Archive for September, 2009


quickly, because my dissertation is eating my face:

Sectionals got moved from Nashville to Atlanta to Chattanooga over the course of 36 hours, and then we played nearly all the games before getting totally rained out, so all my frisbee friends got to come the wedding.  Except the one who had to stay behind to help clean up after the terrible flooding at his parents’ home.  Atlanta was out of control last weekend!

Husband got a job on Friday (about an hour before the rehearsal dinner – great timing!), the job I was hoping he would get (computational support for research at the same company I am going to).

Then we bought a house*.

Then we successfully got married, and it was freakin awesome, and I made my husband take out the trash last night (suck it sucker!)

It was a big weekend.  I am totally blissed out.  And now I have work to do…

*still in the process I suppose, inspection is on Wednesday, but offer is accepted and papers are being signed and sent back and forth across the country.  Fingers remain in the crossed position, as we learn about mortgages and escrow and closing dates and home inspections and so forth.


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woe, and tragedy

I should have spent more time watching Bridezillas (that terrible, awesome TLC show).  Then I would know what to do:

The frisbee team I play on has a major tournament this weekend.  It is Sectionals, the first tournament of the Series, in which teams must participate and do well enough at to proceed to the remaining tournaments of the season.  Unfortunately, it’s been raining in Nashville all week, and there is a very very good chance that we won’t be able to play on the water-logged fields.  Which would have the effect of moving Sectionals to the following weekend.

Which is the weekend of my wedding.

Which would mean that, oh, half or so of my friends can’t come to my wedding (because, honestly, they are too important to their respective teams to miss Sectionals – oh, to have friends who suck at things).  And a couple of my teammates can’t go to Sectionals (because, honestly, they are too important to my wedding to miss it).  And, obviously, I don’t get to go to Sectionals – my second to last frisbee tournament for, at least, the next several years (if not forever and ever – there is NO frisbee scene where we are moving). Lose, lose, lose, all around.

Up to now, I had been getting increasingly nervous that I was going to a) get sick, b) get injured playing frisbee, or b2) get hit in the face with a frisbee and have a black eye or broken nose or giant gash on my face for the wedding.  Now, it doesn’t matter: I won’t have the opportunity to injure myself in some ridiculous frisbee-related way, and even if I did, none of my friends will be there to witness my embarrassment and joy.

Waaaaah wah waaah (rain dancing, sobbing, etc.)


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Home, Sweet Home (part 1)

I don’t remember the house I lived in from birth till age 3, except in random snapshots… the bushes next to the red (I think) house, painting a sign made of a half slice of tree trunk for the neighborhood park with my mom.  I know from visiting the neighborhood in recent years that it has been hit hard by economic decline – no one has painted in years and years, lawns are untended, so it has taken on a dilapidated air of neglect.

The house I spent the rest of my childhood in, where my parents still live, I have a lot of mixed feelings about.  It’s in the sprawling suburbs of Atlanta, which I hate, but it backs up on actual forest (old growth, even!) with an actual river (albeit with high levels of coliform bacteria) and railroad tracks and a swamp (I use the term loosely, of course… it was really just a permanent, giant, icky puddle, with tadpoles).  Our neighborhood is older, built in the 60s or 70s, and thus the lots aren’t squashed together, and they actually have trees on them.  Going home now brings back a flood of memories – the hill I sustained upwards of 5 concussions on between ages 8 and 15 (when I stopped riding bikes… I’m a slow learner, possible because of all the head trauma), the woods I spent years playing in (pretending we were characters from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, building forts and tree houses, rope swings, tubing in the river, putting things on the railroad tracks to watch them get squished, the time the swamp froze solid and you could see all the little fish and plants in suspended animation, in between “skating” around it in our snow boots), that eventually the neighborhood miscreant would set fire to, the night before I started high school.  More in the house – the bookshelf I used to sleep on top of, the rollerblade routines we made up and performed in the basement before it was finished (usually to Whitney Houston and Disney songs).  I love my neighborhood and my house, I just wish it weren’t in such typical suburbia – we used to hang out at QuikTrip.  Seriously.  We’d go play frisbee at one of the numerous parks, and then go to QuikTrip to get fountain drinks and just… sit outside.  For several hours.  You can’t walk anywhere (sidewalks got put in since I went to college, but it’s still several miles between where people live and Everything Else), there are strip malls everywhere, and there is zero diversity.  I can actually remember the first time I saw a black person.  My high school was 94% white, with the remainder mostly consisting of asians.  It was very bizarre, especially to my parents, who moved down from greater NYC.

