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Oh, vertigo.

It’s been a lovely weekend, though also a bit of a trial since it was our first school weekend in months.

Some notable accomplishments – we went on a hot air balloon ride over Davis, which I firmly avoided thinking about in advance.  Got a little nervous watching them set up the balloon, but once we were in the air, it was really rather enjoyable.  We got some mid-flight photos I’ll be sure to put up to prove that I did indeed voluntarily get into some kind of crazy flying apparatus.  One of the nicest things about the whole adventure was actually getting to the Yolo County Airport before dawn.  I’ve never seen a Davis sunrise before, and it was quite a beautiful sight from the fields outside of town.  Also, Davis is adorable from the air.  We had a wonderful view of the big ranch houses on the north west side of town, with all their walnut orchards and gardens and such.  Also got a great areal view of the corn maze, and the Silveyville Christmas Tree Farm!   Both things I think we’ll need to pay a terrestrial visit to this fall.

Had two birthday parties this weekend, which were about as different as can be.  Went to Ariel’s 23rd, which involved lots of grad students and beer.  Also jello shots (which were frozen… not at all enticing) and beer and such.  We didn’t stay long, since we had been up since 5 that morning, but it was a very nice little shindig.  Tonight we went to Lewis’ aunt’s 60th birthday party at a fancy-pants restaurant in Sac.  Really delicious food, 3 course meal and nice wine and the works.  It’s good to have family in town supplementing the hot dog diet we’ve been living on since Lewis’ birthday party.

Other than that, I spent the rest of the weekend doing syntax reading.   It’s some thick stuff, but not entirely unenjoyable.  I really like the professor teaching this class, so I’m feeling confident that it’s all going to be interesting stuff when we get to it in class.  My thoughts are sadly still in the feeling of vertigo I’m getting looking at my future.  These new students are really throwing me for a loop even though I’ve never really met them.  The second year is not exactly easy.  Last year we were all fresh-faced and more busy making good impressions than worrying about the near future.  This year we have to have our first QP done, and could conceivably have our master’s degrees by summer.  I don’t think I actually will, since I’m not taking one of the classes I could (should?) be right now… but I’m also not worried about it, since getting my masters this year or next year doesn’t really make a difference in the overall trajectory.  What I am worried about is this damn QP and my aggravating advisor and lab situation.  But I’m going to do my best not to get too worked up about all this before I have the meeting which is theoretically happening this week.

Well, here we come, first full week.


For a Monday, it was a pretty domestic day.  My reading group was cancelled, so I only had my cognitive neuroscience class this morning – yay!  I’d been hoping for a day off, of sort.  Not feeling much like updating though, so I think I’ll list up:

  • went out to lunch!  Mm, Dos.
  • got all the dishes done!
  • made potato salad, and chocolate syrup
  • started laundry
  • got almost all my rough drafts graded
  • read the penultimate paper for my cogneuro essay

Oh yeah, one other good thing today – I got another fellowship thing!  These funding guys are always really mysterious, so I’m not quite sure where it all comes from.  At any rate, I got a nice email telling me I’d been awarded some kind of research grant, and that they’re giving me 1500 bucks to spend on things “vital to the research” I’m doing, and I have to report back about what I’ve been doing to the powers that be next spring.  I’m not quite sure what my research is, yet, or what I’ll need 1500 bucks for, but it’s pretty neat to know I have a personal little expense account at the department next year.   I’m +2 for next year!

Buggered again

Woke up rather late this morning after a long and excellent night last night.  We pulled together an impromptu barbeque and pool party with some of our linguistics friends last night.  Had a really good time – cooked some tasty food, poked around in the pool, played some games, had lots of laughs.  I really enjoy my cohort!   And we had the luck of Lewis’ parents wanting us to look after their dog in the evening anyway, and inviting us to have the party at their place.  Such luck!

This morning as sort of a bust, sadly.  I got a migraine sort of right after I woke up – didn’t even have breakfast or anything.  I’m pretty bummed out.  I was even supposed to be going in for another scanner session today with Lewis, and I had to cancel.   I might have been able to handle it, but I always feel like.. I’ve been up reading in the dark all night and I’m hungover.  That’s the best I can describe it.  Usually I get these migraines in the afternoon and can kind of coast until bedtime and sleep it off, but this 10am business is just not great.  I did take a nap later and wore most of it down, but I’ll be glad to get some real sleep tonight and wake up refreshed in the morning.

