rax: (kotone/silver hug awwwwwwwwh)
Today we're going to be talking about what it's like coming out of the hole I was in!

For a while I blamed the hole entirely on grad school but that's not entirely fair. I was already pretty fucked up when the first PhD program started, from a few things. First, the MA program, while not as stressful/bad for me as the PhD programs by far, was a lot of work, and that whole thing where my advisor refused to read my thesis or show up to my thesis defense was pretty bad. Second, the whole moving-to-Indiana thing (not helped by leaving a year later) was pretty draining and was kind of the worst a move could have gone without technically being entirely successful: no one was injured, no significant objects were broken or lost, no major unexpected costs were incurred. And yet. Then there was the dissolution of my relationship with Cassandra, which, well. I am going to continue (and make spoken) my unspoken policy of not talking about it publically on the Internet, but it made me very sad for a very long time and in some ways I am still recovering. I do not regret it, but I do regret that it was the right choice.

Which is remarkably like how I feel about leaving school.

When I left, I expected that things would get better, and then they would get worse, and then they would gradually get actually better again. I had the general gist of it right, but it turns out that I misunderstood just how poorly I was doing. I did in fact have a rush of energy for a few days, and then plunge into a hole of "oh god all of the things I have been putting off indefinitely are still real and still problems and they are my problems and I cannot escape them by working on grad school anymore." That was ugly for a while and I was worse for longer than I expected. I'm still not done, but I can tell that I'm doing better, weirdly, by noticing myself doing things that a few years ago would have been signs I was slipping down from where I wanted to be:
  • actually taking time for myself to just fuck off (more on this later)
  • putting every single little five-minute task on my tasklist
  • isolating myself from other people more than usual
  • caring an unproductive amount about cleanliness/organization
  • a couple of other things that aren't important to this blog post
Right now though these are all improvements. I've been doing things that I've wanted to do since I moved here --- there is now a working hot tub in my yard, and after today the circulating pond next to it should work as well. The leak in the irrigation system is (a) found and (b) getting fixed. (That was a huge pain, it was hidden in this really random place and only came on at 4 AM and ugh. I happened to wake up ridiculous stupid early one morning and realize "wait why does it sound like it is raining when I go to do dishes at 4 AM because I am a weirdo.") The house is clean...ish. (Waaaaaaaaaaaay better than it was.) Today, assuming the ibuprofen I'm about to take I just took fixes this weird headache, I'll be putting up shelves, reorganizing my Shaymin collection, and starting to put up art in rooms that aren't the dining room. I've lived here for how long and a lot of my favorite art is still sitting on the floor next to the walls I want to put it on? More than a year? Yeah fuck that. I'm nesting, yo. It is avian as shit up in here.

Also I make kombucha now (anyone local want a SCOBY?). And am starting to do hikes with a lot of vertical in them instead of just flat ones. And am starting to cook interesting things again. And am still making a play to qualify for the Pokemon World Championships in the summer. And all of this is good.

The thing where in the evening after dinner I pretty much do whatever I want and don't feel obligated to be productive is really nice. I've been reading, talking to friends, playing silly games (including the occasional "Watch Rax Beat Some Old NES Game In One Sitting" in the living room, which is hilarious --- I might give the Zelda Second Quest a shot someday soon if I feel like it), sitting in the hot tub, cleaning things up in a leisurely way... It's really nice. I'm not sure this is actually bad. I do think it's important that as I pick up projects and work I care about, that it take up some of this time. But right now I am recovering, and part of the work of recovering is to chill the fuck out. And that's really, really good.
I have to decide in the next couple of weeks whether or not to permanently withdraw from grad school. I'd hoped that I would be able to take one or two extra classes and get an MA, but it turns out I'd have to take like four, because of UA's transfer credit rules. That's annoying --- between UA and IU I have enough or more than enough classes for an MA at either university --- but I cannot get one at either. Luckily I already have an MA, and while a second one would be nice, I don't need it. What I value the most is what I've learned. I went to grad school to make myself a better person and hopefully to make the world a better place. I don't think grad school is a useful way to do either of those, for me, anymore; I've learned a lot but I experientially know that this program, and the last one, made me worse off in more ways than they did better, and I don't think I was doing the rest of the world any favors by being there either. I should move on, let someone else have the funding slot who needs the money, read books on my own, and continue my scholarship in a different way.

So... yeah. That's the last while in a nutshell. How are y'all doing? <3


Aug. 29th, 2012 04:41 pm
rax: (vulpix is not pleased)
Just left graduate school. Still have to do some paperwork but that's it. I will have the option of returning next semester, but most likely won't.

Apparently the amount of time that I am willing to work full-time and attend school full-time is: Five years and one week. You know what, that's pretty fucking good. I'll take it. There are things that would be worth burning myself down further for. This program is not one of them

To do:
  • paperwork to finalize leaving
  • drown self in pokemon over weekend
  • spend some time making my house the place I am living in and not the place I am surviving in
  • ???
I'm not glad this was the right thing to do. But it was the right thing to do, and I'm glad I did it.

rax: (Horo whiskers)
As of this morning I have no homework left for the semester except for my two final papers. Now that's a pretty major except, but they're not due until May 8th or so and I expect each one to take me maybe 30 hours total, so that's not actually too bad. I feel like I can at least sort of breathe, and that's nice. I even care about both of my final paper topics! I'm writing about the connection between Junot Díaz's Drown and Dubliners for one class, and writing about commissioning furry porn as part of identity work for the other. It's actually super exciting to be writing a paper that (a) isn't about furries, because while I love furries we are not the only important thing in the universe, and (b) will let me take advantage of my background in Joyce studies without being nothing but a deeper and deeper delve into stories that have been around for a hundred years. I am really excited, y'all. This is awesome. ...we'll see if I am still excited when it is May 7th and they kick me out of the Diesel at 11 PM and I am like "WHY AM I STILL WRITING FINAL PAPERS" but for now hooray!

I've been trying to do at least one big desert hike per week when I am in town. It's pretty awesome. I've also done a lot of other long walks lately (5.2mi today, whee!); I can walk like a half-mile north of my house and all of the sudden I can follow a trail along the wash (that's desert for "where a river would be if this weren't a desert," for those playing the home game) for like ten miles in either direction. Sure, sometimes you have to go under a road, and there are buildings along it, but there are still beautiful mountain views and cactus wrens feeding their babies inside a cactus and one time I even saw a coyote. Yesterday Rik and I wandered around the national park for a few hours. We saw a rattlesnake! All of this deserting has me skilled enough to tell a snake from a branch, but not skilled enough to tell what kind of snake; I was like "Ooh look a snake!" and it got startled and was like "Rattle rattle, motherfucker" and well that was some adrenaline! I didn't turn around, but backed up quickly until it turned and bolted and then so did we. I had read about what to do, and had looked at lists of "which snakes are dangerous," but I didn't really internalize it. Probably I should do that. That rattle is pretty terrifying, seriously.

Other than that? Uh. I dunno. I'll be in Boston 5/4 to 5/14, including for Steer Roast, and it looks like I will be at Anthrocon after all. At some point I'll be back in Seattle. I should be at Pokémon Nationals. I still love the desert. I still need more local friends. I just got a joke a friend of mine made like a week ago and it was really clever but I want to keep that cleverness to myself? ...that's not a very good blog story.

