Wednesday, October 28, 2015

small huge update

Umm, by the way:

Monster Paper is in press.


There are probably lots of other things I could talk about, and I'm feeling a little bad for not updating my blog more frequently these days, but right now I think I want to read my book and get ready for bed.  So... maybe a proper update soon?  (Sorry.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Vienna (and work, and summer is somehow over)

I do not understand how this summer is over already.  What on earth happened?  Last thing I knew, the spring semester was drawing to a close and I was looking forward to having the summer to get some work done, and suddenly it's the start of the fall semester already.  Argh!

On the bright side, I did get some work done, though.  I resubmitted my Monster Paper (fingers crossed), and I also started a new paper with my former office mate (which is to be submitted in about two weeks), and I also got some really awesome results on a project I've been working on with J.  So things are rolling right along, just in time to start applying for jobs again.  I'm kind of looking forward to the jobs thing now that the Monster Paper is in.  It was really hanging over my head, and now I just feel like, "Okay. Let's DO this."

I also traveled!  How could I possibly go a few months without flying across the country a few times?  (I couldn't.)  Shortly after I got back from El Paso in April, I went to a conference in New Jersey for a week, then I drove back to State College and caught a flight to the west coast so I could spend some time with J (and friends who have now left Berkeley - for good!).  So I was in Berkeley for two weeks in late May/early June, and then I was in State College for a while, and then J was here for two weeks while I worked on Monster Paper (although we did get a chance to do some stuff while he was here, including spending a few days in IL), and then I went to Vienna for a week for another conference.  I just got back late on Sunday night, in fact, and it was a very cool experience.  I still feel kind of weird about going to Europe for a week, and my body doesn't deal with it very well (although I've found that a little bit of melatonin really eases the transition for me), but it was a great opportunity and I took quite a few pictures while I was there.

So without further ado: Vienna.

the Rathaus (City Hall)

Tee-hee!  We did not go there.

Google Translate tells me that this means, "Shit, the ka is hit."
Thanks, Google.

The pedestrian crossing signal is apparently two people holding hands with a heart between them?
That's lovely and everything, but what a weird thing to put on a crossing signal.

The hugest vat of sauerkraut I've ever seen, at the Naschmarkt (open air market).

The back of Schönbrunn Palace.  It's like Versailles, but Germanic.

The gardens at Schönbrunn.

Squinty-eyed selfie at the gardens at Schönbrunn.
Super close up cheetah at the Schönbrunn Zoo.
I have very mixed feelings about zoos in general, but this was a pretty nice zoo, at least.

Emperor penguins! Chillin'.

View of Vienna from the suspension bridge at Schönbrunn Zoo.

The front of Schönbrunn Palace, as I was leaving.

Inside of Café Central. Thanks for the recommendation, K!

My favorite museum was probably the Freud museum, which is in his family's former apartment. There was a HUGE statue of a naked body hanging from the ceiling in the middle of a rather small room (complete with huge and, shall we say, prominent genitalia) and it was pretty hilarious to watch people try to navigate the room and look at the exhibits without staring at the giant penis. Extremely Freudian.

Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to visit Mozart's house, but I did walk by Beethoven's apartment, and that was pretty cool. It was a really neat city, and I hope I'll be able to go back sometime.

I'm gonna go for a walk now before it gets too dark and chilly.  (What's with the chilly air today?  It can't be fall already!  Aack!)

Friday, June 26, 2015

happy day

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

El Paso

So, here I am in El Paso, Texas for three weeks!  In case I haven't had the chance to tell you in person and you're interested in these sorts of things, I did not land a faculty job for next year, so I will be staying in State College for another year.  Except for the times when I'm off doing my forced gallivanting for research purposes, that is.  Which is what brings me to El Paso: I'm here collecting data on English-Spanish bilinguals and enjoying the sunshine and Mexican food.  Here are some pictures from my first week here, which has been very nice, all things considered.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Recovery Mode

I'm in recovery mode right now.  My "stupid brain" is slowly getting better, I think, and by that I mean that the absolute exhaustion and at times borderline despair brought on by the past few months of job searching, etc. seems to be receding slowly into the background.  I did my job interviews.  I submitted my manuscript.  I went to my workshop in D.C.  I'm still waiting to see what will come of those things, if anything, (minus the workshop, because I never cared about the workshop to begin with) but for the time being at least I am done.  I can rest on my potential laurels and not have to worry about any serious looming deadlines for a while, and I can recharge my powers of concentration.  The hardest part about the past few weeks was getting that manuscript in on time, because after a solid month (or two months, depending on whether my LSA interviews count) of traveling and preparing for job interviews, I just didn't have any mental juice left.  I can only concentrate for so long, and beyond that, it becomes increasingly painful to muster the willpower needed to do good work.  Can't I just do crappy work for a while?  Better yet, can't I like, zone out on the couch and watch bad TV?

