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October 27, 2009

Studying to the History Channel

So, I don't always get a lot done when I study with the TV on because I get sucked into yelling a Fox News or cheering on the Phillies or looking things up about pulsars and quasars on the internet after watching a special on The History Channel.


I justify this by telling myself where you never know where you'll find inspiration. Or, what you'll learn. Like, the Milky Way is on a collision course with the Andromeda Galaxy. Or, that pulsars hum. Well, really its that they put out radio waves which come straight through space and dust and time.


47 Tucanae has 22 pulsars. Its like a celestial choir.



October 25, 2009

Do You Know What's Great?

Finally making the right decision.



And, what's even better? Feeling like you might be able to enjoy that right decision. Maybe. Someday.

May 20, 2009

Bicycle

I've been thinking a lot lately about health and finances. These are the perfect things to think about if you'd like to put yourself in a perpetual state of panic. Honestly, and its going to be hard to believe this if you spend any time with me ever at all, but I do not particularly enjoy living in constant panic. And, yet, I find myself contemplating these two, huge scary-ass things.

I have come to the following conclusions:


1. Thank the gods that I have put together some seriously long reading lists for the summer and I can't devote myself entirely to finding solutions to any possible health/financial crisis that may pop up in the next five years.

2. I think I may give myself a bike for my upcoming birthday.

Conclusion number 2, I've decided, is particularly brilliant. Since the only places I seem to actually go are homes of friends (or the drive in), school, the grocery store, and work and I can bike to all of those places but work (and the drive in) I could get a fair amount of exercise into my life. Additionally, all of this biking would cut down on the amount of car usage, which would mean I'd be spending less money on gas. Plus, I'd be forced to stick to the shopping list when riding to the store because whatever I bought I'd have to carry home. I could also use my bike to explore the beautiful countryside. As it turns out, Western New York is pretty sweet. Its not the Amber-waves-of-grain beauty of the high plains, but there is a lot of green and I am pretty close to some large and well known lakes. There is a rub, though. I know nothing about bikes. Yes, there are a number of them listed for sale on Craig's list and they seem to be reasonably priced, but how do I know they aren't priced so because people are looking to unload them on suckers? Also, I don't think I've ridden a bike since I was 16? At least not one that wasn't a stationary bike in a gym. I suppose that cliche is a cliche for a reason, though.

May 11, 2009

My Overactive Imagination

I recently started a new job. At work yesterday, I went on a little quest to collect to mail. I was told that the hallway I would have to walk down in order to get to the mail room would be creepy. This was an understatement.


I walked through the door marked "Employees Only" and I was stopped dead in my tracks. The hallway was long and narrow. It had high ceilings. It was like being backstage. It was poorly lit by high, florescent bulbs. Worst of all, it smelled like Abercrombie and Fitch. My first thought was, "Oh, no. Horror movies have scenes that start like this."

The punky, anti-social, starved for affection girl (played by me in this reenactment) walks slowly down the hall. "Josh?" She says because the hallway smells like him. "This isn't funny." Of course, for us it is because we know what happened to Josh in this very hallway just moments before.

Josh (played by Jackson Rathbone or Paul Walker) is some pretty, blonde haired kid who was wearing a backwards baseball cap and a flannel over a the Number Twelve Looks Like You t-shirt. He thought it looked cool and no, he doesn't know the band nor the Twilight Zone episode from which the band stole its name. Sadly, Josh is no more. He's hanging from parts undetermined in the mail room (perhaps, the hanging could be connected to some joke incorporating the homophonous "male". Or, maybe this is a PG-13 and that would be taking it too far.) The punk girl opens the door and screams. The homicidal maniac pops out from behind something and...

The punk girl punches him in face, knocking the sucker out cold. Or, she just gets the mail and heads back to work
Either way, I imagine all future trips to collect mail will be super quick because it was a very creepy hallway.

May 06, 2009

The Sweet Smell of Freedom

I am finished with the coursework for this semester (I don't know if any of it was any good, but I'm done with it and that's what matters!) My second semester as a PhD student is done and dusted. Earlier today, I was feeling a little like a Rock Star. I'd finished everything. I'd printed the last of it out and was all ready to go hand it in. I'd showered and my hair was up in a twist with pencils sticking out of it. I put on some makeup. Really, a rock star. Or, at least as close to a Rock Star as a PhD student can get.


So, I pack everything up and head to campus, I go to submit the last of my final papers and as I'm reaching to put them into my Professor's mailbox I have this feeling I've done something terribly, terribly wrong. I stop. I think about it. I look over everything again and it hits me. I'm about it hand something in that doesn't have my name on it anywhere. A title. A date. No name. Great. So, I have to run back down to the library and hop on a computer so that I can print out a new title page so that the work can correctly be identified as mine. That pretty much killed the Rock Star vibe.

In celebration of being done, I'm going to a Lab Party tonight. It should be pretty fun.

But, the best news of all: Now that I'm done with the semester, I can reacquaint myself with Booklist '09. I started The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber in January. I have no good excuse for why I am just now getting back to it. Maybe all that Sookie Stackhouse nonsense I read? Or, maybe it was trying to keep up with the reading in three seminars and two labs? I don't know. What I do know is that it is really cleverly written in the first person and my bookmark indicates I only got about 31 pages into it. I think I'm just going to start over. I'm very excited about it.


Also, Happy Mercury Retrograde!

May 04, 2009

Blue October's Foiled for the Last Time

So, this morning I was writing and listening to Blue October (don't judge me. No one has taste during Finals week.) And, this song called "Calling You" came on.


Now, I got into Blue October in a fit of all things Twilight last year (there are many reasons why I wasn't sleeping so well last April; this is my excuse. Stephenie Meyer put a lot of Blue October and Muse on her "Twilight playlists". Follow the twilight link above; they're probably still up.) They're from Houston, Tx, apparently. Its sort of dirty hippie music. But, not like Phish. Dirty hippie, drunk college kid, if Dave Matthews only ever wrote love songs music. The sort of shit you'd expect Edward to sing/write for Bella the rest of incredibly boring and super-creepyweird, immortally long lives. The sort of music that's filled with hope and naivety, and descriptions of proto-codependent behavior.