How are you all doing? What should I even be talking about here?

rax: (BwO deleuze guattari)
okay so I owe y'all updates about eighty gazillion things in my life and I also have a whole lot of things I want to process out in my own head but today let's talk about: ANOTHER SEMESTER OF GRAD SCHOOL. For those playing the home game, this was my 9th semester of grad school: six at UMass Boston getting an MA in English, two at IU working towards a PhD in Gender Studies [0], and one at UA working towards a PhD in Gender and Women's Studies. This semester I only took two classes, both of them required courses, and now my grades are in. I haven't gotten feedback from my professors yet, but here is how they went:
  • Feminist Theories 1: I was initially worried that this would mostly be a repeat of things I had already read and talked about. There were a few readings that more or less worked like that, but because so much of my Feminist Theories class at IU was "Butler and Butler Butler with a side of Butlering Butler," actually a lot of this stuff was new for me. Particularly I hadn't really stared down Marx and Marxism in any sustained or structured way. I'm still not quite sure who won that staring contest, if anyone, but I think it was worth doing. Things from this class that I particularly found useful: Althusser's work on ideologies and interpellation, Saidiya Hartman's Scenes of Subjection for thinking about depictions of violence and trauma, Hartman again on the way racialization happens, Derrida although I still don't think I actually get it in any real way. My final paper here was about how furries are constrained by but also rupture capitalism, which took me into the professor's book Against The Romance of Community as well as the work of J. K. Gibson-Graham, both of which I want to follow up on. I'm honestly not super-happy with how the paper turned out even though I spent a lot of time on it; I am not sure if that's because I spent enough time and did enough revision to see how much more there was to do, because I was panicking at that point in the semester, or because it just actually wasn't very good. I got an A in the class, so it can't have been that bad, so I'm guessing it was a little of all three. (There was some of the just not very good. Oh god I struggled to find a coherent voice when I was unwilling to just be like "arglebargle I am the author look at what a furry I am." This is a longer-term thing to think about actually --- some of my work only makes sense with me in it, but for the stuff that doesn't work that way, what should I do? Dunno.)
  • Feminism and Related Social Movements: I was super excited about this class and in bits and flashes it even exceeded my expectations but in other places class discussions just didn't really get going. (For a lot of folks it was their last class of the week and you can kinda tell when people haven't done the reading? It's frustrating but them's the breaks. With the way grad students are overworked I cannot blame them. I would not do the reading sometimes, except the horrible pangs of guilt I experience sitting in a classroom unprepared are way worse than just not having fun for however many hours it takes me to do the homework.) I think that I could have approached the readings with a different set of questions in mind from the beginning of the course and gotten more out of them; the way I was thinking wasn't really a good model for dealing with the subject matter I wanted to work with, and I could feel it chafe with a lot of the texts. A couple of them I revisited and got a lot more out of; others maybe I will, maybe I won't. Things from this class that I particularly found useful: Rereading Chela Sandoval's Methodology of the Oppressed with an eye toward the first two chapters instead of the later chapters (that is, considering her actual practical argument rather than crazy Barthes love ramblings, which are basically one of my favorite things), Deborah Gould's Moving Politics for how to write about a movement you are deeply embedded in [1], Jasbir Puar's Terrorist Assemblages which is super helpful even though sometimes it frustrates me through its bleakness, and even though I didn't like it I want to come back to Grace Hong's The Ruptures Of American Capital because even as I was reading I could tell it was doing something on a level I just hadn't figured out yet. A conversation with the professor helped me see it as an alternate avenue to writing about social movements directly, and I thought that was really interesting, but I still don't 100% get it.
  • Anyway, my final paper! On a different bullet because that one got super long! I started off with an outline and a bunch of notes and actually I wrote a few pages and then I looked at it on Monday, the day it was due, and said "Rachel, what you are doing here would be exploitative and misrepresentative of yourself and of people dear to you. It's pretty awful frankly. Stop this nonsense at once." At 11 AM on the day the paper was due, I deleted everything I had written and started completely from scratch. ...And got an extension to Thursday morning. I wrote about furries as producing self-knowledge primarily in opposition to what is said about us in the media or on the Internet by trolls, and suggested that furries needed to consider Sandoval's differential consciousness, moving between different methods of knowledge production depending on what is most useful at the time. This is actually really hard for a large group to do! But I think it would be way better than focusing on negative publicity and then trying to fix it through a particular kind of positive publicity. I mean, I am a person who believes very seriously that they are a fox, at least when I do not think I am being completely ridiculous. I don't want to be arguing about whether or not that means I am more likely to be a homosexual, or more interested in sex than the average college student. I want to figure out what it means that I'm a fucking fox, holy shit what is that. We need to try lots of different methods! I don't even know all the methods we should be trying! I'm considering trying to work this into something I can internet-publish for furries because I think it's important but I'm not 100% sure yet. I'm waiting to get feedback from my professor on it before I figure out next steps. Again, I got an A in the class, so the paper can't have been a complete and unmitigated disaster. (Also my advisor smiled when she listened to me talk about it, which only for sure means that I was super enthusiastic as I got into it, but that on its own is a good sign.)
So next semester there are two things I am doing for sure and then other things I may do:
  • Feminist Theories 2: THE REVENGE! okay it's not actually called THE REVENGE. But it will be more contemporary feminist theories and I look forward to it. I don't have a particular approach to this. It's a required course. So... I will take it!
  • Independent Study with my advisor: I decided to do this. At first I was like "uggghhhhh I don't know if I have time" but I had a super useful conversation with Ruth who was all "Hey, how excited are you?" and I was like "hella excited, I moved to Arizona to work with her, the reading list she put together for a colleague was amazing, I'd be doing a variant of that." We talked about it and yeah it will be a lot of reading but it won't have a final paper and it should be OK. Plus, as described, hella excited.
  • Feminist Knowledge Production: As far as I can tell this is the revenge of the methods class I took at IU. I'm hoping to transfer out of it because (a) I've already taken a very similar class and (b) I don't feel like I got a whole lot out of the methods class at IU. Not that it was terrible or anything, just that it was very breadth not depth and I am at the point in my graduate career where I need some depth please thank you very much. I will almost certainly not be taking this unless the chair advises me that there will be no way to transfer this in, since it won't be offered again for two years, and at that point I would like to be either done or verrrrry close to done with classes.
  • Chican@ Literatures: I can't get the official title of this class because our scheduling system is down and I don't have a syllabus kicking around. I would be taking this mostly for the requirement, but the professor seems awesome and I have friends taking it and I think overall I would dig it. Plus hooray more use of my actual English skills! ... well disciplinary-English versus language-English. Arguably I'd be better served by language-Spanish. (Is there disciplinary-Spanish?) I'm prrrrobably going to take this, which will put me at three classes, but my schedule will work like it does this semester more or less. I am still waffling slightly. If I get the syllabi and it looks like a disaster I will go down to two classes. Or if the administration won't let me do the independent study because I am deciding too late, then I will just take this and do some of the reading for the independent study not-for-credit.
  • Outside chance of some anthropology or geography class instead
Other academic things to do as the semester starts:
  • Follow up with the Rhetoric professor and advanced graduate student who were all "dude, your project sounds amazing" and meet up and talk about working together on stuff
  • Apply to conferences: this one is due Dec 31 and this one is due Jan 15, though it is a less good fit. ...and they're both on the same weekend. Huh. I hadn't noticed that, which suggests I have been distracted. PERHAPS BY GRADUATE SCHOOL
  • Follow up with the costume designer who had the car accident and was thus out of touch
  • Follow up with the person who did Second Life classroom work
  • Follow up on Geography contacts to talk about research methods
  • Send an email to Liz Kennedy I guess?
Yeah so I should be busy. But that's good! I have stuff to do in school that I am excited about. FUCK THE HATERS. RAXOLOTLS GONNA RAX A LOT.
[0] Technically I took reading credits during the summer semester. The end result of this was (a) me reading some books and (b) one part of the university giving a few thousand dollars to another part. Whoop-de-do. Before I was sure I would get into UA, let alone accept their transfer offer, it seemed like a good idea to have the option open. I can't transfer them, so it matters not at all now.

