Friday, December 25, 2009
I'm sipping a craft rootbeer while Matt rubs garlic and spices on a side of beef rib and my sister chops parsnips & sweet potatoes into precise 1/2" slices (my slicing results are deemed too haphazard, I call it rustic). My Granny is upstairs listening to Christmas oldies on the radio, and my Dad is at the hospital visiting my mother as she recovers from surgery.
What? Yeah, not a normal Christmas. My Mum's appendix ruptured sometime last week (maybe Saturday), but with no warning pains, she thought she had food poisoning, and didn't start feeling pain until early Tuesday morning. By Tuesday lunchtime they decided she needed to go to hospital, we got there about 2pm, by 9.30 we were talking to her in the recovery room after an emergency appendectomy. She's recovering well, and will probably be allowed sips or water and weak broth today, and allowed to come home in 2-3 days.
1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Bought a block of 20 dance classes and made dancing at least once a week part or my routine. For me, having any regular exercise at least once a week be the bare minimum is a big step up from previous sporadic non-routines, and the fact it's bellydance makes me very happy - I had to overcome considerable fear of jiggling in public to attend, a good friend becoming a teacher was the final key to me signing up for classes.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next this year?
I don't really make New Year's resolutions, but I did make the goal of 2x exercise a week - specifically something that relieved stress, and using re-usable shopping bags more. As above, I managed to make 1x a week the norm, so I can keep building on that this year. I carry a shopping bag clipped to my purse now, and sometimes even remember to take extra with me for bigger hauls of shopping, next up: no buying coffee if I am without my steel coffee mug. This will probably mean I drink fewer lattes, which is also part of the reason for this goal - they're expensive!
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
A new-ish friend, Judi, now she's back to work we are meeting most Sundays for a workout DVD.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, but a cousin was diagnosed with lung cancer. Cancer sucks man.
5. What countries did you visit?
Scotland & Germany.
6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A completed Master's degree and a full time job. An improved ability to remain in the moment. Emotional stability.
7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
July 2nd, left the employ of UCSD, my only professional workplace, and officially left the environment of lab work. I miss lab work, and my groovy coworkers, but not the cadaver-filled basement and performing post-mortems on rats.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Professional: landing my current internship & keeping good grades in my courses.
9. What was your biggest failure?
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Depression, anxiety, panic attacks...and I hurt my foot at some point.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
It's a tossup between the iPhone, and the mini. I'm such a DINKY.
12. Where did most of your money go?
Tuition, mortgage, down payment for car.
13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
14. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Anything off the new U2 album, and "Stuck In A Moment", which really got to me when we saw them perform at the Rose Bowl in October.
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
Both, I'm more certain of my post grad-school future, but still struggling with self image & depression & stuff.
b) thinner or fatter?
Fatter. Damn medications. But fitter. Yay bellydance.
c) richer or poorer? About the same income-wise, Matt got a raise the same time I cut my hours at work, but a bit more of it is committed now we have a car loan & student loans have grown a bit.
16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Taking care of myself, and focusing on my studies.
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying. Skin-of-the-tooth approach to school work.
18. How will you spend Christmas?
Typing this while preparing a reduced (from feeding 27-ish to feeding 7) Christmas meal, with Mum in hospital recovering from surgery. Boo. But glad she's on the mend.
19. Did you fall in love in 2009?
With dancing in general, and with having music in my life, and with Matt. Also with this recipe.
20. What was your favorite TV program?
I finally discovered the new Dr Who. Timey Wimey.
21. What was the best book you read?
Rethinking Thin by Gina Kolata.
22. What was your favorite film of this year?
The Men Who Stared At Goats
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 29, we had a beer & pudding party at our house. Selected interesting beers, bread & butter pudding, and Christmas pudding (which got set on fire twice so everyone got to see the show)
24. What kept you sane?
Matt, my friends, cats, bellydance & Effexor XR.
25. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Hmmmm. Can't think of any. Besides the inevitable Hugh Jackman & Eddie Izzard.
26. Who did you miss?
27. Who was the best new person you met?
Peggy, the statistical whiz at my new job.
Monday, November 09, 2009
I was 9 years old, my family was in Melbourne, Australia for a 3 month sabbatical, I remember my parents and 18 y.o. sister being glued to the TV, and my Dad said “Remember this, remember where you are, this is important”. Because we’d been on the other side of the world since September that year, we hadn’t heard of any of the build up, so it was a surprise. I was young, but I knew it was a really big deal that people were free to travel from the East.
Now my sister lives in Berlin Mitte, in the old East, she moved there in 1993, even then there were a lot of changes ongoing, filling in the spaces left by the demolition of the wall.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
"Bertie" for short. As in Wooster. The black & white interior made me think of spats, or Jeeves' black suit, but it's more of a Bertie.
Before the test drive I hadn't set foot in the driver's seat of a manual transmission since my last driving lesson in Edinburgh in August of 2001: chugging around the block in 1st or 2nd gear in a little diesel learner it was almost impossible to stall. I think I got to go up to third gear once. I got to drive Bertie home. 35 miles. At night. Through a construction zone. The freeways were fine, once in 5th or 6th gear it was just a question of avoiding the massive work trucks that kept trying to merge into me from alternating sides; getting to the freeway involved stalling at each traffic light and taking a few tries to get going again. I made sure I knew where the flashing emergency lights were before I trundled off the dealership lot, I even considered picking up "L" plates to warn those behind me, but I'm picking it up fast enough.
It's an adventure, we've got a radio ban until December, and I'm not commuting in it until I'm a little more practiced, I can't get the stickers to park at work until the official registration comes in the mail anyway. I haven't told my Mum, she's arriving in L.A. in a couple of weeks, so I'm just going to pick her up at the airport and watch her reaction when I put her bag in the snazzy new car.
I just wrote a blog post about my car. Yep, definitely an assimilated Californian.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I get graded on the quality of my papers, not marked on my essay-writing.
I mail letters marked with a zipcode.
However, I still live in a flat and close my coat with a zip, not a zipper; I'd rather eat courgette than zucchini (I'd rather spell courgette too).
Thursday, October 08, 2009
New job - not so new any more - I am settling into a routine, and working on two projects. I am trying to establish myself as generally useful, and specifically the resident neuroscience person, since everyone there is more experienced in epidemiology than I, my angle is being "Brain Girl". I have (mostly) been having fun branching out into a more professional work wardrobe, the discovery of getting dress trousers a size big, then getting the waist taken in has provided me with a few pairs of pinstripe wide legged pants that make me feel like Katharine Hepburn when I wear them. Or her more buxom cousin at any rate. I'm still working on wearing "grownup" shoes. I'd rather wear smarter clothes and stick with clunkier comfortable shoes than go the route favoured by my female coworkers of more casual dags dressed up with heels. Can't run from zombies in heels.
University is chugging along, I am having a hard time finding the time/brain space to put significant hours in on my thesis. I don't know how I did 9+ units and full time work when I started this program, but that head of steam has decidedly run out! My main focus in counseling (besides taking adequate care of myself) is time management, since most of my stress comes from the balancing act.
Time to go, dinner is served!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
As an indoor cat, Marble does not get many opportunities to get her snow-white self all mucky. However, she is a hard working, innovative kitty, and often manages to smudge her nose by pressing it against the dusty window screens while bird watching. This morning she has impressive amounts of grime on her nose, which made me wonder if she'd been trying to head-butt her way out through the screens.
Turns out the culprit is Matt's dusty sandals from a walk we took yesterday. She's been running over to them and snuzzling the mucky things frantically all morning.