And, you're asking me, "Kate? Why would you listen to that? Or, you know, read Twilight?" I don't know. I'm just like that. Sometimes, I want things I don't really like. For example, when I eat cheesecake. I'm not a fan, but every now and then, I think, "Ya, I'll have a piece of that."

I was listening to "Calling You". And its just...God. Its just so creepy. I know its meant to be sweet and romantic and...its...oh. Creepy.

You can find the lyrics here.

I'm sure that its sweet to be told that someone is going to tell you that they love you another thousand times. I'm sure its nice to have someone calling to just see if you're okay and asking you if you love them...and...

Look, scratch the surface of this cynic and I really want to believe in love and puppies and people keeping promises and taking care of each other. Mostly, though, I don't think those things actually correlate all that often with creepy codependent behavior like asking someone if they love you repeatedly (even if you do just love the way it sounds.)

And, seriously? The Chorus? I'm just calling you to see/if you're sleeping, are you dreaming/if you're dreaming, are you dreaming of me. I'm imagining that conversation would go like this:

Caller: Hi! Just calling to see how you are!
Callee: Its 3 o'clock in the morning.
Caller: Were you sleeping?
Callee: Yes.
Caller: Were you dreaming?
Callee: Yup.
Caller: Of me? *sounds hopeful*.
Callee: I'm hanging up now.

(Unless of course the callee is me, and its actually 3 AM. Just to let you know, if you call me then and you're not on fire, dead or in jail, the string of words that will come out of my mouth directed at you will make a sailor blush. It will also probably make you cry.)

Obviously, I'm not the demographic a song like this (or really, a book like Twilight). Still, I don't think this is what you should shoot for. I don't think people should glorify relationships like Bella and Edward have. He's controlling and creepy and she's selfish and constantly in need of "looking after (in his mind and then in her mind because she practically ends up with Stockholm Syndrome)" because her boyfriend is frequently putting her in situations that are dangerous for her. Why is that okay? Your boyfriend puts you in danger and you cleave to him because only he can save you? I don't know a lot about healthy, but I'm pretty sure that doesn't count.

May 03, 2009

Dominoes

You don't ask the right question, every answer feels wrong. --"Hell Yeah" by Ani DiFranco

Let's think of ideas as dominoes. You have a bunch of them. They're not particularly related, or at least, they are not related in a way that is immediately apparent. But, they are all interesting, so you set them up one by one. Once they are all set up, you hit the right one and everything falls into place. You follow each domino in the chain and the picture that you were setting up begins to emerge. And, its pretty wild. Pretty amazing. You think, "Why didn't I see it before?"


I just had that moment. You ask the right question, you get the right answer. I can still only see part of the picture, but the part that I can see is worth looking at. (Its also worth investing in some more dominoes.)


April 30, 2009

Aww...

This little kid melts my cold, cold heart.

These kids do, too.

They have become my new favorite study break, after Free Rice and Peter Thiel, of course.

October 16, 2008

In Which I Exhort you to click for the cause!

Remember when I used to do those fun Welsh updates? Ah, those were the good ole days when I only had to worry about which form of the preposition went with which pronoun or which mutation I should be using.

Now, things are much, much more complicated. I have five pages to read on Belgian Dutch vowels before I can return to my before-bed world of Robin McKinley's Sunshine. (Book group has apparently failed to wheedle a selection out of Jess, so until such time as I am informed of a new book, I am having to make do with borrowings from the E...because heaven forbid I go near the The booklist.. )


Just five pages on vowels...and I love sounds. Sounds are so fun and categorical and interesting if not necessarily easy to describe. Five pages and what am I doing? I'm trying to talk myself out of spending sixty bucks on The Breast Cancer Site. Are you familiar with this site? You should be. It is awesome. The breast cancer site has a button that you can click every day. It logs IPs. And, for every click they get, their sponsors donate money to help women who need mammograms get them. And, then they have a store that where they sell many wonderful things (like recycled silk yarn and banana fiber yarn) and the bracelet I'm currently trying to talk myself out of. It is for a good cause. But, its money I should be saving for things like food and rent. But, its a good cause. You see my dilemma.


They are part of a network of sites, including The Literacy Site whose orange bracelet I have long worn. (Open Books, Open Minds, yo.) I recommend that you should check it out.

October 12, 2008

Gah.

You know when you have a dream and you wake up feeling completely transformed? Well, I'm not having that moment. I'm having a I woke up feeling great, made myself a great breakfast, was drinking a great cup of coffee and then, I read something and it occurred to me just what sort of implications the current financial crush may have for me, the lowly graduate student in Linguistics. And, I'm trying not to panic.

Then, to add insult to injury my iPod (which I use for extra storage because it is so big) has apparently decided it doesn't want to play nice with Windows. Oh, and its frozen and refuses to respond to any and all commands to turn itself off or unfreeze. I have to wait for it to run out of batteries and then plug it in and hope it doesn't fuck up again. The reformatting is fine. I'm pretty sure there isn't anything on the iPod that isn't someplace else as well, I'd just like to check before I tell my computer to fix the problem.

However, it has inspired me to do something that I've been meaning to do. My laptop is old, and I am trying my best to not have to buy a new one. This, of course means that I have to take really good care of the one that I have. Something I've been considering doing for a good two months now is buying an external hard drive so that I can move some of the non-essential stuff off of my computer and put it someplace else. This would free up space on my hard drive and would I'm sure, improve the quality of its running. I haven't yet because I've been shopping around. (I'm trying to be frugal. I'm not very good at it.) I think I finally found a good price from a website I trust. (Plus, its the exact same product I scoped out at Best Buy for a silly amount of money less expensive.) So, I hope this works out.

