Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Part 2, Christmas Week

The Christmas tale continues. Here's the first installment.

TUESDAY: Christmas, of course! We woke up at 9 and moseyed downstairs once my mom had passed us. We don't do Santa much anymore, as the Brother is going to be eighteen in a few weeks. My mom does fill the stockings with little gifts, though, like wind-up toys and Christmas candy (Daddy fills her stocking with Lindt chocolates and scented soaps). Inexpensive fun things. This year was kind of lame because Daddy was down watching TV when we woke up, and then we sat around waiting while my mom put breakfast in the oven and they watched MORE TV- and not even something Christmasy, they were watching a robot movie. Grr. But they stopped when Mummy and I finished making breakfast and we opened the stocking gifts, all wrapped in tissue paper. Then, as breakfast cooked, we started the other family presents-- I gave my sister a scarf, my brother a book about numbers, my dad a bottle of special olive oil and my mom a little cosmetic bag for her purse (she needed one, her old one broke) and an organic candy bar.

My parents gave me lots of stuff-- this is what they do instead of buying me stuff I need or want at other times. So I got a Leatherman tool, and plush microbes from ThinkGeek (syphilis, malaria and mono), and Age of Mythology for my computer because I am a myth geek and have wanted it for years but couldn't afford it. And I finally got a new hair dryer to replace the one that broke. Shrewd's making me a scarf but she's been sick and couldn't finish it in time. I don't mind, though. The Brother gave Daddy a collection of Agatha Christie movies, including The Man in the Brown Suit, which is a movie that Daddy taped off the TV years ago, but which was then accidentally taped over by Shrewd. Daddy loved it and was disappointed as hell. He was thrilled, as was Shrewd, who is FINALLY out of the doghouse.

Soon breakfast was done. Christmas breakfast for us is almost as big as dinner. The traditional family Christmas breakfast is an egg casserole (part veggie and sausage, part sausage only, part veggie only), cinnamon rolls hot from the oven, homemade tea breads and fresh-squeezed orange juice. We finished presents after breakfast, then cleaned up the wrapping paper so that the house would be ready when Ryter arrived.

Ryter came soon after, and we talked and helped with dinner until it was time to eat. Dinner was tenderloin with peppercorn sauce and stuffed scrod with Newburg sauce; sweet potatoes, my mother's famous cloverleaf rolls, peas, broccoli, shrimp cocktail, sweet baby carrots and probably something else I forgot. It was wonderful, as my mom's cooking always is, even without the traditional popovers Shrewd usually makes (she was too sick to handle food safely).

Ryter opened my gift and I opened his; I gave him a T-shirt of Emperor Constantine Paleologos and he gave me a collection of Phillip K. Dick novels. My parents also gave him some maps of the White Mountains for hiking in the spring, and he gave Daddy a bottle of rum, for general over-21 consumption. The Brother and Daddy played with their new mini RC helicopters.

After we cleaned up from dinner we played Trivial Pursuit (Daddy and Mummy against the Brother, myself, and Ryter) and my team lost miserably. They got lots of easy questions. We had pie and cheesecake for desert and split up, Shrewd playing with her brand new laptop (boy did she need it), the Brother and Daddy playing Scrabble and Mummy setting up her new vacuum cleaner from my grandmother, while Ryter and I hung out, watched some Bones, and then said our good nights.

It was a marvelous Christmas all around.

Part 1, Christmas Week

So there is a good reason why I didn't write a blog entry the past couple days. My dad "fixed" the wireless connection, so it went from working fine to not working at all for a few days.

So Christmas has come and gone. Well, almost. Christmas is being spread out over six days for me this year. This will take a couple posts.

SUNDAY: Ryter's family party. It was cool. We went down to his grandmother's house and exchanged gifts and sat around and talked. I met his favorite cousin, who is very cool, and stood around feeling awkward most of the time. By the end I was exhausted and ready to go well before Ryter was, but I waited until he was ready to go anyway, because he doesn't get to see his cousin very much.

I also almost got into a politics fight at dinner before I remembered The Rules of Discussion at Social Events: No politics, no sex, no religion. Oops. But I backed out. It's just hard not to get riled when someone's talking about Huckabee taking over the US government. I'm pretty sure I would arrange to do med school in Canada, if degree transfers would work.

MONDAY: Christmas Eve. We cleaned the house and cooked what we could of Christmas dinner, then got a massive quantity of Chinese food, as is tradition. See, my great-uncle was an insurance salesman, and he believed that a good salesman buys from his customers. So on Christmas Eve he would visit every Chinese restaurant he insured and buy food from each. Thus, mountains of food. My dad's carrying on the tradition, with only one restaurant as the others in this town suck.

To be continued...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I return.

*Enormous sigh*

Well, it's over. I had my last exam yesterday and I am now at home, helping my mother clean the house. Supposedly it was to be a family affair but Shrewd spent the morning knitting and watching TV with Daddy while the Brother helped by cleaning up his own Legos and robot stuff, which was everywhere. Daddy started the kitchen, went and sat back down to watch TV, Mummy went out and I cleaned a good portion of the downstairs all by myself before Daddy and Shrewd wandered in and asked what they should do... bah.

So yeah, "Welcome home! Now clean the house." And it was pretty bad, too. Mummy and the Brother have been busy and Daddy won't clean unless we make him; Shrewd just recently got home as well. We're talking like mail stacked in every corner of the kitchen and all on the dining room table, robot stuff everywhere, school projects and college applications scattered about... Not to mention the piles of laundry, mostly Shrewd's and dish towels but my small basket as well. It wasn't like, pick up a few things and vacuum.

Plus when I got back my mother had not yet assembled the Christmas village. When I asked why not she said "Well, I had to paint the living room the first two weekends and then it didn't seem worth it for only a few weeks, and your dad didn't want it there because he's been talking about getting a flat screen TV..."

My dad already spends pretty much every hour of the evening parked in front of the TV doing nothing. He only reads if there's nothing on. Now he wants a flat screen despite the fact he has a perfectly good, LARGE TV he only got a few years ago? Bah.

Anyway, she agreed to put it up with my help, so after the house was cleaned we assembled the village. Then after dinner we watched The Nun's Story and then I went and wrapped presents for my dad, who claims he is incapable of doing so properly.

Tomorrow I go to Ryter's family Christmas party; I'll also hopefully get a chance to talk about the Hanukkah festivities as well...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Cultural Survival

Today is the feast of Bona Dea, the goddess of fertility, healing, virginity, and women. She's also known as Fauna, for her father, the goat-legged Faunus (Greek name Pan). She was especially popular with lower-class citizens, slaves, and women, who would pray to her for healing or fertility. She was also the patron of freedom from slavery, hence the popularity with slaves.

Her festival was celebrated with secret rites held in the home of a prominent Roman magistrate. Only women were allowed, so I guess the magistrate himself was kicked out, and his wife ran the show (with the Vestal Virgins' assistance). You couldn't even have a male animal or a picture of a man with you. The words "wine" and "myrtle were forbidden, as there was a myth of Faunus beating Bona Dea with a myrtle stick when she got drunk, and it seems she didn't want to be reminded (this may be one of the few Roman festivals and/or ceremonies with no use of alcohol in copious amounts).

She was frequently depicted on Roman coins, often with her symbols, the cornucopia and the snake (a symbol of healing). Snakes were also kept in her temple in Rome.

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Last night my dad picked me up late and took me back home for the night; we ate Chinese food, watched a Christmas movie and had a nice fire, and I got to bed waaaaaay late, which is a bad habit I need to break...