When college started, I moved into dorms on campus.  My first roommate was a huge disappointment – she was a senior, and had lived in the same room for several years, so I felt like I was always in “her” room, rather than “our” room, and she could no longer relate to my college freshman experience.  Of course, we were also like oil and water – I was on probation my whole freshman year for climbing a building; she was super religious, and I would frequently return to find letters to Jesus on the whiteboard on our door.  Somehow, I convinced her to move across the hall for second semester, into her friend’s room.  Then a new girl moved in – a freshman.  She was escaping from her first semester crazy roommate, and we had much more in common – both science track, smart kids, both freshman, etc.  Later on, it became apparent that she was one of those smart people completely lacking in common sense.  One of my clearest memories of living with her was the time she spilled sugar all over the floor of the room, and didn’t clean it up for weeks.  WEEKS.  if you walked barefoot, you’d get sticky granules of sugar all over your feet.  It was… unpleasant.  It was also my first solid introduction to leaving passive aggressive post-it notes, which I believe is a rite of passage for American college students.  The sugar incident coincided with one of my bouts of mysterious and intense illness, so I was confined to the room for the better part of a month, watching Dawson’s Creek re-runs (4 in a row, 8-12pm every weekday on TBS!) from my lofted bed, refusing to move because of the sugar and my fever.

That summer, I lived with my older brother’s roommates, first in a house way out on the east side of town, notable only for its creepy unfinished basement, where you had to walk on wooden planks across a frequently-flooded area to get to the washer/dryer (and I am the kind of person who thinks serial killers are obviously lurking in all dark corners all the time, so it was extra fun… I think my mom did all my laundry that summer), and then in a house on the far north end of town, in an area that was…  a bit past the fraying edge.  My roommates left something to be desired… they were stoned all the time.  One of them had a puppy and a full-time job, and he never walked the dog, so it pooped everywhere – I felt terrible for the dog, and also angry because there was dog shit all over the place all the time.  They never did dishes, and I remember seeing dirty dishes stacked 6-12 inches high on every surface in the kitchen, with roaches everywhere.  The house was sort of scary, in retrospect, as the doors didn’t fit the doorways and the windows didn’t lock.  I would frequently come home and find random kids from the neighborhood in the house and have to shoo them out, after giving them food or whatever was lying around to play with.  One day, I came home from work to find my window wide open, and it freaked me out completely.  Later I learned that my brother’s friend had gotten stoned out of his gourd in his upstairs room, and had gotten himself locked in his room – broke the doorknob off, apparently.  So, he’d escaped by -no shit- tying his sheets to his bed frame and rappelling out his window, and then entered the house again through my window.  And didn’t explain for a week.  It was…  a great summer.

In the fall, I moved into a different dorm – a residential college.  My roommate was random, chosen from profiles posted on the wall like personal ads.  Mine said “Me: studies a lot, goes to bed fairly early, hates hair dryers and make up, likes climbing and playing frisbee.  you: hates hair dryers, not a drunk, respectful.”  I was in high demand, based on that, and had my pick – it was good, mostly.  She wasn’t crazy, and I got a lot done that year, but we aren’t still friends or anything.  Our room was on the top floor, the co-ed floor, the first of the girls’ rooms.  One of the boys who lived across the hall was a freshman frat boy, and I vividly remember getting into a top-of-my-lungs screaming match with him when he wouldn’t stay out of my room, or stop making sexual comments.  Other than that, it was a great dorm – the kind you could walk around in your PJs all day, like a giant home.  We had massage club in the lobby, we would read books aloud in each other’s rooms.  I took O-Chem that year, and learned all the various equations by writing them in sidewalk chalk around the quad.  I snuck on to the roof to make out with a boy from down the hall.  We would play frisbee all day on the quad on game days to try to stave off the tailgaters, and we would bully the drunk guys who would pee on our building.  Some weird kid wrapped the building in ribbon one day…  It was exactly what a dorm should be.

This is really long already, so I’m leaving the rest for another entry.

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I.  Friday

My advisor is editing the second third of my dissertation.  He sends a series of emails, over the course of 15 minutes.  First, Your writing style is good. Then, This figure detracts from the validity of your model. Then, I do not think you are done with your research.  That last one, it made my stomach drop, like a particularly rickety old wooden roller coaster.  See, back in July, we (he) decided my model was Good Enough – that adding more complexity to my mathematical model would be purely theoretical, that it wouldn’t be anchored to the experiments I performed.  And now, in September, I must do just that – add more complex code, and write more complex paragraphs explaining it.

