REPORT A PROBLEM
I've said before that people are dumb. They're petty, self-centered, and ignorant. I think of myself as trustworthy but I don't really trust others, and I'm most comfortable by myself. Despite all this, I think there are some who refuse to believe that we live our lives in a self-bubble, floating around and bumping into people but never really alone. Humans are social animals, and as much as I deny it, everyone needs people. Even the act of reaching out to help a friend brings that person into your bubble too. I admit, I'm such a softie on the inside.
I'm reaching winter finals already. I had my first, a presentation for Psychology of Thinking, today. I'm the only junior in the class, and the only one (probably) who cares about it at all. I hope it shows.
I think it's insanely wonderful when someone you respect shows some interest in you. Today during class, my professor gave me an information sheet about how to apply for summer research fellowships in psychology and cognitive science.
I tried to do that at camp, encourage kids to find their interests and involve them more. It's so hard to pick them out, though.
I'm quite proud that I know my way around a kitchen. I don't like the stereotype that only women can cook; it's so relaxing to take care of dinner and make something that other people will appreciate. I've started to be able to improvise Italian-style, like I did tonight. I went into the kitchen, grabbed some ingredients, and just made something up. It's really just a matter of knowing spices, and being able to correct as you go: the chicken was slightly frozen, so I had to adapt. It's so fun! Oh wait, I still need to do the dishes…
I've been thinking about stories recently; one of the psychology professors here (Dan McAdams) is doing some really cool research into life narratives – the stories we tell to explain how we got where we are. It's the kind of "turning point" stories, ones that explain about us. On a random idea, I asked a few friends what their story would be, without explaining, of course. I thought it was interesting that Dan couldn't come up with one. I don't think he thinks about his life much. He was surprised when he read my February entries, that they were very self-searching.
The worst part about Dance Marathon is the waiting. We dance for 30 hours straight (check it out: www.nudm.org) and once it gets started, it's an amazing rush. For some reason, we got here two hours early, and so we're just sitting around thinking "wow, 30 hours" over and over and over. I know it'll be great, and I'm pumped to be here again, but still.
I can usually manage to turn my brain off before things like this; I tune out, relax everything, and think about nothing. I'm going to go try that.
Ok, only 6 more hours to go, and I still haven't really crashed yet. Last year I crashed after about 16 hours, just before lunch, but I got more sleep before this time, so I think I might be good to go! I've been intensely happy this entire day, except for one thing – Sean. Dance Marathon is supposed to be a fun event, since it's for charity and hey, you dance! This guy is annoying because he's acting like he's too good to dance to anything that's not underground hip-hop. It's for the kids, buddy. Get over yourself and dance.
We made it! I've been up for 37 hours straight now, which isn't nearly as bad as it sounds. The end wasn't as exuberant as I remember from last year. They played the theme ("It's My Life", Bon Jovi… blah) and then a few more "celebrate!" songs, and I got peaceful and quiet this year. I even let myself just collapse to the floor, because I realized it was over. For thirty hours I put everything I had into getting myself – and the others – through it, and now it was coming to an end. I suppose all good things must.
You remember the can opener principle? Whenever something is wrong, it's never just about what they say it's about. Well, I've just proven it again. I've mentioned my roommate issues before in these words, but here's a new twist. I came home from DM, and it seems that all is well. Liz and I stayed up late just talking; it's been so long since we've done that. Then, by magic, I'm on good terms with Mike again! I suspect I was unhappy that Liz and I weren't as close and I was taking it out on Mike. Stupid of me…
Time machines always bothered me. What happens, for instance, if you jump forward in time and there's a table where you're supposed to pop out? Do you "push" the table forward in time, or might everything shift backward to fill in the gap you left? If so, would the entire table shift or just a you-sized section? It's so complicated. The same quandaries apply to the "beam" in Star Trek, too. What happens to all the air that occupied the space to which you're beaming? Does it generate a breeze? And can you beam people into walls? That would rule.
It's been a while, and I still haven't written about Dan and Derin. Yes, Dan finally stopped being afraid and asked Derin out. They've been flirting ever since they met in the fall, basically, and I'm happy for them. It's one of those relationships that everybody knows should happen; sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. I like to think that there are some relationships that can't be reduced to a clichéd pattern, like the "ihateyouihateyouihateyouihateyouihateyou… oh wait, i love you!" pattern. I think Dan and Derin works. I guess this means I'm going to be "sexiled" from Dan's room…
An acquaintance of mine posted something to this effect in his old journal: if you involve yourself with things you love, it is impossible to fail unless you allow it to be. When you complain that something was a "waste of your time" because it didn't end up as you wanted, that's saying that your use of time must be validated by the results of your efforts. In effect, your happiness is dependent not on the means but on the ends. When this is the case, take a look around. Why are you unhappy? You have only yourself to blame.
