I was literally in the bedroom trying to pick out work clothes before I realized it was Saturday. WELL DONE ME.
Since recovering from that episode of self-induced panic, I’ve been basically doing not-much, though I’ve been reading a bit in Decisive, by Chip and Dan Heath, which is helping me get a handle on the Back East question.
Part of the issue is that Mum really loves Chicago and doesn’t especially want me to leave, which I get. I like Chicago and I don’t especially want to leave either. But Back East is New England which means I’d be moving to Boston, and I love Boston, and I think I finally figured out how to get her on side:
“Well, you know, Mum,” I said to her, “Boston…it’s a lot safer than Chicago.”
Which both is and is not true. Chicago’s frankly epic gun violence is restricted to very specific geographic areas that I really don’t get into much, and it mainly happens at times when I’m at home asleep. I’m also a white dude and thus not worried about running at four in the morning lest the cops decide summary execution is the best way of dealing with me. But Boston has a lower overall crime rate particularly in the Wow That’s So Much Murder department, and thus seems safer to my mother, who has started getting a little anxious about Holy Mother Of God All The Shooting.
In her last email to me she said, “I think you should definitely give Boston a chance.” So, we’ll see.
A friend of mine from work just finished moving and I offered to buy her boxes from her, so tomorrow I’m going over to pick them up and bring them home. I’m going to be moving soon-ish regardless of whether it’s Chicago or Boston I end up in, so I might as well start packing up the non-vital kitchen stuff, the extra linens, and the delicate Home Decor Which Proves I Don’t Have Cats.
I love packing. I’m kind of weirdly excited about getting started.
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bids me wear them, warm them until evening
when I’ll brush her hair. At six, I place them
round her cool, white throat. All day I think of her,
resting in the Yellow room, contemplating silk
or tafetta, which gown tonight? She fans herself
whilst I work willingly, my slow heat entering
each pearl. Slack on my neck, her rope.
She’s beautiful. I dream about her
in my attic bed; picture her dancing
with tall men, puzzled by my faint, persistent scent
beneath her French perfume, her milky stones.
I dust her shoulders with a rabbit’s foot,
watch the soft blush seep through her skin
like an indolent sigh. In her looking-glass
my red lips part as though I want to speak.
Full moon. Her carriage brings her home. I see
her every movement in my head… Undressing,
taking off her jewels, her slim hand reaching
for the case, slipping naked into bed, the way
she always does… And I like here awake,
knowing the pearls are cooling even now
in the room where my mistress sleeps. All night
I feel their absence and I burn.
flightless dodo; the many-colored
pigeon named the passenger, the
great auk, the Eskimo curlew, the
woodpecker called the Lord God Bird,
the . . .
Come children, hurry--there are so many
more wonderful things to show you in
the museum's dark drawers.
I should know next week if they want me to fly out, and when. Until then I can’t do anything anyway, so I’m trying to put it from my mind for a bit.
Now I have a day of work ahead and then I get to go pick up my race packet for tomorrow’s 5K. Adulting: I has it!
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To forge a bond between all the Earth science PhD students at ETH, a PhD retreat was organised in May so that we could actually meet people that are not on the same floor (I believe I tend to be quite narrow-minded socially…). We all went to a large guest house in the Black Forest in Germany and then indulged in science and not-science :)
View from the guest house.
One day we had an excursion (so that not all days were science-y) and I opted for the geological excursion. It was really nice on the one hand (nice nature, we also needed to go to a castle to view the rocks, which was pretty cool. And they had ice cream there), but on the other hand, it made me realise again why I didn’t choose geology: rocks! I just don’t see the things in them that I am supposed to see. Just give me some models!
Walking up to the castle.
The castle! So pretty!
The cherry on the cake was that I got a lot of compliments on my presentation (representing our research group). Most importantly, I apparently know the level of my audience very well, so that everyone can enjoy my presentations. Nice!
So in the end I went with the following:
- Pippin from LotR, even though he's way more heroic than I am. I've always thought of him as like me, because he's curious and impulsive and loyal, and I do like that all the hobbits are basically ordinary grown-ups who fall into an adventure in order to support their friend Frodo, rather than the destined chosen heroes of many Tolkien imitators or the adolescents of a lot of pre-Tolkien quest stories.
- Harriet Vane from the Dorothy L Sayers detective series. Perhaps too obvious or too wish fulfilment-y a pick, she's really such a great character and people like me always want to be her. Because she's intelligent and believably intelligent, and she's a middle-aged woman with a somewhat unconventional (for her society) love life. And she's intensely romantic but still retains her identity and independence when she falls in love.
- Lynne de Lisle Christie from Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle. She's generally competent without being an amazing genius, and she gets into a position where she can use her intelligence through a mix of native ability, hard work and family connections. She's not quite a scientist but definitely intellectually curious. She is a bit naive and impulsive and loves easily and is deeply loyal to those she commits to.
And it's Bi Visibility day but I've basically given up on trying to find any bi characters to pick. Certainly not anyone who's poly in anything like the way I am. Christie is alllllmost bi in that she has a strong romantic friendship with an alien who is mostly female (though the aliens do gender differently from humans, that's a big plot point), and sexual-romantic relationships with men and male-ish aliens.
2. My mother is still judging my spending choices hard -- well, half my spending choices, and half that I enjoy things that aren't Serious Business. It's making me paranoid, since every time I get something in the mail (which, honestly, is not that often) my mother makes comments about how I need to save my money and how I shouldn't spend money on my hobby. (Though on one occasion I was able to brandish the book I'd just gotten and go, "This is for my PhD applications! Not for fun!") But it's making me paranoid and unhappy and judged and I'm...pretty much all those things all the time anyway, so it's just heavily increasing all of those. (Like, I probably shouldn't buy things! On the other hand I did just not spend money on taking the GRE again. Unless I do have to take the GRE again. I don't know! Anyway, I'm a human disaster, but the paranoia is making me crazier than usual.)
3. I was hoping to avoid the paralyzing, nauseating dread I usually get before a new episode -- especially a season premiere -- due to the fact that I saw the Rebels season premiere at SWCE, but NOPE. I've never been able to feel anticipation or excitement, just dread. People get excited about things before they happen? Okay...that sounds fake but okay...
3a. Sometimes I really hate being in a live fandom; it's incredibly stressful for me as a fanfic writer. Especially because my fic still isn't done because, see above, human disaster.
3b. The benefit of having an Ahsoka ARC is that I can get my extreme stress about new material out of the way before it's actually released. Maybe. I don't know. If I ever read it, the thing I'm terrified of.
3c. I also can't bring myself to be excited for Rogue One because, well, it's really hard for me to be excited about anything. The fact that I'm not currently feeling complete dread about it is actually a plus, but let's wait until we get down to December to see if I have an emotion rather than "huh" about it.
4. I've pretty much hit election fatigue at this point -- I don't want to hear anything about it anymore. I'm a citizen, I'm registered to vote -- I actually sorted out my voting status before the primaries, something I haven't done in more than four years (yes, I'm the problem in this country, I know), I'm informed, there's nothing I can do until I get my ballot. I just...I wish there was a way to not see anything about it anymore. Like, sure, that's probably willful blindness, but it's not doing anything except stressing me out. And literally everything already stresses me out.
5. why am I such a human disaster, this makes number 5, right?
by Anne Sexton
I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.
I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.
I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.