[1] With bonus points for being able to say "also we were all sleeping together" without having tenure yet, and winning awards! Someday that will hopefully be me. ^^;;;

Life update

Nov. 9th, 2011 09:11 am
rax: (N hearts you! This is dangerous.)
I am not just a machine that does tasklists, I promise. Of course this post is also a list, but it's not a tasklist, so at least it's something?
  • School: Is going better, overall, at least for me. I'm excited about my final projects even if they weren't what I initially hoped to be doing, and I'm seeing people on campus I can build alliances with. I'm also getting excited about theory again, which is never a bad thing. Occasionally I say things that make me sound a little crazy: "Yes, but I want to be interpellated as an animal by the state," but I'm actually being challeged in really productive ways by one professor and I appreciate that a lot.
  • Work: Remains... workly? Distance is beting harder these past couple of weeks than normal but after this weekend I will be less of a stressball and have some plans for trying to work on that. I'm getting some longer-term stuff done and that always feels a little more distancing because I am not talking to people about it every day. That doesn't mean it's not important.
  • Pokémon: I'll be in Providence playing competitive Pokémon this weekend. A: This is awesome. B: How is this my life. I don't actually think I'll do very well, because I've been putting my free time into school, work, and relationships rather than obsessively testing things in a card game. I am OK with this. It should still be fun.
  • Relationships: I got to see Ruth recently, which was great and amazingly stress-reducing and involved a lot of exciting cookery. (Getting together with people I am involved with or attracted to almost always results in our producing lots of food. I ... do not know what to make of this? Except mmmmm, seitan.) It looks like I will get to see her more often in a few months, which is even more exciting! Also, we're coming up on three years. Holy crap. Also, I got to have Rik over for like eleven days which just... wow. At first having both Rik and Krinn here was super confusing, but once I figured it out, that was really nice. It's amazing to feel so supported and to spend time with people who I love dearly. Also Rik made me a cake when I turned 27 again. <3 Clearly I need to trick everyone into moving to the same city in five years. The distance is hard, and having Rik leave Monday and then tomorrow leaving Krinn (who is amazing and wonderful to live with and I am sad when she leaves for work in the morning which is not to say that I'm unhappy that she has a job but that I would like to be sufficiently spoiled as to have someone to lean on at all times) to go to Boston is currently feeling way harder than I expected it to. It's kind of a crash. But Boston is Boston, so I think I will be OK.
  • Real estate: Pending extreme fuckery, the house in Bloomington will be sold as of tomorrow. That was an expensive mistake. Live and learn? Or maybe "make sure your advisor is happy somewhere before you buy real estate there?" I don't know. I'm not sure what the moral of this story was other than "ha ha sometimes you get fucked over by things that have nothing to do with you." I already knew that lesson, life. Why the repeats? Lucky for me, I am in a good enough state that getting fucked over only makes me sad, not in any sort of serious danger. Go team Nokia bought my startup I guess. When it's all over and done with, I am ritually washing my hands of Indiana.
  • Pronouns: I'll be writing another post about this soon, but my preferred pronoun is now "they." I'd appreciate it if you used that pronoun when referring to me. If you could hold your questions until the pronoun post, which I hope to write right after this one if work stays quiet, I'd appreciate it.
  • Overall: I am happier in Tucson than I was in Bloomington; I feel safer in Tuscon than I did in Bloomington; I am glad that I moved here. I still need to develop more of a local social group, but I feel better equipped to do that here and I've made some progress. I have friends. Who are not students. This rocks. Living in multiple time zones is still weird --- half of my clocks are set to Eastern time for work and half are set to local --- but it's producing interesting shifts in my thinking that I don't know how to express yet. I'm a huge stressball right now but I foresee things getting better; I have all of my hard assignments done except final papers and those are fun because I get to pick the topic and write about the stuff I've been thinking all semester, and I have some vacation days to actually use and have my time in California in December be calming. And some projects for fun that I am working on that are silly but fulfilling. So: Yay!
rax: (I have the technology. I can evolve you.)
  • Realized this morning while talking to Krinn that I am simultaneously very stressed and not depressed at all, which is unusual for me. It's kind of amazing, because I am not depressed, fuck yes. But in the past when I've been super stressed the depression was kind of a coping mechanism around not caring that much because, you know, nothing really matters. (Anyone can see.) And so why bother engaging with the stress? Right now, I care, dammit. I want to do well in my classes. I want to do well in my job. I want to support my friends and loved ones. And daaaaaang that's a lot of work. I will take it over the alternative, although I really want to reduce the stress, because I can feel it weighing on me (and I'm grinding my teeth in my sleep a lot, ugh --- this is something that has happened intermittently to me since I was small, and tends to go away when I get my stress levels back down to manageable, although apparently it has been pretty consistent lately; at one point I tried a mouthguard and it stopped the grinding but also caused me to wake up all the time, which was not worth it). 
  • Grad school: Classes are getting better, which is pretty great, and I am enjoying the majority of my readings a fair bit, even though occasionally I look at something like Descartes and think "While I understand that I should have read this in order to get a PhD in something humanitiesy, this is so fucking dumb." [0] I've also been spending time meeting faculty from other departments and traversing the academy in order to find people to work with on my research. I'm not quite sure where this process will end up yet but if nothing else the conversations are really exciting and fun. I actually found someone in academia who knew what a furry was! That was pretty awesome. There is also stupid departmental drama but it does not merit my or your attention to discuss further. [1] Overall I am feeling more excited and motivated, which was good, because I was at a really low point like a month ago.
  • Work: Has been slow this week, which is nice because I had a paper due yesterday. This working 6-2 or 6:30-2:30 thing is a little crazy, but ultimately works out. In general work is pretty awesome. I need to figure out when I next go and visit them; sometimes the phone can be a little tough. On the plus side, I am actually helping customers do real work of value, which is a hard feeling to beat. And I have metrics! And I do well at them! Oh, if only gender studies had metrics.
  • Pokemon: This is sort of my main leisure-time activity? I played in some tournaments, came away with one Championship Point (if you get enough, you get an invite to the World Championships), and most importantly had a lot of fun. I got a little down at one event where I made a stupid mistake and lost a chance at a very high place because of it, but what can you do? ... If you are me the answer is apparently "play a bunch of games of speed chess afterward to calm your nerves." One of the people I played with said "It's cool, dude, this is just for fun" and my response was "This is how I have fun." He gave me a look, which was fair, but I wasn't joking. I will be going to a Regionals tournament, which should be much bigger and allow me to meet lots of new people. It's sort of like meeting new people through chess, except everyone isn't either a middle-aged man or a nine-year-old prodigy. [2]
  • Tucson: Making friends is slow but proceeds apace; feeling enmeshed in the community will take some more work, which I hope to put in over time. But oh my god the climate, the geography, the materiality of this place are so perfect for me. I love the mountains. I love the sky. I love the air, I love the bike lanes, I love the plant life, I even love the terrifying peccaries who show up in packs and hold my house under siege. (Seriously. Pigs the size of small wolves.) I wish I had more time to engage with it all. I need to prioritize engaging with it all. I, just, it's mid-October and the high today is 93. HOW DID I EVER LIVE ANYWHERE ELSE.
  • House in Bloomington: Is pending a sale with a signed offer. I am not counting my chickens until they hit puberty, but this is promising. I will be losing a ton of money but I am just, barely, by a finger, in the range of acceptable losses.
  • Friends and loved ones: A lot of people very dear to me are going through some really bad shit right now, and that is part of why I am so stressed. There's not so much I can do about it, but I do what I can; if there's something I can do for you that I don't realize, please drop me a line. I don't have a lot of temporal resources, but I have many other kinds. And I care. <3
  • In conclusion: I'm a stressball (oh god am I a stressball, fur flying everywhere) but I am nonetheless happy. Reducing stress levels is probably important longterm, but I prefer this situation to a whole lot of recent alternatives.

