now until forever

notes to self:

contempt for own work as a defense mechanism.
defense mechanisms in general.
parsing. parsing! ah, enough with the parsing.
nmh and chainsmoking.
playing guitar again.


i've just now returned from camping with my housemates and it was a comedy of errors. i swear they must have set out to find the most white trash campground possible; RVs plopped here and there around a dirt road loop behind sand dunes with cows wandering all over the place. my shoe got stuck in a muddy swamp and came off. my housemate m and i stood there trying to pull it out, i was simultaneously hating life and laughing so hard that my lungs hurt. my fault for wearing lowcut chuck taylors i guess, but it wasn't really camping, more like "camping".

i took a 20-minute shower and i still smell like a campfire.
i used shampoo and everything!

but it was fun, in a weird way, to cram our whole house in a tent. yes, seven people plus the dog in one tent. my roommate who owns the tent somehow failed to realize that usually tents have walls so she didn't warn us. hers just has the black meshy windows all around, you can't zip up the walls. when i was like "well no wonder it's cold, this tent has no walls!" she was like "some tents have walls?"

we made veggie burgers over the fire and drank red wine.


more of other people's words

O you whom I often and silently come where you are,
    that I may be with you;
As I walk by your side, or sit near,
    or remain in the same room with you,
Little you know the subtle electric fire
    that for your sake is playing within me.

--Walt Whitman


"amy, I wonder why when you have a crush it's the realest thing in the world to you."

--my friend will


feet downstream

oh, it's spring, it's spring! strawberries and asparagus at the farmer's market, a walk around the lake with a.s, and at berkeley the pretty girls stroll around bright and open like flowers.

k said the last post sounded manic, but i don't feel manic. (the words were conor oberst's (bright eyes), by the way, not mine.) rather, i feel like i have finally gotten used to the idea that this will be my life from now on. i will work basically every night and both weekend days and there's no point in fighting it or thinking it will be better next semester. ideally i will get to a point where i can take one day per week off, i think that would actually benefit my work quite a lot. i may get there, i may not.

it's like how the rafting guide said if you fall in, you don't try to swim. you just point your feet downstream and keep your arms to your sides and wait for the safety kayaker to pull you in. the water is stronger than you, he said, and he was right.

i have also gotten used to the idea that i will probably always have contempt for my own work. i am impatient with my lack of expertise and yet when i can step back i find it a little funny and ridiculous, too. like a toddler playing dressup, grimly donning dad's old shirt and tie and playing office. why do kids do that, anyway? i used to love to play grocery store, arraying old food boxes and cans around the basement and wheeling my little plastic cart around. we all want to be ahead of where we are...from that side, the responsibility seems grandly alluring.

life is better since i accepted the rhythm. sitting with will (in the bear's lair, haha i am a student) friday afternoon going through all the things on my mind that day he said "you seem relaxed today. usually you seem so busy." which i think was his diplomatic way of saying i've been a frantic mess for most of the year and i thought yeah, my mind can be quiet in this moment, and i don't have to hold on so tightly to everything all the time; nothing is going to fall apart, i think.



so i've been hanging out down by the trains depot. no, i don't ride, i just sit and watch the people there. and they remind me of wind up cars in motion. the way they spin and turn and jockey for position. and i want to scream out that it all is nonsense. all your life's one track, can't you see it's pointless?

but just then my knees give under me. my head feels weak and suddenly it's clear to see it's not them but me, who's lost my self-identity. as i hide behind these books i read, while scribbling my poetry, like art could save a wretch like me, with some ideal ideology that no one can hope to achieve. and i'm never real, it's just a sketch of me.

and everything i make is trite

and cheap

and a waste
of paint
of tape
of time


possible worlds

last night will & i went out and got drunk and played scrabble.

i was ahead by like 50 points for the whole game. then he insisted on buying me a third beer and i got stupid and he ended up winning by 5. damn will! damn beer! i demand a rematch. oh well, i was supposed to be cheering him up. so i guess it's good that he won.

what else.

i have to do better in one of my classes. like, seriously. it's making me anxious because i don't like the subject matter much and so i have difficulty forcing myself to take all the time required to be very (overly, if you ask me) explicit on my written assignments. even though i pretty much understand everything. but...i need an A in the class and i need the prof's thumbs-up to take my master's orals, so...i shall work harder, somehow.

tonight i'm trying to wrap my brain around the hardest thing i've ever read.
the semantics of questions.
very formal, full of propositional and predicate logic.



spring forward

last week was the worst i've had this year. it left me unable to imagine doing this for four more years. the sad thing is, it wasn't even the work, it was more just the grindingly corrosive schedule and some really depressing social aspects of ... what? this program? grad school in general? i don't know.

i guess because my real friends are awesome and warm and funny and accepting and grounded i maybe forget that there are just crappy mean people around me too. and i get in these situations and i think how sad it is that some of the brightest students in my field can't come up with anything better to talk about than who is fat or ugly or stupid or has b.o. and it gets so much meaner than i could possibly reproduce here.