April 22, 2008

I have Alice Cullen Hair

So, I didn't really mean to take a month long break from blogging. Really, I didn't. And, I would have updated a week ago but it would seem that I had locked myself out of my own site. Isn't that awesome.

In the last month I have become obsessed with the following things:

1. Wasabi Peas: I had seen them before on the Harry and David fixture at Barnes & Noble while I was waiting in line for my extra foamy Caramel Macchiato (also an obsession.) It has all the earmarks of something that would be tasty and delicious because I like both peas and wasabi. The box states that they are "not for the faint of heart". I finally broke down and tried them a week ago. They are amazing. They are crunchy and starchy and spicy (although, you don't get the same wasabi after effect of the burning the runs from the back of your tongue up into your sinus cavities, which, in my opinion, is the only reason to eat wasabi.) I sing their praises now.

2. Twilight By Stephenie Meyer.: These teen books about a vampire and his human love interest are funny, touching, cute, and just the most engrossing things I've read about vampires since I read L.J. Smith's vampire trilogy in Junior High. Also, I've come to the conclusion that a large part of the reason I like the books is that I am Edward. I mean, aside from not being a vampire, not having super powers, and reacting better to bad turns in relationships. (Read New Moon, You'll get it.) Also, they are making the first one into a movie starring the very suave Cedric Diggory. Wait, I mean, Robert Pattinson. And, if that wasn't enough it turns out that I sort of have the same haircut as the girl playing Edward/Cedric/Robert's sister Alice in the film and that I look cute when I style my hair the way she styles hers. Neat.

3. The Merry Gentry books by Laurell K. Hamilton: Okay, these are not well written, but they are very entertaining and sometimes that is exactly what you want. These are a little payback for having run Changeling in my younger days. Merry is a faerie Princess who has to get knocked up before her cousin, the evil and not-right-in-the-head Prince Cel manages to get someone else knocked up, in order to beat him to the throne. In short, these are books about Merry Gentry avoiding assassination attempts and fucking hot faerie guys. You read that right. Although, to be honest, some days I wish they were a little less Courtly intrigue and a little more steamy and sticky. (In the first one, just skip to the end. I have two words: Killing Frost. I have another word: HOT!)

4. Slash Fiction: I have begun writing my own little slash fiction story that is a little faerie, a little vampire and a little Pride and Prejudice. At the moment, it is the touching story of four really awesome sorta-faeries (I created a new class of being because I am the author and I am awesome) who find true love and kick a lot of ass. Three of the sisters are loosely based on the three friends of mine who read The Twilight books first and kept telling me I needed to read them.

5. Not being homeless in the Fall: I have been trolling the internet for places to live In Buffalo so as to not be homeless come Fall. (Or, more importantly, come the first snow fall.) I have been accepted in the PhD. program at Buffalo and have accepted their offer. This weekend, I will be road-tripping there in order to do the unthinkable: Actually look at places before I sign a contract. It is this new thing I'm trying called "Being On the Ball". I'm actually not very good at it as I have yet to actually talk to (instead of playing phone tag with) the person whose house I will be staying at this weekend.

Awesome.

March 12, 2008

Tom Cruise Crazy

Last Night, I had this crazy dream that I was back in high school (although, it wasn't my high school) and there was a political uprising among the students led by a Frenchmen named Michel. Michel and I appeared to be involved in the dream, but there was some tension. Anyway, I was going to see the Frenchmen give a speech about something when I got a phone call. I answered and it was my Mom. She told me that I needed to come home because there was something wrong with my Grandma. Now, this is not improbable, as my Grandmother recently fell and broke her hip. So, I did and Grandma was at the house. The dream logic must have failed here because what I remember happening next has nothing to do with anything that came before.


I was at work and one of my coworkers was asking me if they should say something to some people who seemed to be milling about and talking heatedly about a table we had in our main aisle. I asked what they would want to say, people are allowed to have conversations. They were mostly just animated, they weren't loud or anything. Then the coworker said, "People I think have been asking for autographs. But, if those people want special treatment from me, well they have another thing coming!" With this the coworker stormed off.


Then someone asked me for a copy of Andrew Morton's new book about Tom Cruise. I said I'd be happy to help and I knew exactly where they were...on the table where the people were having the heated discussion. So, I walked over to the table, asked them if I could grab something. They slid down a little and I picked up the book and one of them, a man, said, "You know that's not accurate." I looked up (well, down really) and realized the couple talking by the table were Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. I said, "A customer asked for it. And, I don't censor, sir. Besides, maybe the customer is looking for a good piece of fiction and has already read all of Jane Austen." I smiled and walked away. Now, the me that was dreaming was a little flabbergasted at what Dream Me said but I did feel pretty pleased with myself.


I woke up wondering what would possibly bring Cruise/Holmes to my little part of the world. I figured, in the end, to just let my brain do its thing and enjoy the ride. With that, I am leaving you with a piece I found on YouTube. This is a video set to the Jonathan Coulton's "Tom Cruise Crazy". The video is from YouTube user MoronDude.

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November 12, 2007

Faux Pas

Hilary Clinton thinks I'm an idiot!--Dan Rydell, Sports Night (1998-1999)


Mondays are usually good days. They are the only day I work a late, which means that I can get up whenever I want to. (But, since I have to be up at 6 every other day I work, "whenever I want to" tends to be skewed pretty early in the morning.) Today, I had my lie-in, which was lovely. Got to spend some quality time with a certain person (who is currently making us lunch) and got to get started and the things I have listed to do today. One of them included emailing a number of people. The original plan was to just send them all the one email in one big go. But, I figured that would seem impersonal and cheeky. So, I wrote what I wanted to say in a word file and then proceeded to more or less send each of them a cut and paste email that had a few details varied to personalize it.