[0] Terrifying thought: Do other people think this about the authors I like??
[1] It is based on real issues and has real effects on people I care about, and thus is worth mentioning, but the way to deal with that is not to rehash it all on LJ.
[2] This is sort of an unfair characterization --- in particular there were a couple of awesome women who were also very strong players in the Boston chess scene --- but it's how it feels at large events especially. And I'm being nice to Pokemon; while there are a lot more women in the game overall, the top levels are still mostly male, and a lot of the online community is awfully... representative of structural gender inequalities and biases. So far though tournaments and leagues have been super pleasant, and the only person I've seen do something obviously sexist was a twelve-year-old who shat a brick when I called him on it.
rax: (Twilight finds this reading confounding.)
So I got my copy of the Silicon Dawn Tarot today. (You should all go buy one.) Because I'm having angst over this lately, I decided to ask it about graduate school --- how it was going, why am I here, what am I getting out of it. I realized that rather than traditional tarot spreads, most of which other than three-card draw I've never really liked, I should use an arrangement of cards that meant something to me personally, a means of organizing information that felt natural to me.

Thus, the Pokemon Spread was born.
cut for huge image and tons of text )

OK. So.
  • Moved to Arizona. Oh god it's warm, and I'm not biking much yet because I need to find a store and get them to put cleats on my shoes because my old right bike shoe is doing something terrible to my knee and oh god that needs to stop right now. But it's beautiful and the fruit trees (avocado!!!) and little lizards everywhere and cacti don't trigger my plant phobia and maybe it was just that I hated grass? The dirt here doesn't read as dirt, it's amazing. There are, like the song says, little fluffy clouds everywhere. It's weird --- driving with Krinn from SF to LA, arriving in Los Angeles suddenly felt like home. I lived there, what, nine months? And only sort of liked it? But rolling through downtown on the highway with the mountains looming felt really right, and it was really freaky that Happy Family Vegetarian Restaurant was back in its old location but there's a mall there now instead of a wasteland, and leaving LA I cried a little and am still not quite sure why. Tucson triggers a bunch of the same feelings for me on a purely geographic level, plus it's more bikable and less expensive. As much as it's not San Francisco or Seattle, I think I am going to enjoy living here for a while.
  • Moved in with Krinn. So far, so good. She's awesome and we cook food for each other and between her and the desert I am eating a lot more salad. (Although today's dinner was a bunch of natto on rice with soy sauce, because we'd had salad between lunch and dinner because we were hungry, and dammit I wanted natto.) It's weird adjusting to sharing living space so closely again --- I switch between "my" and "our" a lot on things and we're still tripping over each other a little bit. Though part of that is the boxes. Also it is nice to have a Race for the Galaxy partner who pushes me to perform at my best. Also, have I mentioned that Krinn is wonderful, and wonderful for me? I'm pretty sure I have, but just in case. It's going to take me a long time not to be leery of long-term commitments but I can see this working out for quite a while, and I hope we make it work, and make it awesome, and, just, meow.
  • Pokemon. Surprisingly, the TCG has sort of become my main hobby. Did I mention here that I went to Nationals and came out with a winning record? I'm not, like, good good but I've been one of the better players at most leagues I've attended. Also, I passed the Professor test --- yes, the Pokemon Organized Play allows you to test into "Professor" status --- so now I can help organize league play, run tournaments, and that kind of thing. There are two leagues in Tucson, and I'm already helping out! The main organizers will all be at the World Championships next week, so I'm in charge. Eeeeeeeek! [0] It's a cool way to interact with folks who aren't graduate students or software engineers, which I need more of in my life, and in particular to do something involving kids that does not involve having to deal with them for more than a few hours a week. Since I think people here might have good suggestions: If I wanted to commission art for a custom playmat, most likely of a Vulpix and an Oshawott doing something adorable, who should I ask? [1]
  • Graduate school. Dealing with administrivia is kinda frustrating me right now, and it looks like I may not get to take the classes that are my first choice. But I like the people I've met from the department so far, and I am really excited about getting back into DEEP THOUGHT. At the moment I'm sort of looking at my time and saying "Augh this is going to be my fifth year of graduate school? And I need twelve more classes before I can even take quals?" The transfer rules here are frustrating. But what can you do, other than take the classes, tailor the projects in the classes toward your dissertation, and get a head start on research? Not much. So that's what I'm going to do.
  • Work. Actually still pretty awesome. I've been working like 6:30-2:30 or something, since I have to have 7:30 meetings most days, which is a little annoying. But it means that the afternoon starts and I can do things during business hours and if I need to take an hour off from work in the morning to do some household thing or whatever, it's really easy to make up the time. It also means my class schedule and my work schedule will fit together with minimal difficulty. So that's pretty awesome. I kind of want to go back to the office --- when I'm there I miss the flexibility of working at home and being able to take cat breaks or work from a couch, but I also really enjoy easy access to ask folks questions. I'm getting better, still, about just calling when I really want to talk to someone. They can always just not answer the phone. I should also meet up with the other work-from-home coworker in Seattle when I'm there in August. Or September. Which leads me to:
  • Travel. My only planned travel right now is August to Seattle and September to Seattle! The September trip is technically for Rainfurrest but realistically it's a trip to Seattle and Rainfurrest happens to also be there. In this fall I'd like to also hit Boston, Texas, maybe SF, probably Seattle again [2]. Oh and I'm still waiting to hear back from a conference in LA, cross your fingers for me. Is there anywhere else I should go before January? (Rhode Island, but that'll get combined with Boston.)
  • Catgirl Goth Rave: I'm thinking San Francisco again, ideally after my semester is over, so sometime in December. Would love to see you all there.
  • Oh, I still own a house in Indiana. Anyone want to buy it? Please? I'm probably going to end up taking a decent loss on it. That's sort of OK because I could really use that taxwise this year, but it's not like it's a win. It's just a mitigated loss. Ah well. My new house is so much cooler anyway.

footnotes )
rax: (Pinkie Pie does not exude decorum.)
I got my grades back for the semester. Out of three classes, I got two As.


and an A+.

