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A pause.  A temporary lull between festive diversions and my furtive life.   It’s the last weekend before I start the fifth quarter of my graduate program.

It’s been long enough that I am not nervous whatsoever about the coming course load.  And long enough for me to feel like I’m not going to accomplish anything notable this quarter.  Edging closer to some inevitable department-wide acknowledgement that I’m a good student, and a poor researcher.   This PhD feels simultaneously easy and impossible – the work itself is trivial, yet the outcome is unachievable.   It’s not for lack of resources, or even an inability to understand my subject.   Failure is predicated merely on the fatalistic view of my own trajectory which prevents the fervent spark of inspired research from catching.  I’m green wood on a cool evening; building the fire is formulaic, but a achieving a toasty refuge is improbable.

Despite this, I’m looking forward to the return of a regular schedule.  I enjoy the somewhat tedious monotony of going to class – the endless reading, the hours of taking notes, and the cathartic final essays.  It’s a new year, and it would be disingenuous of me not to admit that the prospect of a fresh beginning doesn’t leave me a little hopeful that this will be the quarter I start making my mark.  To be honest, being a mediocre academic is still less disappointing than what I see as my alternative: a completely forgettable woman. This isn’t the note I intended to start this new year on, but fatalism and optimism need not always conflict.  I think this is going to be a good year.   I have a life I love, with good friends and engaging work.  I’m blessed in so many ways.  If I could only suppress this feeling of ultimate and unavoidable disappointment, I’d be sitting pretty indeed.


Another day wasted on an early morning migraine – 7:45 am this time. So on the plus side, I didn’t have to bike to school in the heat. Though I did miss my students turning in their essays, which is a shame since I kinda like to keep an eye on how things are going there. Lewis managed to pick them up for me later, and so at least I’m not behind on my grading. I got sadly little work done today, though I did read a paper and write the first section of my neuroscience essay. Mostly I just wasted my day, waiting for my head and eyes to feel like they were done being pressurized. 10 day to go or so, eh? Maybe that’s what’s stressing me out.  But for the record can I just slip this in: Three migraines in four weeks?  What the fuck?

It’s Good to Have Options

Spring break is over, it is.  And I’m feeling pretty good about that.  I got everything I wanted to do done, which is really rather surprising for a relaxing vacation.  Garden was planted, much weeding and work accomplished, I decided on the gym to join, saw all my Ask friends (twice!), hung out a ton with Emily, baked goods, read books, got a new bookshelf moved in and filled, finished our taxes… amazing!  I’m feeling very relaxed, my palpitations have been minor in the last few days, and I’ve almost entirely gotten rid of the elephant-on-my-chest feeling.  I’m not feeling nervous about tomorrow, but rather looking forward to this week.  It’s my easy week, with no sections to teach, and I’m hoping for a pretty smooth quarter.

I’ve had a long thing about this stress and my life, and I think I’ve made some headway.  My mantra this quarter: “everything is optional”.  As in, I take on only the stress I take.  Everything in life besides basic function – food, home, pay – are entirely optional.  School is optional, thus classes are optional.  The gym is optional, biking is optional, blogging is optional.  Reading is optional, assignments are optional, excelling is optional, research is optional.  I choose to do these things, but they do not characterize my life.  They are choices I make every day, because I like to do these things, and because I choose to spend my life this way.  And there is nothing that says I must keep doing any of these things.   I think keeping this in mind will help me keep from stressing out.  I’m a lucky girl who gets to do what she wants to do nearly every day.


Ooo, school starts tomorrow!  I’m rather excited about that this evening.  I just got my bag prepared for tomorrow, and packed with all the books and pens and things I need.  I’ve got a pretty easy day, I think – just Quechua and a meeting with the professor I’m TAing for.  I’m looking forward to it for sure!

Today turned into that relaxing and great day I was hoping for.  Got up pretty late after a debacle with our smoke alarm (chirpping, running out of batteries) at 4 am.  Had a nice lie in, a quick breakfast, and then we headed off to Vacaville to get some stuff done.  Lewis needed new pants that fit better, so we hit up the Eddie Bauer outlet and proceeded to spend waaaay more money than we probably needed.  But when all pants are like 15 dollars, and nothing you own fits any more… it’s time to sink some money in for the name of comfort.  We even ran into our Davis friends Ann and Joaquin there!   We had a nice lunch at Mels and then went and picked fabric for our bathroom curtain which maybe I’ll have time to pin and sew tomorrow.  Dinner with the Lawyers tonight was very relaxing.  We had some mixed drinks and talked through our LA plans (whew!) and a very tasty dinner.  Life is good.

