oceantheorem: (Solitaire)
I've been kinda flaily the last few days. I found a new author on teh intarwebs, and read a bunch of his articles, and came across one about how NaNoWriMo is terrible. Because most people fail, and then those people think they can't be writers.

Holy crap, I thought. That happened to me. That goddamn happened to me.

And I'd already been a bit flaily about work for... oh... a few years (ha! no, but really, the last two months have been kinda trying). What am I DOING? Do I want to keep doing lame lab tech benchwork for the rest of my life? I mean, sure, it's relatively easy, and I'm relatively good at it, but it's also pretty boring and not very meaningful. It's... honestly, it's not even paying very well. I want to be doing something more interesting, and more challenging, and something less... irrelevant?

I don't know what that "something" is. It's probably NOT writing.  It did take me a while to realize that one can "be a writer" without writing novels, and I still don't think I want to write novels (though maybe I'm wrong. I do want to revisit that last failed NaNo story and see if I can fix it now that I'm not trying to slavishly produce 1667 words every day. it had time travel AND pirates). But trying to create a blog or a large base of short stories or some other written body of work that would produce income also sounds pretty horrifying. And like a really good way to kill my passion for writing altogether.

So, I'm still pretty flaily about what I want to do with my career, but after a couple of days of intense thought, and several really good conversations with my spouse and my incredibly intelligent friends, I think I am going to start a blog. And write about non-traditional life choices - everything from sexuality to diet to childlessness. I set up a wordpress and I'll link over to it once I've got a few articles up. I have ideas for a bunch already, and I guess I'm sitting here writing this instead of over there writing those because I still kinda needed to give myself a pep talk telling me it's okay to do it. Even if it won't make money (I expect not to). Even if I don't keep up with it for five or ten or fifteen or two years (I... expect not to). At least I will be doing something creative, something I enjoy, something that will stretch my brain a little - and maybe something that will help other people think about the way they live their lives.
oceantheorem: (Default)
On a particularly wet, miserable day in England during our honeymoon, Jim and I ducked into a store to escape the cold and wet misery, and saw this book on a shelf:

Apparently you won't think it's funny if you're not British, and we didn't buy it, but "Is it just me or is everything shit?" has become sort of our mantra for things that really, really suck. Like awful parties you have to attend because of social obligations, or conversations about homeless people and how our society doesn't take care of them, or San Francisco altogether. Because San Francisco is sort of shit. Maybe five years ago it wasn't. Or maybe it still isn't if you're a tourist. But this has been the worst three weeks I've ever spent in California, and I'm counting the ones I spent failing Physics exams in college.

Everything has fallen apart. Our cat is gone and I'm worried about how she is (or isn't) adjusting. She's tiny and stupid and has no idea what's happening to her; apparently she peed on the new owner's floor and I'm worried they're either not going to like her or worse, they're not giving her enough attention and she's going to start acting out, because she's a stupid needy little beast and she likes to cuddle and if she doesn't get cuddles she will bite feet. I don't know what peeing on the floor means; she's never done that before. Also Jim still doesn't have a freaking job, and I'm making a lot more now, but our rent is four times as much and I'm certainly not making THAT much more. And every social interaction I've had with people who are friends or used to be friends has been kind of strained and awkward. Obviously this means I'm doing something wrong or acting incorrectly somehow, but I don't know what the problem is exactly or how to fix it. I am stressed out, lonely, flat broke, and still living in a house full of extroverts who don't want us around. Maybe this isn't the best time to be trying out social interactions, but I'm pretty sure this is the definition of when a person needs friends the most.

I think it might be just me (well, just Jim and me), but I'm pretty sure everything is shit.
oceantheorem: (I am volatile chemistry)
We have a place to live! We got into the awesome community house. It is a 7000 square foot Victorian mansion in downtown San Francisco that used to be a Buddhist temple. Yeah, I know. It sounds insane. And awesome. I can't wait to see it in person.

We leave a week from today (well, yesterday, since it's waaaaay after midnight now), and I'm finally starting to feel the excitement I've been looking for. It's becoming REAL. I really get to go home. I get to go back west, where there are mountains and ocean and family! And friends! Lots and lots and lots of awesome friends.

Friday was my last day at work here, so I have this entire coming week off to work on packing and loading up the car. It always amazes me how much stuff people manage to accumulate in a year. I think I own more stuff right now than I've ever owned, but I'm looking forward to paring that down and giving a lot of stuff I don't need anymore to Goodwill, and packing everything important to me into my car. For some reason, being able to fit everything I own into my car is some kind of mental achievement for me. Maybe because I've been nomadic for the better part of a decade now, and having less stuff means spending less time packing and unpacking. 

I'm awake right now because my teeth are hurting me and I took some of the Tramadol the dentist gave me a couple weeks ago. It claims it might make me drowsy, but every time I've taken it I've become unable to sleep. Which also explains why the last couple entries were written in the middle of the night and sound like I'm on drugs - because I am on drugs. Anyway, the dentist also gave me a bite guard, which is supposed to help alleviate teeth clenching, which is theoretically the cause of the sore teeth, but I've had the guard for about six days now and I don't think it's helping. I think getting to San Francisco will help, because I've never had a teeth clenching problem before, and I'm pretty sure it's connected to this move. Once we're on the other side of it - and living in a mansion in my favorite city in the world - I should calm down enough not to grind my jaw into pieces while I sleep.

