Thursday, January 04, 2007

A taxonomy of tics

Since it's been circulating and a few people have put out general invites to talk about six weird (I prefer "interesting" or "unusual" things about yourself, I thought I'd give it a go. Turned out this was harder than I thought, though...

1. I love alliteration, almost to the point of pain (please see the post title above for confirmation of this fact). I think something insane like 90% (or more) of the papers that I've written academically have involved intentional alliteration in the title. It just sounds better to me. In case you were wondering, my titles also tend to be a comprised of a short alliteration, followed by a colon and then a more specific elaboration of the title. Of course, now that I write this I feel completely stuck in some sort of academic rut and feel the need to rethink my whole academic strategy.

2. I cannot stand to have my belly button touched. I can barely stand to touch it myself, and it's worse when other people try. It totally skeeves me out - I don't know why, but it feels increibly weird and gross and I just can't deal. Even the though of having it touched kinda makes me shudder. *shudder*

3. I absolutely love the taste of herb and garlic cream cheese on cinnamon raisin bagels. I totally cannot explain this, but I find it to be yummy.

4. I am petrified of anything to do with my eyes. It's lessened enough over the past few years that I can deal with gel eyedrops if I can put them in myself, but really, that's about as good as it gets. When I was three, I went to the eye doctor, and they needed to put in eye drops. I freaked, and dad had to haul me into the exam room by my legs, while I was clinging, cartoon-fashion, to the edge of the door. In subsequent years, I recall them sedating me a few times before taking me in for the annual appointment. I really am better about it now (or, honestly, probably just better at hiding it, so long as no one checks out my blood pressure when I'm there), but anything to do with eyes in general - my own, or those on TV or in books or whatever - is just plain old no good.

5. I can't watch horror or suspense films (oh, heck, I can't even read Agatha Christie books right before bed). I have a hugely overactive imagination and, if I do, it goes haywire, especially at night. Once, in undergrad, I watched a scary movie with friends. Despite the fact that my matress was on the floor at the time, when I went up to bed I had to jump onto the mattress from a few feet away so that anything that was underneath wouldn't be able to get me. I was 22. I don't think it was until the next year that I had to get someone to take me to the bathroom after another scary movie. I think it was at that point that I learned my lesson, and just stopped. While it might be incredibly amusing for the people around me, the ensuing stress is just not so much fun.

6. I can't deal with crowds of people. Or shopping malls. Or, worse yet, both. In the middle of crowds, even small ones, I start to freak out and really need to keep myself focused just to get out in one piece without losing it. Once, when I happened to have my sweetie's cell phone with me, I got caught in a massive crowd of people near his office and I called him. I sounded so distressed on the phone, just from the crowd, that he could hear it in my voice and was worried about me (such a sweetie!) I avoid malls like the plague now, and the few times that I actually make it into one only serve to remind me how much I dislike them and crowds of people.

I'm not really one for tagging people, but go wild, if you want to.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ups and downs

It's been an up and down sort of day, the kind that leaves you ready to keel over on the couch at the end of the day you're so tired.

After a pretty good sleep-in, I got up and, in a show of getting the new year off to a good academic start, finished off some revisions on a paper right off and sent them into the journal. This was followed by a healthy veggie lunch, a nice walk, a visit to the local dog run, and... email that I didn't get the big scholarship that I applied for.

This isn't a big surprise, and this certainly isn't the first time I've been rejected. The chances of getting it are slim, and even slimmer given some of the elements of my research (it's new, a lot of people don't know/trust the field, it's a new department, really, all kind of things.) But I found myself sitting here, whining to my sweetie about how it feels so much like I'm battling my way upstream most of the time in my academic life, despite promises of yummy sushi and lots of hugs.

I know that I don't always feel this way, and part of it is the fact that I don't always take the easy route to do my work, because I really do like to push myself and learn a lot, but there are so many times when it's insanely frustrating. There are few people in my department who "get" my research, and fewer who do anything similar enough to offer me help. Heck, although the field is growing, there just aren't that many of us doing it period. Getting in with the group that are working on it frequently feels like fighting my way into an old boy's club. It's hard to get funding, especially since I need really general awards because there aren't any available that are specific to my field, and everyone's fighting for the general ones anyway.

That reads like a sob story, which is likely at least in part because I'm pretty damn tired and having a sugar crash right now. And I know that everyone goes through this sometimes, no matter what it is that they do. It's just that this is one of those up and down days (made worse because it started at the up bit, and came significantly down later. But, tomorrow's another day, and hopefully there will be more work done, and emails sent, and reading finished that will help keep me on this track a little better, and in a way that's a little less frustrated and frustrating.

Here's hoping.

New Year's non-resolutions

Or, any day can be a new year, if you want it to be.

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't make resolutions - I do - but I've never really held with making them on New Year's necessarily. Sure, I have some things in mind that I'd like for this year. I'd like to be a bit healthier, and to eat a bit better and to exercise a bit more. I'd like to be a bit more productive, and write a few more papers, present at a few more conferences, and maybe get something published. I'd like some more time with friends, some more time with me, and some other personal stuff. But these are things that I want all the time, and things that I'm willing to renew my committment too on a regular basis, not just on the first day of the year.

And so that's what I do - if I've been lax in something, I renew my committment to it. That doesn't mean I won't slip again (we all do, at some point), or pull it off perfectly the first go around. But it does allow me a lot of chances to make things better. I know we all do this anyway, and we don't rely on New Year's, and that the particular day is largely symbolic more than anything else. But I think it's important at this time of year to be reminded that we have all kinds of chances, and not just this one, to think about our lives, think about the changes that we want, and to put them into play.

This year, I guess you could say I'm going to allow any day that I want to be New Year's, and I'm going to work on whatever I want to, whenever I want to, and just keep trying to make things better.

Happy New Year's, all!