The reason for this was this morning, when we drove down to Boston for the Cultural Survival Bazaar (after a stopover in. If you live in the Boston area, you should check this out; it's very cool. Merchants who do fair trade practices with indigenous/impoverished peoples will come to sell the crafts and foods (coffee, chocolate, and olive oil mostly) at the bazaar, and 40% of the profits go to help preserve indigenous culture. Whatever you think of the politics/idea, though, it's a great place to poke around, and the timing (first three weekends in December) make it good for Christmas shopping for the people who don't actually need anything, or who might find it interesting.

There's a lot of sub-Saharan African stuff, especially wooden decorated bowls and utensils; toys; and instruments. There are woven rugs from Peru and woolen hats from Nepal; Ojibwa dreamcatchers and singing bowls from Tibet. And lots and lots of jewelry, from pretty much everywhere. I actually got almost all my shopping done there; I had only three presents left (for my mom, my brother, and a little gift to give Ryter on Christmas Eve). We also ate lunch from the Indian food stand that was there; it was really good (mmm, chicken masala).

Then we went to the BU bookstore, because Shrewd has an employee discount (she works for BU Hillel) and we wanted to kill time before we checked out her place of employment (which wasn't open yet). There, I got my present for my brother, who asked for math books for Christmas (weirdo).

We then went to Hillel, where Shrewd works. She serves kosher food in a little cafe overlooking the Charles River. It's a very pretty place. We got the 20-second tour and ran into my cousin's boyfriend, who helped Shrewd get the job there (yay nepotism).

Then they took me back to campus, as there's supposed to be a blizzard tonight and none of us wanted to be caught in that...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Quick Note

Postings have been scarce, I know, and they're not likely to pick up until after finals. I have a few monsters coming up, but I'm not failing Orgo yet, which is a plus... I'll post now and then but don't expect a return to frequent writings until January.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Damn public health videos.

Dear god I can't watch this.

It is inane.

I've managed only a few SECONDS.

I have a question. Is it impossible to teach people about STDs, birth control and safe sex without a) bad 90's hair, b) a geeky teenage boy saying "It can be fun!" and c) making the watcher feel like they are five?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Apparently, we're not allowed to sing Christmas carols until December. Shucks.

So Thanksgiving is over.

The reason I didn't write anything over Thanksgiving was that I spent my time either with my family or sleeping. I finally caught up on sleep, which is good.

So, Thanksgiving Day. Ryter came over and we ate Thanksgiving at my place, with all the traditional dishes-- turkey, naturally, and gravy; mashed potatoes, squash, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, baby onions, mushroom barley soup, popovers, rolls, salad-- tons of food. My grandfather was there too, which was nice.

Once we finished we drove down to Ryter's grandmother's house for his family Thanksgiving. Tons of people, tons of food-- the turkey was wrapped in bacon, which was weird, but I didn't eat the skin and it was fine. Everyone was really nice, it was a lot of fun, and I got to help Ryter surprise two of his cousins when they were up on the third floor, doing something that involved one of them shirtless. Awkward.

His grandmother has an awesome house. There's a secret second staircase to the kitchen, and a secret room, and a second little kitchen on the third floor with a door onto a rooftop balcony.

Friday we all--save the brother-- went to see Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, a very good movie, I recommend it. Great imagery, very fun. Saturday we returned to the movies for Enchanted, which was hilarious and I also recommend.

So that was my break; most of the rest of the time was spent sleeping. I have just two things to say:

1) I could've sworn Thanksgiving was supposed to be the last Thursday in November...

2) Four weeks left of class. *Sigh*

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Quizzical

Today in Biostats my professor gave a quiz.

Yes, the day before Thanksgiving. It was a bonus quiz. Merely for showing up, we get an extra 5 points on the next test; for filling out the quiz correctly, we get 10 points; for filling it out correctly and turning it in in the first 15, we get 15 point.

Plus, he added, "Anyone who showed up today has a guaranteed C or higher in this class, whatever your grade was before." He paused as we cheered. "You know why I do that right? You know the Cistern of Doom?" The Cistern of Doom is what he called the bottom like, 7 kids who haven't dropped the class but have less than 20% total grade in it. "All those Cistern of Doom kids, I guarantee you, did not show up today."

From the back of the class, we heard: "Uh... I did..."

Much laughter, cheering and applause. That kid? Luckiest. Guy. Ever.

Anyway, he tells us to flip over the quiz and begin. First line: "Be sure to read the whole quiz before answering any questions."

When I was in second grade, on April First, my teacher gave us the biggest test we'd ever seen. Same first line. I got about 40% of the way through, about to where the Calculus questions began, when she collected them. She then told us that the last line-- which NO ONE got to-- said, "Now, go back to the beginning, put your name on the top of the paper, and don't answer any of the questions before you turn it in."

So I checked the last line. "Do questions 2, 14, and 15 only. Score.

Question 2: Put your name on the page.
Question 14: Say loudly, "I love Biostats!"
Question 15: If you read the last line before beginning, say "I have."

I turned it in, top 15 (I think, there were lots of papers everywhere) and looked around to see half my classmates filling the damn thing out.

Thank you Mrs. Patterson!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New Blog on the Blogroll!

Babycatcher is written by an American nurse-midwife working in Malawi. Her stories are almost as incredible as her work, done in the worst possible conditions, with lazy, jaded, untrained, inefficient or a sheer lack of staff, and with patients with no access to clean water, food, or transportation to the hospital. Malawi has terribly high infant and maternal mortality rates and there's not nearly enough being done. Some of her stories are positively haunting. I'm thinking about sending her some money for infant formula for the hospital (high maternal mortality means lots of orphaned babies), once I learn more about her contact information and the best way to do so (obviously can't send cash). It wouldn't be much-- I don't have too much of my own money to spare-- but it might be something.

Sometime in my life I will go to Africa or India or some other 3rd world area and I will work as an obstetrician* there. I will probably wait until after my children are grown (has to be after med school and I'll probably want to have kids as soon after I get out as possible, and I couldn't do it while they were growing up-- too high risk). But when I have paid off my med school debts and saved my money, I will go and stay for a while in a third world country and try to do good there. I have wanted to do this since I was twelve and I think it will make me a better person, and help me truly understand the world in ways that spoiled Americans can not. Plus, I will be offering a service that is desperately needed by these women.

So read her blog.

*If for whatever reason I don't become an obstetrician, I may still get midwife training, or do some other kind of relief work. It's something I feel morally bound to do before I die. For how long, I don't know, but I will do it, and encourage others to do the same.

Scholastic Adventures

So today I had a Latin test. I didn't KNOW I had a Latin test. So I go there right at 3:40, walked into the (still dark) classroom, and there on the board is a note telling me to go upstairs for the test.

So I go upstairs to the tables by the professors' offices and my class is there, taking their test, and I walk in to my professor's office and she hands me three sheets of paper, and says in her accent, "Okay, this one" she pointed to one "is a poem you haven't seen before, and here" she indicated another "are the notes for it. Now this other one has two poems you've already seen before on it, which you need to translate and compare."

So I sat down and started with the longer first one, the one with the notes, thinking it would be easiest (I don't remember my translations very well and I don't have a Horace-sized vocabulary-- pretty sure you have to be an expert for that). I finished it fairly easily, only had about 15 words I had to look up. Then I checked the clock-- 4:10. I was doing pretty well on time. So I started the first of the two shorter poems.

Unfortunately, they happened to be poems that, in my stressful fall, I managed to not translate, or not finish translating. Regardless, I couldn't remember very much and I was looking up like, three words a line without the aid of notes. I guessed and rushed and by the time I finished the thing it was 4:40. Feeling frantic, I hurried to do the next one, and ten minutes later I had only one stanza done, as I couldn't even remember the plot of it. With ten minutes left and the analysis to do, I dashed off a note about running out of time, wrote down what gist of it I could glean, and finished my paragraph-long comparison of the two right at 5.