On yet another painkiller-induced tangent, I'm annoyed that we somehow managed to decide to drive across the country just as the Olympics start. I'm going to have to find radio stations that offer some kind of coverage, or maybe stream something from my phone. That should actually work out pretty well; it'll give me something to think about during the 34 hours of driving with Claire meowing the entire way.
oceantheorem: (be careful pretending)
The fireflies are out! Claire is sitting on my lap. I will miss these things.

The problem, as I have said many times, with moving across the country (well, one of the problems; there is certainly more than one) is that you leave bits of yourself behind each time you do it. Even leaving Connecticut, a place I hated, felt like tearing off a part of who I'd become. Michigan is hands-down an all-around better place to be than Connecticut, and leaving is going to be hard. Especially because Jim's family is here, and I've gotten quite attached to them. I feel awful taking their son from them, too. Even though he wants to go and they say they understand and that we'll all go someplace tropical for Christmas together.

I'm trying to simultaneously remember that California is not Eden and will not make life magically perfect, and also that I do have good reason to be excited about moving there. I'm not imagining that California is "home". It is. It truly is. I feel markedly different in California than I do elsewhere. The sun is stronger, the land actually has texture (I'm so sick of the flatness of the Midwest!!), the food is locally grown or raised or caught, and the proximity of the ocean changes the flavor of the air and keeps the temperature within a narrow range. It calls me. In a really stupid, juvenile, romanticized, nonsensical way, I really feel like California calls to me. Besides, I've always wanted to live in San Francisco. I love cities, and San Francisco is my favorite city. 

So why am I so scared and sad?

1. Michigan is safe. We have a routine, we have Jim's parents, we have a safe little life and safe little jobs that would eventually lead to having a safe little house.
2. San Francisco is big, and fast-paced, and culturally very different from anywhere I've been in the last six years, and very different from anywhere Jim has ever been, and I worry about the culture shock.
3. If we don't love it, it will be my fault that we are there and poor and not here and safe. 
4. My mom and I will be closer and have a chance to have a real relationship again, and if it falls apart I won't be able to handle it.
5. We most likely have to give up Claire (a friend of mine is willing to take her for up to a couple of years, and she lives just north of SF, so this really isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but I will still miss my fluffy demoncat).
6. It's so expensive. So, so expensive.

Things that kept me awake last night, excited (when was the last time I couldn't sleep because I was excited?):

1. We might get to live in a really interesting community house, the ad for which sounds like a listing for a social experiment. We'd be surrounded by intelligent, capable adults who are trying to make the world a better place. I miss that kind of environment. I miss it in a way that surprises me - like a piece of me was excised, but it was so cunningly and slowly removed that I didn't even see it go, and at the mention of its return I feel lighter and freer and smarter and more adventurous. I want to take risks. I want to try new things. I want to learn about new subjects. I want to contribute. I want to try.
2. The food. Just the thought of the food! Did you know I had a dream about our wedding cake after the wedding? It was so perfectly made, just the right texture and the right sweetness and not too heavy and not at all dry. All the food is like that, whenever I visit California. It's perfectly ripe and fresh and always has the perfect hint of salt or sweetness. THE FOOD.
3. My new job is just like my current job, except with more spreadsheets, an iPad in the mouseroom that was my idea (apparently the university is implementing these now, but my new lab is giving me credit for coming up with the idea before the university announced it), amazing people that sound like they just fell out of a joke (three postdocs walk into a bar - a German, an Indian, and a Frenchman...) and have extremely flexible work hours and seem to value work-life balance. And there is a gym next door with a pool on the roof. A POOL. ON THE ROOF.
4. Sunshine.
5. Sunshine.
6. Sunshine.
7. My family!
8. 3D printers! I know. This is out of the blue. For some reason my brain is associating 3D printing with California, and is excited about it. Let's just roll with this one...

I've been pretending to be quiet and safe and normal and now I am quiet and safe and normal. I want to be wild and daring and clever again, but it is scary.
On the other hand, it's not like I have a choice anymore. We've set it in motion; it's happening. We leave on July 30th.
oceantheorem: (btvs battle ready)
I got a job in San Francisco!

I started looking for a job after we got back from the honeymoon (I'm married!) and got a few calls back right away. One lab had me do a phone interview, then set up a video conference with the entire lab so they could all ask me questions, then asked me to fly out to California for an in-person interview. They had me in the lab for an entire day, talking to people as a group and one on one, and then took me out to dinner two nights in a row. Through all of that, they were friendly, interesting, and casual, and they seem to like me as much as I like them, so I was thrilled when they offered me a job. It's a really similar job to what I have right now, with a little more focus on mouse colony management and less focus on hiring other people or ordering supplies or training undergrads (they already have a manager; they just want a tech to help breed and to do experiments). They study the immunology of multiple sclerosis, so I've got a lot to learn...

Jumping back a ways, the wedding was amazing. It was perfect. It was exactly the kind of small, casual, intimate gathering I had hoped it would be. My favorite people were there with very few exceptions, and I got to wear a pretty dress and eat delicious cake. And, you know, the marrying. I've got a Jim now. Permanently. Mwa ha ha!

