Archive for the ‘tales from the city’ Category

Caffeine Fallout

So, like I said, yesterday – way too much coffee.  I normally drink diet coke, maybe even a few cans a day, but I only drink coffee occasionally.  Coffee has about ten times as much caffeine as soda, and I tend to drink it like it’s a chore (get it over with!) rather than savoring the taste.  Point being – I get totally jazzed up, and then it’s like I’m on speed for a while.  Sometimes days.  This is one of those times.  I have been going a mile a minute since yesterday at 6:30 am.  Just constantly moving, fidgeting, mentally running through lists and lists.  I’ve been super productive, and sometimes I think about doing this on purpose semi-regularly, to take advantage – except that it makes me feel shaky, and it makes my anxiety shoot through the roof.  So, that’s a no go.  Instead I just do it every time I forget how crappy I feel.  MENTAL NOTE, IDIOT!

Anyhow, I still feel spastic today, but totally killed it at work.  I got so much done.  And now?  Now we are going to the county fair!  To watch a goat milking competition.  No shit.  So, obviously, that means I will have things to put on the ol’ blog later.  But for now, a story from yesterday….


Right so when I got my coffee yesterday, a hilarious thing happened.  This dude had been tailgating me for maybe 5 or 10 miles of my commute.  This is a small town, and the traffic is generally all headed to the same place – the lab – so tailgating seems pretty dumb, to me.  I mean, traffic moves god-awful slow, but come on…  not smart.  So he’s tailgating me, even though I’m going 5 over as much as traffic permits.  Then I get to the coffee joint and start to move into the turn lane (using my signal, of course!).  He WHIPS around me, accelerates into the turn lane and speeds into the parking lot.  I mosey in (elevated heart rate and all), and walk casually in the door after him.  He looks all agitated, so of course (OF COURSE) I say something.  “Sucks when the person you’ve been pointlessly tailgating for 10 minutes is going the same place as you, huh?”

He responds with “Learn how to drive, bitch!”, at which I laugh.

So then we proceed to hang out next to each other in line for 10 minutes (rush hour at a coffee joint!).  Here’s the rest of our conversation:

“What would you have had me do differently?  You know, to drive better?”

(sputtering) “You were going 10 under the speed limit!”

“No, I was going 40, except when pulling into red lights.  Then, you know, I slowed down, as one does…”

“There was too much space between you and the cars in front of you”

“Oh, you mean the ones that were stopped?  At the red lights?”

“Whatever bitch, learn how to drive”

“I hope you wreck you car.  Have a lovely day!”




I do love awkward.  I also love how this was probably the funniest thing that has happened to me in a month, and it likely ruined his day (and I maintain that he would have been totally aggro even if I hadn’t said anything to him).  My karma might have suffered, but I’m not sure.

It just seems so fraught to tailgate, or be rage-y in public in a town this small.  The walls have ears, here.  The person at whom you choose to direct your ire?  She works at the lab, in a senior position.  He’s the husband / brother / son of one of your co-workers.  She lives down the street.  Small town.  Don’t be dumb!


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Stolen from Lawyerish, who stole it from The New GirlBut I’ve decided to add a couple of elements…


On what are you most often complimented?

Physically, I receive a lot of compliments about my hair – strawberry blond, stick straight, and softer than anything.  I have actually always hated my hair.  I want its antithesis – curly, dark brown – and have made it thus once or twice.  I loved it, but I am far too lazy to do such things consistently, and blond roots make you look like your hair is falling out.  My hair is a blessing for someone as beauty-challenged as I am.  I use a blow dryer approximately twice a year, and I don’t own any hair product.  The bit I really like is how soft it is – seriously haven’t met anyone with hair softer than mine.  Which leads to people playing with it all the time, which leads to me being happy as a kitten.

I also receive a fair number of compliments on my legs.  I noticed this playing frisbee – a lot of the other girls would comment that I had “nice skinny legs,” which sort of baffled me as I’d never given them much thought beyond they’re utility.  This lead to a nice bout of comparing my body to other women’s (always a lovely idea!), and while I do appreciate my legs more now, it’s at the expense of the total package – suddenly I’m hyper aware that my legs are disproportionately skinny compared to the rest of me!  Alas.