At least we kicked that unschedulable dbag off my committee.  At least we bought me another three weeks to work on this.  At least advisor is being reasonably helpful, and wants me to succeed.  But I’d just like to be done with this.

II. Sunday

My third to last frisbee tournament of the foreseeable future was last weekend.  We headed up to Chattanooga to play in the annual spirit of the game tourney.  Our biggest competition showed up late both days.  The first day, it caused them to lose a game, which resulted in us playing them in the quarters instead of the semis (I’m sure that is confusing, I don’t speak bracket very well).  Sunday, they showed up an hour late for the quarters game “because it was raining” (though every other team had managed to be there for two hours already), but because it was a spirit tournament, we weren’t allowed to assess points.  We were all livid, that this team, who never respects their opponents enough to show up on time, should not be penalized for more of the same.  It’s as if their M.O. is to get their opponents angry and riled up, and then – keep pressing buttons during the game.  We lost, fairly narrowly, and I maintain it would have been a different game if we hadn’t been so pissed.

Later, when we tried to head home, my car key snapped in two.  IN TWO.  It was the cherry on top of a fantastic morning.  Though, if I’m being honest, it could have been worse…  it could still have been raining, and the tournament could have ended and we could have been alone.  Instead, we got to sit around with our friends and watch the finals game while some gentle giant cut me a new key from the pieces in the back of his mobile locksmithery.

III. Tuesday

I obtained some pharmaceutical motivation, and had the most productive day in my memory.   I got all of my model code working, surprising my advisor and myself.  I edited the worst paper ever written by a native english speaker (not me!), and went to frisbee.  I worked for 12 hours, and went to frisbee for 3.  It was glorious.  I was super happy all day too.  I’m filing this experience under “when psychiatrists screw you by giving you an intelligence test instead of the ADD battery and then say you are too smart to have an attention disorder, and then you go around the system and it totally works,” or perhaps “self-fulfilling prophecies/the placebo effect.”  Definitely one of those.

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… in order to avoid undesirable outcomes:

  1. I only like the green gummy bears.*
  2. Instigating a fight with a hefty man who is a foot taller than me would really just be a waste of time.
  3. I have plenty of time, no need to fret.

*I ate them all anyways.  Here’s to my wedding dress fitting…

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Freak out!*

I was talking to my advisor yesterday, trying to get my defense scheduled for the beginning of November, where it belongs.  You see, you can’t wait until the end of November, because that’s basically Thanksgiving, and then after that the semester is pretty much over and there isn’t any wiggle room for screw ups or dbag committee members bitching about commas.  Right, so, first half of November is defense season, at least at this grad school.  We email out to all my committee members, thinking this should be easy, as only two of them are professors with pesky teaching schedules – the other three work at federal agencies, and oh let me tell you, their days consist of staring at their computer screens (most likely Stumbling Upon things) and pushing paper.

Well, Dr. Moldy gets back and says he can do it either October 19th, or if we must, November 2nd – he will be out of town for the rest of the god damn semester.  I immediately start hyperventilating, because none of my other committee members are available on Nov.2, because because, oh yeah!  Dr. Moldy ass face is only available for three hours each of those TWO days he deigns to be available for the entire freakin semester.

What about Oct.19, Susie?  It’s ok, everyone can do it that day!

….. but jesus, I don’t know if I can!  That means, I have to turn my full dissertation into my adviser in three weeks.  Because he has to edit it, I have to fix it, then I have to get it to my committee members by Oct.2, so they have two weeks to read it, make edits and meet with me about them, and then I have to fix the edits, and oh yeah make a presentation, and find some freakin xanax because oh my holy hell I am going to spend the next two months losing my damn mind.

Because because because – I also have to, oh, I don’t know – get married?  In three weeks?  Like, my rehearsal dinner is a couple hours after my dissertation has to be turned into my adviser.  Because back in March when we were planning it, we (all of us, not just this idiot, because I took a damn poll of family, friends, and academic advisers) thought that the end of September would keep it from interfering too badly with my defense.  Hah.  HAha haha.

What a day to be out of gin.

*I’m going to have to get a new theme for my post titles.  I guess I’ll worry about that in November.

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