I had deeper, more introspective stuff to write about all of this. Last night. And then I didn't write it down. So now I'm sleepy, and my brain is muddled, and I'm overwhelmed with the emotional onslaught of everything that's happened since February (when lab became a much different beast without my graduate student around) and everything that is going to happen between now and August. We're leaving Michigan on July 30th, and I start my new job August 6th. We don't yet have a place to live, and Jim doesn't have a job, and we may or may not have to find a new home for TinyCat, but things are in motion and five weeks from now I'll be in California. Home.
oceantheorem: (coffee gg horoscope)
 I made more food. The pork chops and stew turned out really well. So Saturday morning I made Jim buttermilk pancakes (no blueberries; we were out). Then we bought blueberries, and I made blueberry crumb bars, which were wholly underwhelming. I was not at all impressed. This marks the first time I have made something from Smitten Kitchen I wasn't impressed by. Anyway, we'd bought two thingies of blueberries, which turned out to be EIGHT CUPS, plus I STILL. HAD. BUTTERMILK., so I made a blueberry buttermilk cake. Except I forgot I used the last of the white flour making the crumb bars, so the cake had to be done with whole wheat flour, which made it a little dense. It tasted pretty good, though. That recipe is solid.

Anyway. STILL. HAD. BUTTERMILK. I kid you not. It's like it's regenerating in the container. I have a Neverending Container of Buttermilk, +3 Strength. Costs 30,000 gold pieces and is unsellable.

So today - well, this is a long story. Skip two paragraphs down if you're pressed for time and/or just want to read about food (you're probably not reading my blog for the food, though, honestly, unless you're seriously confused). I couldn't sleep last night, initially because of a killer headache. Finally that went away, and killer cramps set in. Finally those started to ease and I was STILL wide awake, so I made some tea. Around 2am I crawled back into bed to try sleeping again, and some idiots pulled up in the parking lot blaring this terrible music that can only be described as "bumpin'". I expected to see red and blue disco lights when I looked out the window. Eventually they went away. I fell asleep. At 5am I was awoken by more idiots in the parking lot. This time there were like 8 of them and several were very large black men and they were ALL yelling at the top of their lungs at each other in a very angry manner, so no way was I gonna go out and ask them to be quiet, but MAN, I MISS MY OLD APARTMENT.  Finally they go away, but the cat is sitting on the pillow next to me licking herself - SLURP SLURP SLURP - so I push her to make her stop. Okay, maybe I pushed her multiple times, but it was 5am and I really was not in my right mind at this point. She bit me. It drew blood. I got up and put a bandaid on my arm and tried to go back to sleep, to no avail. Finally I just wrote into lab that I'd be taking a sick day, spent the next two hours reading, and FINALLY fell asleep again sometime after 7. I blissfully slept until noon.

ANYWAY, I tell you all this so you know why I had my afternoon free of work. I figured as long as I was free during business hours I might as well run some errands, so I did, and while I was out I stopped at a bridal boutique I've been meaning to check out for a while, and tried on some wedding dresses. That was an interesting experience. I tried some on in May with my mom in Reno at a David's Bridal, and the experience was... weird. And not great. But this place is a little local shop and the service was fantastic, and the dresses were very nice. The only weird thing was that I was there alone, which felt kinda sad. The saleslady was nice and used my phone to take pictures of each dress for me, though they didn't really turn out very well. Anyway, I'll post pictures later if you guys want. Will have to friendslock it so Jim doesn't see. :-)  I'm still hoping my mom will make my dress, but she's been reeeeeally busy lately and hasn't responded to the dress email I sent her a couple weeks ago. So no progress there.

Anyway, so after all that, I felt a little lonely, and wanted to do something with my afternoon, and had heard that the movie Bridesmaids is hysterical and totally awesome and worth seeing. So I went and saw it and yeah, it's as stupid as the trailer made it look. Not funny. (I have been informed my sense of humor is broken.) But the main character makes this cupcake early in the movie, and it started off a craving for cupcakes, so when I got home I decided to make some. AND my favorite cupcake recipe uses buttermilk.

So I made red velvet cupcakes and cream cheese frosting. And that is the long story of how I wanted one cupcake and now have 35. And of how I STILL HAVE BUTTERMILK.
oceantheorem: (dreams made flesh)
 It's been a weird week here. I've been in this kinda grumpy funk mood, which is not coupling well with a dive back down into single-digit temperatures after a week of weather that could almost be described as warm. In addition, it seems like every little thing I do wrong this week is being picked on and thrown back at me, and I'm not dealing well with all the extra judgment.

I've also been having these crazy awful dreams all week.

Two nights ago (before my appointment with my dentist to get my gums examined and a final crown put in place on a back tooth), I dreamt that I was at the dentist and the hygienist asked me if I'd been flossing. I said yes, and she kind of went all evil and told me I was a horrible person and I had 18 cavities and the solution was that they were going to have to bleach all my teeth, which would make the composite on the front tooth stand out all horribly as an obvious fake part and I would then be ugly forever.
This dream is not hard to interpret. I've been trying to be better about flossing, and the hygienists at this office seem to be obsessed with the whiteness of my teeth. No, ladies, I do not want to spend $200 on tooth whitening, particularly since the composite in the front tooth was dyed to match and wouldn't bleach along with my teeth. Also, I really just DO NOT CARE that my teeth are a little yellower than most. It's cosmetic. Since when have I cared about that kind of thing? It's not even that noticeable, unless you look at teeth for a living.