and you have to wonder, when you walk out the door, what they are saying about you. especially if you are the kind of person who says "uh actually i really like that person you're insulting right now."

so this weekend i took my first day off in two months, i had a pedicure and was treated to brunch at citron. had good talks and napped and cleaned my room and ate dinner with my roommate. today was almost 80 and sunny in oaktown, in the morning i went hiking by myself in tilden. let the fucked up shit finish melting out of my head.


i used to crave intensity

i'm cramping hard and crushing hard
and overwhelmed

i came home to take a nap before a school-related social event i have to be at tonight (after 3 hours' sleep last night) but ended up talking instead to someone very dear to me who wanted something quite a lot, and it didn't work out. a one-shot-only kind of thing.

i didn't know that i really love him until i found that i hurt for him, even though the way it turned out is better for me. i hurt for him even more because he won't hurt for himself. (and no, he is not my crush, when i say i love him i mean something deeper and unclassifiable)

and so i tried to tell him how amazing he is
and he said "i hope to god to disappoint you as little as possible."

i used to crave intensity.
now it makes me feel a little tired and small.


so this is gonna be super long.
you can skip past it to the next-most-recent post if you want.

i was tagged by him.

it's always fun to revisit the moments of one's life and so i'm doing it, but i am stopping the insanity too. i mean that i refuse to tag anyone else; to do so would be a bit hypocritical, i think, as i once chastised my mother for sending me a chain email.


01. Bought a round of drinks in a bar
no. i don't think girls really do that?
02. Swam with dolphins in the ocean
03. Climbed a mountain
yes! (i think half dome counts...it should...)
04. Drove a Ferrari
haha no
05. Visited the Great Pyramids
no, would love to though
06. Held a tarantula
i'm afraid of spiders
i can't even think of it without shuddering
damn you, jake jakob. damn you.
07. Taken a bath with someone in candlelight
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
oh yes. more than my fair share of times, i would say.
09. Hugged a tree
10. Played elastic
11. Been to Paris
mais oui
12. Watched a storm on the sea
not sure...definitely on a lake though.
13. Stayed up all night to watch the sun rise
14. Seen the aurora borealis
yes, i am from a northern clime
15. Been to a large sporting event (Grey Cup, World Series Final, Canada Cup, Stanley Cup)
haha! no
16. Climbed the steps of the St. Joseph’s Oratory
no. am i supposed to know what that is?
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
no, unless you count my car the morning after a blizzard
19. Slept under the stars
mmm yes
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
millions (worked in a daycare center)
21. Traveled in a hot air balloon
22. Seen shooting stars
oh yes
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
i have blogged while drunk on champagne.
24. Given more than you could to charity
yes, after the tsunami
25. Observed the night through a telescope
26. Participated in a world record event
not that i'm aware of
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
no, i don't think so
29. Asked directions from a stranger
reluctantly, yes (i have the dude gene in that respect)
30. Had a snowball fight
of course
31. Yelled as loud as you could
32. Carried a lamb
no. david did though, and told me about it
33. Seen a total eclipse
i feel like i have...but i'm not sure, so maybe not
34. Climbed a sand dune
35. Run over an animal with your car
no way man. i brake for pigeons.
36. Danced like a crazy person with no regard to who might be watching
37. Adopted an accent for a whole day
no, i'm not that good at accents
but now i want to try
38. Felt truly happy, even in a short moment
oh yes yes yes
39. Had two hard disks on your computer
what a nerdy question! does an external HD count?
40. Taken care of someone drunk
yes. ... yeah.
41. Danced with a stranger
42. Whale-watched in the ocean
43. Stolen a street sign
44. Back-packed across Canada
45. Taken a road trip
of course, lots of them
46. Rock-climbed outdoors
47. Sung a ballad on the beach at midnight
*exactly* midnight? probably not
48. Gone paragliding
49. Been to Ireland
50. Had a broken heart for much longer than you were with someone.
oh well, i think we all know the answer to that one
most definitely.
51. Sat at a table at a restaurant with strangers and eaten with them.
yes, i'm strangely good at that
52. Been to Japan
53. Milked a cow
54. Organized your CD’s alphabetically.
alphabetically by artist, chronologically within artist
55. Pretended to be a superhero/ine
well i tell people about my superpower sometimes
56. Sang karaoke
"all right, stop. collaborate and listen."
57. Spent all day in bed
oh yes
58. Played football
touch football
59. Scuba-dived
no. snorkelled lots though
60. Kissed in the rain
61. Played in the mud
62. Played in the rain
63. Been in an open-air theatre
64. Been to the Great Wall of China
65. Started your own business
haha no
66. Fallen in love without suffering from a broken heart
.67. Visited ancient monuments
yes! forum, colosseum, pantheon, etc.
68. Taken a martial arts class
tae kwon do
69. Played XBox for 6 hours straight
not xbox but i solved Myst in 1 day, 13 hours straight
70. Been married
71. Been in a movie
72. Organized a surprise party
73. Been divorced
74. Fasted for 5 days
no, but i'm thinking about doing it just to up my score
75. Made cookies from a package mix
76. Won first prize in a costume contest
77. Driven a gondola in Venice
78. Have been tattooed
79. Canoed or kayaked
yes, both
80. Been interviewed on TV
i don't think so
81. Gotten flowers for no particular reason
yes :)
82. Been in a play
yes, "our town" at my first college
83. Been to Las Vegas
only the airport...
84. Recorded music
well if you mean singing drunkenly into my iTalk with karen then yes
85. Eaten shark
86. Kissed on a first date
of course
87. Been to Thailand
not yet...
88. Bought a house
no but h&h just did (in berkeley yay!)
89. Buried one of your parents
90. Been on a cruise
91. Spoken more than one language fluently
well, sort of, i guess
not anymore though
workin' on it
92. Raised children
93. Followed your favourite singer on tour
does driving to sacramento count?
94. Cycled in a foreign country
95. Moved to a new city for a new life
yes! a few times
96. Eaten ants
ew no.
but almost, by accident
97. Walked on the Golden Gate Bridge
of course
98. Sang at the top of your lungs in the car without a care as to who might be watching
99. Had plastic surgery
uh no. not my thing
100. Survived an accident you statistically shouldn’t have
101. Written articles for a large publication
high school newspaper? haha
102. Lost 40 pounds
not in a row :)
103. Helped an unconscious person
yes, group this with the one about taking care of drunk people i guess
104. Piloted a plane
co-pilot and my dad let me fly on my own for a few minutes
105. Touched a live (manta) ray
106. Broken someone’s heart
107. Helped birth an animal
108. Won money in a TV game show
109. Broken a bone
110. Pierced another part of your body other than your ears
yes, nose (don't have it anymore) and labret
111. Handled a revolver or firearm
112. Eaten mushrooms you collected yourself
113. Ridden a horse
114. Undergone a major operation
115. Had a pet snake
for a few days, we caught it in the yard
116. Slept for more than 30 hours straight
oh no, is that physically possible?
117. Been to all the continents of the world
i wish
118. Been on a canoe trip for more than 2 days
i wish!
119. Eaten kangaroo
i do not wish
120. Eaten sushi
mmm, constantly
121. Had your picture in the newspaper
122. Changed the opinion of someone with regards to something you’ve felt strongly about
123. Gone back to school
again, i think we all know the answer
124. Parachuted
125. Worn a snake
well i've let snakes crawl on me but i didn't use the poor things as accessories or anything
126. Built your PC from different parts
yes! and ran linux!
127. Sold something you created to someone you don’t know
128. Dyed your hair
yes: blonde, black, red, magenta, orange, blue...
129. Shaved your head
130. Saved someone’s life
i don't think so.

