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Archive for May, 2009

I’m watching baseball.

Life.  It’s good.  Tiring.  Fulfilling.

Days of Future Passed

It’s odd, to age on the internet.  I went back to read my livejournal anniverary post today – the first post I have on this very day, but 8 years ago.  Perhaps I’ll post a snippet at the end here tonight.  It’s from a very odd time in my life. I wonder sometimes if this quixotic little adventure I’m on trying to semi-regularly blog my ridiculous graduate school foibles will end up standing the test of time.  Where does it all go, when I stop paying for this domain?  When becomes passe?

There’s an amazing amount of time.  An incomprehensible spread, like taffy, effortlessly but enduringly covering every moment of every life.  I read a paper from 1988.  Lewis call is “old school”.  I counter: “..not that much older than what I was reading yesterday”.  I was five, in 1988.  I was in Bellevue.  I was in Kindergarten, at Sunset Elementary, and I was in class with my not-quite-yet-best-friend Bryanne.  We were the English Kindergarten, not the Spanish Immersion next door.  Those kids were strange.  1988.  Soundgarden released Ultramega Ok.  Chris Cornell was already a grownup.

My sister was 15… and dating, or almost dating Lonnie?  One of my first memories of Lonnie was the feeling of absolute mortification and instant regret after playing a game of jacks in our entryway.  Instead of bouncing the ball on the floor, I bounced it off his forehead.  I thought he was going to find it funny, but it must have hurt, because I think he got kind of mad.   It was one of those lessons you learn as a kid – actions have consequences, and sometimes the things you do hurt other people, even when you only mean to be having fun.   Around this same time, I have my first memory of disappointing my Dad.  Mom was out somewhere that night, and just Dad and me were at home, so he was responsible for getting me into bed.  I remember it was bedtime already, and he asked if I had brushed my teeth.  I hadn’t, but out of some feeling of insolence, I sort of proclaimed proudly that I hadn’t, and he was pretty mad.  I rushed upstairs and brushed my teeth pretty quickly thereafter, but I remember being worried for a long time that I had let my Dad down, and that I should do what I’m supposed to do without being asked.  Funny how long these things stick with you.

The further I get from my childhood, the less it makes sense to me.  I took so much on faith, that life is how it is, and it’s normal, and everything is okay.  Now I wonder – is life how it should be?  Am I the way I was meant to be?  What if I’m messing something up that I don’t even realize, because I haven’t learned one of those ball-to-forehead sort of lessons?  I know you can’t think your way out of this.  But I feel like I have to loosen my grasp on some things I had held dear.  I’ve been thinking a lot about growing up.  I’ve got this idea in mind lately, that I have upheld my end of the bargain, but that there was no contract, and nothing to be followed through upon.  It’s pervasive, and it permeates most my feelings about growing up these days.  I feel like I was a really naive girl, who wanted to believe in the the best of everyone.  And I’m slowly starting to realize that the adults in my life kept me in this state of unknowingness because it was the nicest place to grow up.  But that I grew up, and now I don’t understand why everything seems so different in retrospect.

Case in point lately:  my brother.  I only have two siblings, which are in reality half siblings.  It was a point of pride in my life that, to quote my Mom’s mantra about the situation, my siblings were “real siblings to me”.   I don’t have any full-blooded siblings, so I honestly don’t know what the difference would be anyway.  So I grew up with this underlying assumption that my siblings are my siblings are my siblings.  And that even though my brother and sister have other step- (and maybe half-?) siblings, they were sort of inconsequental, because the three of us were The Family Unit.  So my brother, like any real brother, would want to stand up for me, to protect me, to guide me through life… to deal with me, at all.  Turns out, my brother doesn’t like me.  Turns out, he maybe doesn’t like anyone.  But I’m pretty sure, standing from where I am now, that my brother never thought of me as a real sister, as a real part of his life, or as anything more than the kid his mom had to replace him.  I know he’s fucked up, so maybe this isn’t all his intention.  The feeling stands though:  when people ask if I have any siblings, do I still tell them I have two?  What does it mean to have a half-brother you thought was an enduring force in your life, who it turns out you’ve seen less of than some of your cousins?  And who doesn’t seem to regard your existance as noteworthy at all?  I haven’t even seen him in five years.  I haven’t spoken directly to him since… I can’t remember when.  We had one nice conversation once after he got out of the Army.  So I must have been in… high school?