And, wouldn't you know, I forgot to change the one detail that really mattered. I'm an idiot. The thing I forgot to change? I'm too embarrassed to say. I'm hoping that I was able to rectify it and that people will be understanding and a little forgiving and just assume it was a technology problem.


They probably won't. But, I'm hoping.


I'm such an idiot.

August 06, 2007

Reminders

I am reading a book by a man named Colin Wilson that was published in the early eighties and is about the brain. I can't think of what its called at the moment, but so far I have read two chapters and it has reminded me about the difference between what is actually happening and our perceptions of what is actually happening. Wilson points out that because we base our judgments on our past experience, we can freak ourselves out or get depressed and frustrated about something before it even happens. Its good to have these little reminders.

August 03, 2007

Awkward

I feel awkward. That's really the only way to describe it. I feel like I've breached some sort of etiquette, like a skipped over a protocol. It is more likely that what I am feeling is that I do not believe that I am living up to my potential and I am unsure as to how I should proceed. How do I go about applying for PhD programs? I know how to request paperwork and fill things out. I even know how to ask people for letters of reference/recommendation (or, at least I think I do) but, how do I contact people and tell them that even though I've done fuck all with the last year of my life.

I feel like, by the time a person gets to be my age, they should have a little something to show for all the that they've done. I don't feel like I do. I suppose this is something at everyone feels at some point. I'm sure, like a good grown up I'll either get over it or I'll learn to fake being over it well enough that I'll pull my shit together and come up with some reasonable explanation as to why I've been such a fuck up. Its just, right now, I feel awkward.

July 30, 2007

Hell is Other People

Tomorrow there is a technician coming to fix my computer. It will be fixed, for real by someone who is paid to know what they are doing. This is not to say that I haven't gotten good advice from people. As a matter of fact, a boyfriend of a friend of mine made it possible for me to back up the important things on my hard drive before it officially was declared dead.


However, I got a lot of help without asking (I am being generous with my use of the word "help".)


I have an interview on Wednesday with an internationally known furniture store. With any luck by this time on Thursday I'll at least have a part time job.


I have been thinking a lot about Jean-Paul Sartre's play No Exit in which a man and two women are stuck in a room in Hell together. I'm beginning to think I know what that feels like. I am the sort of person that thinks you should give things some thought before you do them. So, before you go grocery shopping, you should think about what it is that you want to buy. It is true that even the best laid plans don't always come to fruition and that you may end up having tacos instead of pasta on Tuesday and pasta and instead of chicken and rice and Wednesday because you just found out a friend who only eats chicken breasts and vegetables will be popping into town on short notice on Thursday and you've invited her for dinner doesn't mean that you shouldn't plan. It just means you should be flexible with your planning.


Sometimes, I feel like the only person that's still planning on having lunch tomorrow. Sometimes, I feel like I'm speaking a language no one else in the room is speaking. Sometimes, I wonder if I'm the only sober one; the only one who wants their lives to be more than these four walls or this cluster of streets. Maybe I'm being unnecessarily obtuse. Or, maybe I'm not giving those around me enough credit. I just don't understand what we're all running away from. What is so bad that instead of turning and facing the problem we have to tell bitter stories over pints of beer and things.


And, I wonder. I wonder if I'm surrounded by other caterpillars.

July 29, 2007

Small Things

Its the small things that make life worth living.


I've been giving this a lot of thought lately. The little things, like reading something that opens new doors or that reminds you of doors that are already open. Rainbows on your walk home from the Green grocer. The fact that there are still green grocers out there in the world. It would seem, if all you ever do is go to work and come home and watch a bit of TV that the only experts left in the world are the pundits who go on about security on the news or talk about how messed up our children our on daytime talk shows. This isn't true. There are still butchers and cabinet makers in the world who, while already being outstanding are still working to perfect their art. Its a shame that we have to go for far in the world to find them.

I've decided that life shouldn't be about what you don't want in it or about what you don't want to happen. It should be about what you do want and what you think should happen. I've decided that it isn't about breaking bad habits. Its about making good habits. Round abouts here, I should probably be quoting the Buddha or something similar; perhaps giving a nod to Sharon Salzberg whose book Lovingkindness I have been reading. But, right now I think its most important to just remind myself and the world that its okay to take time and focus on the good things in life.

May 30, 2007

Surf Clouds

Sometimes, Cardiff has the sort of clouds that you expect to see in snaps taken at sunset by tourists visiting the beach. They have this salty, swept in from sea look that is harsh yet soft, backlit by the setting sun. Its one of the things I like about here; different enough from the methane sunsets of Iowa to be remarkable.


I was thinking today, while walking back from an interview at a coffee shop that a good cup of coffee from the same place you always get it is a little like making the bed in the morning. There are these steps and procedures that you have to go through if you are making it, and you might think, "Why bother?" Why mess around with hospital corners and making sure everything gets tucked in? Why bother count the seconds it takes to brew a shot? You have other things to do; the world is a busy and chaotic place.

Well, I reason that you bother because then, every time you see your bed its a reminder that there are things that you have control over. That maybe the universe isn't such a chaotic place; there is some sort of order. And you aren't bringing anything left over from yesterday, like twisted and mangled sheets because you kept tossing and turning before you fell asleep into the next day. Getting the same cup of coffee from the same place is a little like that. Its a reminder that there is order in the vast universe. A universe that may possibly be friendly because the barista that you see every Thursday and Saturday and some Mondays and Tuesdays has bothered to learn your name and not just your drink. Maybe I'm being optimistic and maybe its just subconcious, but I think these reminders of order are important to us. And even if they are the tiniest of things, they still do us good.

March 27, 2007

Now

I want to wake up in the morning and feel good about myself. I want to begin my day with peace and joy. I want to be happy. I want to see the beauty in the world around me and rejoice that I have the opportunity to take part in the world.

I don't want to skulk back to my parent's house feeling like a failure.