wow, that was long.


pulling signal from noise

a fieldwork situation found me.
i didn't find it.
it found me and the universe said yes on my behalf.
all signs pointed to yes.

i will be working on a language called Hupa. there are, according to my professor, 6 living speakers of the language. it is almost dead. i guess i better not screw this up, huh? my first trip will be at the end of this month. i think i need to buy some special notebooks or something.

actually, it sounds like a pretty amazing thing for a number of reasons. i will tell you more about it as it unfolds and when i am not so swamped as i am this week.

so i think that pretty much checks all the boxes i wanted to check in the first year. i found an advisor, found a language to do fieldwork on, found my direction. i joined some groups, applied for some fellowships, and developed a rough plan for the rest of my time in the program. i've even got a tentative plan for summer.

in other news, i have been tagged to do one of those meme thingys that all the kids are so crazy about these days. so look for that soon.



nice things

saturday morning woke up naturally 6:52am, steamy hot shower, grapefruit and earl gray tea. outside my window, sun. outside my window, a pink-flowered tree, and a city, and life like buzzing in your ears. inside, more middle english historical dialectology. table piled with books and grammars, plant wilting thirsty but still alive. somehow after 8 months, still alive. made bed, space heater beginning to win against the morning chill.

a little crush on a someone.
i am still choosing the improbable someones, which i suppose tells me something.

i don't like this semester much so i am trying to enjoy the lovely moments. yesterday walking out of dwinelle in the warm afternoon, everyone coming to life on the square like bears sleepdrunk stumbling out of hibernation caves. playing lazy guitar, drums, a harmonica. kids draped across benches, sunglasses and premature tank tops. even the rantings of the stray crazy homeless guy seemed gentle and warm. berkeley, berkeley in the spring. all the hills lush and green before the summer dry. the bell tower still stops me in my tracks, some days.