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The Laursonian Institute

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Thinking about the sum of reasons which accumulated to determine that Lewis and I landed in California, not Washington, when we repatriated from Cambridge.  When your life is in the moment, it always seems as though there is a single, clear path by which order proceeds.  Only in retrospect do I realize how many degrees of freedom were available to me, all unseen.  I’m not displeased to have become a permanent Californian, but I’m surprised that this appears to be the case.   When you get right down to it, the reasons we’re still here are quite mundane.

  1. We were getting married in Davis, a few months after returning from Cambridge, partially because my parents had moved away from Seattle and it seemed harder to get stuff done there than somewhere we had a representative living.  It was also cheaper, and we had (collectively) more California friends and relatives than Washington ones
  2. Also because my parents left Seattle, there was no real support structure there when we arrived.  No place to stay while we got on our feet.
  3. When we started looking for jobs, looking in the Bay Area was easier than Seattle since you can drive there for interviewing purposes, and Lewis was familiar with the area since he grew up in Oakland
  4. All our stuff was in Davis, since we had driven the U-Haul here after graduation, in part to drop off Lewis’ (dad’s) car back where it belonged, and in part because it was closer and the Lawyers had space for our stuff

I suppose what it all really comes down to is that mom and dad left Seattle, and without them there to lean on while we found our way in the world, we didn’t have anything promising there.  I turned in my Washington passport for a Californian one for the same reason so many other people are here – the lure of opportunity that seems wanting in your home.

California is a lovely place.  It seems trite to even bother assessing a place of so much plenty on these terms, but the truth of it is, California is a lovely place.  A nice place to live, to work, to experience, to find yourself.  It’s so open, so accessible.  I don’t know if moving to most livable places is like my emigration here, but it’s nearly flawless.  We have our jokes, the things you have to attenuate to so the locals are appeased.  The hills are golden, not brown.  We have weather, it’s just not like your weather.  You can never have too much rain, it’s good for the crops.  Never, ever call it San Fran – and let us never again speak of Frisco.  Here in NorCal there’s only one City, even if you live in or near other metropolitan areas.  (It took me a while to get over that one, though I realize that all us Seattle metro kids always called Seattle “Downtown”, even us South Enders who were so much closer to Tacoma’s bleak downtown.)

In Davis, if not everywhere here, there’s an abounding optimism about life.  The city puts so much stock in livability, in a city for everyone to enjoy.  The attention paid to bike transit never fails to astound me and adds immeasurable quality to every day life.  I love that the bike path is full of runners and dog walkers and stroller ladies and kids biking to school every morning.  I love that everyone I pass says hello, and that even the disaffected youth aren’t getting into any more trouble than smoking pot in the arboretum.  I love that even when it’s really, really hot, the weather is dry and bearable.  I love that we get torrential rain throughout winter and spring; it’s good soup weather, and ones life should always be amenable to soup.  I can’t even express how much I love the adjacency to produce we have – I don’t know if I could live anywhere that didn’t have fresh peaches and pineapple guava and figs all summer, and squash and kale and carrots all winter.  And while I’m on the topic, let me mention what may be my favorite place in all of Davis:  I love the Co-op.  The Co-op embodies all of my favorite things about Davis and Northern California, from its social protests of Israeli goods to its cooking classes for kids, to its deep community commitment and its quirky but lovable staff.

Despite this all, I can’t help but feeling there’s a piece of me wandering the trails up north.  It’s the quiet, introspective, spiritual, hermetic me.  The shy version of myself that is checked out and disengaged and ready to process input without bias.  Maybe that’s just the feeling of my own naiveté having been left behind at a specific point in time.  I can’t help but feel like I went out for milk and never came home again, leaving all my baggage and memories and sentimental items in some abandoned apartment.  And this Californian me sometimes just yearns to be whole again, and to make use of all those lessons about life I had learned.  (It’s amazing when you realize all the things you thought were codified parts of your parents’ life strategy were just ways of passing time and pacifying bored kids).

We’re vising for a few weeks this summer, and I think we’re going to camp on the peninsula on our way up.  I’m half afraid I’m going to go native.  I’m going to pitch that tent in the Hoh and you’ll never see me again, even with the lure of your organic fruits and sunshine.  Well, except my dog will be in Davis, and the thought of his sad little brow waiting for us to come un-abandon him….  I guess I should add that to the reasons I’m still in California.

5.  My dog is still here.


I should be going to bed already, since I have a 6 am train to catch.  I guess it’s another list?

  • no section or office hours this morning = sleeping in!
  • got myself some decent gym shoes
  • had the first session of my last class.  it’s good!
  • spent all night getting stuff ready for san diego trip

And now… to bed.


It’s another feeling-late night (though I know it’s only 11) and that means list time:

  • saw a lovely phlebotomist, got labs done
  • headed out to 3 Palms to check out plants
  • hit up ace, picked up sharpened knives!
  • planted procured flora
  • almost planted dwarf lime tree…
  • hung out with heather and kevin!  symposium, davis creamery, “the meaning of life”

Tomorrow… I’m going to mostly chill the heck out.  And go to a Bollywood movie with the KEs!


Too tired… can only list:

  • drove to Oakland
  • hung out in favorite local bookstore (FOPL!)
  • had lunch at Rattos with favorite local work friends!
  • had second lunch with Armand in Berkl!
  • nerded around model train store
  • read books and birdwatched on campus
  • visited favorite Berkl coffee shop / classical music shop and adjacent bookstore
  • drove back to Davis
  • had chinese takeout with the Lawyers + Schmidts
  • tried enquicken Lawyer computer (failed)

Tomorrows gonna be a big day.  I think it might be join-the-gym day.  And early morning blood sample day.  But it’s also hang out with Heather and Kevin day, and the big trip to the nursury to get our fruit trees and front yard goodies!  Yay!