I degree from the point. What I’m attempting to pontificate on is the fact that bunch of seemingly fundamental things that formed the basis of how I viewed life seem to have been good faith assumptions based on what things the people around me told me were true.  And I’m filling with this creeping sense of injustice I’ll eventually have to let out, or somehow get over.  Maybe these were feelings I was supposed to deal with 10 years ago.  In some ways, I think I must be as naive as ever.  But I just don’t see how I can progress in Life (big “L”) without figuring out whether the fundamentals of my outlook are sound.  And they’re not looking very sound.

I’ll sign off with a quote from my past self.  Context:  this is me, in my senior year of high school.  I’m living in a hotel, because my parents have moved to a different city, but wanted me to finish school in the same place.   I’m about to take the IB French test, and I think I already know that I’ll be moving to California in August to go to USC.  My life is basically filled with being an honors student, and trying to date an exchange student, which is going pretty shittily.  But I am surrounded by good friends (Tiffy, mostly) who are keeping me bouyant and I’ve got my eyes securely locked on the future.  This was my May 14th, 2001:

I’ll keep this short this morning.. partly because I need to bust out to get to my test, and partly because I dont remember what really happened, and what I dreamed.. but I just had the strangest night..

I guess about 1:30 some random girl screamed in the hallway, and woke me up.. I gave it a big, “what’s this for?” and went back to sleep.. and then someone randomly decided that they wanted in my room and kept trying to open my door, so that really woke me up.. on top of that someone kept going in and out of their room and the doors in this place make the biggest loudest closing sound.. so all of this caused me not to really get any sleep after 1:30 which is bad, because i was planning on being very rested for this french test.. but oh well. After that I just kept dreaming about all this weird stuff.. girls getting kidnapped and people trying to barge into my room.. it doens’t sound so bad on the LJ but I was sort of disturbed…

but it all really worked out for the best, because my alarm wasn’t set and so after spending this whole sleepless night i was like, “hey, i should be getting up.. where’s my alarm?” I guess being tired is the price i’ll pay for being awake. bleh. i need to get outta here…. but not before i say, “bonne chance!” to myself :)

It’s okay, past Laurie, it all works out.  And you did pretty good on that French test, despite the weird day.  In fact, you remember that French test much better than you remember this odd night.  So no need to fret.

Applied me-matics

Excellently productive day?  I think so!  Though I didn’t do any reading, and a day without reading is never a great idea.  What I did get done was some prep for section, and the approval of a prompt for both my neuroscience class, and my typology class.  In fact, my typology professor had some really good ideas about what direction to take my paper, and thus I’ve even sort of gotten an outline put together for that one!  I’m hoping sections go well tomorrow.  I have to hand back the midterms, and my Wednedsay section did particularly poorly.  We’re also moving into real “discussion” territory, and these guys also aren’t too participatory when I’d like them to be.  So we’ll see how well I can manage to swing chattiness.    I’ve also been scheduled for my fMRI safety training tomorrow, so I can officially operate the magnet!

In non-school triumphs, yesterday we did our tri-weekly co-op trip, so there is actually food in the house today.   I had a smoothie and toast this morning, which is hands down my favorite (regular) breakfast.  I also made it to the gym, which is good since I skipped yoga in favor of food shopping yesterday.  I really need to get to yoga on Thursday, I miss it.  I was pretty stressed out pre-gym, and I’m happy to say that working out calmed me down.  Also, I came home and cleaned our room (which was a complete disaster) so I’m feeling pretty accomplished!  Here’s to hoping I can keep up this level of optimism for the rest of the week.

cognitive dissonance

My brain feels full of ideas and future.  It’s hard to get anything done, though I know there are a bunch of things to do in the immediate future.  Lots of things I don’t really want to think about anyhow.  Papers, students, section… I’m ready to explode out of my body and take flight with my ideas and disappear into the sky.  And I’m completely tied down by the snails pace of time and heavy blanketing of reading and teaching.   Ech.   Some days will pass, and some papers will be written, and I shall reap my sweet summer reward.   3 weeks?  Yikes.

gibby gibby

I’m one exhausted but satisfied Laurie!