Now to a certain extent, when you are in graduate school, anything less than an A means you sort of screwed up. An A- means "you could have done better, but that was OK," a B+ means "this was kinda borderline, really," a B means "you need to get better at this material," and anything lower means "you should consider leaving graduate school." This depends on your program, of course, but most funded positions require you keep your GPA around a 3.5 (a couple I've heard of are as low as a 3, but I've also seen positions that required a 3.85 just to keep funding) and so this matters. Still, getting As means I did not screw up, and the A+? Well, that apparently reflects better than just not screwing up.

This matters a lot to me because I screwed up my undergrad so hard. I only managed to get my final GPA to like a 3.2 because my senior year I took thirteen classes in two semesters and averaged a 3.8 in them. (I'm converting to a 4.0 scale for convenience here; my undergrad had a 5.0 scale.) Other than that year, where I worked like a crazy person, my undergrad work was atrocious, and that combined with some other things has sometimes made me feel like a giant flake academically. This year marks four full years of graduate school --- three years in my MA program, and one year toward the PhD --- all of them while working full-time for a tech company. In all four of those years, I have never gotten a grade that was not an A, except for this A+; I feel like I have karmically purged my four years of undergrad. I did all of the work, I went to all of my classes, I took my education seriously, I feel like I genuinely understand a whole lot more as a result of this work even though I still have a long way to go. It feels really good. I am not a fuckup.

Now all I have to do is... around five more years of school, and then I'll have a PhD! yay
  • So I didn't take notes on it online, and only took sort of sporadic notes offline, which means I will have to read it again, probably this summer, probably after I reread Fanon and Barthes and give up and dive into some Derrida. But oh my, y'all, Chela Sandoval's Methodology of the Oppressed is really all that. If you are into theory, and would like to see someone deftly tie together a variety of other theorists into a toolkit that can be used to decolonize the imagination, you need to read this book, like, stat. I don't understand it well enough yet to say too much more than that, frankly, although Rik can tell you that I can gush about how awesome it is for like hours. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOK
  • So plan: Be a week ahead on homework by Friday was successful. It looks like plan: Be two weeks ahead on homework by the end of today will not be successful, but I am already done with 2/4 classes and am hoping to hit 2.5 today and 3 tomorrow. That's still pretty good, right? I mean I can definitely avoid being doing stuff at the last minute and hopefully get working on some of the stuff due after spring break so I am not spending the whole thing doing homework. One of the readings I need isn't posted but I think I probably have it in book form and if not maybe I can find it at the library.
  • Leo now solidly spends time in the kitchen and dining room when we are all up here. Selene is not thrilled with this but on a few occasions they have both been in the dining room without hissing at each other or anything, and I'm hopeful that in a couple of months they might actually be coexisting comfortably. *fingers crossed* I feel bad for Selene that I am going away for a week soon but oh my god I need to get out of here for a while.
  • I spent a ton of time yesterday cleaning and organizing and hanging up art. I think I hung up like thirty pieces of art, and I still have a (much smaller) pile of things to find places for. ...when I'm old I am going to have art, like, all over the walls in crazy patterns that make people think I am losing it. And like twelve cats. And foxes. And it will be awesome. Assuming we don't have some sort of nigh-apocalyptic crash that renders us all subsistence farmers, in which case I will still have a bunch of art but it will be stacked in piles in the hovel outside my strip of farmland and my foxes will guard it fiercely while I pet them and tell them stories about how there used to be this thing called an "Internet." ("It was pretty cool! You would have liked it if you had had thumbs and language skills.")
  • Is it weird that I'm really excited about quals? They sound fun! You get to read like 300 books and take notes on them and then have two weeks to write four essays and then you have to defend those essays for like three hours! I like talking! I like writing! I like books! Why are these supposedly so intimidating? Should I be bookmarking this post to laugh at myself later when I am freaking out and being like "oh god quals are the worst thing ever why am I even alive?" I don't know! I mean, while I like my classes, I'm not so much here because I want to take classes as here because I want to read three hundred books and talk a lot and write a book-length treatise on something. Which I guess is why I went to graduate school, because that's basically what you do? Other than grading student papers, of course. Alllllllllll the tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime.
  • Also I am super excited because I get to make pizza for all of the incoming graduate students and whoever shows up to the party for them. I am going to make, like, eight or ten pizzas next weekend. I am sooooooooo thrilllllllled about this. I don't even know why. I am just like.... YES. PIZZAS. I need to start making dough on Wednesday and keep running the bread machine all day! And oh, the capers I will use. And delicious vegetables! And TVP! I am looking forward to saying "Would anyone like pizza? Because I have ALL OF IT." Myahahahahaha.
  • Oh, since I tend to tell the interesting stories about my cat hat here, the other day I wore it to the grocery store and two people started petting me on the head without permission! Look people, even if you think I'm a [molar] cat, you're supposed to let me sniff your hand first. Hiss.
  • ...OK time to go grade more exams.
rax: (Benten guitar case)
  • Today I am in California, having woken up at something like 11 or 11:30 AM and not really emerged from grooming and food until 2. Later I get on a plane. This nightshifting has got to stop, because, uh, I have to teach 9:30 AM classes in 11 days. Luckily I cue to the sun in terms of sleep schedule, and I can just leave the blinds open in my bedroom and I should be able to get closer to correct at least. In the meantime, uh, I guess I can stay up late reading? Or talk to customers in Australia?
  • California has been wonderful for me. I did not get to see everyone I would want to see --- this is always the way of visits, although I had foolishly hoped being here for three weeks would prevent that --- but I have spent time with many of my friends, and become closer to acquaintances, and actually relaxed in a way I only rarely do. I'm starting to pull myself out of the relaxing-hole, doing a little bit of work for my job, starting to think about school again, and so on. I did not do much reading for school while here, which is mostly a good thing but is a litle bit unfortunate too, because it means Future Rachel has more work to do. It is my hope that Future Rachel will prefer the reserves of sanity and calm and the joyful memories to having already read a few books, but that's on her, not me.
  • Ooh, there's something I can do today! I can order all of my textbooks so that they are at my house before the semester starts. That will be useful. I already have... three of them? Four of them? And have read two and a half. Out of like fifteen. If I can get to six before the semester starts I will feel like I am in OK position. I mean I will have to reread them depending on what specifically I am looking for in them, but to have done a first pass on everything within the first few weeks of classes will put me in really good position. (And oh my god we have what, four books by Judith Butler to read? Good god. So much Judy B.) That's the answer to "Rachel, how do you manage to do grad school and also have a job?" I try to get work done as early as possible. Ideally I would hand in all of my assignments a week or two in advance. That way if I screw up, I have wiggle room. This is crucial because I sometimes screw up. ;) (Or my house catches on fire, or what have you.)
  • Oh god there is so much that I want to read beyond what I have to read. This semester will likely be better for that than last semester was. Last semester was roughly four books a week --- this semester looks like it will be two or three, though maybe with a little more writing. If I am On My Game(tm) I can use this to read an extra book every week toward being prepared for my exams and dissertation. And hey, last semester I read four or five extra books, too, so I can certainly squeeze in ten or twelve this time. Right? :)
  • I wrote something about 2010, but as is my wont, I sent it out via email rather than via LiveJournal --- this year's is short, only like 4000 words, but it's not a blog post. If you don't get my life updates and would like to, please let me know. (Internet friends: You are totally welcome to! But I may have either not had an email address or not thought to add it to my distribution list, which I only poke at occasionally because I only send these out every three to six months.)
  • It looks like I am getting another cat! My uncle has seven cats, and one of them got sick and went to the vet, and came back and for some weird smell reason or something the other six cats in the house turned on him, and he was segregated for a while in the hope that they would get over it, but they didn't. :( Selene is not the happiest cat about new cats, but the limited data I have suggests that boy cats are somewhat better, and it is a big house, and hopefully we can make it work. If it is really a disaster, my brother has apparently also offered to take care of the cat? He is a gorgeous Siamese and deserves a good home and hopefully Selene and I can provide him with one.
I ate at a bunch of restaurants in the Bay Area! Here are my brief notes on the interesting ones:
  • Cha-Ya: Vegan Japanese. Already knew I liked it. Didn't know their broth contained a tiny amount of tomato. ;_; My fault for not asking.
  • Gracias Madre: Vegan Mexican. Hadn't been there before; asked them specifically about allergies and they guaranteed they could handle it. And failed miserably. Delicious, delicious food that was almost worth getting sick. But not quite; I won't be back.
  • Minako: Organic Japanese with a large vegan section. The waitress, Judy, is very engaged with you and if you are not psyched for that it can be awkward; if I hadn't been there with regulars I would have felt weird. But she is fun and the place is awesome and they handle allergies well and they make their own natto and <3. Would definitely go again.
  • Cafe Gratitude: Vegan, mostly raw. Had been once before, enjoyed this trip as well. Kinda pricy for what it is, but definitely worth hitting once a year or so if only to be like "Yay! Raw food can be awesome and can have many of the things I really like about cooked food like variation in texture and temperature!" (Not that I am likely to go raw; I have no moral objections to the use of fire.) Good about allergies, although sometimes their menu doesn't list all of the things actually in the food, so you should definitely ask.
  • Wicked Grounds: I guess technically they are a cafe and not a restaurant, but this is arguably where I spent most of my time and it is wonderful. They have vegan waffles and vegan sandwiches and vegan shakes, and are the best place at feeding me in Soma as far as I can tell. Plus they have a bunch of board games and the regulars are friendly and basically if there were one in Bloomington I would be there most of the time.