I have recently learned that I am the #2 choice for both the jobs I interviewed for.  (We're #2!  We're #2!)  This is a very strange position to be in, because it means that depending on how things shake out, I could end up with anywhere between zero and two job offers.  For the first job, they told me they're "in negotiations" with another candidate, and I think what that means is that Candidate #1 is waiting to hear whether he gets any other offers so he can play hardball and then go with the best one.  If Candidate #1 takes another offer, then it will be my turn to negotiate.  For the second job, I heard through the grapevine that Candidate #1 is also currently in negotiations, but I also know from meeting with the chair of the search committee that the department has put in a request to hire two people for the position.  What that means for me is that if they can get the Dean to approve a second hire, then it will be my turn to negotiate for that one.

So in practical terms what this all means is that I'm still sitting around anxiously twiddling my thumbs, dammit, but it also means that I had a pretty darn good showing at my interviews.  Both of the Candidate #1s are a few years ahead of me, and have had a chance to get some publications out, whereas I'm still currently in the process of getting my first "real" publications.  (This is why the recently-submitted manuscript is somewhat crucial.)  If I can almost get two job offers despite not quite having any peer-reviewed publications (I mean, to my credit, I do have a rather large NSF grant on my side...) then I think that means I'm in good shape in the scheme of things, whether one of these jobs ends up coming through or not.  I have quite a few things that will more than likely be published by the end of the year, and then I will be in an excellent position to hit the job market again next year.  But that's the thing: I am so !&#% sick of the @%$* job market that it makes me want to puke thinking about going through all of this again next year.  I guess I shouldn't think about that just yet, though.  I should keep waiting, and trying not to look too far into the future, and just rolling with the punches as they come.

This week is our Spring Break and I have been doing a strange combination of working, vegetating, and exercising.  I finished another draft of my dissertation work (please let it be almost done, please), and I spent two solid days alternating between cooking, wasting time on the Internet, and reading a book (!).  I also joined a gym!  Glory be, it is actually starting to look like spring, and by that I mean that the temperature has been consistently above freezing for like a whole week now, such that there's only a few inches of snow left on the ground!  You can see the grass in some parts!  It's enough to make a person actually want to be outside, so I have gone for a run every day this week, and I'm even starting to feel like a normal human being with a functioning brain and body again.  It would be great if I could lose the five stress pounds I apparently gained over the past two months, but for now, I'm just happy to be outside and moving and feeling like eating fruits and vegetables instead of, like, hot chocolate and cookies.  Even better: J gets here next Saturday for his Spring Break, and I haven't seen him for about two months, so it's about freaking time.

So who knows where I'll be living in August (that old familiar refrain), but for now, things are looking up, at least.

Monday, March 2, 2015


You guys, I diiiiiid it!

I finally made it through February and I can be a real live human again!!  I have, like, doctors appointments and an oil change and all kinds of "life" business that I haven't managed to accomplish for the past few months.  But I think I'm going to be okay now.

Gotta run, but more later, maybe.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015


Wow, long time, no see, blog readers.  Do I still have blog readers?  I wonder.

I now see that many things have happened since I last posted here, and yet in many ways, it's all the same.  Here are some updates for you.

I ended up submitting five applications for faculty jobs this past year.  Of the five, I was (relatively kindly) rejected from two, asked to interview for two, and still haven't heard back from one.  I'm assuming that last one is a rejection at this point.  But I did indeed interview for the other two at the LSA Annual Meeting in early January, and now I have been invited for on-campus interviews for both of them.  The good news, obviously, is that this means that I will probably someday get a faculty job, whether it works out this year or a bit down the road.  The bad news is that it's incredibly stressful.  I keep telling J, "I'm tired of this life."  And I really am.  Of course it's exciting thinking about getting job offers for either of the places I'll be visiting in February, but it's also absolutely exhausting.  Not only do I have to fly across the country a few more times (because heck, why not, right?), I have to prepare a bunch of long talks that I'll be giving in front of panels of faculty and students who are judging me and deciding if they might want me to come work at their university.  Not to mention the emotional stress involved in never knowing where I'm going to be from one year to the next... coupled with the fact that this next move is hopefully going to be the last.  I'm essentially waiting for the judgment day that finally decides my fate.  Where will I end up?  Or will I stay in State College for another year?  There's really no way to know.  Ever.