Then my professor came out and I explained that I hadn't been able to finish.

"Well, how much did you get done? Did you get the basic idea at least?" she asked.

"Yeah, I got most of the winter poem and the very basic outline of the spring one, and I did the comparison. And I finished the first poem, I did that first."

She glanced down. "You did the first poem?"

"Yeah, that's done, it's just the other two--"

"Oh, [Basiorana]! That was all you had to do! You were suppose to chose, not to translate seventy-five lines of Horace in an hour and twenty minutes!"

I was a little shell shocked, to say the least. I think I managed a "What?"

"Oh, you must have thought I was a monster, trying to make you translate so much! I'm impressed you got this much done, did you finish any of the poems?"

"Yeah, I did the first one, I wasn't as rushed for it so it should be fine..."

"Well, I will count that one and give you bonus points for the rest. Seventy-five lines, my goodness!"

So my panic was for naught, and I admit I left a bit sheepish. But it'll work out, I mean, she's giving me the bonus points and everything so I'll probably do better than I would have done just turning in the normal translation. Still, took a while to come down off the "Oh crap it's ten minutes left and I have twenty lines left, what to do what to do" rush.

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So today at recitation my Biostats professor wanted to give back our tests and our homework from last week. Now, the sensible thing would have been to place the tests in the back on separate chairs based on the first letter of the last name, and do the same in the front with the Opportunities, right? That way people wouldn't all be congregating in one place and it could go faster.

Nope. He stood in the back with the tests and had the TA stand in the front with the Opportunities. Then we all kind of swarmed-- all 150+ of us.

So half the names he called were down getting their opps, and the rest of us could barely hear him through the mob and couldn't get over to him anyway, plus we're in this massive hall , standing on stairs or seat, pushing and shoving. It took me 10 minutes to get the test and I nearly fell down the steps thanks to my backpack being loaded down with my laptop (which I need for recitation), my Biostats notebook/binder, and my Latin books (which I didn't need... grr).

Anyway, I got that test back. 64%. So not as miserable as I was expecting but still crappy. If I completely bomb another test and I have to keep this grade, it won't kill me, but I'd really rather not bomb another test. Still, I consider this a comparatively good ending.

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And Heroes tonight? AWESOME. Just needs a bit more Peter and more depowered Sylar, but we can't have everything, can we?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lack of Posts is Due to Plethora of Homework

So...

Bad news: I'm almost positive that I flunked my Biostats test yesterday. I got into the exam after studying ALL weekend and some last week too, and the first question required a regression formula and I completely blanked on it. Like, mind freeze. I knew I had known it the night before, I was just blanking. If that had been it I could have still done well on the rest, but then I proceeded to be completely unable to let it go-- my mind was racing through possible formulas it might be but drawing a blank and I started to freak out and the next thing I knew I was getting a panic attack. I managed to suppress it enough to do my best but my best under those conditions is probably not too fabulous... I think it was because I was stressed out about a lot of different things lately, so my breaking point was a bit closer than normal (More specifics later).

I'll talk to my therapist about it next time I go in (in two weeks, I was supposed to have a session yesterday but the day off screwed up the University schedule). Ryter suggested I get a note from Disability Services but I don't think there's much they can do to help one way or another, I mean, taking a class in another room will probably make it worse, and I don't need extra time. Too much hassle, not enough gain, and I honestly don't think my anxiety disorder counts as a real disability. Not at my level. And I don't think it will happen again.

The good news in all of that mess is I already talked to my professor and he said that he will drop my lowest test of the 4 so chances are it won't count. So that's sorted out.

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More good news: I also talked to my adviser today, and he said that I'm so far ahead in credits thanks to AP and all my honors classes last year that if I feel stressed with my current workload I might as well take only 3 classes next semester so I can focus on Calculus and Organic more. I'll still be ahead of where I need to be credit-wise (I'm like one credit shy of being a junior right now. Vivacia's still beating me, though, she's already a "junior"). I might take a seminar or something easy, too, but I thought I might do that to avoid a repeat of this semester. I don't think I could do this again, and I have the dreaded Calculus coming up.

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VERY good news: Talked to the dining office again. They said that they've had many students complain about that machine since I came in (I was just one of the first) and they're trying to get it fixed. The machine was putting other people's charges on my account if they went after me on the machine. They will sort out exactly what needs to be sorted out and will find a way to transfer the money back to us somehow. Good.

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I think I might be depressed. I mean, I think that's why I had a panic attack instead of just pushing by the problem. I'm having trouble focusing and trouble sleeping, and I feel lonely all the time unless I'm with Ryter or like, actually talking to Cellamica instead of just sitting in the same room as her. I crave someone to talk to all the time, but no one ever really wants to talk to me except Ryter, so I'm spending more time with him than I should. Vivacia's really busy, and injured, and possibly mad at me, so I can't really talk to her...

I'm kind of paranoid, too. Like I thought Ryter was mad at me over something little that was said the other day, and he had to reassure me that he wasn't; meanwhile I remain convinced that Vivacia's furious at me and just not telling me about it. I don't know, maybe she is, but it also could be that she's busy and hurt and having issues getting around. I can't tell, but my brain is defaulting on "mad at me." She did say more than ten words to me today via AIM so I was a little reassured that at least she's not like, ready to murder me if I come near her, but...

I feel disconnected, like I'm vibrating a little bit out of our plane of existence. The trouble is I know this will mean I will spend even more time with Ryter because he's the only one who ever has any free time or the patience to listen to me freak out. And then Mummy will be upset with me because she thinks we need to spend less time together... not to mention Vivacia, though I've pretty much flat-out told Ryter that if Vivacia has some free time, unless we either had tickets to something or were supposed to meet someone I'm going to cancel our plans and hang out with her. Perhaps because of the funk I'm in, perhaps because it's the truth, I've been feeling like a kind of crappy friend lately.

Then again, I've been feeling like a kind of crappy everything lately.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I was supposed to STUDY today

AHHHHHH!!!!!

So remember how I had to cancel my credit card because I was getting enormous charges to the Dining ID office, of all places? They charged me about $500 that I never saw a penny of on my card, so it wasn't my doing. They claim it wasn't even THEIR doing-- in fact, that it would be impossible for them to remove money from my card without my using it on a Cat's Cache machine. So basically, either the bank is making errors, the machines are making errors, or someone stole my card and can't think of anything more inventive to spend my money on than campus money.

Mummy put a stop on that credit card and now I can't use it any more, so I've been begging her for money so I can buy things like shampoo with my own debit account.

Well, guess what.

Now my debit card is getting the EXACT SAME FUCKING CHARGES.

$400. I lost $400 of my OWN money. Keep in mind that I only HAD about $500 in my checking account, so basically, I have no money any more (well, I have $1000 in savings, but that's my capital and I can't spend it unless it's like, life and death). Mummy's contesting the charges, of course, but that means I have to put a stop on my DEBIT card, meaning the entire sum of my wealth until either my parents can physically bring cash to me or the bank fixes the problem is $100, and I don't dare spend any of it on anything because I need a certain amount of emergency money that I can access.

What's more, I'm pretty sure that this isn't even the bank, it's GOT to be the dining office. So now I have to go down to the dining ID office and say, "Look, one mistake I can buy, but TWO, both on the days that I put $20 into my Cat's Cache from that card?" and make them take my card numbers out of the system completely. And from now on, whenever I need to put money on my card for the laundry machines, I have to walk over to the ATM, take out cash, walk back to the nearest Cat's Cache machine and pay in cash, lest they decide to make me pay 20 times what I wanted to pay AGAIN.