rax: (BwO deleuze guattari)
Here are some lists of readings from last semester sorted by interest, because people asked me which of my readings were interesting, and the answer is different for everybody, but I cannot write a different list for every individual who asked me. Hopefully this is helpful to some of you, and to the rest of you, um, here is a cut tag! <3

Lists of books and papers semi-sorted. )

If you can't tell, the big things that grabbed me are Karen Barad, Giorgio Agamben, and Deleuze and Guattari, with a side of Donna Haraway and Judy B.  In general this semester opened my head up, tossed some new things in, stirred it around a lot, and then closed it back up. I think differently about the world around me than I did six months ago. I am sure that my brain will continue to change, but I think that transsomatechnics will be one of the bigger changes while I am here. We will see! In the meantime uh hopefully this is useful or enjoyable for someone.
rax: (Silver whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat)
  • Of three classes being taken, one class is completely done, one class just needs a couple of hours of revision on the paper and I should be able to submit it this weekend, and the other one (the paper is due in six days) is at 12/25 pages with an outline as well as an outline for an extra section in case I need more text. Which I doubt I will. But just in case. The class I was teaching-assisting for has 38/70 exams graded and then maybe an hour of administrivia and that should also be done this weekend. So that will leave me with just the one paper to finish. I really, really, really want to be done with it by Tuesday so I can send it in and spend Wednesday through Friday relaxing, spending time with my friends, doing a small amount of job work, and playing the growing pile of unopened JRPGs on the bedside table. ^^;; I would looooooooooooove to finish it this weekend... but I probably won't. And even if I do I will want to revise it on Monday or Tuesday because I doubt I could write 15 pages in the next two days at a quality level I am comfortable with. Ugh.
  • As part of my plot to do every productive thing I can think of that isn't the paper I am brain-blocked on, and because of something that happened to one of my colleagues, I really want to get automated backups running for my colo machine. (My laptop uses Time Machine, which I need to leave running again sometime soon, but that's not a huge deal in the same way honestly.) I have a Debian machine in colo and a Debian machine in my house. Both have DNS. I'm sure there's some obvious solution. Please help? (And if the solution is "rsync" can you explain what I actually have to do? I have no brain left. The inside of my head is full of gender.)
  • Because it is Final Paper Time here at... our house still doesn't have a name [0]... the table is covered in books, one pile per person. It's entertaining how obvious our sub-disciplines are from our respective piles of books; it's awesome how many of my pile have animals on the front cover. (Oddly, my pile also includes a burly 10" wrench and a pair of black cat ears. It's finals time. These things happen.)
  • Seriously my brain has turned to mush. I'm trying to think thinky thoughts because I'm supposed to be writing a brilliant paper. I wanna just hand in "foxes are pretty! I like to look at them gambol in the snow. Also, trampolines! Here are twenty-five pages of pictures of foxes I found on Google Image Search!" However I will not do this. Probably.
  • The Sacred Book of the Werewolf is an even more amazing book if you stir it up with Deleuze and Guattari and see what happens. I am just sayin'. A new reading of this book may be the most useful thing I get out of Deleuze and Guattari, but even if it is it will not have been a waste of my time. We will see.
  • Making these posts a weekly tasklist item was a brilliant plan.

[0] Gender Haüs? The Pokemon Center? Tailechery? Radical Plane of Immanence? I still have nothing I like. I love my house, but I still miss Cathedral.