And more good/bad news on top of it: the manuscript proposal I submitted was accepted! Of course, this is wonderful news in many (most) respects.  The bad part is that it's also due in February, which means that I'm just a big freaking ball of nerves right now.  I have this simmering sense of low grade panic that I just can't shake; what if I can't get all this work done?  What if all of this stuff I'm trying to do right now is just too much to deal with at one time, and it all ends up sucking?  It feels kind of like juggling a bunch of water balloons or something.  Chaotic, slightly uncomfortable, but maybe a little bit fun?, and if they all hit the ground they'll explode and I'll momentarily feel like I failed in a big way, but then ultimately I'll probably have to laugh at it.  Because who's crazy enough to juggle a bunch of water balloons, and really, who cares if they all explode all over the pavement?  It's just water.

I can play the violin now, sort of.  It's amazing what a few months of practice will do.  I'm glad I have that as a bit of a barometer, I guess; even though my emotional state is very same-old-same-old, and probably will be until I figure out how to exit the job-induced loop in which I find myself, I know that time is passing and I'm accomplishing things, because four months ago I didn't even know how to hold a violin, and now I have callouses on the fingers of my left hand and have played my way through the first Suzuki violin lesson book.  So that's something.

After I had my job interviews at the LSA, I came back to the hotel room and just sobbed.  The interviews actually went fairly well (and I guess this is corroborated by the fact that they turned into campus visits), but I just had to get the nerves out somehow.  After I finished sobbing, I went for a long run along the Willamette River, partially in the rain, and then I came back and sobbed some more.  I'm tired.  I'm tired of this in-between, always-waiting, perpetually-temporary state.  Hopefully it will only last a little bit longer.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

IIIIIIII don't wanna work...

... I just want to bang my head on the desk all day.

I have literally spent 31 of the past 45 hours working.  And during that time period, I have only slept once.  That is probably more time since yesterday morning (starting at 3:30 am) than many people (including myself, at times) spend working in an entire week.

On the bright side: I have submitted a job application and an article proposal to one of the best journals in my field, and I have exciting results from the experiments I've been working on.

On the not as bright side: I'm a little worried that I will never be able to think straight again.  It's remarkably similar to writing my dissertation, actually, and it has me a little worried that this is going to become a semi-regular occurrence in my life.  Punctuated periods of ridiculously intense concentration, followed by a refractory period in which I just feel completely stupid and unmotivated to do anything.

I... am done writing.  I am going to drink a glass of wine and stare into space until I fall asleep.  And then I'm going to NOT set an alarm, and then I'm going to lay in bed for like, an hour after I wake up.  AND YOU CAN'T STOP ME.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

my new toy

"I think I want to learn to play the violin."

"Just... you?"

[looking around]  "Uhh... yeah..."

"Oh, okay.  Usually we have parents come in with their kids."

"Oh.  Uhh, no, just me."

Last night I had a dream that I was playing the banjo.  I was having an absolute blast.  It was just so joyous.  I woke up in the middle of the night, and I just couldn't get it out of my head.  I mean, why not, right?  I've always wanted to play the banjo, and there is absolutely no reason for me to not sign up for banjo lessons.

But then I started thinking: I've always wanted to play the banjo, but I've also always kind of wanted to play the fiddle.  How cool would that be, to be able to play the fiddle?  And the great thing about playing the fiddle is that there's nothing keeping you from playing it like a violin, too.  Violins have a lot of range.  You can play one by itself, and play some awesomely schmaltzy classical piece, or you can play in an orchestra, or you can play in a little trio or quartet or quintet, or you can find a bunch of goofy weirdos who are into Irish dance and join an amazing folk band and just have a blast on the weekends.

Plus, I really know next to nothing about the violin.  It uses a different clef from the piano, it has four strings, and you rest it under your chin when you play, but that's basically all I know.  With the banjo, I've held a banjo before, I used to know how to play the guitar decently... it's just not as exotic to me.

So when I finally got out of bed, I was fixated.  I started looking for banjo and fiddle lessons in State College, and places where you can buy or rent musical instruments.  It turns out there's a music academy here, with lessons for adults and an Irish guy who teaches fiddling.  So like, I'm sold.  There's also a "family music store" that seems to be largely for school-aged kids to rent instruments.  So I drove over to the family music store and had the above conversation, resulting in me holding a violin for the first time, which felt strangely natural.  It turns out you can rent a brand new, beautiful violin (see photo) for $12.72 a month.  Uhhhh yes, please sign me up.

Here is the game plan:

1)  Start lessons next week at the music store.

2)  Take weekly lessons for a few months until the new semester starts at the music academy.

3)  Sign up for a semester of private fiddle lessons.

4)  Rock the freaking house.