Met our professor this morning at 7:30 and made it to Stanford in two hours flat.  Stanford is a really nice looking school in a very pleasant little town.  The conference itself was really enjoyable.  The talks were nice, the company was good, the food was tasty, and we met lots of interesting people.  Got a ride back to Oakland and took the train home from there.  All in all, a really enjoyable day.

Perhaps I’ll have more to digest from it in the next day or two, but right now, I’m just so tuckered out and ready for bed.

Living Notoriously Well

It’s going to be an early night, and thank goodness, cause I’m exhausted!  I made it through midterm week.  Midterm went well, and I spent about six hours grading yesterday with one of my favorite linguistics people (and co-TA) Ariel.  We squatted in Sudwerk and had some drinks and snacks, and our waiter was even a linguistics major!  Very surprising.  Anyway, I got the rest of the papers graded this afternoon, and thus I am done with midterms!  Yay!

No one came to office hours today, so I had a really relaxing day.  Actually I was dreading section this morning, but our sort of short day of essay topic stuff went over really well.  Students were engaged and amused, and I got to talk to each one individually about their topic choice, and it was nice.  They didn’t even notice how close to being out of time we were at the end of class!   So good times.  Walked around the beginnings of the Whole Earth Festival that has taken over campus today.  It’s way more intense than I anticipated – I knew Davis had a bunch of hippies, but this was pretty crazy!  So we escaped after partaking in ice cream and some free sewing machine repair advice.  Came home and cooked up a chicken I had thawed.  I had meant to roast it yesterday, but ran out of time, so I was getting nervous about leaving it sitting around all uncooked.  Made a spicy fried chicken instead, and holy crap was it good!  I’m not a big frying-things fan, but damn, sometimes it just hits the spot.  Mmm.

It’s gonna be a busy weekend.  We’re going to a conference in Stanford tomorrow morning, because one of the professors in the department asked us to come with him.  I’m not super keen on spending a whole surprise day at a conference, but Lewis and I weighed the lost time and stressful weekend against the probable benefit of bonding with a professor we both like, and meeting some of our peers (it’s a meeting of the graduate students and faculty of Stanford, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz) and decided it’d be worth it.  So we’re meeting at the train station at 7:30 tomorrow morning for our carpool to Stanford, and then I think he’s going to drop us off at the end of the day somewhere in the East Bay so we can take the train home.  Should be exciting!


Eyeballs feel like they’re going to fall out of my head.  Mlugh.  Maybe because I didn’t have tea this morning?  Maybe because I’ve been doing eyeball-intensive junk all day?  My day has been a big stressy blur.  Not because anything has really been going on, but more because I’ve been stressing out about nothing and I can’t remember what seemed so important earlier.

Section this morning was fairly crappy, though that’s sort of to be expected with midterm reviews.  Everyone is so tired of hearing about these topics by this point that it’s hard to keep anyone interested in what’s going on.  Went to CogNeuro after that, which was fine.  I’m going to be glad to be done with classes soon, for sure.  Went downtown and had lunch with my Lewis (Steve’s!) and hit up some stores for Mother’s Day stuff.  Ended up not finding anything that really sent off my mom sensors, so I came home and whipped up a batch of my rosemary cashews, and then I also worked up a batch of something new – honey roasted sesame cashews.  Both turned out well!  I do hope she likes them.  Lewis took them to the pochta while I hit up the gym.

I’ve been pretty spent every since I got home.  Just feeling tired from my day, and worried about giving this exam tomorrow.  Things seem to be all in hand, though, and I’m really ready to go to bed.

Pisqa de Mayo

I’m wrestling with my day.  Also, I think I’m winning.

Spent much of my morning and afternoon on campus, though I had intended to come home to go shopping.  Wanted to get the midterm finalizing and copying out of the way so I wouldn’t have to think about it any longer.  Stayed a bit after that to have lunch with Lewis, and then decided to work in my office instead of come home so I could actually get some stuff done.