And they will tell me no, no, that's impossible, it must be a bank error, and I will have to tell them FUCK YOU, I JUST LOST ALMOST MY ENTIRE WORLDLY WEALTH AND ALL ACCESS TO HAVING MONEY ON CAMPUS BECAUSE YOU CAN'T FIX YOUR DAMN MACHINES.

It HAS to be a problem with the machine. Nothing else makes sense.

What's worse, I NEEDED that money, like, for specific purchases I was supposed to make.

And on top of all that Ryter was a little impulsive and bought something off ebay for me that doesn't fit me. So since he was kind of freaking out over an $80 charge on something that I can't wear, I promised him I'd resell it on ebay and buy the right size. So I put it up, very nicely, listing it at $60 because I figured that would be a good starting bid and if we were out $20 that would be tolerable. And then, lo and behold, next thing I know there's another seller with the exact same thing for only $20. Mine's the only large size, sure. But I've already had someone contact me saying they'll buy it-- IF I drop the price. The replacement dress is going to be almost $100 including shipping. If I sold it for $20 we'd wind up having spent $160 on this one dress.

I dropped it to $50 but I really can't go lower. I might have to though, because $20 is better than nothing. And this is important enough to him that I'll wind up buying the dress from the other company regardless of what I get for this one. So I might wind up being out $80 because of this. $80 that I don't have because of the stupid Cat's Cache machines.

I basically can't spend a penny until Christmas. And even then, maybe not...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Proteus says he goes to Elysium

Menelaus, my Betta fish, finally died. I've been expecting it, he's been lingering for weeks, picking at food and only occasionally moving. 'Twas a lovely Viking funeral, mostly because thankfully no one else in the bathroom realized what I was doing, so I didn't get a lot of "EWWWWW"s.

I'll scour the tank and get new ones (two of them) soon. I might pick a different source of Classical rivals for the next two.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What I Think About When I Should Be Doing Homework

So I was reading Navelgazing Midwife, which is a fascinating blog, and very helpful to me, because I want to go into obstetrics and gynecology and the blog often talks about problems with OBs.

I was especially interested in her post about birth rape, because I honestly never heard of it before, but it really makes sense. Many women were saying how their OBs didn't respect their choices or tried to force or coerce them into things, especially involving sticking hands or instruments up the birth canal. I read several years ago about doctors who perform episiotomies when the mother doesn't need it, and I was rather horrified. One thing I always assumed about medicine was that you do what the patient (or their legal guardian) wants, as long as it is legal.

Now, of course, in childbirth there is the question of the child and sometimes things go wrong. But misrepresenting information to a mother, or treating her like she is stupid or imbalanced simply because she is in labor? I hope I never get that arrogant, and that if people see me becoming so, they will slap sense into me. I know that when I am in my residency I will have to obey the chief OB, but I hope I can get one who is understanding and compassionate towards the new mothers, and that even if I am not so lucky I will still focus on the mother and pay attention to HER demands.

I think when I get to that point in my life I'll take classes in midwifery, so I can do things like catch the baby no matter what position the mom is in, and learn what's best to say to mothers. And I intend, if at all possible, to hand the baby to the mother BEFORE it gets brought into the nursery. Unless the baby is seriously injured or drastically premature and needs medical attention, mothers should get to see and hold the results of their labor immediately (or when they wake up) and begin bonding (unless, of course, it is a case of the child being put up for adoption or surrogacy and the biological mother doesn't want to hold the baby).

One of the reasons I want to be an OB/gyn and not a midwife or a nurse, besides money, is that as an OB, I will have control, and be able to do things like kick out nurses who belittle the mother or try to pressure her into things she doesn't want. And hopefully in my own small corner of the world, I can start making up for all the shitty, terrible OBs in the world.

And as for myself, when I'm pregnant I'm going to do tons of research and walk into the OB's office (I don't think I'd want to do a home birth) long before labor and say, "I am informed and educated in the subject of childbirth, and I want you to understand that I expect to be in control. Do not try to treat me like a child or an idiot or a hysteric at any point in this process. If you do not agree ahead of time to listen to me and treat me like an educated equal, I cannot have you as my doctor." Hopefully by that point I will be in med school or an intern and have access to OBs I know I can trust.

And then I will probably have a perfectly normal, hospital birth, on my back with my only "unusual" demand being no epidural or offers of an epidural until I specifically request it. I mean, hospital births aren't all that bad. My mom had three healthy vaginal hospital births (even my sister, who was late) and she always talks about how the nurse-midwives who helped her were the most wonderful thing imaginable (there were a couple of other women in labor at the time and hers was fairly normal, so the OB was only really there to check in and catch the baby). But hopefully as an OB/gyn I'll be able to help some of the women who might otherwise have had a really terrible doctor who treats it as a disease instead of a normal biological process that just requires a bit of help and an experienced set of eyes and hands if something's wrong.


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Tonight Ryter suggested that he, Loquelo, Nonaestima and I all get a house in Dover next year, and I commute to campus...

Pros: I like Nonaestima and Loquelo, and obviously Ryter, and I would get to cook my own food and eat healthy. I'd have a real bathroom and a real kitchen and it might even be cheaper than living on campus, depending on where we go.

Cons: Ryter would have to be cleaner. I'm fairly messy myself but I have to have a clean toilet seat and no grime in my shower, and nothing sticky on tile floors or crumbs on the rug. Also, he figured we'd just share a bedroom, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that right yet. I wouldn't be living on campus and I'd bet money my circle of friends wouldn't be growing. I'd be paying for gas too. And even though I doubt it would happen (pray it won't), I have to consider what I would do if we ever broke up mid-semester.

Oh, and the number one con: My parents would NEVER agree to it. Not sharing a bedroom. My mom doesn't even want to have me live off campus at all, because she wants me to get the college experience, and she's already worried I spend too much time with him and that he's looking for someone to settle down with while I should be fun-dating. My dad... yeah. Not gonna happen. And they control the money.

Maybe senior year, if I proposed it right. But next year? HIGHLY unlikely. HIGHLY.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Life can be random.

Tonight was rather interesting. I have now officially been drunk-dialed. By Ryter, because he wanted to drunk-dial his ex and I pointed out that that was a bad idea on oh oh so many levels.

And then, out of the blue, a high school girl from Australia IMed me after finding my name on a blog I commented on and asked if I would listen to her. I wound up spending an hour or so just talking to her, asking her questions about her life as she vented. I don't know, maybe the whole conversation was made up (Ryter has made me a bit suspicious of people online) but I figure I have no reason to not believe she is who she says she is and I might as well give her someone to talk to, even if time zones mean there's a window of like, two hours at night when we can actually talk to each other. It was a bit random though.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Don't you hate days when everything goes wrong?

Perhaps it's no coincidence that my religious beliefs are so closely tied to the idea of guilt, because sometimes it feels like that is the emotion I feel the most, and most powerfully.

Right now Vivacia is upset with me because today we celebrated her birthday and I'm pretty sure I royally messed it up.

My parents are irritated because I saw them for the first time in weeks and I couldn't even let them take me to lunch or really do anything but talk to me for two minutes and then go.

Closer is probably more than a little pissed at me because I messed up his surprise that I didn't know about and that didn't happen anyway for reasons unrelated.

Ryter will probably feel like crap if/when he finds out about any of this because it's all tied up in his wanting to tag along and get to know everyone better.

I try to make everyone happy and this shit happens. If I don't try to make everyone happy they all get mad at me. I can't do anything right and I don't know why I bother to try.