Well, one week of finals down, one more to go. Sigh. I know it was probably a good idea to procrastinate and put off my finals from last quarter, but I just want them to be over. Liz says to remember that in one week, it'll be over. It may not be exactly as I hoped, but it will be over. That's good advice; I haven't been "done" since fall quarter began back in September. It's a weird feeling to think that I've just been going continuously since then, but I did have a huge sleeping break in the middle.
Yeah, remember that whole principle of "just get through this, it'll be over in a week"? I just got back my grade in a class for which I took the final on Tuesday, and I ended up with a C. Not only is this the worst grade I've ever had in a class, but I had a B average going into Tuesday, which means I pretty much failed the final. I suppose I can say I just had too much going on and I just wanted to get credit for taking the class, but it still bugs me. Stupid mono.
And so, I'm halfway through finals already *grumble*. I know I only have two more days of work, but I'm getting so tired of it. I have two finals and a paper left, so it's not really that bad. At the end of it, too, I can sit back and do whatever I want. Including video games. I'm just so brain dead at this point that everything seems to run together. My last paper will be like that, probably; I'll have to write it overnight on Thursday into Friday and turn it in that afternoon. At least it'll be done.
Inspiration comes at interesting points. I got an interesting idea from reading an article in a British psychology journal by Quinlan or someone like that, not quite sure. Anyway, that triggered some thoughts about an old linguistics experiment that I had been kicking around but never got anywhere with, but the greatest part is, it also triggered that experiment in relation to some other work we did in Psychology of Thinking about categorization and short-term storage. Put it all together, and you get a ready-made paper! This is going to rule… as soon as I get around to writing it.
Here is the abstract from my final paper for Research Methods, the one I just wrote about with the linguistics/thinking link:
The model of working memory proposed by Baddeley (1992) implies that input is stored simply as articulatory information; the spreading-activation model by Collins and Loftus (1975) seems to contradict this claim, stating that conceptual information about an input is activated as well. In a study of twelve Northwestern University undergraduates, performance on a recall task of 15 words containing phonemically similar words (e.g. pie, spy, buy) did not show significant evidence supporting Baddeley's claim of articulatory storage.
Megan's sisters are an interesting lot; they came down to stay overnight while her parents were in a curling tournament. Katie, Krissy, and Kimmy (wonder how they ended up with a "Megan" in there…) are psycho. I spent most of the time talking with Katie. She reminds me a lot of my sister; a lot of what we talked about is stuff I wish I could have said to my sister five years ago. Krissy is extraordinarily hyper and short. Kimmy seems like Katie but quieter.
No offense, Megan, but I can understand why your dad got a dog, haha!
A friend said today I shouldn't write so personally about other people here. I've always written as I would in a personal space and as if no one else would read it; paradoxically, I've been pushing 100words to my friends, so I have no reason to expect privacy.
All the same, I have a dilemma. I'm a psych major. I like observing people, and obviously the nearest examples are my friends.
My solution? Stop reading. Now. Don't go back and read any of my others, either.
I'm not serious. But I am going to be more discrete from now on.
I don't like the phrase "you can never go home again". What does that imply? Literally, you can never return to your home? Or the more figurative, the home you leave is not the same as the one you left? It's either utterly wrong or trivially obvious. Of course you can go back home; that's just the place where your family (parents, brothers and sisters, perhaps grandparents or other relatives) live; similarly, of course home will not be the same as the place you left. Nothing ever stays the same, and I doubt any of us would want it to.
So, I'm home now, and returning to my old haunts. Of course, I have to go back to the library (which has been reconstructed into a ginormous megaplex in my absence… cool, but not quaint like the old one). I forgot Cardinal Rule #1 of bibliophiles, though: You Must Have Some Way To Get The Books Home With You. I had to bike over there because my mom was using the car, but I forgot to take a backpack with me. I ended up checking out only really small books that would fit in my pockets for the ride home!
Why do Wednesdays always seem to turn into a "half over" experience? Not in a half-full/half-empty sense, but just in the sense that I have reached a significant midpoint? Last week it was finals; this week, it turns out to be my spring vacation. I think it's the same feeling that makes me an insomniac: that there's so much to be done, and not enough time to do all of it. So, why sleep? There's too much to do! Too much to see!