It was a great long weekend, culminating in getting our feet good and dusty. Saturday morning I briefly Skyped with my sister in Berlin, & the APs in Edinburgh. On-screen time being used to play show-and-tell with everyone's new eyeglasses, Eve held her laptop out the window so Matt could see the Berlin TV Tower live, and three cats in three countries got waved at their respective owner's webcams. Then Matt and I retreated to a friends house on the hill overlooking our neighborhood, where we lounged by the pool and watched people make beer while catching up with my friends from the lab. I took my swift and wound a couple of balls of yarn while chatting, then bravely bared my bathing suit and spent some time in the pool.
On Sunday we ran errands, did laundry, watched movies and hung out on the patio once the sun dipped behind the hills.
Monday, Labor Day, I woke up with a hangover (did I mention we had gin on the patio?), so I retreated to bed for a bit. Around noon we headed up to the mountains for a picnic lunch and to lounge under pine trees listening to the breeze. We took a walk to a spot claiming to be a small lake, it was really a damp patch of ground, but there were five cows munching away on the water plants, and we sat watching the pastoral scene for a while before continuing around the loop back to the car. We also saw a gorgeous blue jay, and heard a few woodpeckers thunk-thunk-thunking. Both of us had beige feet by the end, the classic "dust tan" effect of walking in the fine dry dust of Southern California. We had planned a pasta dinner when we got home, but discovered we were missing the necessary fixings, so we ended up at BJ's for dinner (fish and chips!), and then back home for pineapple upside down cake for dessert.
Marble evidently appreciates the dusty shoes resulting from this adventure, but I think I'll take them outside for a good shake so I can have my clean white kitty back.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Predicted to go over 100F in El Cajon this weekend, so we are high tailing it to a campsite near Julian, where hopefully it will stay under the three digit temps. Either way it'll be pretty forest camping, a much needed recharge before the semester starts on Wednesday. That two week break went fast.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I'm definitely having trouble concentrating, I'm feeling somewhat burned out, and seriously considering dropping my "extra" class next term. I've gone through the whole program planning my schedule on " I can take it!" principles, and I think it is time to give myself some slack. If taking a challenging work-heavy statistics class, working 20 hours in a my new field, and FINISHING MY THESIS can be considered slack that is. Now that I put it that way it definitely makes sense to skip the additional statistics class. Both the classes I'm signed up for have a reputation for being coursework intensive, and I have learned that can mean "twice as much homework as you'd expect from a three unit class".
Enough procrastination. Back to my second draft.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Snapped on the way home from a lovely day in Julian. We met up with friends from the lab at Orfila Winery, where S & J have a membership. Before they rolled up I discovered a bead shop where the owner hand selects every single piece (and she has great taste) and I picked out some copper pieces to turn into earrings while a brother-sister pair of golden retrievers flaked out on the floor to escape the heat. They were so relaxed that when their human papa came in all that moved was their tails, wagging in unison.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
I had a bit of fun with the camera on my iPhone yesterday, being able to snap a photo and email it right to Flickr is such a handy feature. The camera is surprisingly good, especially in low light. Now I'll probably keep my Ravelry projects more regularly photographed, since it's so much less of a fag to *snap, send* than *snap, find cable, connect to server, save photo, upload*.
Of course, after a couple of shots of lonely skeins on the block by the window, I recruited Tali to make the photos more interesting. He was surprisingly well behaved, no chewing on the sheepy goodness or trying to run off with a ball of mohair. In this photo he had just nuzzled the lampshade at me. Sometimes the cats must find us as quirky as we find them. What's more odd, me photographing coloured string, or Tali carrying around the occasional dirty sock?
The summer is zooming along. I've registered for my lone remaining class, the rest will be research and field work credits. I've produced a (very) rough draft of the lit review, and am currently avoiding work on a draft of the introduction, due tomorrow evening. I've been going to belly dance at least once a week since I got back from Scotland, and I'm really enjoying it, I can feel how much work for my legs and core it is, and it's liberating to be learning a dance form designed for my body shape. Though the best thing with belly dance is EVERY shape looks good doing it, but having extra jiggle makes it much easier to get a good Turkish Shimmy going. I had planned to just take it over the summer, but I want to carry on once term starts again, and add a weekend yoga class at the gym. We've already paid for the membership, and the dancing makes my hamstrings and lower back veryveryvery tight.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
I have been plagued with silly technology-related inconveniences, and at the end of the weekend have achieved very little.
