Thursday, March 15, 2018

Hi, It's Me

Turns out I still have a blog.

I think my brain is broken.  It saddens me.  But at least it's not a broken heart or a broken soul, or maybe it's all of those.

In any case, it's sometimes quite easy to forget about my broken brain.

I don't remember it when I'm watching the cryoceiling at work get lifted 45 feet into the air. 
I don't remember it when the sun is shining and when the deer watch me cautiously as I walk to my car. 
I certainly don't remember it when I'm at the library, trying to find an appropriately "intellectual" movie to borrow along with the guilty pleasure Hallmark movie in my hand.

I really only think about it when I'm driving home and thinking back on my day and realizing, "Hey, you, those negative thoughts, those despairing thoughts?  Those aren't the thoughts of a normal brain."

So I try to be kinder.  "It's okay, brain.  You worked really hard today and no one thinks you should quit your job or that you aren't smart enough to handle it."

I pray that the kind words are the true ones.
My feet + Gulf of Mexico, March 2018

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Weeder Course: Are You Serious about Living In Boston?

I have a friend who heartily dislikes February.  I congratulated her when she survived it this year, mostly because I was also congratulating myself for surviving it.

The hardest thing about February wasn't the snow or the shoveling or the long commutes or even the long walks when the public transportation wasn't running - it was the exhaustion from dealing with all of these things and then getting up the next day and facing it all over again.  

Here are some of the month's highlights:

(1) Sledding in the park and walking across a frozen solid pond.
(2) Having some nice people on the subway make room for me.  (One nice lady even pulled me onto the subway with her after we had waited through three previously full trains)
(3) Visiting the Longfellow House in honor of George Washington's Birthday (the Longfellow House was GW's war headquarters when he was in Boston)
(4) Visiting the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (for free) and deciding that :
      (a) I kind of wish Isabella and I could have been friends
      (b) I want her house
      (c) I am very upset that someone stole a lot of artwork from there in 1990
      (d) I want Ally Carter to write a fictional story in the Heist Society series solving the heist.
(5) Shoveling snow one weekend for 8 hours and then rejoicing by jumping around in the snow
(6) Finding a good doughnut shop near my house
(7) Walking in the snow back from the temple
(8) Going to Dallas (for work training) and finding boots for Boston.  (Since Boston is sold out and back-ordered until June)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

No Man is an Island

I was riding the green line back towards the red line, the line that would take me home.  My mind was on the book I was reading, the bread and eggs and milk I would be buying, on the wonderful weekend I would be spending in my house, doing lazy snow day activities for the first time since the snow hit.
When I went to switch trains, I noticed a cop was standing guard over the inbound train entrance, his arms outstretched.  "No one is allowed down here"  and he turned and looked over his shoulder with a glance that told me not everything was normal.

When I got to my train entrance, there were three security guard standing entrance and another couple guards directing everyone outside, quickly and brusquely with little to no explanation beyond, "Shuttle buses will be coming."  The red line train was down...again.  I sighed.  With all this snow in Boston, the red line seems to be shut down more often than it's operating normally.  This didn't seem like a disabled train but no one looked stricken or in shock.

I followed the group of people outside but paused when I noticed a few cops questioning people in the entryway, "Did you touch her?  Did you try to stop her?"

I looked at the passengers being questioned.  Again, no shock.

With a heave the doors were flung open as I followed the masses out the doors, past the interrogations and into the outside where we blinked in shock to see the entire street in front of the station blocked with at least a dozen emergency vehicles and sirens announcing the arrival of more.

Annoyance at being left in the cold, high and dry without a way home; those were the emotions I heard and saw expressed.  Did anyone around me know what was happening?

My mind spun through worst-case scenarios and I prayed that none of those were true.

Curiosity wanted to know what the incident was that shut down the entire red line and stopped up all downtown  traffic.  Another part was too afraid to face the reality that perhaps someone(s) had died.  I turned around and walked away.

It took me and hour and a half to walk through Boston, over to Cambridge and then on to Harvard Square. As I stumbled, slid through the snowy streets, the snow covering my hat and coat, I continued to pray for those involved. As I passed red line stops, I wondered if the people milling outside, calling friends and family to pick them up, realized that an accident rather the weather had caused the confusion.  I wondered if it would be on the news, on the national news.  "An already overtaxed and weary subway line halted by another kind of emergency"  I could see the headlines, even if I didn't know the details.  

No one around me in the grocery store said a thing.  No one on Facebook mentions it.  So I state it here: Something tragic and sad happened today on the red line.

"Ask not for whom the bell tolls.  It tolls for thee."