Despite it all, I got a lot of work done today.  Skimmed some book chapters, and skimmed over the stuff I might want to go over in sections this week.  I even charted out what I need to do in the next few weeks to get ready for my term papers and final presentations.  I’m going to make it… Just three weeks to go, and then I’ll have so much time, I won’t even know what to do with myself.   That’s going to be so sweet!

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!


Day two, and I’m already feeling mind-dumb, though not from overwork, which I could be doing.  It’s odd, I only have three classes so far, and one of them is Quechua, which I’m auditing, and is an entry-level language class anyway.  In other words, I have no work for that class and being a warm body in a seat is about all I need for a grade.  I did have semantics today for the first time, and there’s no required reading for that class.  Just problem sets, and a paper at the end.  Maybe I’ll be feeling more nervous after my first philosophy class on Thursday, but right now I’m feeling really underworked.  Even my readership is going slowly – the class I’m reading for doesn’t even have homework due till the 21st, and the professor seems really nice and easy going.   What’s a girl to do?

Well, I did sew curtains for our bathroom yesterday.  And I’ve been cooking nice dinners.  And I did do the laundry today.  I’ve been trying to knock back the optional reading for semantics today, but it’s a little draining.  It’s the intro chapter to our book and it’s a bit meandery and broad.  I’m already missing the excellent source reading I was getting to do for structuralism…. even sociolinguistics!  (Consequently, I got an A+ on my socioling paper, and the professor thinks I should use (an expanded version of) it for my first qualifying paper.  A bit of a brag, I know, but I can’t think of the last time I got an A+ on a paper!).  Anyway… there’s really nothing worse than dry, optional reading.

Last week is this week

Hi, blog.  It’s me.  I’m sorry I’m too dumb or surly or tired to write every day like I’m supposed to.  I do think about you when I’m off doing other more restful things.  And besides, you know I’ll always come back.

It’s the last week of the quarter.  More specifically, tomorrow is the last day of classes.  This is the one time I sincerely wish I didn’t have sections on Friday nights.  I’m not sure how many folks will actually come, though I have a hunch it should be about normal.  I’ll get a small bump from pre-finals freakouts, but a negative effect for being late on the last day, so all in all, no net change.  I’m hoping it goes alright… my lesson plan this week didn’t go off too well yesterday (good greif, was that only yesterday?) and I haven’t thought of what I should do to make it more fun.  Reviewing just isn’t that exciting.  And the other alternative is to talk about historical linguistics, which is also rather unexciting and I don’t want to bother the students too much with the specifics since they won’t need to know most of it.

As far as my own classes go, it really doesn’t feel like they’re over, though all I have left is to turn in the papers.  They’ve been consuming so much of my time, it’s incredible to me to think that I won’t be seeing any of those familiar faces or places, or be obsessing over any of those topics for the foreseeable future.  Not that I won’t run into people around the department.  I just have really cherished my theory class, and grown accustomed to needing to be constantly working on my 260 project.  Seems like certainly this must only be a temporary reprieve from work and when the holidays pass we’ll be back to the same-old.  Except instead, I’ll be learning about brain scans and semantics and Quechua.  Oh Linguistics, you’re a charmingly broad field.

I finished my book (Flaubert’s Sentimental Education) and I’m at that point in my reading cycle where I need to detox from my old book before I can dive into a new one.  This is awkward around now (bedtime) when I’m ready to turn off and go curl up in bed, but have no motivation to do so since I’ve not go anything to entertain myself to sleep with.  I’m also not sure what the next book should be.  I’ve got strong candidate in a new Louise Erdrich (new to me, anyway), and the newest W. S. Maugham we bought (Moon and SIxpence) as well as a Vietnam-era war book I picked up on the recommendation of my favorite old English teacher.   It’s nice to try and balance out the reading regime.  I’m rather fond of those naturalist/victorian-type writers (Zola, Trollope, Flaubert) but their writing is so absorbing and thourough I can’t just read them back-to-back.  I require something more modern, or at least with lighter prose to offset them with.

