Thursday, March 14, 2013

So I finished my PhD, which is great. This isn't say that I don't have a ton of things to do still for school. But this one thing, the most daunting thing, is finished. Somehow this whole process changed my relationship with blogs and social media. Part of it is just being too busy, but I also just don't feel that compelled to read about the lives of others (with a few exceptions) so much as focusing on my own life (for once). This, paired with the coming demise of Google Reader, makes me feel like I'm just honestly not going to be reading as many blogs. Or posting much on my own blog.

This seems like a great opportunity to reclaim personal interactions. To pick up letter writing again. To finally take a stab at making a zine (which I've been wanting to do since I was like 15, which now almost half a lifetime ago for me). To be more narrow, but deeper, in the scope of my interactions with people. (Just for the record, I did not turn my Facebook back on after my defense. I don't need to rub being done in anyone's face. I used to feel like part of the things I did were to prove myself to the people who never liked me/bullied me/competed with me, but I don't even care anymore. If people want to know what's going on with me, they can email me. Or I can email them if I really want to share. FB stays off. I think for good.).

I'm going to keep the blog up I think, although I don't know how regularly I will be posting. Once I have time (will I ever?) to start considering writing a zine finally I do plan to maybe blog a bit about that. And blog about fitness and about veganism maybe.  Some particularly offensive public event that caught my attention. But it won't so much be about my personal thought process and goings on. This doesn't seem like the time or place anymore.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Getting there

I emailed out my dissertation copies to all my committee members last night. Today I handed out hard copies (thank goodness not everyone wanted one! It was $70 just for three copies at the Kinkos near me!). Now I just need to start on all of the million other projects and TA work and homework for the one class I'm taking (oh and putting together my job talk for my faculty interview next month). Honestly, it's all been a blur. I'm not even reading my blog feed properly anymore (sorry guys, I'm sure I'll get back into it soon). Knowing what other people are doing just feels like a distraction. Well that's not totally true. I've really been enjoying the giant blocks of texts that are the anonymous blogs written by professors to lament their miserable state of existence. I always used to wonder why academics always have like the ugliest Wordpress default blog layout possible. I now realize it's to keep out all the people who actually want to hear interesting things and look at cute pictures. I'm sure all of this school business is incredibly dry to most people.

I like to mix it up with fashion posts but I've been so busy I haven't been doing my usual online pretend shopping. I can't even look at my Pinterest right now because it is absolutely overwhelming. Everything is just sensory overload. And everything will continue to be an overload at least until the middle of march.

But on the bright side maybe I will post more (albeit likely boring academic stuff) now that I have my iPad and the blogger app all set up. I've also gotten really into using the to do app Astrid on both my phone and iPad. I keep wanting my fiancé to get it too so I can send him to do lists but he refuses. Can you imagine?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Standard I am busy post

Today is Wednesday and it's bizarrely warm, and overcast, and it just started pouring rain outside. I spent three hours in a seminar on leadership and public speaking at school (thankfully with a good speaker) and I have a to do list a mile long. I'm usually pretty good at keeping tabs on all things I need to remember, but I've finally reached the point where I can't tell up from down anymore. Also I bought some can of Indian lentil stew for lunch and didn't realize the serving size is 1/6th of the can, and now I'm afraid to eat all of it because all of the salt will probably kill me on the spot.

The three major things I need to figure out are: 1) get completed dissertation draft to advisor by the 1st. I have several things to do to do the document before then; 2) find a new committee alternate. Long story, but I need a new one and I don't know anyone who meets the specific criteria and until I find one I'm a bit nervous; 3) put together a job talk for my first campus interview (which is coming up sometime in next few weeks, date hasn't been set yet). Once I've got my dissertation draft in I also need to provide comments on a journal article I agreed to review.

This is boring, I'm sorry. I can't even think of an photo appropriate for this post. It's also my reality though. When I was walking away from some friends I overheard them jokingly say that they don't like talking to me because my productivity makes them feel bad. Oops. In more exciting news I just ordered a refurbished iPad 3 and I'm pretty excited about that if nothing else.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Yeah, I still like 90s emo, so sue me

A long time ago, before advent of the commercialized tripe that passes for emo/indie today, there was good music in the genre. It was twinkly. It was literate. It was honest. It didn't involve bad hair and unfortunate piercings. Bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Cap'n Jazz, Rainer Maria, the Get Up Kids, and American Football will forever hold a place in my heart and remind me of being a teenager (I have generously provided links to youtube videos if you're curious). Even the bands that were slightly more outliers in the genre, like the Anniversary and the Dismemberment Plan, were mind-blowing amazing. I saw the Dismemberment Plan so many times in high school and every time was brilliant. And don't even get me started on Pedro the Lion. That has pretty much been the soundtrack to the past decade of my life (not as crazy about Bazan's solo stuff though).