Dec. 5th, 2010 11:20 pm
rax: (Benten metal sign)
  • Spent the weekend with a houseguest, which was enjoyable and forced me to spend at least some time playing board games instead of working on final papers. (God do I miss having someone around who will just play game after game of two player advanced Race for the Galaxy with me.) We also made an apple pie! 
  • Finished a draft of my Concepts of Gender paper, and it's... well, it's either really awesome or completely insane. There's a lot in there and I think a lot of what is in there is good and I don't know if it all hangs together. Luckily a classmate and I are swapping papers and she will be honest with me about whether it works or not. ...whether I have the time to fix it if it doesn't work is another question, and depends on how quickly I progress with my other paper. But I can at least fix the most obvious things, and professors understand that we have finite time to produce these papers in. They're not meant to be first drafts, but they're also not meant to be journal-ready.
  • And that's about it. Although I'm working on another post and I might or might not friends-lock it, I haven't decided yet. Providing useful information to people is good! Providing deeply personal information to the world at large is bad! I guess I'll decide and you'll see.
  • Oh, and CATGIRL GOTH RAVE. Expect an invite under friendslock with location information within the next 24 hours; I am just waiting on my host to send me address/directions.
rax: (Kotone is getting shit done.)
Weekly post of week is early this week because my call with Ruth is postponed and my brain is not in Productive Kitty land --- yet doing this counts as a tasklist item. That's right Internet, you are on my tasklist. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
  • I caught them all. Well, I caught all 493 pokemon available in the generation IV games, anyway, which leaves me basically done with SoulSilver. (I haven't caught Mewtwo yet, but I got traded one by someone who did, and I don't like Mewtwo anyway? I guess I should catch mine so that I can trade one of them away for a shiny or something.) I got to only needing 20 last night and said... to hell with this, and did a bunch of trades on pokewifi, and finished the last two this morning before leaving for class. It's sort of anticlimactic, but I'm glad I did it. I definitely won't do it with every game or maybe every generation, but I plan to keep up a stable so I can breed myself fun things for Gen V...
  • I still have that LeafGreen nuzlocke run, my Pearl game, and Japanese White for when I want to play more Pokemon. ...so I still don't need to buy any more video games! That's good. :) Not sure which one I want to work on most seriously next...
  • I had a makeup class today, so I went to school and back in reasonably close to full goth catgirl regalia. I really enjoy the way a non-revealing catgirl costume, worn without anxiety, and eye contact both attracts and repels people's gaze. My favorites are the people who completely take it in stride and tell me I've got it going on, and the ones who look, and then look away, and then look, and then look away, and try unsuccessfully to hide that they are staring. I am glad I don't attract that kind of attention every day any more, but it's nice to have a way to do it, and a moderately socially supported time (halloween!) to do so. Of course, I don't intend to go to any parties, because I have work to do. But I do plan to wear cat ears all weekend BECAUSE I CAN.
  • How hard would it be to find a place to stay at Further Confusion at this point? I hate sanity and enjoy mad travel plans.
  • Was without power for most of Tuesday, which led to a bunch of hilarious misadventures involving Oolong not being able to fly to Boston and Rik still having to leave on what was apparently the only flight leaving the airport on time all day. Still, this meant he got to see Of Montreal and Janelle Monae the next evening, so I am OK with this. :)
  • Definitely four people coming in for Catgirl Goth Rave from well out of town --- with another dozen people considering it fairly seriously. December 18th, San Francisco. You know you want to!
  • Got my first couple of grades back on papers so far this semester --- both As. Arguably, I am writing home about this despite its being nothing to write home about, since it's grad school, and you're supposed to get As on everything or you are sort of screwing up. Still, when you don't get grades on anything until the last week of October, it's nice for the comments on the papers you get back to end with "Great work!" and "Excellent job." I know intellectually that I can write at a graduate level, because I already did it for three years, but lately I've been trying to draft bits of a final paper and it's coming out feeling terrible, and it's nice to have someone highlight all the things in an essay I did well and say "this is really good!" While UMB was problematic in a bunch of ways, they were very good at positive feedback.
  • Also yes, it is October and I am working on my final papers.
  • Also also, it is October and it is a damn good thing that the NBA's rules for which games you can't watch online (in short: any of the ones you would want to see if you don't have a television, which is the main reason I would want the service) are so restrictive, or I would purchase their service, and drop out of grad school. Well, I didn't drop out of grad school last time I had cable, but I did find myself suddenly spending hours just watching television, and I so do not have time for that. ...on the other hand it's free until November 3rd. And so far this game is an embarrassment. Enough that I think it's time to do more readings instead.
  • This was probably my roughest week of school so far; I had a paper and two short assigments due, I had to grade student midterms and a quiz, and work was... well, vicious. I got through it all, and while this upcoming week will also be rough, I only have two short assignments, and the reading load is hard but I've already started. After this week I have maybe two things I need to hand in until my final papers, which is good, because...
  • I have always known, but in comparing to the people around me am now very certain, that while I am a fast reader, both fast at "read quickly to get a decent idea of what's going on" and "read seriously and take notes," I am a slow writer. The slowness of my writing cannot all be explained by needing to take time to formulate my thoughts; I'm also not great at getting focus, and should consider techniques to enhance that. When writing fiction I've done decently well with "write drafts while off the internet" but this doesn't work so great when all of my notes are on the Internet now. Hadn't considered that one... and honestly the Internet is not the worst distraction for me, but sometimes every little bit helps, you know? I don't think I'll have distraction problems with my transsomatechnics paper, though, because I am just so psyched.
  • I had an interview yesterday with the Informatics [0] graduate program director about joining their program as a minor. It went fantabulously. They're doing some really exciting stuff, and as he put it, "We're trying to make computers useful for people, which means we need to understand people." He suggested a couple of professors I should talk to in addition to the people I had already identified, one of whom writes on feminist HCI and the other of whom has a PhD in comparative literature. There's a sort of tech-interdisciplinary program in HCI (human-computer interaction), so what I need to figure out now is (a) do I want my minor in HCI or in straight-up Informatics, and (b) what courses do I want to be a part of that minor? Once I have a general plan of attack I can talk to those professors and try to get someone to be my minor advisor, which means they would likely serve on my dissertation committee unless we found that someone else was totally a better fit. There's also apparently a new PhD student really interested in gender and sexuality and informatics and maybe he'd be interested in minoring in gender studies? So maybe we're, like, going to get people from those departments talking to each other. We're going to have coffee at some point or something, I think. This is pretty amazing.
  • Rik is here and it is wonderful. I am still getting some work done. :) Also he is a great source of joy and comfort and stability and kitty treats. I will hopefully get to see him in December as well, although that's not guaranteed, and then clearly I'll have to fly out to Seattle in the spring sometime? I won't get to see Ruth until January, but on the plus side, I get to see Ruth in January! I... am going to earn lots of miles.
  • It is clear that I am excited about my final paper. It's also clear that I'm terrified about it, but until Wednesday, I didn't really understand why. Now I do: When I am writing an English paper, or even an English-inflected close reading kinda gender studies paper, there is only so badly I can do it. There's a formula for writing that kind of paper, I'm based on a bunch of texts, I'm largely providing the glue betweeen them and inserting a few of my own ideas, and even if my own ideas aren't great, I can do everything else well and not have completely screwed up. The paper I want to write... it's arguably philosophy or something in genre, and because there aren't a lot of models and I am really personally invested in the material I'm working on, the consequences and potential scope of fucking up are waaaaaaay larger. I think if I get it right, or close to right, I can use this paper (and to a lesser extent the other final paper I'm writing) to justify why my work is worth doing. If I don't... well, I'll have to try to justify it next semester, I guess. Mantra: I am not being punished for experimenting and must take advantage of that to experiment.
  • We cleaned the fridge! And the kitchen! There is a vegan safe space drawer in the fridge now. And a Meat Isolation Chamber. :) I think I need to get more jars for dry goods. I really like jars. Yesterday while we were cleaning the kitchen [1] we put some more things into jars and that's great but I either need more or to spend some more time consolidating. It's important to make room before I do a big TJ's run on Tuesday! ...oh man I am excited about frozen vegetables already.
  • And now I need to make a jello handover (it's a long story) and get back to work.