I have 38 hours over the course of an entire week when I am not sleeping, eating, in class or doing homework. Of that there are actually only two blocks of time, Friday night and Saturday, when I am free from a long enough amount of time to make planning something feasible. Meanwhile Vivacia's usually on duty during those blocks Everyone wants my time, it seems, and half of them don't want my time with them to overlap with my time with anyone else. Ryter just wants me to spend time with him and he wants to spend time with Vivacia and Closer, but my parents think I need to spend more time studying or come home more often (my mom was upset that I didn't come home this weekend), and Vivacia wants me to spend time with her without Ryter being around.

I don't know. I posted more of this in my livejournal, because it's all very emo and LJ is better for being melodramatic.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

My life is a blur

I spent most of the morning wasting time, so now I have to finish a lab report I was supposed to have done this morning for tomorrow, AND study for an Organic quiz...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Movie Night!

Happy Halloween!

I had hoped to do something like a party tonight, but the campus was pretty dead, so Ryter and I had a movie night. We wanted to watch something scary, but I had suggested a while back that he might like the Stepford Wives, so we rented both the 1975 version and the completely-different modern version.

I was surprised, I thought he'd prefer the 1975 version because it ends with the main character getting replaced by a robot, rather than the modern one, which has a happy ending and is really more "funny" than "scary." But then again, the old version was kind of weird. Creepy, too.

Of course, the trouble with the modern "Stepford Wives" is that a lot of it doesn't make sense. Like, clearly the women have robotic bodies (ATM girl, and Bobbie's hand) and yet, they have normal brains (just with chips) and are able to go back to their old lives? What, did they keep the old bodies in storage? To suspend my disbelief, I went with the "robotic parts but not all robotic" idea, like they had cybernetic implants and stuff.

And the ending, while cute, was RIDICULOUS. A man turns you into a cooking, cleaning sex-bot and rather than, I don't know, DIVORCE him and have him ARRESTED for domestic abuse and brainwashing and SUE him for damages, you... make him do your grocery shopping? Riiiiiiight.

Of course, all Ryter could point out while we watched the 1975 version was, "But what do they do with the BODIES?" Now remember kids, in 1975 Stepford, don't eat the burgers.

We were talking about the logistics of a place like Stepford actually existing, if the technology was up to speed. The trouble with it is, though, women like that-- smart career women-- don't marry the kind of misogynists who actually would want a Stepford wife. They marry nice guys who can at least sort of keep up with them intellectually, and nice intellectual men can't be married to people who won't offer them more than sex and cookies. They need to be able to have a conversation with their wife. In that sense, 1975 Stepford were more realistic, because those women had already accepted the stay-at-home mom lifestyle, and in that time period it was more acceptable for men to be at least mildly misogynistic. If someone tried to Stepfordize their wife today, the relationship would probably already be abusive and people who saw the change would assume the woman was becoming mentally ill and report it.

If I had the technology to make a robotic Ryter, you know what I'd do? I'd make a robotic ROBOT to do the cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping, and keep Ryter the way he was. Why go to all that trouble to make a house-cleaning sexbot when you could be having sex WHILE your house got cleaned?

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I also wore my costume to Biostats class, and brought my camera intending to take pictures, but I left said camera in Ecology and then it vanished. Two hours, five checks and a panic attack later, I learned that someone turned it in to the professor of the class that is in that room afterwards, so I sent him an email. Hopefully he still has it.

I hate panic attacks, especially when I'm so sick I can't hear and my ears are constantly popping and I feel feverish.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I'm a little slow lately.

Now, finally, a week later, I'm putting these Intertidal Zone pictures up.

If you want to know where this was, it's Fort Stark in Newcastle, NH. Very nice place. Here are some "Look how pretty it is" shots.



The rocks had cool layers to them, like ribbons.


And now, the lab. We lay out two of these little plots and counted all the organisms in them-- the seaweed, snails, barnacles, and mussels. Look at all the barnacles! That was annoying to count-- there were over 400.


There were three kinds of snails. The one on the far left is a carnivorous snail, not native to the region. It eats by latching on to other shellfish and scraping a hole through the prey's shell. The next one is also not indigenous-- we know of it as the common periwinkle. The third one, the tiny one, is the native aquatic snail in this region, also a periwinkle.



Also, I found an empty sea-urchin shell.


It's a great area, lots of tidal pools and fun to explore.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sick

My head weighs five hundred pounds and is stuffed with cotton pain, my nasal cavity is dealing with an overpopulation of mucus and my left nostril has decided to grant amnesty, and my throat aches so much I've been popping cough drops until my teeth feel furry.

Bah.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I have returned.

Today is the first day of the five-day Isia inventio Osiris, the Passion of Isis in her search for the dismembered body of Osiris.

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Yesterday was the Halloween dance, and I, like a moron, forgot my camera. Dang. Well, I'll post a (headless) picture of my awesome costume later, and also Ryter's cool Byzantine soldier costume.

At the dance, I saw several cool costumes, like the full Power Ranger set, Bill and Ted from Bill and Ted's Most Excellent Adventure, and Captain Orange, who informs kids about Vitamin C! And of course, there was the obligatory sexy maids, sexy nurse, sexy witches, sexy pirates, sexy angel, sexy schoolgirls, sexy Hogwarts witch, sexy 1920's gangster, sexy Leia in her slave girl outfit and several prostitutes.

Not that I wasn't wearing red thigh-high boots with five-inch-heels, and not that I really mind sexy costumes, but sometimes you like to see a bit more variety, you know? Not that it's their fault, if you buy a costume as an adult woman you're basically stuck with "sexy," as Vivacia and I learned last year. But anyway, it was fun despite my feet KILLING ME by the end. Ryter and I left as soon as the costume contest was announced (I didn't win, the Power Rangers were Best Group, Where's Waldo was Most Creative, and the class president won with a store-bought superhero costume (but since he knew EXACTLY who I was without guessing "Devil?" I can't fault him for it. Props to the comic fans, y'know). Unfortunately, Vivacia couldn't really come until later (by which time I was spending most of my time sitting or standing in one place uncomfortably, not dancing) so I didn't get to see her much. Oh well, next weekend is her birthday and I will be around for that.

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I'll post about my Tuesday field trip when I get around to uploading the pictures. As for the Organic test, it was okay. I didn't FAIL it, at least-- I'm guessing a low B. Also, I got a perfect ten on my last Biostats quiz, which is VERY exciting because I was worried about that class.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Busy busy busy

I haven't been writing because I have an Organic midterm Friday and I've been assembling my costume, which requires lots of sewing on the cape. On the plus side, I have all the pieces and it will be awesome.

Sometime soon I will write about my trip to the ocean for lab.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Short post

Ryter and I saw Transformers today. Awesome. Awesome awesome awesome. Go see it.

Also got the cloth for my cape. This will be fun.

And that's pretty much it...

Friday, October 19, 2007

I think I annoyed Vivacia with my crazy school reform ideas.

Holy shit! My last entry was # 300 and I forgot! Oh well. Congrats to me, that was my 300th blog post! Wooo!

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Sorry I forgot to write a blog entry last night, Ryter and I hung out after my reall not-fun Chem lab (four hours and I only got 1% yield for one sample) and watched the movie Se7en, all because Ryter is doing a short preliminary-to-a-novel story on a telekinetic serial killer and I said, "You know, I always thought it would be cool to do a story about a killer whose MO is based on the seven deadly sins."

He then said, "You know what? Get in the car. We're going to Blockbuster."

So my idea's been done. I liked the movie, actually, though it was very creepy. Hang on a second....

SPOILERS, IF YOU CARE


Not that you should, it was released over ten years ago. Still, only fair to warn people.

I have to say, my favorite murder by far was the Sloth one. Chaining a guy to a bed and keeping him alive as his body is covered in excruciating sores until he looks like an long-dead corpse and his mind slowly turns to mush, so he can't identify you when he is found? Cutting off his hand to place his fingerprints at the scene of another crime, thus leading the cops to him at the perfect time? And even paying his rent so that his landlord never complained or noticed? That's impressive.