Aside from my physical attributes, I am frequently complimented on my intelligence and for “having my life together.”  Both of these have always felt a little squicky to me – they are the type of compliments I’m not sure how to respond to.  I feel my parents deserve as much or more credit for each of these than I do, and I don’t feel particularly ahead of the curve in either regard.  On surface, I’m “further along” than most of my peer group professionally and financially, but I do feel much of that is luck of the draw and poorly thought out choices (that turned out well!).  Below the surface, I’m sort of a mess.  Though, I think a lot of people are!

My sense of humor tends to draw lots of compliments from like-minded individuals (which is to say, people who are crass and sarcastic).  One of my friends in particular has always maintained that I should have a one woman comedy show, wherein I would sit on a stool on a stage, knitting, and talking about whatever came to mind.  I don’t totally understand her amusement, but I do love to hang out with her – making someone laugh that hard is incredibly gratifying.


What is the best compliment you have ever received?

I just finished my PhD in November, which felt sort of empty – anticlimactic.  I didn’t feel nearly so accomplished as I had hoped I might when I began grad school.  My parents came to my defense, and after I emerged victorious from 3 hours of questioning, my father pulled me aside.  My father, the physicist – one of not a small number of PhDs in my family – told me that he was incredibly proud of me, but not yet impressed.

I liked that, because while most compliments engender in me a mix of embarrassment and arrogance, he managed to curtail both in an incredibly sincere way.  Not to mention the modicum of sarcasm, which has always been our way of relating to one another – it has become one of my favorite moments with my father, sort of a summing up of our relationship thus far.


What is your favorite thing about yourself that people rarely compliment?

My eyes.  I think I have beautiful eyes, but I sometimes wonder if I am deluding myself because no one ever notices them.  It’s sort of ironic that in the past year I have lost a notable portion of my vision, and developed chronic dry eye – perhaps I should pick a new favorite feature!

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I moved to Washington seven days ago.  Eight days ago, I was playing frisbee with half my best friends, and the other half were parading along the sides of the fields.  Eight days ago, I hugged a lot of people and said goodbye and marveled at how well I held it together.  Eight days ago I got the last full night’s sleep I’ve had since.


I have seen the sunrise every day since I arrived.  And the sunset.  It’s only light for 9 hours a day right now, and I am at work for all of those hours.  My boss drove me home on my first day, because Husband was dealing with the movers, and I realized as we entered my neighborhood that I had no idea what my house looked like.  We drove past it twice, because I couldn’t see the number over the garage.  I didn’t really remember what color my house was until yesterday, the first time I saw it in daylight.

I have been diligently unpacking boxes and putting things in cabinets and drawers.  I can see the beginnings of a home, in this beautiful house I can’t really believe I own.  I’m just not sure if it’s my home.

I have work to do after work, gotta get those papers out, gotta apply for that award, gotta get that presentation ready.  Gotta read and read, so they are impressed.  And so I keep forgetting to call my friends until after dinner, when it’s already well past 11 pm on the other side of the country.

My job is actually great so far, as I knew it would be.  Professionally, this is the best place for me to be.  My colleagues are fantastic, the research is interesting, the lab is perfect.  If I am going to succeed in my field, it will be here.

People assume newcomers will have a hard time adjusting to the landscape – deserts aren’t for everyone, I suppose.  But that’s not it for me.  It’s beautiful here, even in the winter.  You can see for miles and miles, and the essentially treeless mountains underscore how amazing the earth itself can be.  The sky is breathtaking, even when it’s grey, as it so often is during the winter.

I’m just afraid I won’t be able to make the connections I need socially.  It’s a small town, a family town.  I know it’s only been a week, and it’s the doldrums of winter, it just seems so unfathomably difficult.  And so unlikely!  How could I possibly find people like the people I already had?