I want a job and to continue studying and to have friends that I see all the time and not just occasionally. I want to feel like I can speak my mind anywhere and everywhere and not fear reprisal or that petty self-obsessed people in my vicinity will attempt to "get even" with me for simply having my own opinion and for disagreeing with them.

I am tired of asking people over and over again to call me by my name. I am tired of being told, "Well, you shouldn't have pissed me off" as if I have control over the emotional responses of the people around me.

I want to be treated with respect. I want to be loved and cared for.

I'm having some problems right now; I'm not sure how to solve them.

March 09, 2007

Its been awhile

Hiya!

I know, its been forever since I've written. How funny that one person can own so much stationary, be absolutely enamored with the art of letter writing and actually manage to send so few of them. I contend that it is not the letter writing itself, but the posting that gets me. And, it does get me, every time. The post offices here are not publicly owned; they are mostly little convenience stores with little post office cubicles in the back. There is the occasional stand alone post office but it has been my experience that these are always dark or lit with the hideous green florescent lighting that makes everyone look yellow and unhappy. International letters have to be weighed before they will tell you how much they are to mail them. But, then it always ends up being 50p. Always. I should just buy a bunch of stamps at once and then I wouldn't have to worry about it but I never have the money on me for 10 stamps or 12 stamps; its always just the pound I need for the two letters in my pocket. Enough about my postage dilemma.

Its starting to get warmer here. And, its been windy. Not to resort to cliches, but in like a lion. Although, that doesn't mean much here as its always windy. I left the tea bag in my mug a little too long, and the tea has gone bitter. I'm going to finish it anyway, because it would be wrong to waste a cup of tea (even a bad cup of tea). Everyone thinks that things like a "good cup of coffee" or a "good cup of tea" are easy to make. How hard could it be, its some leaves and some water or some water and some ground roasted beans. Except, its an art. Tea leaves can be scorched or worse. (And, don't even get me started on coffee.) That was what was great about Annie's Tea Talk, back in the day when she had them. A little bit of information really does make for a better beverage. And, there's something enjoyable about watching the water boil, waiting for it to get to the "string of pearls" stage so as to not burn your green tea. (I have been drinking of a lot Twinings orange and lotus flower green tea. It is nice, but you have to pull the tea bag at just the right time or you either way tea that is too weak, or tea that tastes like a warm orange.)

I have been doing a lot of reading recently. Mostly academic, though. A lot of re-reading, really, just so I can get my references right. I have also been reading Fracine Prose's Reading Like a Writer. When I finish it, I plan picking up Stephen Fry's more recent book The Ode Less Traveled. Then, I'm either going to dive back into Proust or I'm going to read Northanger Abbey. I recently finished Lady Chatterly's Lover. I have to say that I was a little disappointed in the smut factor. I know it was written, what? almost 80 years ago now but still. It was an interesting discussion of different perspectives on sexuality that used the word "cunt" way more often than you see it in (non-feminist) literature. I did enjoy it, though, despite the disappointment.

I hope that you are well, and that this finds you in good spirits. I hope that the snow doesn't have you down. It will melt, and then it will be unbearably hot. It could be worse, The Welsh word for July literally means, "The end of Summer". So, they only expect it to be nice for June and July. Sometimes, I think I've picked the wrong specialty and that I should be going for my PhD in Literature. I know close reading isn't in vogue these days, but it would be neat to do a corpus study of a piece of literature looking for one thing or another. The end result would most likely be very Michael Hoey, or it wouldn't work at all. Ah, the things that keep me up at night.

Anyway, I miss our conversations and I hope to hear from you soon. Perhaps this time when I'm at the post office I will by 10 or 12 stamps instead of just one.


Love,

Kat(e)

January 31, 2007

Pure Genius

I am still around. I've been having computer problems. And, I know that I missed a few deadlines, one of the 15th and one day. But, in lieu of actually posting, I'm going to tell you about one of my new features!


At the risk of sounding like that Bud Light Commercial that saluted the "Real Men of Genius", I am calling the first recurring feature (for lack of a better name) "Pure Genius". (If you can think of a better title, let me know.) For those of you who don't remember (or who aren't American and weren't...exposed to the ad campaign) the "Real Men of Genius" ads were a series of ads saluting the inventors of ridiculous things. They looked something like this:


Unlike the "Real Men of Genius" ads, my intention is not to take the piss out of things, but rather to highlight some of my favorite things about being alive. I feel like I'm constantly surrounded by negativity. Every time I turn on the news, the stories are always about who has been hurt and who has stolen from whom and what city is currently host to a new group of victims from some cataclysm or tragedy. And, it is important to know these things, to know what is going on in the world. But, the negativity doesn't stop with the news. You can walk into a bar and see the weight of the world and desperation on people's faces. Actually, you can just walk down the street and see that. Or, you can walk into a store and see clerks being harassed by self-important customers or customers putting up with frustrated and touchy clerks. Plus, its easy to think you can't do something and to get down on yourself. Its easy to look at a magazine and think that you'll never be pretty enough or sit in a class and think that you aren't smart enough and all of this just creates energy that is out there in the universe.

Well, I want to put something else out into the universe. Something that is based on my gratitude for the million and one things that are around and that I sometimes take for granted but are really very cool. This feature will cover many things from food to animals to objects to ideas and people. I am very excited about it!

December 10, 2006

No, That is a mole hill.