Friday, January 30, 2015


Things I've done this month:

Read eleven books
Become a member of the Museum of Fine Arts
Hiked around Arnold Arboretum
Had Boston Cream Pie from the place it originated
Survived and shoveled through my first blizzard (nor'easter)
Given a 10 minute talk in Chinese
Set a goal for the year

Things I haven't done:
Written any stories
Played an Instrument
Studied Chinese or Japanese
Opened a textbook

I'm not sure where that puts me.  But I'm not regretting it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

My roommates and I started a quote wall and it seems I run circles around my roommates when it comes to saying funny things.  Except, rereading them all, I'm realizing, I'm not funny so much as I am awkward and kind of ditzy-sounding.  

"My facebook doesn't know who I am"
"I need to get all my geese in a row" 

I try to tell stories and it's like I'm a stand-up comedian but I don't get my own jokes.    

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Book Year In Review

It's that time again - my 2014 in the books I read.  This year was significantly different in many ways though and I think my reading choices and my reading favorites from the year will show that.  As a result, I'm doing this book year in review a little differently.

The Book that Changed My Life in 2014: Court Duel by Sherwood Smith
Genre: Fantasy
One-sentence blurb: The politics of overthrowing an evil ruler and replacing him with someone who is good has never been an easy road to tread.
My life: For the last year and a half of graduate school, I had a great patron of the arts who handed over book after book for me to read and I eagerly consumed just about everything that came my way.  In fact, I have been so spoiled by her recommendations and our book discussions that I almost feel at a loss here in Boston despite having three library cards.  I must confess I started this book slowly until it gripped me and I finished it so quickly that I woke up the next day, excited to keep reading it and realized that the story was already at its end.  So I read parts of it again and again and again.  And then broke down and read it all over again.  And then I still continued reading parts of it.  It's like I couldn't get enough of Shevraeth but neither could I figure him out.  He confused me and inspired me, a puzzle that I couldn't solve but I wasn't really sure why I had to solve it anyway.  I haven't figured him out even now but somehow along the way, Shevraeth became a good friend and is now a permanent part of my reading fall-backs.  Some friends are made in the difficult times of our lives and those friends are the ones worth keeping.

Authors that Have Left a Permanent Impression:

Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult and Adult Contemporary (yep, I looked it up)
My life: Although I had a friend who told me about this author, it wasn't until I heard an interview she did on NPR that I started asking questions.  I sprinted through Attachments, Fangirl and then Landline.  I recommend them all but Landline will leave you breathless in a good way.  She explained in the interview that not a lot of books focus on the romance of life after marriage and her book focuses on it in a way that inspired me even though I've never been married and know little about romance in general.  Rowell's books remind you that love is about caring deeply and being loyal and how people are worth the sacrifices we make for them and they also leave a strong message that someone somewhere someday will love you for who you are, warts and all.  Given the difficulty of my living situation, these books were a message I craved to hear.

Keigo Higashino -
Genre: Mystery
My life: Confession: I've never really been into mysteries.  Murder mysteries?  I pretty much avoid them as much as possible.  I can't really say what possessed me to pick up one of his books from the library or why I continued reading past the first chapter when it was clearly a murder mystery.  But keep keep reading I did, and soon enough, I was laughing.  Out right and out loud.  I wasn't sure if it was a bad translation or just a misunderstanding of Japanese culture but when the wry sense of humor I sensed in one of the characters appeared again and again, I had to believe it was on purpose.  I finished the book and spent an entire year looking for ways to get my hands on more.  I've now finished three of his books and still clamoring for more.  I learned something new about myself: I can enjoy a good mystery.

Miyuki Miyabe
Genres: Fantasy and Mystery
My life:  Armed with a list of my Japanese friend's favorite authors, I went looking for this author.  Then, imagine my surprise when I was in the youth section of the library and found a large 800 page book by her.  Miyuki created worlds that always had me scratching my head but also left me inspired and thinking about long after the book was closed and the story finished.  It was tempting to live in her worlds but the interesting thing is that her worlds always, always asserted that life is better than any fantasy.  Live in the present.  Your good efforts will not be enough to change the world but somehow they will be enough to change you.  Good words to remember as I start to carve out a new life.

Summary of my 2014:

I spent eight and a half months of this year sleeping on the bedroom floor of a friend and six weeks sleeping on the bedroom floor of my sister.  I was unemployed for six months and looking for a job for ten.  I moved twice.  These first twelve months post PhD have been hard, harder than I anticipated.  And somehow the wounds from my graduate school are still so gaping and obvious that I bite my tongue to keep back the bitter words and the bitter tears.

In many ways, I am glad that 2014 is behind me.  But in some ways, I am shocked to find myself loathe to leave it.

With the stress and uncertainty of 2014, I also found that the loved ones around me are true and faithful and won't let me fall or give up or starve.  For that lesson alone, it was all worth it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Living Courageously

They say to live your life without regrets.

For me, regret is simply a by product of living.

Because I am not perfect, there are times I say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, or choose something different than the best thing.

It's not then about living without regrets but living with them.

Knowing that I may say the wrong thing and do the wrong thing and choose the wrong thing and giving myself the courage to say and do and choose anyway