I sound like Dr. Seuss, without the quaint rhymes and perfect intuition. The man was a genius.
Do you believe in spirits? I guess I include anything supernatural here. I was raised to be a strict Catholic and my mom has become more so over the years, but I don't really know all that much about official doctrine, and I know I don't like some of it. I guess I'm not asking about organized religion, but more the kind of ideas that most call superstition. Personally, I like to believe in ghosts and such, just because of the coolness factor. Ghosts are a cool idea, so why not believe in them? There's no real harm in it.
Hockey fans are ridiculous, especially in the cheap seats. It seems like it's always just dads who take their sons along but really just go to get drunk and watch the fights. First of all, there's more to hockey than just the fighting; that part is to let the players work out some of the issues the referees can't deal with; but really, the stupid part is that those kids will grow up to be hockey drunks, taking their kids to games, getting drunk, and acting like boors. Like the guy from the Chez Quis, I weep for the future.
Yet more proof that nothing stays the same: I had to drive ten minutes to get to the barbershop. My dad's been going to see this same barber since he was young, and I've never really been to another barber, even now that I'm at college. He closed after New Year's Day, though, and now he works a few days at his brother's barbershop. The old shop is one of those places that develop an aura around it; my grandma has stories about when my dad had to go there. Can something like that live on just through the stories?
Travel days are the laziest of all, I think. When you sleep until three in the afternoon, I think, your brain is at least still working, churning away in dream or daydream. On the road, however, everything seems to shut off to the monotony of telephone poles, cornfields, and the odd tree or roadside smut palace. I've heard that the goal of Buddhist meditation is to clear the mind of all thoughts and to just concentrate on mere breathing; I wonder why they don't just go out on a drive through Illinois to get the same effect. Hey, why not?
Sometimes I think I have a restless spirit. I often have a hard time sitting still. But more importantly, I think, is my bibliophilia. Books have been called "windows to other times and places" so often that it's become cliché; however, it's really true. How can you take a book like Steinbeck's Travels with Charley and not want to actually be out there, bringing a fresh perspective to what he observed and seeing the nation with your own eyes? It can be tiring when everything of every moment is new, but there's enough continuity to make the wondrous not overawing.
Why are interviews so frightening? You get the position, or not, and getting worked up about it really doesn't help any. I interviewed for a position working in the lab for my favoritest professor, Dr. Lance Rips, today between classes. It's a great opportunity to work with an eminent researcher in the field and I could get some experience to take on to grad school, but most of all, it's supremely intriguing! He does work about categorization within the domain of mathematical principles and problems. I don't know about having a restless spirit sometimes, but it's definitely an inquisitive one.
I think I have frostbite, although it's my own fault. I always assume the weather on a particular day will be exactly as it was the day before, which is why I never carry an umbrella at the right times, or a jacket when it's cold. Today, though, it was the sandals that did me in. It's been quite warm here, but suddenly got cold, and I was stuck on my bicycle wearing Tevas and no socks. Living in the past? Probably not. I'm just slow, I guess.
And no, I'm not serious about the frostbite. I'm just being melodramatic.
A day of good and bad, today. I didn't get the lab position for which I interviewed, but the TA who interviewed me said Dr. Rips is very impressed with my work and suggested that I look into doing a 399 – independent study – with him next quarter. I've said before that it's so important for professors to show some interest in their students like that, since special attention is such an incredible motivator. This one, however, just made my day shoot through the roof! A great compliment from someone I really respect; it just doesn't get much better than that.
It's always nice when the crazy ideas work out. Today is the last day to add classes, so I talked to Dr. Rips about starting independent study this quarter, and he agreed! I still have some issues with my grades, though, so I had to clear it with the dean before I could get in. He was a complete grouch, though, because he had to deal with a long line of people with problems the same as mine. I think there are too many tedious, grouch-making jobs in this world, and not enough people with sunny dispositions to fill them.
Is it bad that it's only the first day of the quarter and I'm already feeling brain-dead? I still have a few issues to work out with Searle, and the whole fifth class problem yesterday left me feeling stretched, as Bilbo Baggins would say, "like butter scraped over too much bread". Gollum, gollum. But anyway, the weekend is here, and basketball is on, and everything is alright now. Monday is far away, and there is clear air for miles, even here in the Windy City. I'm really happy.
Don't I wish. I'm serious about being happy, though. I really am.
The Tip Jar