So, back in the day I used to have something that I called the 10% rule. This is how the 10% rule works: I can make the world a better place. I can make the world a better place by being a better me just 10% of the time. This starts with two things: 1. Instead of getting mad and punishing myself every time I do something wrong, I should accept that a I have made a mistake and look for the best ways to solve the problem. 2. To be more observant. This second thing I came to by reasoning that if I were 10% more observant throughout the day I would notice more things. I would notice more people smiling. I would notice more laughing. I would notice when other people were belittling themselves (and then, just maybe, choose to cut them some slack if they needed it). I would notice more of things going wrong at the beginning and would then have the choice of whether to ignore them or fix them before they became well and truly fine messes. This would make my day brighter, which in turn would make me more relaxed and friendly and would effect how other people acted around me and reacted to me. And, that would make my world a better place and since I share that world with other people maybe I'd be able to pass on some good mojo and that would make their world's better. And, since this was something I was trying to do everyday, I wanted it to become habit so that the first 10% would grow and grow and grow so that eventually the 10% was 30% compared to when I started.

That might sound a little sugary, new agey, too good to be true. But, I don't care how it sounds. I think when we focus our energy, our intent on something we help it manifest. The mind is a very powerful thing, and if you let it be filled with images and ideas of hate and anger that's all you get, hate and anger. However, this is off-topic.

I don't know what exactly happened with the 10% rule, but I want it back. I want it back because I've spent the last hour or so working on a possible PhD proposal and then, halfway through it I had a mini-attack of...well, not really panic, but that feeling you get when you know you're completely and utterly defeated. I was thinking, "Why am I doing this? I'll never find funding...blah, blah, blah." But, that isn't true. Its not that I can't find funding, its that I haven't yet found funding. I've been focusing on the negative, stupid little bullshit things instead of focusing on the good things. I've been looking at molehills and thinking, "What am I going to do about that!?!?"

I've been silly, really.

I want my rule back.

What its like in my head 2: Boys are Disgusting

Hands: (holding broom) Where did all this crap come from? Boys are so disgusting. I mean....the DVDs....the electrical cables....

Brain: Hands, lovelies, its better not to think about it and just go.

Nose: ai! Que es el olor?

Brain: It seems I've found the answer to the question, "Where did all of John's socks go?"

Nose: otra vez, por que lavas su ropa?

Brain: Because it is more efficient to do one load of whites instead of two half loads of white.

Nose: Si, pero el puede lavar tus ropa con su ropa.

Brain: Yes, it does appear to be his turn, especially after today. Eww, is that...

Eyes: Vedo più calzini.

Nose: Mas calcetines sucios con mas de sus DVDs.

Brain: Man, the shit I do in order to decorate for Christmas.

Eyes: ti Auita la volta prossima.

Brain: Yes, you're right. He should help next time. He should have helped this time, but you know what cleaning with other people is like. You get to talking and then one of you thinks of something funny you found on the internet and then the next thing you know you're at Old Chicago waiting for a stuffed crust pizza while feasting on some Italian Nachos and drinking tankards of whatever beers on special.

Nose: mmm, Old Chicago con pizza y nachos....

Eyes: mmm Birra.

Skull: Dw i'n hoffi cwrw!

Nose: ::glares at skull::. Sabes que es buena tambien? La Cocina Mexicana.

Eyes: mm, La Cucina Mexicana!

Skull: Dw i'n hoffi tacos hefyd.

Brain: Wait, what, how did we get onto Mexican food?

Nose: Podemos cocinar, no?

Brain: Ya, I was thinking that. But, what to cook, you know?

Eyes: ti Abbiamo bisogno di ortrografare?

Skull: Rhaid i ni fy sillafu i.

Nose: Cociniamos tacos!

Brain: Nah, I don't want to make tacos. They're too much work. Something easier...

Hands: Taco casserole.

Brain: Genius. Y'all are so my hero!

December 05, 2006

What it is like inside my head right now

Brain: Hey, Sinus Cavity, would you mind not leaning so much this way, I'm feeling a little pressure back here.

Sinus Cavity: THE MUCUOUS IS EVERYWHERE! OH MY GOD I AM COVERED IN IT! THIS IS SO GROSS. ARGHH! I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW FREAKING....I MEAN, GOD! YUCK! WHERE DOES THIS STUFF COME FROM?!?!

Brain: Okay, I can see you're having issues today, I'll just talk to nasal passages and maybe the eustachion tubes, that's fine. Don't stress, neon green's a good color for you.

::Brain backs away slowly::

Hey, nose. You couldn't see fit to, I don't know, blow or something and release some of the pressure up here, could you? We're feeling a little cramped.

Nose: No. Has vista ese mierda? No voy a tocarlo. Nuh-uh. Prefiero besar la culo de su Mama.

Brain: You are so foul-mouthed, I mean really. Where did you learn that? And, worthless, I could have the hand meet you with a tissue and the lungs to give you an extra push, its not like you would actually have to do any work.

Nose: No Tengo que trabajo, porque soy muy bonita. Mira mis anillos. Y tu? Que haces? huh? piensas? Pfft. Puedo pensar si quiero.

Brain: Fuck off. I can speak like, six languages and balance a check book. Like a care if you're pierced.

Nose: No puedes contar "Welsh". solamenta siete ciento miles hablan ese lenguaje. Hay mas gente vota en sus eleciones por Reina de prom. Los Welsh piensa que su lengua cuenta, pero nadie no cuida que ellos piensan. Tambien, ellos no printan sus proprio dinero, usan el dinero de Inglaterra. Jodales. Si El Vaticano printa su proprio dinero, entonces los Welsh pueden printarlo tambien. Peredores.

Brain: Whoa, harsh. You know you live in Wales, right. You're going to get yourself broken with an attitude like that. And, I wouldn't hold the Vatican up as your shiny example of what a nation should be...they claim a dead language as one of their official tongues, remember. Oh, ya and have so much stolen knowledge from the past millenia that if we really want to learn anything new about the Ancient Greeks or Romans instead of finding new archeological sites, we should like, storm the Vatican.


Eustatichion Tubes: Parliano di il Vaticano? Il Papa e stano un Nazi, no?

Brain: Eusti! Ciao! Indeed, AND the Pope was a Nazi.

Nose: No me importa si el Papa es un maricon que prefiere ninos, No hablaba del Papa, hablaba de la Welsh.