Last night I tried picking up a book someone gave us (The Time Traveller’s Wife).  I had been hesitant about this one (as about most books people give us) since my tastes aren’t very Oprahs-book-club-y and I do tend to prefer classics and my small set of more modern writers to the wider wilds of modern literature, but I wasn’t quite ready to commit to anything else.  I got through the prologue and first section, and I think I’m ready to put it back on the dust gathering shelf it came from.  There’s something which I’m sure is a natural direction for our modern novels to move in (and I’m certainly no Lit or English major, so what do I know?) but it really doesn’t satisfy my novelust to read books that sound like screenplays.  The overly chatty, dialogue-driven, sparingly (or conventionally) described just starts getting on my nerves.  Dan Brown’s novel was like that, and so is The Time Traveller’s Wife. Why did we go from 0-to-sexy-romp in just a few pages?  Did I need to be titilated to convince me this book is worth reading?  The premise sounds interesting, albeit somewhat cheesy-scifi-y, but the tone of the novel has completely thrown me off.  I understand that it’s supposed to be realistic and people have sex in real life, I just get annoyed at having to sexualize all the characters in a novel when I’d rather be reading something else.  Though this really does probably point out more than I’m some kind of moral conservative who wants people to keep their sexy stuff to themselves than it says about modern prose.  But why read something that doesn’t please you?

Alright, enough epistolating about literature.


Waaaaaaay too tired to blog tonight, so here’s my day in (very) brief:

  • woke up, made starter for pumpkin ice cream; made lewis an egg-white frittata
  • got some reading done
  • went to TA-class
  • hung out at my office hours, got some reading done
  • Lewis came by office hours, chatting with Lewis + fellow graduate types in the TA office
  • went to 1st section… did okay.  neither bad nor good.  made some dumb mistakes.
  • came home, vented to Lewis about section and my failings
  • read a tiny bit
  • talked to Lewis about possibilities for socioling project, examined our “extended social network” and discovered we know lots of interesting people who might be able to hook us up with people to research
  • made pumpkin ice cream.  it’s crazy good.
  • brainstormed a million socioling ideas
  • read a lot more
  • blogged… how meta.

I don’t even want to talk about TAing today, though it’s the major portion of my mental space today.  I’ve got some stuff to improve for Friday, for sure.

But first on my list is a whole lotta sleep.


Yurt is about the only sound my brain makes right now.  Thanks, brain.  Keep on truckin.

Mondays are sort of weird days for me, since I don’t have class, but I’ve got lots of TA stuff to do.  Went to campus as early as I could get away with, though still later than I had planned.  I wanted to get to the gym in the morning and check it out, if not actually work out, but this morning as my alarm was going off at 6 am and I didn’t need to get to campus until 1… so I missed my first sort of engagement, but no matter.  Got to campus with a few hours to spare and did a little library reading.  Sadly, I couldn’t get my favorite desk at the biblioteca but I finally found a suitable one upstairs.  The library is much bigger than I realized, and I really haven’t had an opportunity to check it out fully yet.  I imagine they must have more computer-parts-endowed desks hanging around, but I never saw any today.  Success anyway!

Went to LIN 1 and class went fairly well.  Kids seemed fairly aware and the topic was fairly interesting for them, I think.  Read for a while in between LIN 1 and my next appointment and nearly got all the reading I had intended done.  Had a meeting with my co-TA and Professor Ojeda to talk about the stuff we want to do in sections this week.  We’re actually only showing a video, so we’re not doing much and the meeting was pretty short.  I tagged along with Dionne to her first section so I could see what the materials we had to work with were, and how to operate the VCR and stuff like that.  Stayed through her opening schpeel and snuck out at the beginning of the movie.  I’m feeling pretty confident about the sections at this point, after getting to see the students in other contexts a few times now.  Nothing to worry about!

Came home and finished up my reading, had a lovely dinner with Lewis, and decided to pretty much take the remainder of the night off.  I can feel myself getting pretty sapped this afternoon and since I’ve gotten myself fairly well covered for tomorrow I think I better take the chance while I can!  Silly as it is, not working is as important as working at this point.


With her faithful steed by her side, the Laurie plows ahead.

With her faithful steed by her side, the Laurie plows ahead.