I've also been having a string of pregnancy dreams. This is probably because I currently know 4 women who are pregnant and 1 who had a baby in the last three months. Plus it seems like half the blogs I normally read are suddenly about how the author is pregnant. What the hell, people! This must be the price I pay for hanging out with people a couple years older than I am. Most of my my-age friends aren't even married yet. Anyway, the other night I had a dream that I was pregnant, and I told Jim, and he got mad at me (in the dream). Like it was some sort of trap I'd sprung on him unexpectedly or something. I think I also had a dream about babies last night, but I can't remember most of the details now. I know I was trying to provide gifts for some of the new babies around me, and I was buying them in a store, and there was some sort of epic guilt about not being cool enough or caring enough to knit my own gifts, and having to sink to the level of buying things that were machine-made out of synthetic fibers. Clearly I have some knitting guilt going on here. On the flipside, in reality this is a fantastic idea, and I should get over this hangup of feeling like I have to knit for other people, and just buy them some damn gifts that aren't made of cloth. I get paid today. I should go shopping.

I realize this entry is all whine whine whine so far. I told you I've been in a grumpy funk. I think the bottom line, at least today!, is that I am ready to get married and settle down and be financially stable and have a steady life. I'm ready to move to California and start the happily ever after part.

Something cool, though? Jim and I discovered a game called Minecraft and have spent the last couple weeks happily exploring new worlds, building castles, fending off zombies, and enjoying spending time together while he's out on the road all week every week. This week his truck broke down and he was stuck in a hotel for a couple days while it was fixed, and he used the time to build a gigantic, beautiful double helix out of glass and a waterfall/lavafall. I'll post pictures of it tonight when I get home to my own computer. Anyway, this has been a very cool place for us to escape to, and I've really enjoyed the freedom that Minecraft gives you to decide your own goals and objectives (unlike WoW, whose continuous "must get better gear" treadmill does get boring after a while).

_________
Friday morning additions.

Last night actually turned out to be a pretty good evening. I left work early, went to a fleece washing/processing/spinning lesson, sat and chatted with the instructor and her daughter for a while, talked to my mom for half an hour while I drove home, played WoW with 24 friends, checked on Minecraft briefly and said hello to another friend, watched Glee while cuddling the cat, and then went to bed. All in all, a very good evening.

Then, of course, I had another nightmare. This one was totally out of left field and as far as I can tell had nothing to do with anything. I was staying with an aunt and uncle (not resembling any aunts or uncles I have in real life), and someone broke into the house and shot my uncle and I had to escape without also getting shot. There was a car and a long driveway and a very panicked escape. I don't remember any more details...
What is up with all these nightmares? Seriously, brain, what's going on?

Bleargh.
oceantheorem: (Eek)
 I strongly dislike Christmas.

I like cookies, I like lights, I like heartwarming stories. But there's so much that I don't like...

First off, I can barely afford to buy fun things for myself, so buying fun things for other people is a financially unwise decision. So there's stress about whether I should give in to societal and cultural pressures to buy gifts I know I can't afford, or try to get out of the whole gift giving thing altogether, and disappoint friends and family.

Second, I hate giving gifts. Have you ever read The 5 Love Languages? The idea is that people express love and affection for each other in different ways. If you rank the different ways, gift-giving is my absolute bottom language. It just isn't how I express affection. I'd much rather hug you or spend some quality time with you. The idea of giving you a gift makes me anxious and nervous. What if I give you something you don't like? What if we exchange gifts and the one you gave me was more expensive? What if the one I gave YOU was more expensive? 

I would just handknit gifts for everyone, but a) my knitting time is limited, b) I'm a pretty slow knitter as it is, and c) it's really hard to knit things for non-knitters.

This means I spend a lot of December feeling extraordinarily guilty. I avoid giving gifts because doing so makes me anxious. But I know a lot of really amazing, generous people, for whom gift giving is not such a source of stress, and they give me wonderful and thoughtful things. And I love those things, and those gestures, and yet they fill me with guilt. Why can't I be more like those people? Why can't I be more giving? Why can't I take pride in giving nice gifts? Do people think I'm ungrateful? Do they think I'm cheap? How can I repay you for your kindness and friendship in a way that won't make you feel like you've spent money on me and gotten nothing of value in return?

And seriously, what's with all the emphasis on gifts anyway? Is that really what this holiday is supposed to be about? Let's ignore for a moment the fact that I don't believe in God or think Jesus was his son. If that IS what this holiday is about, why is there such pressure to give presents to everyone you know? Wouldn't it better serve the spirit of the Christian holiday to be nice to people, and spend quality time together? Or give gifts to underprivileged children or volunteer?

Finally, this whole holiday is kind of an amalgam of other holidays. If you go back far enough, the midwinter celebration is really about the fact that the nights start to get shorter and the days start to get longer. There is a festival to celebrate the rebirth of the sun, and to feast on the remainder of the food from the harvest that isn't going to last the winter if you don't eat it right now. It's to give people hope that winter will end and it will be warm again in a few months.

So, really, in my head the ideal way to celebrate this whole season is to make a lot of food, spend a lot of time with friends and relatives, and if you really feel you must give gifts, give them to people who are less fortunate than you are.

To sum up, if you didn't get something from me, or have never gotten something from me, it's not because I don't like you or didn't remember you or am too cheap. It's because I'm super poor, picking out gifts for you makes me physically anxious and tense, and I'd really just much rather spend an afternoon having coffee with you and catching up on each other's lives.