Brain: Oh, I heard you, I just didn't care.

Nose: Tambien, no estoy hablando con ese wue los Eustachion Tubes. ::To the Eustachion Tubes:: Chingate, pendejo.

Eustachion Tubes: Mi vuoi bene, lo admiti.

Nose: Dije, "Chingate."

Eustachion Tubes: ::blows kisses at the nose::

Brain: I can see this is going nowhere. Tonsils, how are you?

Tonsils: Confused. Is that proper Spanish or is someone being an asshat?

Brain: Someone is being an asshat.

Nose: Puedo oirte!

Eustachion Tubes: ti Ascolto.

Tonsils: I'm sure that's not what you've meant to say. The two of you. I'm mean really. Oh, by the way, we're swollen and someone should really take a look at the state of the throat.

Tongue: Ich Habe Einen Kleinen Problemo Avec Diese Religione. ::Tongue Giggles::

Brain: Thank you, Tongue, but I'm not sure this is the time for humor.

Skull: Mae pen tost gyda fi. ::cries::

Nose: Eso no es un lenguaje!

Brain: Skull, I know, sweetie, I'm working on it. NOSE! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, JUST GO BLOW YOURSELF!

Nose: Pero mas gente habla Klingon!

Throat: Oh, that ii it. Nose, Eustachion Tubes, Brain, EVERYONE! Are you listening?! I demand that I, in my swollen state that I not have to listen to this bickering anymore! I demand Painkillers and a decongestant! And Juice! And, if that goes well perhaps some soup. And a film in which there is a smart, funny, independent woman that frequently sticks her foot in her mouth.

Brain: So, you want to watch Bridget Jones?

Throat: Or Emma, if you don't mind.

Brain: I think we might be able to swing it.

November 30, 2006

NaNoWriMo: This is it.

Well, ladies and gentlemen. This is it. This is the end of NaNoWriMo and I have a measly 3,000 words written. I did not meet the objective. I am, however, not sad by this because of the circus of paperwork my life has become what with job applications and visa applications and trying to come up with a suitable PhD topic that I won't mind spending the next (at least) three years of my life working on AND that will attract appropriate amounts of funding. That's a lot of work.

On top of this, there is the emotional work of dealing with my first Christmas away from home, which will also be John's and my First Christmas together as a couple. On top of this, the universe as seen fit for the honeymoon period of living together to be over so we've been going through bouts of being at each other's throats. Fun. But, we have, separately and collectively decided that this is going to be an amazing Christmas, no matter how we might bitch at each other or how I might be homesick. Its going to be fun and exciting (And, oh dear Powers That Be please, let it be relaxing.)

The plus side of the whole NaNoWriMo experience is that I think I will be able to roll what I have written into a piece of slash fiction that I wrote whilst I was supposed to be studying for the GREs. This added addition of 3,000 words, plus a lot of tweaking to make the new stuff and the old stuff actually make sense may mean that, when all is said and done, I have something that is readable by the general public and not just a big festival of crap.

I'm feeling very hopeful. And, hopeful feels good. I'm going to watch the end of Murder, She Wrote and have lunch now. I have been, on the sly, working on a podcast, as well as a number of reviews and another installment on my ethics odyssey, so watch this space for updates of actual interest soon.

October 27, 2006

Thinking about Practicing Living

"The way most people should behave is to live in the now. This transcends any dogmatic or cultural teachings and is not a question of ethics or other philosophy. You are here, so why not devote yourself to it fully? Lose yourself in the act of what you are doing. Pay attention to the details of life without getting lost in dreaming." by gitm of everything2.com

Ironically, while reading this brief opinion piece on e2 (that I happen to agree with) I was thinking about what I wanted to write. Then, I had to stop writing to take off my shoes and have a sip of wine. Clearly, concentration isn't my strong point today.

I have been thinking. I have been thinking about ethics. I have been thinking about places I could look for a suitable job. I have been thinking about Six Apart's new blogging platform I have been thinking about calling my Mama. I've been thinking about a lot of things, but mostly I've been wondering what it would be like to not think for a minute.

Meditation class did not go well this week. I had a bit of a fight with my sweetie before class and so when I should have been meditating, I was thinking about all of the things that were said and that weren't said. Then, Meditation Neal talked about Karma. I like karma, its a good concept. Its the cosmic law of cause and effect. And, what's interesting about karma is that the word itself simply means "action" (Thanks, sensei).

Of course, the doctrine of karma is a bit more complicated than that and includes one's intent along with their actions. Which, in the middle of meditation class got me back to my ethical musings. The word "ethics" has a Greek/Latin derivation and, according to The American Heritage Dictionary has its roots in the Greek word "ethos" or "character". So, while "ethics" seems to be about who you are, in a black and white code of conduct sense of the word, "karma" seems to be about "what you do". While I don't think there is much difference between these two things (at least for the purposes of my current musings) I still think this is something that is interesting and may merit further exploration (although, for right now, its a little off topic).


When I was little, and I'm sure countless of people across the world have had this experience and some other little kid on the playground was nasty to me my Ma would say, "Well, what goes around comes around." And, as a kid, I just got this mental image of a gigantic circle that had some sort of nasty energy burst that would slam into people and things. Or, that actions were boomerangs and you couldn't escape them coming back at you. The point my Mother was trying to make was that if you don't want something to happen to you, then don't set the precedent that it is okay to do that thing. I kept on thinking about boomerangs, but I guess somehow it sank in because I'm talking about it now. If you want to carve pumpkins in October, you have to plant pumpkin seeds in the beginning of summer. If you want to enjoy life, you have to learn how to stop being distracted and just live it.

I'm having tremendous trouble with this last one. I'm sure this could have been a much better entry, but I keep getting distracted by things I think I should look at on the internet.