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Bear*: I need a coat.
me: i had to make Husband get a coat.  it’s like 5 in WA.  he is confused about how to survive.
Bear: yeah, this is really hard on us southerners.  like, ok, it was cold. Ok, now its time for it to get back to being in the 50s, like in Georgia after its cold for a few days
me: exactly, right… sustained cold is weird
Bear: yeah.  like I looked at the 10 day forecast – straight 40s and 30s
me: eww
Bear: I know
me: look at this: or, Antarctica
Bear: Is this real?
me: yes.  and terrible.
Bear: are you sure this isn’t like wikiweather or something and you just changed it?
me: i’m not that technologically proficient
Bear: do cars work in that kind of cold?  is there life?
me: a little bit i think, but slower. like when you put goldfish in ice water in 7th grade science
Bear: um, susiebear*…  if an Animal Farm like event ever occurred, you would probably be on some kind of enemy list
me: wha? why? that was a for-a-grade project. totally legitimate.
Bear: yeah, but you see, the animals may have a congress and the rat/goldfish delegations will move to go after you
me: have i ever told you about the only recurring nightmare i’ve ever had, and how it has colored my conception of hell?
Bear: no.  is it that the hamburgler is eating you?  cause that’s a pretty scary dream
me: no, but that is terrifying in its own right.   my dream is this:
i am bad, and i go to hell (like one does). it turns out that hell, for me, is all of the animals i have ever killed, in the name of science or pest control, killing me exactly as I did them, forever and ever ad infinitum.
Bear: ok, yeah, that is kind of like my animal congress, but a little more hardcore
me: yes.  i think that is on my top five list of things I hope don’t happen to me.
Bear: I think mine is funnier because the animals will stand on their hind legs and give speeches in regal accents
me: i do love animal farm.  and anthropomorphization.
Bear: that is a long word
me: it’s not actually a word, but i think it should be
Bear: I second that.
*My roommates and I have a bizarre and enduring habit of referring to each other as (Name)bear, or sometimes just Bear.  It is weird, and I love it.

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Turned my dissertation in to my committee a week ago today.  Since then I have:

1.  Hung out with my parents

2. Spent a weekend drinking excessively with frisbee friends in a secluded cabin in North GA

3. Became an Aunt!  Woo baby time.  This involved logging many hours in a hospital, and dealing with some forlorn cats at my bro’s house.  Oh, and nibbling on adorable baby fingers.

4.  Taught my advisor’s classes

So, despite being pretty damn busy…  I’m curious to know why I feel like I’ve totally withdrawn from life for the past week.  Maybe I’ve just been on mental vacation, or maybe it’s because I’ve been so absent from my house (and my roommates).  Certainly it’s because Husband is gone, and that has an odd way of making it seem like it’s been one interminably long day since I dropped him off at the airport.  I think that the next month (or two) will be an interesting mix.  I don’t feel inclined to socialize in my town anymore – most of my network is a minimum of an hour away.  And for some reason, SusieTime (i.e. me, alone in my room, generally watching something stupid on ABC family…) is increasingly important.  Maybe I’m gearing myself up for the fact that, come January, it’s going to be mostly SusieTime for at least a while.  But that seems silly – seems like I ought to be maximizing the fun?

Looking at my little list up there, though, I guess it seems like I am.  I guess I’m just not as mentally present for all that as I could be.  Because mentally, I’m all over the place – Atlanta, Washington, Savannah (hi!)…  I haven’t been fully engaged in most of what I’ve done recently, because I’m always thinking of someone else who is somewhere else.

At any rate, the overarching feeling I’m left with after turning in the dissertation isn’t necessarily relief…  it’s actually loss.  That’s not quite right though.  I guess I just feel kind of unmoored, not sure what to do with myself.

You know, since actually starting to work on my defense presentation hasn’t yet seemed necessary.  Great plan, Susie!  Let’s see what happens.

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I just completed a telephone questionnaire required for life insurance.  I’d been putting it off for a few days because they always call when I’m in the bathroom – seriously, they had an eerie sense for my digestive processes.  The interview was mostly focused on my medical history, a bit more in depth than the questions asked by the nurse who did our blood work.  It was, in a word, irritating.  This woman, who I will call Grumpers, clearly hates her job and has very little understanding of medical jargon.  Grumpers was asking me ridiculous questions (through no fault of her own, obviously).