Now I just need to try and get myself into bed before 1 am, so that I’ll actually make it to class on time in the morning.  Thankfully I don’t have any 8 am classes this quarter.  10 am will seem like a blessing!   And here’s to hoping that this quarter will be a better balanced, but equally enriching and stimulating experience.  Last quarter was a little out of control in places, and this quarter has a lot of potential for getting out of hand.  But as of tonight, I’m feeling relaxed and hopeful that this quarter will be a happy time full of friends and fun and adventure!  How’s that for a last-night-of-break cap?

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.

So chilly

First of all, this new wordpress is fantastic.  I was waiting to do this update until I was out of school just in case I mussed something up and had to spend a million hours fixing it. Instead, I’ve had unorthodox success on two updating fronts.  I’ve updated wordpress, and added new and exciting widgets (including the aforeposted twitter feed) and everything went as smooth as can be.  I can’t believe it!  But what’s more, I also upgraded Ubuntu today with only the tiniest of hiccups!  Had to swap out my network manager (but the standard one is crap anyway) and I still have not quite figured out why my outgoing mail isn’t working… but otherwise, total success.  Sound working, wireless is working, display working, even *suspend* is working!!   I love you, computer.  I love you, you wonderful old Ubuntu.  And I love you, lovely people at Za Reason!

This has been a muchly successful day.  Got up at my leisure, made breakfast (mm, cinnamon tortilla rollups and yogurt), and watched silly SNL videos.  I made split pea soup in the slow cookers, and baked a loaf of multigrain bread to go with it (graham flour + cornmeal + white) .  Got the tree trimmed, and Lewis set the train up around the bottom.  The track is really great this year – so long and curvy!  Lewis also did the laundry, so we’re all well set up for tomorrow.  Watched an episode of Ken Burns’ Jazz,  and did some internet window shopping, getting myself ready for maybe going actual-type Christmas shopping tomorrow.  I even read a little, and hung up the instruments mom brought up for the music room.  Yay!   It’s so fantastic to get to spend a day doing random stuff… I’m getting so much done, even though it’s all the little unimportant-type stuff that gets passed off while I’ve got real school-type work to do.

Also, it only got up to 45 degrees, and it rained all day.  We were going to put the Christmas lights up on the house, but it just was not very inviting outside.   Our rain meter says .43 inches for the day so far!   It is nice to have some decently wintry weather though, since it’s been so mild for so long.  Not that I’m getting actual snow, Seattle-style or anything, but you know.  I’ll take what I can get.

I should also mention that we had to parties in a row!  After classes finished up Friday, we had a we had a gathering of Linguistics folks over to watch William Shatner speak Esperanto.  It was much more well-attended and festive than I had anticipated, and I’m really pleased with the whole endeavor!  People stayed rather late (for academics coming off finals week anyway) and there was much good bonding and joking and such to be had.  Yay for our department.   We spent yesterday at another party, this time Nina’s engagement party, full of all our good ol’ work folks.  I really miss all those guys!  It was so wonderful to see Nina & Jimmy and Charlise, Scott, Christine, Julian, Raffaella, Chuck, Hope, and Kim!  Chidi and Stefano were both out of town, but perhaps we’ll get to see them soon.  We promised KE we would stop in for tea time if we’re going to be in the area doing Christmas shopping.  And I believe we will!  Lewis and I already have a Rattos and tea trip in mind.  Yum.

Ah, life is good, isn’t it?  I’m looking forward to my classes next quarter, and have found I really don’t even care what grades I got this quarter.  I do anticipate A’s in both, if I may be a judge of my own work and its quality, but I find that I don’t have nervous grade checking heart palpatations like I might have as an undergrad.  I just check every day like habit, and feel like the inevitable grades will show up sooner or later.  Probably more like later.

I don’t even know what to do with the rest of my night.  Snuggle up to Lewis and read?  Go to bed early?  Start an art project?  The possibilities are endless.  Endless!

Suspended Animation

Didn’t blog yesterday… got home from doing my two friday sections and pretty much crashed.  Sessions went well, but not as well as my Wednesday one.   I think there are some things I can work on to fix that this week, but it’s more of a problem with timing, I think, than anything else, since they turn their homeworks on Fridays just prior to coming to class.  But whatever.  This will change in a couple of weeks anyway when homework switches to Mondays.  Yay.