"Living" as an action is something that so often gets pushed into the background. As human beings, as long as we are alive, it is something we are always doing. We can sleep, but we are living, we can go to work, but we are living, we could rob a convenience store, but we are still living. As an act, it is one infrequently comes to our attention. But, it is an important one. What we do while we are living has its consequences and makes its statements about who we are as people. We spend so much time buying, selling, sleeping, eating, worrying, hating, dancing, drinking, loving, laughing, fucking, shouting, driving, sitting, waiting, cooking, cleaning, watching, hearing, studying, showering.... and we spend so much time thinking about how to do those things, that, as the article I quoted earlier, we don't even bother to give them our full attention and really do or enjoy them.

Well, I would like to do more just living. Meditation is a practice of just living. I would like to build up that practice. I have decided to set a goal of introducing, at least in the beginning, ten minutes of meditation into my days. I'll let you know how that goes.

July 27, 2006

I feel like I'm spinning my wheels

So, I'm sitting here listening to coffee brew and munching on a carrot and some pasta salad.  There is bacon in my pasta salad.  As I eat I wonder why it is that everything on this island somehow ends up having bacon in it.  No, seriously.  If they can put bacon in it, they have.  Except beans, for some reason.  I've seen baked beans with sausage but I have yet to see a can of baked beans with bacon.  There is also about 800 calories in my pasta salad. That's why I'm eating it with a carrot instead of with the 400 calorie fresh cream banana boat I wanted to eat it with.  I'm making a fresh pot of coffee because John said to me recently, "I don't think its good to drink the same pot of coffee two days in a row."  I think its fine, but then my coffee habits have always been questionable.

 

So far today I've been reading for my dissertation. Soon, when I'm done with my carrot and pasta salad I will pour myself some coffee that I will mix with milk and ice and fake sugar and I will get cracking on some writing for my dissertation.  I can't wait for this to be done.  Even if it sucks.  I keep thinking about what I'm going to do once its done but that just makes me sad.  I feel like I ought to be asking someone for advice, but I have no idea who that would be. Every time I come up with a plan something happens to nix it.  Like its doubtful I'll be able to make enough on 20 hours a week to live off of.  Or, my fiancee tries to talk me out of staying in Wales because he thinks I'm too good for him.   And, then I read about what everyone else is up to and everyone else seems excited and happy about where they are and what's going on in their lives but I feel like fate is conspiring against me and that I can only be happy for 37 seconds at a time.  This sucks.  I hate it.

July 10, 2006

Rats, they make me crazy. Crazy, I'm crazy.

As can be expected when I reach a point of too much stress (I don't know if its this way with other people, too or not) I pretty just shut down and have to take some time off to just chill out or things get infinitely worse (example of infinitely worse: insomnia, uncontrollable crying, starving/binging, etc.  In short, what I'm saying is, there is a point where one can see another depressive episode on the horizon and one has an opportunity to do something about it.)  Unfortunately with stress and life, you can't necessarily take a day off from everything.  For example, there is laundry that must be done and food that must be bought in order to feed mouths (mines and Johns) that must be fed and there is, most importantly, rent that must be paid.  But, now that most of those things are done, I am in a position to sit back, relax and work on my dissertation.  Wait, that wasn't in the plan.  The plan was to sit back and relax.  I know.  That is relaxing.  Getting something done, having a sense of accomplishment makes me feel more relaxed and that makes me feel better about things in general. 

Continue reading "Rats, they make me crazy. Crazy, I'm crazy." »

July 23, 2005

Neurotransmitters and becoming a quitter.

The human body is makes a neurotransmitter called adenosine. Adenosine is the A in ATP that you may remember from your high school biology class. Your body uses the Krebs cycle to make between 36-38 molecules of ATP. It then uses ATP to fuel other activities in the cell. However, adenosine on its own, in the brain attaches to cells and causes them to slow down. Adenosine is the chemical that tells us we’re sleepy. While awake, the levels of it in our body rise. When we are asleep, they go down. This is important.

Caffeine looks a little like adenosine. Its at least shaped enough like it that it can attach to adenosine receptors on cells. You can guess where I’m going with this. Instead of telling cells to slow down and take a breather, caffeine attaches to cells and screams, “GO! FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, GO!” All this going is perceived by the pituitary gland as an emergency. Why else would you need to go so fast? The pituitary gland sets into motion the release epinephrin, which does a number of things in the human body. It slows blood flow to the stomach and the skin. It opens up breathing passages and increases blood flow to muscles. It dilates pupils and prods the liver into releasing sugar into the blood stream. (Sugar, in the form of glucose that your cells then take in and run the Krebs cycle on.) But that’s not the fun part.

Caffeine also manipulates dopamine levels. Dopamine is the feel good chemical, operating in the pleasure centers of the brain. According to the article I read this morning on HowStuffWorks.com, caffeine does this dopamine trick via the same pathways as heroin and cocaine, its just more subtle about it. This might explain why caffeine is the drug of choice in public and in polite company. Its certainly my recreational drug of choice.

Or at least it was until six days ago. The half life of caffeine in the human body is about six hours. So, the cup of coffee that I have at three in the afternoon banks about 375 or so milligrams of caffeine. Combine that with 40 mg from the tea I had with breakfast and the fact that I’ve probably had some chocolate for at least another 10 and then maybe some more coffee on break if I’m closing and we’re talking upwards of 600 milligrams a day. (375+375+40+10= 800. Just 200 shy of a full gram!) At least 175 of which is still raising around my body screaming Go! At my cells at midnight. And I wonder why I have trouble sleeping sometimes.

The withdraw process hasn’t been nearly as painful as I thought it would be. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m better off without it. My way of cutting caffeine has been no coffee or soda. I miss coffee. I miss it SO MUCH. I may have a cup of decaf (internal shudder) today. What is the name of the coffee shop in The Basic Eight Death before Decaf? Bah. I hate being a grown up and having to think about the consequences of things like my addictions.

This was originally published on my original blog The Experiment Continues at faeryface.diaryland.com.