The writers were pretty creative with the murders. Gluttony= force feeding was kind of obvious, but a pound of flesh from the greedy man then bleeding him dry, that was clever. Although the "lust" one, making a john strap on a penis sheath with a blade on the end and stab a prostitute through the uterus, creeped me out because there are actually people who might make that sort of shit for someone. Gah. The model for Pride was interesting because I actually have trouble believing even a model would choose suicide over disfigured survival. I mean, really, you'd think she'd know something about plastic surgery. Someone could build her a new nose to replace the one he cut off.

The only part that really bugged me, though, was the final scene, specifically mailing the young detective's wife's head to him. Creepy and effective, yes. But I have two problems with it. One, Doe SPECIFICALLY said in the car that his victims were not "innocent people." As in, he killed them because they were sinners. He didn't think he was a monster for it, because they were not innocent. And yet... he kills a pregnant woman and her fetus with her, just to get at the guy he wants to peg as Wrath? Maybe he could justify the woman as obviously a sinner because all people are guilty of some sin, but Catholic dogma, which he was following, states that a child can't be accountable for their sins until they are seven years old, and that a newborn has only the original sin. By his own rules he should have been forced to leave her alone as soon as she said she was pregnant.

Also, I thought the detective should have died. All the other representations of sin died. Why not Wrath? I figured he should have killed himself and it should have ended right then.

But anyway.

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Today Vivacia and I had girl time. We talked and I helped her bake a cake for her mom's birthday, which they are celebrating tomorrow. It was fun.

And yet, while I like spending time with her, this is the first weekend since I got back to school that I haven't spent the night at Ryter's. It's actually been a couple months since I went a week without spending the night at Ryter's.

AHHH! Boyfriend withdrawal... No. Must. Kick. Habit...

I'm lonely.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

And there weren't even any bears!

So about yesterday.

We went to College Woods for lab to identify and count trees. First he told us all about the different kinds of trees you could find in the area, most of which we didn't actually find ourselves. Then he had us each measure out two four meter-by-four meter squares in the middle of the woods, measure the diameter of each tree in them, and identify it. This wouldn't have been that bad except that your average 4m x 4m plot of woodland has about 30 trees, some of which are quite large in diameter and required multiple people to measure (our biggest was 79 cm in diameter) and all of which like to poke you. Some were hard to identify-- we had to look at my camera pictures and get some help to figure out the red oak-- but about 95% of them were eastern hemlock. I got really sick of hemlocks.

Here are the trees we found:


Also, some pretty shots of the woods:






I need to go there for walks more often. It's not that far from campus.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I have an odd affection for that picture.

I will tell you all about my trip through College Woods to hug trees tomorrow, but for tonight, I have a Biostats paper I just finished and two epodes to translate so I'm afraid you'll have to settle for something random.


Well, I warned you it was random.

Monday, October 15, 2007

If I type "Lee Bog" enough I'll get even MORE visitors!

No real blog entry tonight, I had a big paper for Ecology. I do find it interesting, though, that in researching this paper, which is about Lee Bog, I typed "Lee Bog" into Google and got... my own damn blog.

I appear to be the foremost authority on the ecology of Lee Bog. At least according to the Internet, which we all know is God.

I only wonder if my classmates got shunted here as well. Don't rely on me! I'm not as smart as I pretend I am!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Redneck step-uncles: the best kind of redneck uncle.

You know how I've been having issues with feeling like reality is surreal? Well, the worst thing to do in that state of mind is go to a haunted house. I was scared shitless. Ryter's knuckles suffered quite a bit.

Loquelo, Loquelo's housemate Quiesa, Ryter and I went to the Haunted Acres in Epping, where they've got two haunted houses, a haunted maze, and a haunted walk through the woods. Ryter had never been to a haunted house before. We went to the Haunted Saloon/Mineshaft first, where I made the mistake of going last, and thus was the victim of the various monsters who followed us a bit too closely. Quiesa would scream bloody murder when people jumped out, which made the whole thing five times scarier. It was all Western-themed. Ryter said "Hi" to all the actors, just randomly.

The next one was the Atomic House, designed to show nuclear fallout. For this one they gave us 3-D glasses, which did make the whole thing very psychedelic and a bit like an acid trip, but which also, alas, refused to stay on, and when they were on they made it very hard to find my footing on the floor, which went up and down at random times. I wound up taking them off for the uneven parts. The strobe lights were a challenge, though. At one point someone jumped out at me while I was messing with the glasses and I shrieked, which was one of the few times Ryter actually admitted he got scared.

Then we went to the maze, which was just that-- a maze-- only in almost complete darkness, with hidden doors from which costumed people would wander out, surprise us, and follow us. We got lost a few times, and this one guy with a meat cleaver who looked exactly like Loquelo in the darkness got between Ryter, Quiesa and I and Loquelo, and trapped us in a dead end. Thankfully they weren't allowed to touch us so we got past him, but he followed us all the way to the exit and scared the CRAP out of Quiesa. Meanwhile Ryter and Loquelo were laughing, and they both have these high-pitched, creepy laughs that weren't really helping matters.

Then we finished by doing the quarter-mile Nightmare Walk through the woods. First guy we see has this big-ass sword and comes running straight at Quiesa, raising it in the air. She shrieked and cowered. Of course he didn't touch her, but she was crying as she laughed afterwards. The walk was by far the scariest. Even Ryter was scared, at least until he figured out the pattern of where the people were hiding, waiting to jump out at us. There was a six-foot-high dragon, lots of ghouls and witches, and a guy with a real, running chainsaw that smelled terrible. I admit, my heart was in my throat. The fact that we were in the woods-- and thus there was real wilderness on either side, and we accidentally went off the path once, and it was REALLY dark in spots-- made it much worse.

Ryter LOVED it. Especially the Atomic House and the walk, of course. He had a ball. Me, not so much. I don't like being really scared, and the fact that I have had trouble with reality vs. fantasy lately was making it very, very hard. I didn't realize it would be that bad. Still, it was fun, and I'm glad I went with someone whose hand I could grab onto and basically not let go of the entire time...

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Yesterday was Ryter's grandfather's engagement party. Basically, like 40 people of his extended family on his dad's side, all gathered together in this little ranch house... It wasn't that bad. It was a bit claustrophobic at times, but everyone was really nice, and Ryter's favorite uncle was there from LA as a surprise, which was cool. Plus we got to laugh at the antics of his redneck soon-to-be step-uncles in many different levels of sobriety.

Ryter has learned that his uncle, a man he and his entire family does not like, is paying for the bar bill at the wedding (which will be one day after I turn 21, incidentally). Thus, he and much of his family has decided to get as plastered as is humanly possible, as fast as possible.

I will be driving us back from this wedding, methinks.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Trying to be both vague and specific at the same time is rather challenging.

It appears this business of bursting into tears pretty much every night that I am alone is going to become a habit.

I'm glad I spent the night at home, though honestly I wish I could have spent another night, or a whole weekend. I did get to get some apples and cider today, and see the ducks at the local apple orchard's duck pond. They used to advertise "FEED THE DUCKS!" and sell duck food, but I think some environmentalist got to them because now the sign says "PLEASE DON'T FEED THE DUCKS-- THEY NEED TO BE ABLE TO FLY!"

And I talked to my dad about Thanksgiving. He refuses to let it be moved to Friday but was okay with eating at 12 or 1 and letting me go to Ryter's family dinner afterwards. The only question is if my aunt can come up that early. My mom will talk to her.

And now I'm back at school, a little later than planned. I think this stress won't go away until I solve the problems that are causing it-- no amount of relaxation will help. I just wish I could say how successful I will be at that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Not this shit again.