Blog, I had such big plans for you tonight.  But my legs are absolutely killing me (I do not know why.. they do this sometimes) and now I’m not sure how much I can stand before I go to bed.  I can at least hit the major points… maybe it’s time to go list-format:

The Great:

  • semantics presentation went smashingly!
  • triumphant post-presentation hot dog lunch with my sweetie
  • got a surprising amount of work done
  • excellent Obama speech watching!
  • settled on San Diego travel plans finally (I owe Lewis for this one)
  • went out for pie and coffee this evening just because!

The Bad:

  • cat tried to bite me, shame on him.  had to swat him with a midterm I was grading.
  • my legs… boo!

You can tell it’s been an excellent day when I have to grasp at straws like that on my bad list.  What’s even better… I’m not sure I’m even going to go to class in the morning.  I’ve left it up to morning-me to decide, but I’m feeling rather self-congradulatory, and like I deserve a little spoiling.  Besides, I’m taking Quechua pass/fail and I’ve got like 99% at the moment.  I can well afford a little slackage.  And sleeping in!

Beat to a pulp

Day got a bit better then I was expecting this morning.  It’s good to have your day surprise you.  I took the bus to school cause I was feeling really uninspired, so I ended up getting to class late.  I’m never late to class, but it turned out not to be much of a big deal since we were still in the midst of settling down when I got in.  Quechua went very well, though it was pretty chaotic.  I will be glad when that class is over, and I wish I weren’t.  It’s just not really my bag.

Anyway, I followed it up with a great meeting with the professor I TA for to prep for grading the midterm, and then another great meeting with my paper advisor.  He told me my work was really good, and he thought I was doing a very nice job, and all was not lost on my paper.  It was really relieving to hear he’s got high hopes for my paper still, cause I’ve been feeling very lost on it.   So good news there.

The only downside for my day was I finally sat down and put everything I needed to do in the next few weeks and the list is very much daunting.   But in a week… I’ll be past all the worst of what the semester has left, I think.  All my semantics homeworks will be in, my presentation over, and my last pre-final neuroscience quiz.  Phew.  Besides, I got everything done I needed to do today.  It’s just gonna be a long week!


I don’t know if it’s because it’s midterms week, or if I’m just getting lazy and taciturn, but I haven’t been doing a great job at the nightly blogging lately.  I really just don’t feel like I’ve got much to say.  But I guess a few things have happened.  Better go list format.

The Good:

  • I got new glasses today!
  • Had a nice post-lunch lunch with my sweetie
  • Got my performance reviews from my students last quarter, and they’re fantastic
  • Think I have my classes figured out for next quarter
  • Had a dream I was helping Eddie Vedder garden?
  • Also had a dream Hilary Clinton was my mom and we were moving into the white house?
  • Only missed half a point on my neuroimaging midterm
  • Managed to cook a bit, vacuumed, and ironed!

The Other-than-Good:

  • Feeling really grumpy lately
  • Had a crap meeting with my research advisor wherein he didn’t listen to anything I said and tried to solve the problem I presented him with by using my exact same non-working solution and apparently not noticing…
  • Dentist appointment tomorrow
  • Quechua midterm on Monday…
  • Semantics presentation coming up which I’m pretty nervous about (as in, I know nothing about the subject I’m presenting on and the readings suggested are aggrivatingly quatralingual (read: incomprehensible))
  • Spent a thousand years trying to figure out what courses to take; still waiting for a professor to return my email…
  • Mostly just grumpiness!

Yeah, so… that’s life.  Rambling along like usual, feeling like I’m stuck in slow motion and I’m not getting anything done.  I’m getting pleanty done.  I think last quarter was way more work than perhaps your average quarter, and thus I am now feeling aimless and deflated and underworked.  It seems ridiculous that being in grad school could be underworking me, but there you go.

dreams of, etc.

Good day, though I’m a bit unclear as to why I’m still awake.   I think it’s going to be a list night.  My brain feels like pudding.

The Good:

  • rocked semantics class/ beginnings of homework
  • got eye exam and am uber healthy though nearsighted
  • had pie with my sweetie
  • got all my prescribed work done!
  • acquired massive stack of books from library
  • successfully navigated unitrans and bussed to school
  • half set up date w/ Devin in LA!
  • downloaded Obama audiobook!

The Meh:

  • got rained on all day?
  • total exhaustion
  • failed to pick out frames (see above)
  • am still up doing laundry…?
  • haven’t packed for trip tomorrow… arg.
  • spent forever trying to circumvent audiobook download doucheiness
  • nearly killed beloved 6-yr-old mp3 player?

Yep.  A few days in LA.  Not going to post much past a few twitters perhaps?   All I want is bed.

Wasichay, wasichayqa

Massively productive day.  Now I’m massively tired.  Better opt for list:

  • got 2/3 of fellowship application done
  • finished semantics reading for the week
  • made eye doctor appt
  • did quechua homework
  • got class schedule straightened out
  • assembled new desk chair!
  • yummy chinese food with lewis
  • went to jazz show @ the mondavi

And now, honk shoe.  Three more days this week?  Everything’s looking pretty easy except Friday, where I”ve got some stuff piling up.  But then my sister will be here!  And Monday is a holiday!  Is it bad when I’m looking forward to Monday on… Tuesday?

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.