When my Mac Operating System Disk shows up right after I spend $69 on a replacement, that will be the crowning moment of this whole experience.
On the upside, we have upgraded our dining set to one that fits the space better, and has a built in wine cabinet under the table. Then the furniture delivery people got our number wrong.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Now, a week later, I have not quite finished unpacking, but I have started the class that will walk me through the first stages of writing my thesis, spent an hour drilling with zils (finger cymbols) in Bonnie's ATS Belly Dance class, begun an internship at Navy Health Research Center (met lots of people, spent a whole day doing online safety training), and... Given notice at the lab at UCSD.
The last was in the plans only since the week before I went on holiday. Once I lined up the internship and had found they were happy to take me for the summer, but would be even happier to take me full time in the summer and continuing part time after classes restarted it was sort of a no-brainer. I have been concerned that my job prospects after graduation might suffer from only having the required 180 hours of field work, when many fellow MPH students are currently working in public health. I will miss the lab, the group I've been working with is a nice lot, smart and competent, and we have a lot of fun. I hope that I won't be losing touch, I feel like I'm going to be leaving with a bunch of good friends.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
THEN, we get to go to War at Potrero. An event involving camping out with friends, wearing garb of any period from 8th c. to 16th c. and lots of beer.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Exam this afternoon. Two presentations a week from today (one written, one...not), a four-page take home statistics final due in two weeks, and a tricksy methodology exam happening in two weeks. Plus preparing tables on thesis data for Pharmacy residents, lining up field work for the summer, working my job, and I think I'm supposed to locate a thesis committee by the end of the month.
Send reinforcements. Preferably with coffee and nutritious brain foods. I have plenty chocolate already.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
My father is indeed English, a Devonshire Dumpling to be more precise. He grew up in Exeter, attended Cambridge, the first in his family to attend University, and had a banking job lined up back home when he decided he'd like to travel and wrote to the dean of UCLA asking for a job. Improbably, he got a position teaching German 1 and took off for Los Angeles in the summer of 1963... Where, in the front row, he found my mother. The first he heard of my mother was when my grandmother called him to say she (My Mum) was out having surgery, and would miss the first few classes, but please don't bump her from the class, and could she get extra help to catch up? My mother was very pleased that the professor she needed some extra coaching from was such a talldarkandhandsome dashing young Englishman.
My mother is American, Californian to be specific, her parents were both born in Detroit, Michigan, and came to California as Children in the 1920's, part of one of many "Gold Rush" Westward migrations. She grew up in Los Angeles, with a circus performer across the street, movie hopefuls in her high school classes, and used to skip Sunday School with her sister to drive around critiquing architectural styles of various neighborhoods. She was also a first generation university student, though she worked in a bank for a while before starting college. Good thing, otherwise she would have taken care of her foreign language requirement long before my father arrived to teach it.
They married after a four month courtship (officially begun after German 1 was over), and moved to London, where my Dad enrolled in a Linguistics PhD program at University College. My mother had only ever been as far as Rosarito, Mexico and she moved to London in 1964, where rental apartments were unheated, and most lacked refrigerators. Her winter coat was an unlined cotton duster. Yikes!
Before I came along, they lived back in California for a while, where my sister was born, then moved to Lancaster (the one in the North of England) to be closer to my Dad's parents. The same week my father got a professorship at Edinburgh University, my mother found out she was expecting me. They moved four month before I was born, they still live in the house they first brought me home to.