I managed to skip Biostats today. Not intentionally. We were dismissed from Organic and, instead of sitting there and waiting for my professor to come in, I just... left. I spaced. I honestly thought it was time for me to go. I forgot a whole hour of my day.

But oh well. I can catch up later. I'm stressed, is all.

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I'm at home right now, which will help. I talked to my mom about Thanksgiving with Ryter-- she said she's okay with it, but I haven't talked to my dad yet. That will not go as well...

Honestly? I'd rather we just did separate Thanksgivings this year. I think he said they do a deli platter. For Thanksgiving. My mom does a big-ass turkey and a whole mess of side dishes and she's a fabulous cook. She suggested we do the dinner Friday, if Shrewd could get Friday off work, but if Shrewd's at Crate and Barrel she'll need to do day-after-Thanksgiving sales. Moving it would be so unbeleivably perfect... but unlikely. So I may be skipping my mom's amazing Thanksgiving cooking for Ryter. I hope that kid knows how much I love him.

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I played my Marvel Heroes monopoly game tonight with my mom and dad. I lost, spectacularly. Mummy won, and she was talking to Shrewd on the phone for the first 20 minutes or so. It didn't help that Daddy had the TV going for background noise, which makes it impossible for me to concentrate. But it's a cute game, and a lot of fun. Park Place was Magneto, Boardwalk was Professor X, in case you're curious.

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So I was sitting here writing this at midnight, and now I'm crying. Why am I crying? Hell if I know. I'm just crying. And I can't see the screen very well.

okay, so maybe I do know. Maybe I'm crying because I'm so stressed I accidentally skipped a class. Maybe it's because I just finished my third test in less than a week this morning. Maybe it's because I spent 15 minutes of that test on one problem only to realize that duh, 1200 divided by 300 is 4, not 400. Maybe it's because I can't stick to a diet and every time I look down I am reminded of how fat I am. Maybe it's the fact that he, completely innocently, made me feel incredibly embarrassed and ashamed of the one feature of my body that I have always felt really, really self-conscious about and wanted him to approve of. Maybe it's because I have a Orgo quiz Monday and a test in two weeks. Maybe it has something to do with all my Daphnia dying and my turning in a crappy report on them. Maybe it's the fact that my boyfriend has told me that all the not-quite-sex stuff that we do together does pretty much nothing for him, and basically told me to lay off anything more than kissing until I'm ready for sex (not that he's saying that needs to be soon). Maybe it's the fact that this is the first time I've been home for longer than an hour since I went to school, and I can only spend the night, and no one's going to be home tomorrow anyway since it's Thursday and they have to work, and by the time they get home I'll have to go back to Durham so I can be around to spend tomorrow hiking with Ryter, and spend the night before him sleeping in his god-awful uncomfortable bed and not touching him, then go spend Saturday being smiley and happy for his family, and Sunday doing homework. Maybe it has something to do with not being ALONE since... god. I can't remember. I can't remember being alone. And I'm increasingly retreating into my fantasy worlds to the point where reality seems surreal, and I can't fix that problem because I have maybe five friends and they're all so busy with jobs or extracurriculars (you know, lives) that I can't spend time with them instead and have THEM pull me out of this world I've retreated into. And I feel like I can't tell Ryter because he's stressed out already and his problems are worse than mine, and besides, he's the reason for some of mine and that will make him feel worse and when he feels guilty it makes me feel bad for making him feel guilty and ultimately, even if it was his fault, I wind up suffering emotionally more than him.

I'm so sick of crying. The way I stop crying is to retreat into a fantasy, where I'm pretty and healthy and supreme dictator of earth. But when I retreat into fantasy it's worse when I have to return to the real world. So I have to decide if the temporary relief is worth it.

Bog Blog

So yesterday I went on a field trip in Ecology to Lee Bog. Which is a bog. In Lee, NH. More specifically, a sphagnum bog, protected by the town of Lee.

We got there and first he took us to this little place:


Which I was very proud of myself for knowing that it was a vernal pool, before he even said it. Vernal pools are puddles that always show up in the same spot. I thought the dip at the end of my driveway was a vernal pool, but it turns out it's just a drainage problem.

Then we started our walk. Thankfully it was not a hike. Along the way he pointed out a bazillion white oaks, which are some of the few plants we actually will have to identify for this class. This is a white oak and white oak leaves up close.












I can't remember the name of this next plant, but you can eat the little purply-blue berries. They're very bitter and usually only birds eat them.


This is eastern hemlock. Unlike the hemlock that killed Socrates, this is not poisonous, and is in fact edible. The leaves are, anyway.


This is Lee Bog. It's kind of pretty. The little scraggly evergreen trees are black spruce, which only grows in bogs, at the timberline, and in the tundra. They need it to be rather cold and harsh. Bogs are cold because the water in them is blocked by the vegetation, so it can't circulate.




Notice the other pine trees are kind of scraggly. That's because bog soil doesn't have a lot of nutrients.

This is the sphagnum moss, which is what creates the bog. Rotting sphagnum makes the bog soil jiggle when you poke it with a stick, like jello pudding. Muddy, stinky, freezing cold jello pudding.


The nearby trees are all yellowed because of chlorosis, which means they aren't getting enough nutrients.


Bogs are usually surrounded by plants that do well in tundra environments too. This is reindeer moss, so called because reindeer like to eat it.


We walked through the woods, too, and he pointed out the canopy effect-- plants can't grow because the caonpy takes up all the light.


This is the American Chestnut.


It's almost extinct because humans accidentally introduced a chestnut fungus to the New World that the European and Asian chestnuts were resistant to, but the American one was not. They are incredibly rare; apparently there are only about three or four trees that are known to be breeding and that's only because their root systems are all but immortal, so when the tree dies off from the fungus the roots send up new trees. Which then get attacked by the fungus. Sucks to be an American chestnut.

And this is the pretty foliage on one of the trees by Parsons Hall.

So that was my Tuesday field trip.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sorry

No post tonight. I have an exam tomorrow.

Monday, October 8, 2007

I got really PO'd at my RA too, but she may actually deserve it.

Good news. I got an 82% on my Biostats exam. Now to get through the Ecology one Wednesday. But I'm much better at retaining things from that class, at least.

I also took a Latin test today, but I'm not too worried. It was just a translation. I think I may have tripped up in some places but they were minor mistakes-- I got the gist of it, and we had to paraphrase too. Not a terrible worry. Except I forgot to record the homework for that class, so now I have to admit to my professor that I spaced...

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I'm depressed right now, and I don't know why. I've been crying a lot, over anything, and I'm moody. Plus it feels like everything people do bothers me. Not irritable-bothers, but just makes me feel sucky and upset. I noticed it with Ryter tonight, though I was suppressing it because he's in a lot of pain lately and he doesn't need to deal with me being moody and emo. Hopefully it will go away soon.

Honestly, I think it's a yearly thing. As much as I love fall, every year-- perhaps due to the return to academia-- I get depressed for a month or so. I actually think it might be a good sign for my own health that I'm getting upset at other people instead of myself, though. I mean, I'm upset with myself, especially in terms of my weight and academic difficulties, but I'm ALSO getting upset with others, when previously I would just take all that emotion and turn it in on myself.

This annoyance at those around me, while potentially a good thing, is also a bad thing in that I won't be very fun to be around for a while, and in that I have to talk to my parents about the Thanksgiving issue this weekend-- specifically that Ryter really, really wants me to spend Thanksgiving with his family, and my family has been increasing the importance of Thanksgiving since Shrewd and I went away to school. Which means that I will have to have my mom explain that we're a little young to be sharing holidays that both families celebrate (his doesn't celebrate Christmas, so that doesn't count), and more specifically, that this is "all well and good to date him but it's not like you're going to marry the guy" which is the one statement that drives me NUTS lately and I get it ALL THE TIME from family.