That said, if you're reading this, chances are I have something on the needles for you. No promises it will ever get finished...

Anyway, happy holiday. Be merry and be nice to each other and eat something yummy and celebrate the rebirth of the sun. Son. Whatever you like.
oceantheorem: (snow :-()
 I've been meaning to post...

So, about two weeks ago, I watched the sun rise from my car. From the bottom of a ditch.

It was early in the morning on a Friday. So early, in fact, that the sun was not up. I needed to be at work very early for a financial meeting with my boss and one of our administrators.  I left the house around 6:45. By 6:55 I was in a ditch.

It had snowed the night before, maybe half an inch. There is a long onramp near my house where the speed limit goes from 45 to 70 over about a half a mile. I had just gotten on that. There are two lanes, and most of the cars were in the right lane, still going about 45. The left lane looked mostly clear, so I moved over and started to slowly accelerate, wondering what the holdup was. I mean, sure there was snow, but the road looked clear... Cars had obviously traveled in this lane already, as there were broad clear tire paths...  As I accelerated, I started to fishtail. I've recovered from slight fishtails before, even recently, and was calm and confident as I turned the steering wheel into the fishtail to regain control.  Except... I didn't regain control. The car started to fishtail more, so I corrected again, but it still didn't straighten out, and then I panicked. The car spun in a circle and then suddenly I was in the ditch. I still have no idea what really happened, or how I avoided hitting any cars in the other lane. I must have hit black ice or something. I'm so glad the area isn't two-way. I was very lucky.

Anyway, I checked the car, and checked myself, and nothing was damaged. I was shaken, but not hurt. I tried to get out of the ditch. The car would absolutely not go up the sides of the ditch, which were fairly steep. I made some rather long, mean grooves in the dirt at the bottom of the ditch, both in front and behind me, before I gave up.  I called Jim, who (poor thing) was fast asleep at trucking training in Iowa (where it was 6am...). He responded very calmly to my sobbing explanation and offered to call his dad to come get me with his SUV and winch. I said okay.

I sat in the ditch for about an hour. I left the car on for a while to keep warm, since my giant coat only goes down to my thighs, but I didn't want to kill the environment, so eventually I found an extra sweatshirt in the back of the car and put it over my legs to keep them warm and turned the car off. I had my phone with me, so I chatted with my knitting group friends online. One of them suggested I keep a blanket in the car. There is one there now, alongside my first aid kit, umbrella, jumper cables, spare tire...

A tow truck came by and the driver offered to get me out of the ditch. For $150. I said no thanks.

Eventually the sun came up. It didn't really get any warmer.

A cop car drove up and parked at the top of the ditch. The cop got out, and I got out, and he walked down into the ditch to talk to me.

"How much longer are ya gonna be here?"

"Uhhh, someone is coming to get me. He should be here in 15 to 20 minutes, maybe?"

"Well, you can't stay here."

::blank stare::  "I can't get out on my own. Someone will be here soon to help me."

"Did you try backing up?"

::looks at long deep grooves in mud behind car::  "Well, yes..."

"Let's try it again."

I was dubious, but I got back into my car and rolled down my window. The cop directed me to turn on the car and just back up straight, along the bottom of the ditch, for a good 15 yards.  Then he told me to turn my wheels slightly. I did so. I accelerated in reverse... and the car stalled. I went forward again. He told me to try again, but not to turn my wheels quite so much...  I did so. I backed up about 100 yards at an extremely shallow angle... and then was at the top of the ditch.

I felt like the world's biggest idiot.

I thanked the cop and drove away. I called Jim and told him I was out and okay. I called Jim's dad and told him I didn't need him anymore, even though he'd already driven an hour in morning rush hour traffic and snow after being woken out of a dead sleep to come get his son's girlfriend, and was only five minutes away. He was an extremely good sport. Remind me to take him an extra bottle of wine on Saturday.

I got to work more than an hour late. Needless to say, I completely missed the meeting I'd gotten up so early for in the first place.

Yay winter.
oceantheorem: (Default)
 Ooookay... time for another Catching Up post.

I saw a GI specialist at the beginning of September. He explained my blood test results to me and declared he was absolutely certain I don't have Celiac and should have no trouble at all eating gluten.  He prescribed fiber to help solve my issues.  Yeah. Fiber. That's it.

I started taking fiber and stopped avoiding gluten. After about two weeks I started a food diary.  I kept track of what I was eating and how I felt. Pretty much the only trend I could see is that I felt like crap all the time. So I stopped taking fiber (and I started forgetting to write in the diary) and I actually feel better again. I'm so confused. I don't know what is up with my body. I don't know how to make it better.  Jim is still convinced it's linked to stress.  It could be. I don't know.  If it is, I don't know how to solve that.

Work has gotten busier. Managing the lab has been going really well, and I feel pretty on top of things now, but I've gotten the "you're not doing any science" and the "you seem to spend a lot of time not doing anything" talks... so now I'm doing lots of science, and have very very little downtime. Which is good, and awesome, and I want that - but it's wearing me out.  I feel like I'm moving into the "old" category. I'm not 19 anymore. My body just doesn't seem to have those great reserves of energy it used to have.  Especially considering I feel like crap most of the time.