Well, there’s no good way to sum up my days these days except to say: I read the hell out of my day.  I woke up, put food in my mouth, read, went grocery shopping, read, had dinner, and finally finished reading!  Yay!  Knocked back my first Bloomfield essay today, which was nice to get off my plate.  I put together a little plan for what essays to read on what days, and I know it probably doesn’t matter much, but that’s how my brain works.  Gotta read long essays on less busy days, short essays in short spurts, etc., etc. So it was a long-essay day.  Got through a good, basic, foundational-type work from 1914 that sort of set out everything I’m supposed to know about the basics of linguistics in fancy-pants philosopher talk.  Except it’s all the stuff we learned all those years in undergrad, so it was more like a little review than a mind-blowing experience.  Still, nice to get the explanations of the basics by guys laying them down, instead of reading one of the modern textbook reduxes like the kids I’m teaching now.  Plus, I learned like 15 new words today, which is pretty impressive!  At any rate, the picture at the right there should serve as a pretty good summary image of my entire life at this point.  Looks cosy, doesn’t it?

Only other notable success today, besides actually having gone grocery shopping, is that I finally threaded my new sewing machine!  The directions they sent me were lacking some pretty crucial information, and Lewis and I both read through and failed to get it working the first night.  Watched a slew of youtube videos — the first constructive use I’ve found for them! — and managed to get my way through.  Momentary major disasters aside, I sewed two things together!  Hurrah!  Maybe tomorrow or the next day I’ll get to repair some of my stuff, which is what I’m really looking forward to.

I had planned to make pumpkin ice cream tonight, but I just didn’t have it in me after all that reading.  It’s crazy how difficult it is to switch modes from this stuff.  Like I’ve mentioned, I’m reading in a manner I’ve never tried before, and it’s both mentally exhausting and really rewarding.  I’ve never lived this cerebrally before, and it’s mind-blowing in its own way.  I feel like sometimes my mind just completely empties when I’m trying to do something like remember how to make a sandwich, and it’s not as if I’m thinking about linguistics… I don’t even know what I’m thinking about.   I’m just failing to do anything at all.  But I don’t mind so much, it’s a bit like being on my own private mental adventure, full of mystery and surprises around every turn!  With that in mind, tomorrow I start my first full week.  Phew.  I feel like I’ve been in school a year already.

Rockin the Berkl’

Berkeley day today!  Yay!

But before the Berk, I started the day off right.  Sort of.  I’ve been feeling like I’m swimming upstream a bit all week, or at least since class started.  So of course, I woke up 15 minutes before the alarm went off and I panicked about being ready to leave on time, and whether I could squeeze any work in before Lewis got up, and what to have for breakfast, and whether I should blog, and all that ridiculous stuff.  So I got up and made apple cinnamon muffins, which are superb.  And I blogged!  At the end of the day (or morning, really) what really matters is that we got out of the house on time, without forgetting anything, and with breakfast in our tummies.

So I went to Albany, and I got my hair cut, which was badly in need of being done.  Cost me way more than I should probably be spending on these sorts of things, but I just have not gotten around to figuring out who else to go to, and besides, I love Melody.  She’s a really cool person and she’s been doing my hair since we moved to the Bay Area, and frankly is the only hair stylist I’ve ever had.  I fear trying to find another one, though I’m sure someone in Davis ought to be able to at least placate me.  It’s not so much about the hair as trusting and liking someone to do it.

Anyway, post-hair we headed to the Berkeley Farmers Market to grab a little lunch and meet up with Nina, the person I miss most from the Bay.  The Farmers Market was cute, and had tasty foods for us to consume.  Saw lots of neat booths as well, and I was glad to see it was a different variety of people that go to either the El Cerrito or Oakland markets, so it felt a litlte unique.  Thence to Jupiter to meet up with Armand and have a few pints.

It’s always so heartwarming and life-affirming to spend time doing nothing with the people you like the most.  It’s so great to see Armand, and he fits in so well to Berkeley!  I’m glad he finds the place comfortable and to his liking.  So we had a few pints, talked about the good old days, introduced Nina to Arms and vice versa.   Yay.

Home again, and back to studying.  Made it through the first of the papers I need to read for 280, and got all the notes I needed for that one as well.  Very  pleased with how the wikinotes are going — I took almost 4000 words worth for Saussure!  Labov was much easier reading, and sadly I didn’t enjoy it as much as the Saussure.  I seem to be getting into the more cerebral philosophical papers, and I suppose sociolinguistics has never really been my forte.  Also sad but true… this blog is slowly going to turn into barely coherent linguistic musings and/or braindump.  Sorry, non-existent readers!