Let Leaping Dogs Fly

Woman, mother, scientist, wife, human. I post occasionally about any and all of these things. Whatever strikes my fancy.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

True happiness this way lies

There was a stretch of years in my twenties when things did not go well for me, and a longer stretch afterward that was heavily shadowed by what had happened when things were very bad. Most of you are well-versed in my ups and downs; those of you who didn't experience it first hand, celebrate that you weren't there to see me stumble. What was painful for me was also terribly painful for the people who loved me, yet they listened time after time as I worked my way through each new setback. Why any of you didn't just shake my shoulders and tell me to get over it, I don't know; given my stubbornness I'm not sure that even that would have been sufficient but it would have made you feel better (Tracy!). There are some things that this grasshopper learns slowly.

After a while I forgot what it was like to be happy with my life. I knew that I was unhappy, but I could never put my finger on the "magic button" that would make things better. I think for a long time I knew what I needed to do, but fear kept me glued to the same miserable path . The ruts were deep. This analogy is getting old. It is challenging to put some of this in writing where everyone can see it, so I make jokes, ha ha ha, but it's true. I was stuck and I couldn't change myself in the way that I needed to change. So I did the only thing I could think to do: I grabbed hold of something that would force me out of my familiar patterns. Lucky for me I was clever enough to choose the right thing (graduate school) and the right place (a small town).

It is deeply frustrating to know what you want for your life and to believe that you will never achieve it. The biggest surprise I've had, then, and the saddest regret, was how easily I swept away all the barriers I had set up for myself, once I gave myself permission to do it. I could have done this sooner, I could have done this years ago, but I didn't. I couldn't. So today I am thankful that I finally did. I am healthy and happy. I have everything I need. I am living instead of just existing. It's all good.

Now, please, go look at this link and laugh, before you get all morose and weepy. Nobody should cry on Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The brain that ate New York

My comprehensive oral exams are coming up this Tuesday, so instead of doing fun things like celebrating Thanksgiving or sleeping restfully, I have been studying. I'm not sure I've ever studied as much and as thoroughly as I have for this process, which is really saying a lot, since I am normally a brilliantly lazy academic. Those of you who have lived with me before are probably familiar with the other side of this preparatory coin: perfection anxiety. Am I worried about failing the exam? Do I lie awake wringing my hands for fear of not knowing an answer? Certainly not. I worry that I won't remember every single thing I've ever learned about my-favorite-obtuse-topic-in-biology well enough to reference it in the 2 hours allotted to me for learned discourse. Come on, think about it: when will I ever again have a captive audience willing to listen to me talk about everything from the social biology of naked mole rats to the feeding mechanics of the jaws of Largemouth Bass? These poor souls don't know what they're in for. It is absolutely necessary that I use this time to discuss all those bits of trivia I've been saving up for just such an occasion as this; therefore I am experiencing stress. Poor Mike has been bearing the brunt of this; for the last two nights I've woken up in some sort of fury and shoved him as he's come to bed (several hours after I've gone to sleep, as is our habit). Why? Because he's been unlucky enough to interrupt me while I've been dreaming about my perfect oral exam performance, which is somehow taking place in Hawaii and being conducted in French. That and the fact that he crawled into bed last night and put his arcticly cold hand on me for longer than 0.005 nanoseconds, to which I reacted as I would normally react because dammit man, your hand was really cold!

You may all commence with the teasing now. On today's agenda, I will paint one wall in the kitchen, bake a pie, and generally work hard to not think about my exam. I will probably also study a quantity of material equivalent to a one-semester college course, digest it, relate it to the constellation of information already crammed into my head, and bleed profusely from my eyeballs.

A side note to all you lurking Tanners: don't be shy, come on out and comment if you want. You know who you are, Jeff.