[0] Their opening statement: "The School of Informatics and Computing offers a new kind of computing education—one where students not only learn how technology works, but also what it can accomplish." This lines up perfectly with the "what can a body do?" question that we've been harping on all semester in transsomatechnics. There is totally room to bridge a gap here.

[1] Yes, my boyfriend visits me and we clean the kitchen together. If you think about us, this makes perfect sense. "I love you, let's organize things!" *swoon* I'M A LITTLE COMPULSIVE, OKAY.

rax: (eevee love hug smiling)
  • I have my first paper of this PhD program due Monday. I took good notes, have a good concept, and am downright proud of my outline. I'm having trouble with the draft, though, because I've been reading so much abstruse crap [0] and haven't done any academic writing at all since my MA thesis. I keep having to take complicated sentences and pare them down to be less full of clauses. I suppose it is good that I take the time to do this rather than just hand in an essay with sentences whose diagrams are fractal. I'm glad I have this assignment to warm up on before I write final papers; it should help me do better with those. (I may also need to pull some prose I really like and re-read it right before I start.)
  • I am weak but I am strong: I have a copy of Pokemon White, despite knowing basically no Japanese. (The script has been translated, and my new housemate reads Japanese decently, so this is only dumb, not stupid.) However! I will not allow myself to start the game until I am done with all of the work I need to hand in this week. And am actually sticking to that, after powering the game on to make sure it works and to get the Japanese event item. (I don't intend to talk about spoilers, but if I think I might, I will cut-tag them; I know a couple of people here care.) I guess this means I will preorder Black in English once it's reasonable to pre-order it. If you were wondering "Will Pokemon be one of those things Rachel gets into for a month or two and then completely forgets about, or is it going to stick around for NetHack levels of time?," I think you have your answer.
  • I probably won't play White much until I finish my current pokedex, either. I'm 32 away from completion! If I can get to 15 or so away I bet I can trade some of my good stuff on pokewifi or something and get to zero. We will see!
  • I don't know if it's the weather or the cats getting along better or what, but recently, Selene sleeps on my chest and Oolong sleeps on my feet. It's a little bittersweet because Oolong is leaving soon and of course they'd finally learn to share a bed two weeks before they're separated, but fundamentally it is amazing, because Selene is coming to bed with me again, and it's been what, at least two years? Aside from the very first time sleeping at this house, where they had just been in the car for 40 hours and Selene curled up on my chest and Oolong curled up under my tented knees and I had no blanket or mattress and my stuffed lion was my pillow. So that's sort of a special case.
  • Furry porn is everywhere. (image link completely safe for work)
  • Rik is coming Rik is coming Rik is coming Rik is coming Rik is coming! He gets here Wednesday!
  • I've bought tickets for my trip to California --- I'll be there from Dec 15 to Jan 2. This means the return trip will earn qualifying miles/segments toward status in 2011. Yes, I am becoming one of those. I looked at my travel plans for next year and it was worth it.
  • When I first started grading student work, I was really slow about it, and nervous. What if I gave someone the wrong grade? What was the rubric I could use to determine the "right" answer for what a grade was? While we do have rubrics for evaluating student work, realistically, the thing I've been discovering, especially working on their midterm exams, is that there is no right answer. Grading student writing --- unlike, say, a multiple choice test or a chemistry problem set [1] --- is fundamentally a subjective exercise. I need to look at it, make a judgement call based on the professor's statements of what she's looking for and what the student has written down, and move on. I will not be perfect, and that is fine; if I make a mistake, students can ask us to correct them, and a decent amount of the time the mistake will be in the student's favor anyway. (I tend to err on the side of too nice.)
  • I now own a rake! And a push-broom! And a snow shovel! Soon I need to run the fireplace plot. This homeowner thing is still bizarre. At some point I expect it will normalize, but it is taking a while. In the meantime I periodically walk around and go "MUAHAHAH THIS IS MY HOUSE. IT IS MINE. IT IS FULL OF SPACE."
  • Is there any reason other than the price tag I should not get a tame fox. They will curl up on your lap and use a litter box and tend to imprint on cats if cats are around. Seriously. Finally available in the US. Tame fox. TAME. FOX. ... I guess it implicitly supports their research which was originally for the fur trade, though. AAARRRRGH MORAL DILEMMA. Help?

[0] The content is not crap. The writing style, in my opinion, often is. Some of the blame falls on being translated from French and German, but even that doesn't excuse, say, Heidegger.

[1] Chemistry problem sets have some room for subjectivity when giving partial credit. But it's not the same as an essay.

rax: (Kotone is getting shit done.)
  • On the whole LJ autopost to Facebook and Twitter thing --- yeah I agree that the being able to crosspost content out from under a friendslock is lame, but I think it could be useful. As much as a lot of my core social group uses LJ (or Dreamwidth, but I think I have all of four friends with DW presence and no parallel LJ presence), there are a good number of people important to me --- including almost everyone in Bloomington --- who don't use the service at all. They use Facebook (which I hate), and Twitter (if I'm lucky). If I can find a way to get crossposts to Facebook and Twitter working that encourage commenting on LJ and not on Facebook, that would be really useful for me, and maybe my family wouldn't think I hate them all just because I don't comment on their Facebook posts.
  • The transomatechnics class is encouraging me to "be creative in my mode of writing" and attempt things that bring in first-person narrative. ...should I take a stab at postfurry theory? I'm so tempted. It has nothing to do with where I see my dissertation going... OK that's a lie. The construction of authenticity of identities that didn't even exist fifty years ago [0] totally has something to do with one direction my dissertation could go. But, urgh. I have other stuff I want to write too. We will see! I should do more readings before I decide, probably.
  • I think I finally grok abjection as described by Julia Kristeva --- I read her essay, and went whaaaaaaat, and then read it again, and then tried to explain it to people to see if I understood it, and then read a couple of summaries online (this one was my favorite) and I feel ready to dive in, and at least confident that I know what things I don't know about it. (Why are we reading this before Deleuze?) The David Wills Prosthesis piece I still don't really get; I talked it over some with [personal profile] chagrined  and I have a bit of a better sense, but I am still really looking forward to talking about it in class because ummm help. I'm also gonna read it one more time after I leave this coffeeshop (it's too loud to really get reading done in here right now) in the hope that having kicked around in my brain for a week will make it make more sense the third time. Here's hoping...
  • Oh my god this is adorable.
  • If I spewed notes on the papers and books I was reading into this journal, would you find that awesome, annoying, or other? It would be a lot of notes, and I can't promise my thoughts will be terribly baked. The alternative is making another journal just for notes on readings --- I want to archive them somewhere, and I'd like to have the option of making them public.
  • My Pokédex is at 350 as of last night, when I played for a half hour to reward myself for finishing a book. (The book was Meatless Days, which is sadly not about veganism but is still an awesome memoir.)
  • I deleted the word "actually" from this post four times. I might have missed one. I need to fix this tic.

[0] There were people with animal/animalistic identities five years ago and probably five thousand; I'm not familiar with people identifying as animalized constructions of inorganic material before I met Nick, Rik, and Peggy the last twenty years or so. If anyone has cites for earlier examples PLEASE SEND ME THEM. <3

October 2016

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