Knitting has been going well. I made a pair of fingerless mittens, so I can knit or use my phone at the bus stop in the mornings. It's gotten awfully cold over the last week or two.

They sparkle! They're alpaca!  They only took me two days to make!

My knitting goals for October are to finish Emily's freakin' hat, seam up the hat I made for my Dad in January, finish something for Mom, and try not to buy very much at Rhinebeck.

Rhinebeck is in two weeks. For those of you who don't know, it's a huge sheep and wool festival in New  York state, held every year in October, and I've never been. I have been meaning to go since 2007, and finally committed to attending this year's after being severely sad about missing last year's.  So I'll be driving to Connecticut and meeting up with some Yale friends, then driving up to New York for the festival.  There will be a TON of people there from my Harry Potter knitting group, so it'll be awesome to see and hang out with them. I anticipate this will be the best five days of 2010.

Of course, I've been saving (little tiny amounts of) money for several months now so I'd be able to spend without worrying and buy lots of fun things without guilt.  And then Jim's job fell through for a full week (if there isn't work to be done, he doesn't get called in), and thus he didn't make any money that week, and suddenly we're in financial trouble and all that money I saved up is needed to cover our bills.  I'm still going on the trip, but I don't think I'll be able to buy very much at all.  The main point of the trip is to see friends and hang out, but the secondary point was to cut loose a little at the festival and get some nice stuff, and I'm kind of upset that now I won't really be able to get anything.  And I will be stressing about money the whole trip instead of relaxing.
Sigh. I hate this stupid economy. I hate being poor.

...I was actually trying to write an upbeat post. I swear.  I blame the gray clouds and the rain.

Oh wait!  Did you see the yarn shelf Jim built for me?







I'm still working on getting everything into it and organized the way I want.  Actually, that sounds like the perfect thing for me to go finish doing right now. :-)
oceantheorem: (Default)
 I've managed to write in my paper journal almost every day for the last ten days.  I didn't write over the weekend, while Jim was home, but it's surprisingly easy to stay up an extra ten minutes each weeknight to make myself write down the day and date.  That's pretty much all I'm committing myself to--I just have to open the journal, write the day of the week and the date, and then I have fulfilled my goal.  Of course, by that time I always figure I might as well write a sentence, and so far that first sentence has always led to at least one full page.  It ended up resulting in two pages last night, when I really did think for a few minutes all I was going to get written was the date.

So I dunno about updating here, but I really am making an effort to start writing and thinking again. I use writing as a way to get my mind working, and to sort through problems in my life and in my head.  This journal has sort of come to feel like a way to keep distant friends and family alerted as to what I'm up to, but I've never been very good at correspondance, and it seems hard sometimes to write an update on goings-on when I don't even know if anyone is still reading.  So I guess the point is that if I'm going to write in this journal again (and I don't ever want this journal to fully die--I really do like the livejournal format, and I have some good contacts solely here), I need to stop thinking of it as a blog designed to keep a record of my activities, and more as a forum for discussion about major concerns.

I think I knew all that already, but it helps to write it out.  (See!! Case in point.)

I had a meeting with my boss on Monday to have my annual review.  I don't think I've ever had an annual review before (well, I've never had a real job before...), so it was pretty terrifying.  But it went really, really well. He is giving me a (very small) raise, and thinks I'm doing well, except for a few small points I was already aware of (like the fact that I tend not to do things he asks me to do if I think they're unimportant).  So I'll try to shore up those points.  I also managed to find the guts to tell him I'll be looking for a new job within the next year (though I did take a slightly balls-less (what word am I thinking of that means balls-less? I'm drawing a blank) approach to it and say it would be a California job), which he took really well.  He is a pretty good boss, and seems to understand that employees eventually move on.
Hopefully I will actually be able to find something.  I would like to find a lab job somewhere.

I still have no idea what I want to do with my life.  This is greatly unsettling to me.  I used to have everything figured out, and I still feel like I'm drifting and directionless, and I don't know what to do about it.  Are there exercises you go through?  "Eat 3 ounces of mustard, stab yourself with a sewing needle in your third toe on your left foot, dance around in a clockwise circle outside while wearing something green, and then the meaning of your life will be revealed to you."
Meanwhile I am only able to compile a list of closed doors, and that gets disheartening, even when I've willingly closed them myself.

Okay, back to work--I've been unable to focus all day today, and was hoping writing would help get me back into a productive state of mind.  Time to go try it out.
oceantheorem: (turtle love)
Jim got a job with a trucking company (he recently got his CDL so he can drive semis for a while, so we can actually have income, so maybe in the spring he can finish up his helicopter pilot training--he's only got a few hours to go, but at $400/hour a few hours is still pretty heavy on the finances). So anyway, Jim got a job with a regional trucking company. And he left tonight for training. It's in Iowa, and he'll be there at least 2 weeks. Maybe 5 weeks if they can pair him with a co-driver right away, but we won't know that for 2 weeks.

So I dropped him off at the bus station and came home and meant to go to bed (it was almost 1 am by the time I got home...) and somehow just... couldn't. It's now 3:30 am and I'm exhausted and I've watched 3 episodes of West Wing and knit almost the rest of the hat I started Thursday (I did need a hat...) and I just don't want to go to bed. It's all empty and lonely and cold in there. I actually think I might sleep on the couch tonight, just so I don't have to sleep in an empty bed.