Spent a few hours last night, and most of all day today grading homeworks.  I was supposed to get some reading done for my own classes but alas, it wasn’t to be.  This has really been another one of those slogged-through-the-day sort of days where there’s nothing I feel like I’m ready to blog about.  Though we did manage to hange a few pictures today, and tidied up most the house.  But really, when that’s your day’s big notable accomplishment… nada mucho to say.  Doubley so when it’s uncooth to talk about the silly things my students are doing in their work!  Much enjoyment on that front!

Well, here’s to sleeping in clean sheets, and for tomorrow being a new day.  The weather is decidedly fall-like, I’m excited about autumn, and my classes, and my life.  And when your days are all the same, those are the important things to keep in mind.  Look at how optomistic I’m feeling!  Great success.


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.

Two Days In One

It’s been a very long time since I’ve been up (as in, slept the preceding hours) before four am.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had to be up that early, really.  This morning the Lawyers were headed to Hawaii and Lewis nicely offered to drive them to the airport.  Guess they had a 6 am flight, which meant we needed to leave Davis just after four.  Surprisingly we got to bed last night at a decent hour, and the 3:45 alarm didn’t seem as ridiculous as it could have.  We made some tea, drove to the airport, drove home, and promptly slept through the remainder of the morning.  Boo seemed confused about the going-back-to-bedness, but after a little jostling we all were sound asleep.

So needless to say, we missed our 9 am bike tour of campus appointment, but I’m not too bothered.  My theme this week has been to try and not worry about non-mandatory things.  All of this welcome week stuff is voluntary, so though we’ve signed up for lots of stuff, it just doesn’t seem like it’s worth stressing my last week before classes.  We did, however, make it to campus for our first seminar – an introduction to funding.  Just on time, too.  The funding situation for graduate students is really bizarrely complicated, and it feels so much better to hear the finance officers explain that it’s just really complicated.  It’s not that anyone is being a masochist about it, it’s just that all the grad programs are patchwork funding quilts and we just can’t expect that this stuff is going to be centralized.  So a sigh of relief there, and a double sigh to see that both Lewis and my tuition got paid right on time – yesterday!  I apparently owe them the “typical remainder” which I can feel satisfied not freaking out about now, since I know that if I’m going to be a TA they’re going to expect I pay this two hundred dollars of tuition.  I have no idea why.  We bought our books, too, and checked out the student union eateries for lunch.  I’m starting to feel like a real student!

King of his lair. Sort of.

King of his lair. Sort of.

Super productive afternoon after we came back.  I finished weeding the back yard gardens, and mowed the lawn.  Seemed like it was a good time to let the kitty out, so I watched him in the yard for a while. He’s really surprising outside, because I figured until yesterday that he would be off like a shot when we finally let him outside. I don’t know what gave me that impression, given his general nervous temperament, but he has completely proven me wrong. He sort of keeps an eye on us the whole time he’s out, and he didn’t even remotely try getting out of the back yard today. He actually seemed to get bored after poking around a bit and came and meowed at me to be pet.  Silly boy.

At any rate, the weather was really wonderful today, the perfect temperature for sitting out and reading, so I spent a while doing that to give Boo a chance to feel like he could hang out for a while.  We also trimmed up the front garden, and it’s really starting to look nice around here.  I can’t wait to plant some plants!  Made a delicious cobb for dinner, called my parents, and I’ve been chilling out and watching Mythbusters ever since.  I’m going to call this day a total success.    Anyway, here’s my picture du jour… my adoreable kitty poking around the newly trimmed back garden.  Yay!


Yay, thanks UC Davis!

Went to campus this morning to go over my TA paperwork and get some questions about classes straightened out.  Turns out, I was completely retardedly going about trying to figure out what classes I should take.  Turns out universities publish “course catalogs” that have “prerequisite information” and “descriptions” about the classes.  Golly gee!  Also it turns out that the department has a “website” with “documents” that might list the “degree requirements”.  I’m on a whole new track of study here.  And I’ve jettisoned all my undergradute-level classes!  Woot!

Also the department took pity on me and is letting me register for a full class since it’s in my requirements.  I’m actually getting two requirements out of the way!  I’ve only got four classes I’m required to take, and the rest are in-department and free electives.  I think I’m gonna take those electives as neuroscience courses, which should be really awesome, though a little scary!  Just need to get started on the right foot there.

Anyway, today was much great success!  Now I just have to make it through dinner and waiting for this weather to cool off and we’ll be golden!  Weather says it’s 102 out… and it’s going to be hotter tomorrow!   Good day to stay inside and unpack some more boxes.