Anyway, I don't listen to a lot of new music. It all strikes me as a bit too ironic and/or twee, and if there's anything that's worn thin with me over the past few years it's irony and bands named after woodland animals. And don't think it's just some kind of superiority thing either, I mean I actually started to genuinely like Taylor Swift last year (She may be a lot of things, but at least she's sincere in her own way). Especially compared to bands that look like this... The only new 2012 act on that list that I like is Grimes and that's only because I refuse to watch her dumb videos (tried to get into Father John Misty, but I liked him a lot better when he was J. Tillman). And, pardon my French, but the fuck kind of look is this (this is DIIV,  apparently a hot new act in 2012)? Your irony, I cannot handle it. I did look them up on spotify, and no I don't like their music either.

So when I finally got tired of listening to Pedro the Lion and Sunny Day Real Estate for the millionth time a few months ago (mixed in with a good amount of The Weakerthans, 50s jazz, and Dead Can Dance). I thought I should see what else I could find. I was really pleasantly surprised to find that mid-western 90s style emo made a resurgence in the past few years. It hasn't really been on my radar much because I'm too busy, poor, and old (my back hurts and I don't like drunk people) to go to a lot of shows anymore. But I am really enjoying the new Joie de Vivre album for example.

Anyway, the point of this post is that The Alternative Tone blog put up a sampler of bands to look out for in 2013, and a lot of them are true to the genre and I'm really liking it. So I'm linking it here for your listening pleasure. I still need to look up a lot of these bands (I know, right? What can I say except that I'm busy writing my dissertation), but I'm particularly liking tracks 4, 19, 25 (especially this one, by football etc. Always a sucker for female vocals), and 26.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Your uplifting Friday moment (not)

The Discerning Brute posted a video by Steve Cutts today and I just had to share it as well. It's clever (and not that long) and funny in a tragic kind of way. I don't think it needs much additional commentary, but regardless of if you think humanity is here for a reason or not, the pretty much wanton destruction of everything and everyone around us needs to be questioned.

Also, sometime this weekend I'll be doing a post on my favorite vegan cookbooks. So stay tuned for that!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Academic dream phone

"Bye. Have a great day."

Who signs off a phone interview like that? Like a shop girl. Why do I do that? As soon as the words slip out of my mouth there's an awkward silence that I can only imagine is the noise of five professors in a room looking vaguely perplexed. I immediately think to myself "cuuuuuuuuuuurses, now I will never be taken seriously and will have to go back to my old job folding women's sweaters and averting my eyes when women open dressingroom doors in only their underwear."

You're clearly supposed to say "Looking forward to hearing from you. Good bye." I know it's not that bad, it's just an unfortunate way to cap off an interview where I think I otherwise sounded pretty competent.

I have the same fatal flaw in person. I wave at people when I say hello or goodbye. It just happens. I remember once in high school when I was walking home from the bus. Unusually for me I was walking with one of my neighbors who went to my school. Anyway, there were some, for lack of a kinder word, bros up the stress playing basketball. Neighbor-girl started talking to them (she knew them I assume) and I waved. And they laughed and said I waved like a drag queen. Thanks, dude-bros! That was just the thing for every 14 year old girl's confidence. After that I made a point to avoid suburban neighbors at (almost) all costs.

Anyway, another interview done! It's so hard to gauge how these things go. I always feel like I get a good response, but so far it's been a challenge to make it to a second interview. Although to be fair, out of (now) four interviews, I only have one official rejection in hand. I also have three more applications floating around in the ether right now, which may or may not turn into interviews.

It's like a giant game of academic dream phone. Which school really likes me!? Is it the hunky state school? That's where'd I'd place my money, but I could be totally wrong. I think unusually for me though, I have a growing sense of awareness that this will all work out in the end. Whatever job I'm supposed to have, I'll be offered and accept. The thing about academic job searches, especially for newly minted PhDs, is that you don't really have the ability to be picky about where you end up geographically. So I've made an effort to just not spend too much time worrying about if I would actually like to live in X location (although I've excluded much of the deep South from my search simply because I have no capacity to function in the heat). If I get offered the job, then I can worry about it. So when a job offer doesn't pan out it also spares me from living in Hotlanta, or moving a million miles from our families, or living in a squalid shoebox apartment in NYC. The system corrects itself, and in the end I will (of course) be left with the perfect academic job for me (or no academic job at all, which might not be a bad thing either. Sometimes you just need to let the academic dream die).

