain this caused my sister and brother.  For me, I had years of feeling like I had to live up to being my father’s only child, and that my Mom had me as a favor or a gift to my Dad, to show him how much she loved him and how she’d give him anything, even more kids.  And when I hit about 15, it really felt like my Mom was done with me.  I got old enough that it was clear I wasn’t a fuck-up and wasn’t going to drop out or do drugs or whatever, and she didn’t need to bother with me any more.  Not that this is categorical, and that my parents cut me loose at 15… but I do feel like Mom has been mentally divorced from my life since I got through my first teenage years.  Of course, this isn’t even mentioning the actual abandoning part where Mom and Dad moved 25 miles north and left me in a hotel to finish out my high school years.  There’s part of me that says of that, “Mom cared enough to spend money on you for a hotel so you could finish school at the place you wanted”.  And part of me says, “Who moves away from a 17-year-old kid and leaves her in a hotel?  Even if they make sure to have dinner together once a week?”.

College seemed to go pretty well despite the previous bit about the end of my high school years.  It’s the years since I graduated from school and got married that are so weird.  First of all, my mom decided she was alergic to everything in the world.  This is the major problem, since “alergic” is a much stronger word that “possibly intolerant” which is the actual situation.  My mom has food intolerances.  I completely agree this is probably true, since she seems to be feeling much better in the chronic-sinus-issues category.  That my mother is alergic to the 70,000 things on her list I categorically disbelieve.  And stupidly, this has been the only topic of conversation besides my sister’s tea shop that we’ve had since 2005.  My dad is my dad, and as always we’ve not talked about anything but social issues and environmental issues, and small bits of business about the extended family.  It works better when you’re in close contact, and less well when the only things we have to talk about in the once- or twice-yearly visits is straw bale houses and Noam Chomsky.  It really bothers me that I want to share with my parents what I’m doing, and want them to think I’m doing good and worthwhile and important work, and that I just can’t believe that they do.  They never asked what classes I’m taking, the structure of my program, the professors I have, how TAing is going… they didn’t even want to see campus when they visited.  I feel like they really just don’t care what I do.   And I also feel like I’ve always lived my life trying to make them proud.  How do I make them proud when the only thing that seems like would have any effect is to have a well-paid, steady, social justice or do-goody, preferably third world, job?  It’s not my life.  And nothing about my life makes them want to know me or be friends with me or be involved in anything more than a vague, pick-me-up-when-I’m-down way.  Like they wouldn’t let me starve to death, and they’d bail me out of jail if I got in trouble.

This is all so self-involved, and given the spectrum of problems people have with their parents this is just about the least troubling thing that could be happening.  But it does occupy my mind so much, and I am just that sort of person that gets repeatedly chaffed by the tiniest of personal relationship troubles.  And I’ve said this all before to the only people who listen or care or understand, my sister and my husband.  And there’s really no fixing anything.  There’s only the slow molasses drip of time, fusing this into some kind of dependable and regular relationship that either will or will not be personally fulfilling.

That was quite a digression in the deliniation of my day.  Here’s the rest in digest format:  went Christmas shopping, made cooking plans, biked to the Lawyers’ and made cookies and caramel, biked home, did computer stuff.  Blogged.  And here we are again.