I think I'll have another cup of tea and finish the episode of West Wing I'm in the middle of... and then try to sleep. The hat should be finished by then too.
oceantheorem: (grad school)
 Check it, I'm making two posts in one day!
Both are short.

I wrote my statement of purpose. Errr, I wrote a really really really rough draft.  It uh, took me a month.  Or two hours, depending on how you measure time.

I'll try to post more discussion about this tomorrow.  For a quick summary--I found my application materials from last time before I started writing, then I cried, then I wrote.  So yeah.
Life is kinda weird.

(Also, I almost kinda missed tagging posts with this particular pair of tags. Almost.)
oceantheorem: (grad school)
I'm going to reapply to graduate schools this fall.  UCSF, Berkeley, Stanford, UCSD, maybe UCSB as a backup.

I could write about six pages on this subject at the moment, but for now I think I'll just leave it at that.
oceantheorem: (Eek)
I've been freaking out about finances a lot lately, because leaving grad school means leaving the cushy stipend I've gotten used to receiving every two weeks. And even with the cushy stipend, I'm just barely making it each month, between rent, car payments, insurance, and food. So the idea of leaving school and pulling my student loans out of in-school-deferment has been a topic of much anxiety. (Is it better for my financial future to stay in school and keep the loans in deferment as long as possible??)

Well, it turns out it's a moot point. One of my loans comes out of deferment on Friday because, apparently, they can be in deferment for a maximum of 4 years from the date of disbursement. And I got my first loan on March 1st, 2004. So on Friday that loan comes out of deferment, and I get a 6-month grace period until August 30th, and then I have to start paying. No matter what. The next loan comes out on October 14th, and the next one follows next July, and then the last one will come out of deferment in February 2010. The only way to delay this past the 6-month grace period is to file for a maximum of 12 months forbearance for financial hardship. And after that, I'm out of cards.

There's also no way to lock in a lower interest rate. At least, not with the company I'm with. And because I have private and not federal loans, they can hose me with the high variable rate as long as they want. So I'm going to be buried under these loans for the rest of my life, and I have no idea what to do about it.

I'm beginning to think that dropping out and moving to California is the stupidest idea I've ever had, and if I want to continue to eat, then screw whether or not I'm happy--my best bet is clearly to stay in school and keep getting the stipend. And possibly move into a smaller, cheaper room. And sell my car. Because I don't see how I can cover rent, insurance, and car payments on top of just the minimum payments of interest-only they're going to require me to start paying in August.

I'm utterly screwed.
oceantheorem: (heart beaners)
Last night I had a dream about Clark. This is weird, because I have only had dreams with Clark in them on a few occasions, and I can't even remember those dreams clearly. I'm beginning to think that Clark signifies my conscience or my "voice of reason" in my dreams, because basically the only thing I remember about the dream from last night/this morning is that he was asking me, in a manner not unlike the one in which Jess questions Rory, whether or not I really wanted to be leaving school. "Are you really sure?" he asked. In that tone of voice that suggests that of course I'm not really sure, because it's a terrible idea and he's going to say I told you so in five years.
Actually, I also remember thinking, "I'm so glad you contacted me," (and in the dream I remember it was over AIM, and the chat window was all familiar and it was kind of comforting) and wondering if I had been too hard on him when we stopped talking, and if part of my anger with him wasn't really anger at myself and general frustration at my current life situation. I don't think he deserved all the wrath I heaped upon him, although he certainly deserved part of it.

The weird thing about making lots of friendslocked entries is that, after a while, it gets to be nerve-wracking to make unlocked posts. It induces paranoia.

I went climbing tonight and there was great music and I had good new climbing pants and of course the company is always excellent, and I felt like, "hey, this is santa-cruz-y and I'm okay here. I should climb more often." But something niggled in the back of my brain, saying, "This is not what you're missing, this is not why you're unhappy; more time spent climbing is not going to make it all better. This is not your solution." And I thought, "Yes, you're right." But it's interesting how I can have good moments--I had a great weekend too, with Aaron and with some of his friends and a few great rounds of a card game called Munchkin--and be generally okay and still be absolutely miserable. I really am absolutely miserable. And it's really just getting worse, despite everything I'm doing to try to force myself to dig in and put down roots and adjust, damnit (I just got a cat, for crying out loud, and the small furry thing, while I adore her, is not making everything better--I mean, not that I expected her to, but this sort of indicates that it's not an easily fixable thing, you know?).

Anyway, point is--subconscious, or Clark: I am unhappy and I don't know how to fight it without leaving. Fighting it here is not working. I think the unhappiness is inherent in the graduate school at Yale part. It's the being young part. It's the... it's all that. I don't know.

I'm very young and very miserable and very confused. But at least I have new climbing pants.
oceantheorem: (Mika violet sky)
I'm definitely not writing enough lately. I went back and read some entries from last summer, and my writing style has degraded quite a bit. I was much more eloquent a year ago. And much more coherent...

I feel like grad school has aged me. I feel much, much older than 22 these days. I think I knew this would happen if I came to Yale; I think that's part of why I was so deathly afraid that I'd made the wrong choice. I posted last June that I was afraid I wouldn't feel alive in Connecticut, and I really don't. I haven't felt alive in the last few weeks at all, and the last year seems like it's gone by too fast for me to have actually lived it. The three years at Santa Cruz took up eons because I lived, sometimes painfully, through each and every second. Sometimes now I feel like I'm just trying to push the seconds past and get to the end as quickly as possible.