She opened with “have you been to any medical professional in the past five years.”  At this point, I realized that this was perhaps not the ideal time for this conversation, as my memory was terrible, I was in the parking lot of a coffee shop, and it’s cold outside.  But I forged on.

She ran out of boxes.  RAN OUT. I know my medical history is colorful, but seriously, it’s not that bad.  Just a bunch of minor things – a little wrist reconstructive surgery here, and little tonsilectomy there.  Some wacky optic neuritis stuff.  Maybe some bronchitis.  You know, whatevs.

Grumpers wasn’t sure what to do when she ran out of boxes.  So she just went on ahead.  “Have you had any diagnostic procedures in the past five years?” I’m sure all the other patrons on the porch were wondering if it hurt for me to roll my eyes that much.  It’s bizarre, they literally wanted this information off the top of my head – names of physicians, dates of treatment, specific drugs, for the past five years.  And I am more conversant in this medical crap than most people I know – I do know drug names, procedure names.  I can say and spell triangular fibrocartilaginous complex without stumbling.

Anyway, it took 30 minutes instead of the alleged 10, I uttered the phrase “vaginal ultrasound” in a coffee shop parking lot, and now I’m quite glad to have it over with so I can get back to finishing up with editing the ol’ dissertation and waiting for periodic updates on the first day of work from the Husband.

Oh, and regarding my emo post from last week – my ankle is mostly better, my tear ducts are still stupid, Husband is safe and sound and bored in WA, and I spent all weekend knitting and pretending grad school didn’t exist.  I am much, much calmer now 🙂

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Today…  today has not been my favorite day.  Hasn’t been my favorite week.  I’ve been cranky for days, sleeping poorly (and somehow too much, also… I guess those go hand in hand), snapping at people.  Great way to behave when your days are numbered.

I think that’s the underlying cause.  My husband is flying out to WA at the ass crack of dawn on Saturday.  I’m following him in one month, maybe two…  between now and then I have to finish my dissertation, defend, pack (that word should really be longer, to match its shitty time consuming nature), and say my goodbyes.  I suppose it makes sense that the combined stress of this is morphing me into a moody bitch, but damn if I wish I couldn’t stop it.

It doesn’t help that at frisbee tonight I got rebuffed in front of all the rookies – unfairly, in my opinion.  Told to stop talking down to someone, when all I’ve been trying to do is go where I’m told (since I’m graduating and not playing in the spring).  I don’t understand how these girls don’t see that I am stretched tenuously thin, how they can be so self absorbed.  And how they can handle themselves so inappropriately – on what planet do you holler at someone in front of everyone else?  Is that normal?  I would pull the offending person aside and discuss it elsewhere.  And when I did that after the fact, to clear the air, I don’t think an apology ever actually materialized, just excuses. I’m surprised all the rookies haven’t gotten scared away by the craziness yet.

So then I sprained my ankle, and it’s getting all swollen, which is awesome – I have to drive a lot this weekend, and Husband can’t drive my car (why doesn’t he know how to drive a manual?  uaher;kbn;alken)

And then I get home, looking forward to basically melting into a puddle of emotional blubbering, and find Husband to be MIA…  apparently he’s at a soccer game.  Which, in reality, is totally fine, but in Universe Hates Susie Land, was like the coup de grace.

So, I start crying for the first time in oh, a year?  and can’t just give myself over to that and get it out of my damn system, because I got my tear ducts plugged today (lacrimal occlusion), because I have chronic dry eyes ever since that time I got optic neuritis and got whopped with a ridiculous quantity of steroids, and if I cry it’ll dry my eyes out even more and I won’t be able to see tomorrow (you know, worse than usual) on top of not being able to drive well because my ankle is sprained and I’ll pay for it in spades all weekend.


You can measure the degree of my anxiety by the length of my run on sentences.  True story.

My life is SOOOO hard.  First world problems FTW.

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