Basically, what they are saying is, they want me to treat this like a college fling, a starter boyfriend. Which I would NEVER do and I would discourage others from doing, because it is cruel and manipulative. If we don't wind up together forever, that's okay. If we do, that's okay too. I don't know. But if I did that, I sure as hell would know how it would end, and it wouldn't be fair if he didn't.

I'm still debating whether or not to talk to Ryter about the things that are bothering me. On the one hand, maybe they are legit complaints. On the other, maybe I'm making them up because I'm depressed and moody. On the third, creepily dismembered hand of some dead hobo I found, he's got a lot to deal with right now and probably doesn't need this too...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

My mother seems to have decided to give me sweaters a lot-- I'm not entirely sure how related this is to the "miniskirt" incident...

My whole family came up for my birthday celebration today, which was cool. We went to the New England Center (they have a Sunday brunch buffet), and Vivacia and Ryter came too.

It was cool. I got a cowboy hat, a sweater, an iTunes gift card, a Marvel Monopoly board and $375. All of which are most excellent. Also, the food was good and having Vivacia there apparently made Ryter a lot less nervous around my parents, because they were more focused on the fact that they haven't seen Vivacia in ages.

Then, I spent the afternoon studying. Well, sort of. I was supposed to be studying, anyway. It was an on and off thing... However, I did set up my secondary blog, which has only three entries. It's just me babbling about the Middle East conflict, plural marriage, and cheating, but if you like that sort of thing or want to tell me all the many ways I am wrong, check it out. Unlike many internet opinion blogs, I will admit if you change my mind-- and changing my mind is possible.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Last one, I promise

This is one of many new blog entries from tonight. Check the first one here.

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Today Ryter and I went up to the White Mountain National Forest and hiked along the Pemigewasset River, on the Lincoln Woods trail. It was a LOT of fun. I need better hiking socks for my boots, but it was still fun. We walked the main, flat, wide, used-to-be-a-railroad-track trail for a while, though we did wander off it when there was a good place to climb down to the river.

We sat on the rocks for a while until giant insects the size of a quarter (well, one giant insect the size of a quarter) attacked us. Then, back to the trail. We finally veered off when we saw a little side trail labeled, "Black Pond, 1.0 miles" and decided to investigate. That was a much more rugged trail (well, less of a dirt road, more of a trail) but it was also fun and more exciting. We never found Black Pond, we had to turn around (I'm reeeeeeally out of shape) but it was a fun walk and we're going back next week, to find either Black Pond or the waterfall that is rumored to be in the area, whichever we decide.

I was sweaty and gross afterwards, but it was worth it. So much fun. And Ryter especially loved it, he can't wait to get back. I really hope I can match his stamina soon, because I know he really wants to get so tired he comes back to his apartment and collapses from exhaustion, and I get that way about an hour before he does...

Next week, I am totally bringing my camera.

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There, all caught up. More tomorrow/later today (it's 12:03) after my birthday party, and after I start studying for the Ecology test on Wednesday (yeah, ANOTHER test...).

My crazy week

This is one of many new blog entries from tonight. Check the first one here.

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Monday I learned I had the Biostats test, and promptly freaked out. That was yesterday. It wasn't too bad, but I did get a lot of studying in. But I went over to Ryter's and burst into tears anyway, because of it.

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Tuesday was my field trip with Ecology to Blue Job Mountain, which is a protected wilderness area that used to be a blueberry heath, so it's a young forest. As my teacher is a bit of a naturalist type, it was very informative and interesting. As I had not anticipated climbing up a mountain, and had expected instead that we would drive up and wander around a small wilderness area, I did not have enough water and I am too out of shape, and I was dying by the end. But the views? Amazing.

At the top there is a rickety old tower from the 1910's that is used to watch for fires, I believe. We climbed up and took pictures from the top. That was cool, even if the narrow stairs did make me fear pitching forward the whole way down.

Of course, the best part was watching the "I'm only in Bio to do pre-med, why do I have to take Ecology, wah" types complain about the mountain and more specifically the wilderness, and the potential for nail-breakage.


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Also Tuesday, I discovered that my lab partner in Ecology and I had managed to kill all of our Daphnia in our experiment over the previous week. Oops.

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Wednesday was my 20th birthday. Yes, I am 20 years old now, and officially not a teenager. Two decades. Holy cow.

I didn't do much for my birthday on the actual day (we're going to the New England Center-- my family, Vivacia and Ryter-- tomorrow) but I did break from studying for a few hours and went to eat dinner with Ryter, who ordered a pizza, which was sweet of him. We also ate leftover pieces of a cake he had (yes he buys cakes randomly), which, we discovered, was decorated with magnets. Yes, what we had thought were merely decorative fish-shaped cake toppings were actually magnets, stuck on top of the cake... and we watched the baseball game (he's very into baseball, it's the playoffs). It was nice. I mean, it would have been nice to have a birthday wish and all but that sort of thing gets harder as you get older and people care less and less about birthdays.

I went to the animal fair... the birds and the beasts were there...

Finally, I can write. I'm going to separate these into different posts, instead of one long one, because I find it easier to read that way.

Starting with Friday...

After I checked my Daphnia experiment in lab I met Shrewd at my dorm, and we got directions and headed to the Deerfield Fair. The Deerfield Fair is held every year, never really changes, and is a lot of fun. Shrewd and I always like to go.



We were planning on meeting Mummy and Daddy there, but the cell phone reception was bad (isn't it always?) so we wandered around a bit. First stop was the sheep barn:



Which is one of Shrewd's favorite places. Then there was the goats...



And the pigs. We caught a bit of the pig show:



And then met up with Mummy and Daddy at last, as there was reception by the swine barn. Also by the swine barn? A sausage stand. Sketchy.

We moved on the poultry barn. There were ducks that looked like Arthur from Sheldon,



and drag queen chickens. Fabulous.



We got soup in a bread bowl for lunch, then the next stop was the draft horse heavy pulling show. Basically we watched giant horses, over seven feet tall, drag 3000+ lbs across the ring. Each team had to be backed up carefully towards the weight (which was put in place by tractor). This was sometimes a bit challenging, as the draft horses were all too eager to go. The first team was called Redneck Express, which amused me.



After watching that we swung over to where the Teamsters (4-H types) were competing with their oxen. The first kid looked about 8 and his oxen responded to him like puppies. Adorable. But not very obedient. The second kid had a little better luck with his.



The oxen were so sweet, but very big, and there were two cute little kids (can't take pictures of kids not your own, that makes you a predator, or I would have gotten one of these guys) playing on the fence and, for a little while, IN the oxen ring. One of the mommies caught this and freaked out, racing over to rescue the little kid.

One of the competitors was the regional champion oxen-raiser. These are hers. She's adult-sized, compare to the little ones before.



Then the draft horse barns! Ah, horsies...



And oxen, which I actually had to look on Wikipedia to figure out that pulling oxen are basically just steers. I always figured it was like the difference between a dairy cow and a beef cow but turns out that a neutered male dairy cow is an ox. Actually all cows/domesticated cattle are oxen, but these guys are the only ones we call such. I'd show you a picture from that barn but the only one I have has family members in it.

But here, have a dairy cow. That was our next stop:



And we saw them get milked:



By this time it was getting late. We went and got a Blooming Onion to share, then looked at the shops on the fairway, including a cowboy hat shop where Shrewd got a cool fancy hat, and then got fried dough, fudge, and decided to leave.



That was fun. Then we went to the Olive Garden all the way in Manchester, and I wound up getting back to campus really late. But it was okay, in the end.