So, the point of the question is, what do I call myself? My first answer is "British, but my Mum's from LA", or "I'm from Scotland, but I'm a dual citizen". I am Scottish, but not as Scottish as, for example, K, or Dr G, Shauna's husband. I grew up hearing bagpipes played on street corners, visiting castles on school trips, hearing kids referred to as "weins", celebrating Burns' Night and Hogmanay, being called "The Yank" or "English" (and a few other non-nationality related things) by my classmates. When I went to uni in London, my (mostly English) fellow students thought I was Scottish or American, and when I did an exchange year in San Diego, people thought I was "British or something". I found that I felt more comfortable outside of Scotland, where I was at least more Scottish than the people I was meeting. Here, and in London, I was the token Scot, and it felt very good to have that side of me recognized.
Now, of course, I realize it's not a great idea to define yourself by what others call you, but if others' views of your identity don't mesh with your own it gets very frustrating. I'm sad that my family background contributed to me being cast as an outsider in school, but I know that wasn't the sole reason, I was also a smartarse bookworm. However, I feel that this experience gave me early insight into prejudice and xenophobia, a word I learned at about age four, when my father was explaining why some people thought it was so important that I was not exactly like them. I feel that my wedding (to my Scottish-heritage kilt-wearing Pennsylvanian husband), which was in San Diego, but featured kilted SoCal groomsmen with cowboy belt buckles, and thistles mixed in with the flowers, was a great expression of my cultural influences. I want to live in Scotland again, I don't know how it will feel, I figure that having lived in the US for 10 years will explain my perceived American-ness, and I'm pretty sure I won't care so much what people think I am, I think that is partly why I want a chance to live there again. There is a lot that I miss, that I feel I did not appreciate while there, but it is also pretty hard to knock being the token Scot in sunny San Diego.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
"You may not realize it, but any kind of rape joke, but especially ones involving "you know you liked it" is not cool. Ever. No way, no how. Even if they have a picture of David Bowie. Private joking as a way to process things is very different from publicly displayed comments and icons.
Please consider the high number of women who have lived through rape or sexual assault, and the effect your icon has on an unsuspecting reader having fun on Ravelry, only to be reminded of a deeply unpleasant experience, and the way it is devalued and brushed off every day. "
I'm just sick of it. Sick of random reminders that I am, merely by being a woman, at greater risk of violence, sick of these reminders coming up and slapping me in the face when I am going about my normal day. Sick of movie trailers and television shows that treat sexual violence as some sort of voyeuristic marketing tool. Sick, in particular, of the idea that it's just part of how the world works, something to be taken for granted and worked around, something I just have to learn to deal with.
So this is my awareness activism for the day. Dear fellow knitter: Knock it off with the rape jokes. XTHXBAI.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Things I have done:
Finished the edging on my first sweater, and decided what to do about closures.
Knitted last of a set of felted potholders, and felted them.
Grafted second fingerless mitten - just in time for warmer weather to arrive.
Cast on slinky summer top.
Spent a couple of hours perusing knitting books in bookstore.
Purchased promising Indian recipe book for beginners.
Watched all three Back To The Future movies back-to-back.
Set up retirement account transfer, balanced checkbook, deposited birthday check.
Made cottage pie.
Caught up on sleep.
Things I have not done:
Yoga, or exercise of any kind, for a week.
Fifteen-question essay assignment on HIV/AIDS.
Outbreak analysis assignment for Epidemiological Methods class.
Multivariate Statistics assignment.
Looked up common exposure routes for formaldehyde.
Swept/hoovered the whole flat.
Knit the closures for the damn sweater.