Monday, January 14, 2013

Of sad bathrobes and melancholy umbrellas

I've been thinking increasingly about:

a) blogging as a medium for writing rather than just posting pictures. Some of my favorite bloggers post almost entirely thoughtful narrative accounts of what's going in their life (and some of my other favorites serve purely to fuel my rampant materialism, so it evens out I guess), and

b) what am I actually willing to share on here? Even with a no names policy to protect the innocent (and the total bastards) to what extent does it make sense to go on about my personal business? This is where you're all thinking either "who gives a crap your personal business, you internet stranger" or "oh yes, please tell me you're going to share all the pointless details of your daily struggles because I eat that shit up." As I personally fall into the second of these categories (give me more personal details! I don't read GOMI for nothing. Blogs are better than soap operas as far as I'm concerned), I have for the moment decided to give the longer more personal blog post format a go. Interspersed with the occasional shopping post, although I have to say that even I'm getting turned off by some of the crass materialism that blogs and Instagram seem to promote in myself lately.

So what exciting tale of personal nonsense do I offer today? Anxiety, that's what. The fact that I've been struggling with anxiety (mainly generalized and some situational issues) since I was a teenager. There were a few months back when I was about 20 when I struggled with daily panic attacks (thanks, BC hormone induced madness!), but I've pretty much got a lid on that now. Still, the primary limiting factor in my life has been anxiety. I generally do what I need to do professionally because that's sufficient as a driving factor, but when it comes to my personal life it's traditionally been a lot easier to just stay at home (or within walking distance from home) rather than go out and do stuff.

Via tumblr

I think my worst case situational scenario for anxiety would be to take the chinatown bus to NY. That would kill me. It would be like an X-Files episode where some young woman spontaneously combusted because she had a rare condition that caused her to start vibrating at an intense frequency whenever she was trapped in a public bus for an extended distance. It's unfortunate. But it would make for a pretty exciting obituary notice.

Of course it's all vaguely ridiculous from the outside, but whatever your issue happens to be, panic, OCD, PSTD, social anxiety, GAD, it feels like the most real and important thing in the world at the time. It's hard to explain what panic or anxiety feels to someone who has only ever experienced anxiety in a casual non-crippling kind of way. But it's all consuming, and rationalizing it away does not work. Quite frankly there are few things more offensive than people who tell you to just rationalize the fear and get over it. That works about as well as yelling at someone who is depressed that they should really buck up.

But I'm working on it, and do I think it's gotten better over the past year or so. Not thanks to pharma (I have a bottle of klonopin that I got last year that I've taken a grand total of zero pills from, because taking pills gives me anxiety. There's a conundrum for you!), and not really thanks to therapy either (although talking to someone about school stress has been immensely helpful in other regards). I think what's primarily helped for me is a) meditating, b) exercise, and c) realizing that I need to stop fighting anxiety and just accept that it's always going to be there. I've read a few books on the topic and that message has probably helped me than any other (and if you catch me mumbling something under my breath while looking vaguely pale and clammy it's probably "function with fear.").

Most recently I've been reading this workbook. The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety. I definitely recommend it. As the title suggests (no shit sherlock) the book is focused on mindfulness and living with anxiety rather than fighting it or trying to reason your way out of it. So far so good, although I have yet to get to the chapters at the end where they make you actually go out and do stuff. But the small things that trigger my anxiety aren't bothering me as much right now at least.

It is kind of counterintuitive to have to accept the fact that you are anxious. After years of wanting nothing more than for your anxiety to die a horrible death by stabbing (and snakes, and then maybe setting it on fire and dropping it from an airplane into a pit of more fire), you're suddenly supposed to just accept it and stop fighting? Still, it's worked better than the alternatives for me at least.

I suppose it's a bit like those hilariously awful Abilify commercials where the improved scenario involves you being followed around by a sad bathrobe or a melancholy umbrella forever. I mean, shit! Am I going to be harassed by an anxious bathrobe for the rest of my life?

Don't look now lady, but...

Apparently, yes. I am going to be harassed by bathrobes and umbrellas forever. But the book makes the valid point that it's something like a tug-o-war (let's start mixing metaphors shall we?) where if you just drop the rope and stop fighting, then you'll be able to life your life even if the rope is still there. Seems fair enough. We'll see what happens I guess. But I think my main point is that as I get ready to graduate and be done with school once and for all I can't help but wonder what my life would look like minus the constraint of anxiety. I mean, minus that I could do anything (I mean, clearly not anything, but you get my gist). So I'm putting in the work over the next few months in the hopes that I'll not only be done with school but will also be done wasting my time basically wrestling with myself.

Anyone else have any thought on this? From my experiences online I suspect that people who blog or spend all their time on forums are some of the most anxious and depressed people out there. Either that or we just have a medium to actually be vocal about it without immediate stigma.