I'm not the person I want to be right now. I'm not as good or as intelligent as I'd like to be. I think a lot of that has to do with willpower; I've never been good at self-discipline, having been able to get through high school and college on sheer intelligence and not by studying hard. There were times that I DID study hard, but that was because I wanted to, and not because I made myself. My few low grades in college were in the classes I simply couldn't force myself to study for. I think that's catching up to me now; I find it very very hard to motivate myself to do anything I don't want to do. Maybe I just need to practice. I'm looking forward to qualifying--I actually want to qualify, and I want to work hard to do well in qualifying, and I'm hoping that two months' worth of solid studying insanity will help me keep working hard after I pass the exam. Until then, though, I think I really need to work on being the person I want to be. Like I said, I'm not as good or as intelligent as I'd like to be right now. I feel out of control and uninformed. I feel like I'm living each day based on present desires and without any attention to consequences.

Also, I'm very very lonely, and I no longer know how to reach out in real life. Maybe I've gotten too used to reaching out through livejournal (does it seem to you that every entry here is a cry for help? sometimes it seems that way to me). Didn't I used to ask real life friends for help? Didn't I used to have actual conversations about my problems instead of writing about them over and over and over and over again? Or, if not "instead of", then at least "in addition to"... It seems like I've become, again, the person that everyone talks to, but no one ever asks how I'm doing and actually waits to hear the lengthy depressive answer. Maybe they're all just sick of my depression too.

Please forgive me for a second while I quote Grey's Anatomy: "We're adults. When did that happen? And how do we make it stop?"

Growing up seems to be one of those things they should have given you a manual for in middle or high school. You know, like dating, and applying to colleges, and grocery shopping. It's one of those things you aren't prepared for, even though you've watched other people do it your whole life. No one tells you that, the older you get, the more alone you'll feel. Or that eventually, you no longer have to worry about what other people think of you, but that you'll worry a lot about what you think of yourself. Maybe I should write up a manual for Elena.
oceantheorem: (knit harry potter)
My predictions!!

Harry Pottery Stuff )
oceantheorem: (I am volatile chemistry)
Dude. This week has been... particularly stressful. So much for the good mood I was in last week; grad school seems to take those good moods and pound them into the ground. I've felt ridiculously stupid and lazy for the last three days. Maybe I should be working harder, but I think I'm about on par.... Except for the fact that Susan wants me to qualify this fall, and also gave me a look yesterday that indicated I was the least intelligent person in the lab, especially because the other first year in the lab had read the paper on my gene and I hadn't. And our undergrad is ridiculously intelligent, and every interaction with him makes me look like some sort of underdeveloped fourth-grader.
Our second year grad student, whom I adore and admire, insists that I have imposter's syndrome and that I'm much more intelligent than I think I am, and that I'll be fine, and that Susan was just having a weird day.

Anyway, life has also been difficult socially. And emotionally. I mean, I keep waking up in the middle of the night having NO CLUE where I am, and the cat sleeps right next to my head, so that's freakin weird too (although sleeping with Kayla's cat in Utah actually seems to have mostly acclimated me to waking up to a face full of cat fur). And I seem to have been particularly stupid lately, and trusted a few people that I probably shouldn't have, so the end result is that I went from having a secret lover to a non-secret lover to a non-secret non-lover, passing through various stages of unnecessary drama and trauma involving way too many extraneous people, such as labmates and housemates. Things seem to have settled now; all parties involved have gotten over the issue entirely and I'm pretty sure that the only residual feelings are a little bit of anger on my part, and no sadness on anyone's part, so whatever. Anyway, it all happened in the last couple of days and blah. Unnecessary. The main problem is the stupid dreams I keep having, about a certain person back on the west coast, that make me insane. If it wasn't for the dreams I wouldn't be insane. None of this would have happened if I hadn't been trying to distract myself from the dreams. And the thoughts that go with/cause the dreams.

My new housemate gave me a list of references. I'm gonna go see a shrink. Soon. Really. I need to. I'm becoming more and more convinced that my brain chemistry is completely out of whack. Or maybe I just need more sunlight. I was fine on the drive across the country; maybe it was because I was getting so much sun? Damnit, I don't want skin cancer....

I don't even know what to write about, or how to make this post coherent. So I think I'm gonna go make some sort of private entry that will be completely incomprehensible but will allow me to vent without worrying about sounding like an idiot.
oceantheorem: (gg R pensive)
The only problem with having gone to Kayla's wedding and having taken a bazillion pictures is that now I want to get married. This happened to me once in high school or freshman year of college--this marriage bug--and I actually signed up on a wedding planning site with a fake name, a fake groom name, and a date as far back as the site would allow, and then spent a week or so looking at dresses and flowers and cakes. It's tempting now to go do the same thing and start a file somewhere of what I eventually want my wedding to look like, but the very small part of my brain that has some sanity left is, thankfully, still resisting. *sigh*

At least my annoying internal biological clock is demanding marriage and not babies.

Anyway, below are some snippets of what I wrote last week in Utah (since I guess it turns out I already posted everything I wanted to about the cross-country drive). Some paragraphs are verbatim, some are reworked, and some are added completely new to actually give this post a feeling of coherency:

Long, introspective, and rambly, with a little bit of religious comment thrown in for good measure. )

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