It's almost as if I've been on holiday (apart from still working my 20 hours - the holiday is just from uni). Oh well, today I have an interview for work experience (I have to get 180 hours of field work experience as part of my degree) in the same department as my Thesis project, it would be handy if I can combine the two somehow. Then this evening I'm meeting a friend for drinks at an English pub, and tomorrow I'm working. Looks like the weekend will be chock full of university work. Ugh. At least I've given myself a weekendish break for the past 5 days.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
1 - Blustery weather: not necessarily the blow your tent away with you in it stupendous winds you get in the California desert (though I kind of love them too); I'm talking about the unpredictably gusty weather that makes me regret the inability to tie my hair back. Even if it's cold and I'm a little under dressed, I find myself feeling excited and stimulated by the whoosh in my ears and the feeling of the air rushing across my skin. Scottish? Me? How did you guess. I also like rain.
2 - My cats: prompted to add this by Marble depositing herself in my lap, with one haunch obstructing the mouse pad. We got these cats as a consolation for having to move unexpectedly, Tali picked Matt out at the adoption center by marching right up to him and walking figure-eights around his legs. Matt was new to cats and had to ask me if that qualified as "a good thing". We were looking for a bonded pair, so luckily the cat that picked Matt came with an eccentric sister who stuck her entire head into a basket of toys to fish out the one she wanted form the bottom. They are both very affectionate, you don't just get a cat in your lap, you get well and truly sat upon, with purring and snuggling. Both of them will occasionally look up and want eye contact, and have been known to gently pat at my face for extra attention.
3 - Socks: I don't actually like the way goofy patterned socks look with shoes, not on my wide feet, but I love walking about in sock feet in stripy, bright coloured socks. Right now I'm wearing hot pink cotton socks I kept concealed all day under low ankle boots and jeans. I have a set of black dress socks with sparkly toe and heel caps in either hot pink, sky blue, or silver, they are my favourite, because they are unobtrusive, but when I take my shoes off at the end of the day, or at the gym, I get a little giggle out of the silly sparkly toes.
OK, it's beddy-bye time, Marble left me, but Tali has take her place, purring and kneading on the crook of my elbow. I'm in my pajamas and the pink socks have been replaced with a pair of fleece-lined men's slippers. It's not that I can't think of three more things that make me happy, it's that I don't have the time to write about why they make me happy, so I'm off to go to sleep.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Saturday, March 07, 2009
This image is more well known, a recruiting poster encouraging women to engage in "war work" in the US. I dressed up as Rosie the Riveter for Halloween a while back, and have a photo of myself in the classic pose, with the polkadot head scarf and signature red lipstick. My father insisted that I include red lipstick as part of the costume, which is unusual for a man who usually rolls his eyes when Mum and I discuss the merits of particular shades of red, or start debating exactly what to call the interesting blue/teal/slate colour of an armchair. I suppose Rosie is an icon he can relate to, my grandmother was a very strong, capable woman.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Isabelle participated in an interview meme, and kindly formulated five questions to respond to here. I am thinking about what to say, and look forward to answering them, but I haven't got around to writing anything yet. Academic work, visiting parental units, and trying to spend time with Matt before his break from school was up definitely cut into blogging time. He and I just spent a large chunk of the day going over last year's spending, and actually drew up a budget. This is a first for us, we live within our means, but haven't been saving as much as we like, which means that spending has to be strategically pruned. Especially since I am earning half what I did last year. My poor February paycheck looked very skinny and underfed indeed, being the first full month of 50% time.
The new weekly schedule allows me to make it to Tuesday and Thursday morning yoga classes at 9, before going to statistics class. Bliss! Luxury! I've only managed one of the two sessions each week so far. Next goal is to make both, then add the preceding 8am "body sculpt".
The title: this is how my American Epidemiological comrades pronounce the term "a priori", which I expect to come out as AY-pri-OH-ri. It comes up a lot in statistics classes, and it took me a while to figure out what this apri-orry thing was. Apricot ornery? Apres orrery?
Monday, January 26, 2009
Our cable company seems to be confused about which channels we get. Tonight we are watching BBC America. Tomorrow we might not be able to get it.
I am SO GLAD I reduced my hours at work.
Matt will be finished with his BS degree classes this time next year.
Tali is in my lap. I think he is drooling on my arm.