Did manage to get my work mostly done, and go to the gym.  Worked off a fair amount of my grumpiness, and also managed to stretch out my arm a bit so it’s hurting a lot less than it was last night.  It was also Lewis’ mom’s birthday tonight, so we went out to dinner with her and her sister’s family, and then took her out for a cupcake on our way home.  It was a nice dinner, and a good time, and now I’m completely exhausted and ready for bed, even though I know I’ve got a bit more work to prepare for my section tomorrow.

Also:  arg, mother’s day is coming.  It’s in 5 days.  Better not screw this one up like the birthday.  Grad school seems to distroy anything that takes more than one day of preplanning.  I’d better get something together tomorrow and get it in the mail.  What a crap daughter I am!

Bald me

Mondays are a good days.  Had our reading group meeting at the center which was a nice relaxing time since I wasn’t presenting.  It feels like things at the lab are getting a little more friendly, probably just because I’ve been spending more time there.  For whatever reason, it’s nice to feel slightly more welcome.  Class this morning was also excellent – a lecture on working memory that seemed to touch on some of my work, so I had lots of questions for the presenter.  Interesting stuff.

Also, I got copies of my brain images!  Exciting stuff.  The data includes the skull and skin on the skull in addition to the actual brain junk, so you can actually 3D render my whole head without my hair and see what I look like bald!  Very odd!  So I spent a while playing with my brain slices, which is much fun.  I’ll post some up later.  Turns out I’m going to get scanned again in a few weeks, and Lewis too, because the scanner messed up my data.   It was interesting, so I’m really not bothered.  My lab mate is even going to let me run the scanner while we’re scanning Lewis, so I’m looking forward to it!

Got my work done early, and I’ve been doing a good job of not working harder than I need to, so I spent the evening working on some audio files we’d recorded from our vinyl.  I didn’t even go to yoga tonight, though I would have liked to.  I did something funky to my arm yesterday at the gym, and today it really hurts to straighten it all the way so I figured it was best to rest and let it recoup a bit.  What a lazy day!

I’m thinking about hitting up Vacaville tomorrow to get some more sewing goods and maybe spend a gift certificate I’ve got on some summery clothes.  Could be good!

Ye Olde Laure

Odd day today, but much productive.

Got up really early.  Woke up at my usual weekday wakeup time, 6:30, though it was in fact Sunday and I had every intention of sleeping in.  Eventually got up at 7, and spent a nice leisurely time working on fixing some pyjamas I had made with my sister that were too big.  So I ripped stiches and listed to NPR until Lewis got up and was ready for breakfast.  Got a lot of reading done after breakfast (I love it when papers go faster than you anticipate!) and then spent an hour at the gym.

Got home and had lunch, and just in time for me to start working again… sadly I got another optical migraine.  I had been hoping all this focus on de-stressing and the exercise I’ve been getting to do so was going to prevent these… and it’s been a few months since I’ve had one.  But it’s the midway point in the quarter, and I had a relatively stressful week.   Looking on the bright side, even with the migraine, I’m feeling much less stressed out than I was last quarter, and I at least seem to be staving off a majority of the panic attack-y heart palpitations.  And the migraine was smaller and less disruptive than it has been.  I took a rest with Lewis (who was napping anyway!) while it played out, and even managed to eventually get rid of that post-occular muddle-headed feeling.   So… oh well.  I’ve got more relaxation work to do before I’m out of the stressed-out woods, I suppose.

So I had a lazy evening, since I got so much work done this morning, and spent all night watching PBS (Nature + Masterpiece Theatre!) and working on these pyjama bottoms.  They turned out really great, actually!  I fixed all the things that went wrong the first time.  I put elastic and a tie in the waste, took something like four inches off the whole piece (as in overall width) and put the cuffs on.  All this was nicely easier than the Lewis PJs, partially because I’m doing it for the second time, I’m sure, but also the fabric is less stretchy and picky, and I didn’t bother with any piping or fancy stuff.  So the end result – revamped them entirely in just one day, and now they fit, and look nice, and are very comfortable!  I’m proud of how they turned out since I freehanded the repairs.  Soon I’ll put up pictures of both the Lewis and the Laurie PJs so I can properly crow about my work.  Yay!