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I don't write enough to warrant moving to another site, much as I'm sick of LJ. Moving is a hassle.

I realized (remembered?) that I hate reading my mom's blog posts because they're not accessible to the blog-reading public. People who read blogs don't want to read basically an inventory of all the crap someone owns. They want to see how someone puts things together, and my mom gets really huffy when I suggest she give away some of her secrets in how-to posts with some suggested stores to buy her suggested decor. The whole blog comes off as a "look at me and everything I've done, now don't you wish you could do this too?" in the most condescending way. This is why I haven't advertised it round the socialized media-- it's embarrassing to see how much she has all at once, with captions talking about how proud she is of owning all these status trinkets.

That being said, I love showing off her decorations to my friends in person. I'm proud of all she has, but more for the way she's put things together. That's another thing that I dislike about her blog pictures, in particular: they're posed shots of as much crap as she can put in one place. It's not natural. It doesn't look good. It doesn't show how the decorations work with the furniture and the rest of the house. It doesn't capture the hard work she's put in to make the house look so good. But she doesn't get it, and until she does, it will continue to look like a rich woman with too much time on her hands decided to put together a blog purely to show off how much money she has (the irony of course being that my mom is not rich). And I will avoid reading it so that I don't get the impression that my mom is like some of her friends, or is just trying too hard to show off to her friends.

Meanwhile I let the cat sleep on my cashmere coat, so clearly I'm not going about this the right way, either.

I love teaching research methods because the whole course is like teaching/mentoring. I'd love to do this full-time, theoretically. But it's completely exhausting. I'm offering all my time to their group projects, I have a student trying to finagle her way out of academic probation (via me), I'm having communication errors left and right, and the emails are nonstop. And at the same time, I have to work on my own classes, which involve presentations and writing exam questions. And my advisor is finally almost done going over my paper, but I have no motivation to work on our last few edits. I'm getting a loan, which was a hassle in and of itself even though it's my second loan in grad school. I'm exhausted and I need a break from the home, student, research, and grad school drama. I need to sleep, but as it is I've been up since before 5am.

At least I got a haircut, even if I probably made my haircut guy die inside trying to get through all my tangles. 3 combs, ladies and gentleman: he went through 3 combs, tried 3 different types of product, spent over an hour, and only charged me $16. We gave him a 35% tip and I bought extra product from him. Still doesn't feel like enough for a miracle.

I wish I could sing. Where did I go wrong?

I'm glad I didn't audition for Glee, but I wish I had the song down, just because. Give me three more years.

Nevermind that in three more years I'll be too old to start. 27 is too old. Welcome to the new millenium.

I don't think God waits till after death to come right up to your face and say "Go fuck yourself."
Never in my life have I been so certain that my mother raised me right as in the past 24 hours.Could you even IMAGINE the shit I'd get if I said I'd rather spend the weekend at the beach (or even at work) than go to my grandparent's funeral? I got shit for going to work rather than be with them two full weeks (and WELL before) before my grandma died. Nevermind that I didn't even have a car at the time.

But at the same time, while I refuse to disrupt my life for every little thing they ask, I know when it's time to drop everything and force my way--car or no car--there. We're never going to get along for more than a few hours at a time, but we also know that whatever fights or discomfort we put each other through, we'd rather be together through tough times. And that is unfortunately not something that Dillon's family will get to experience, and it gives me blinding, appalled rage to think about it.

They wouldn't be there on deathwatch, night after night, trying to ignore the TV infomercials playing music that they hate but someone else needs to hear. They wouldn't spend the night in uncomfortable hospital chairs, or even wait until 3 in the morning just to argue with insurance MORE to be sure that their relative has appropriate care. What's worse, they have no MODEL for doing that. And because of our mother, I don't think even my sister (who is not a caretaker by nature) would even consider doing anything else. When family is in need, you're there. Case closed. Fight, be petty, do what you need to do to deal with what's going on. But be there.

Awful as last year was, I wouldn't give up or change any of it. They are missing out. And it's so upsetting to think that they won't be there when they're needed later.Part of it is the downside to having such a young family-- they never had to deal with this before, and it's really one of the hardest things you have to endure as a family. But I wish, I WISH that they would feel that sense of love (not obligation) for their grandpa, their brother, and their mom, and be there to support their family and to let their family support them.

Once again, I'm glad for all the experiences I've had, however fucking miserable they've all been, and I'm so eternally grateful for my mother.

landd

AAA just sent me a life insurance offer. Car insurance, I guess they've given up on; they're aiming a bit higher this time. I remember my sister saying she already has a life insurance policy but no cemetery plot. My gut says to do it the other way around, since my experience with insurance companies paying out has been rather dismal. What they do pay out wouldn't cover a plot, and since plots go up with time and policies don't, I feel like you should get one later so that it's at least adjusted for inflation. But let's assume my sister knows what she's talking about. And let's double check by asking the internet.

"At what age should you buy life insurance?"

The internet says you should only get life insurance when you have dependents, or when you're financially stable enough to worry about the extra expense. Or if you have a risky job. It's basically to cover your assets, so don't worry about it unless you have assets. And what about if you have nothing, and only a pet or two depending on you? And what if you'll never really have financial stability on your own? What do you do when your life isn't worth insuring?

I'm going to enact a snail genocide in our fish tank this weekend.
I don't know why I buy InStyle sometimes: it's so full of ads it makes me want to vomit, except it always leaves me wanting to try one new trick or another. The 15th Anniversary 500+-page issue has actually prompted the desire to try two or three tricks. Maybe I just hate advertising so much because it works so well on me (e.g., I still want a Magic Bullet).

So today I spent $25 on hair products and nail polish, and sometime soon I'll probably convince myself it's a fine idea to try some nail foil. Meanwhile, I'll be checking out shoes, too, until it finally cools down enough for me to wear my hair down again.

This is why I don't normally take 4-day weekends. But man, did I ever need this. Sitting in bed on my computer all day, with the air conditioner blowing directly on Oswald next to me... this is relaxation.

Happy Father's Day

Around Christmas, I thought the worst that could happen in 2009 was the loss of my grandfather (and, by proxy, the last living connection to my father). I didn't even like my grandpa that much-- I loved him as part of our teeny tiny family, but I hated everything that came with his growing up on a farm. The animals should live outside, the women can't do anything, and of course, Rush Limbaugh is the only person who knows what's going on in the world. Yet toward the end, who knows? Maybe he just kept up that front to elicit the suffocated groans from the rest of us; I like to think now that he had changed at least some of his opinions, but brought them up as a joke.

The one part of all that that's ever been a relief in the months that it took me to get over the loss of him, is that I don't ever have to buy him a gift or a card again. I know I didn't much during high school and college, but when I was young, as well as recently, it was always painstaking and painful. I could never get something for my grandma without getting something for my grandpa as well, and finding something for someone I knew nothing about, not to mention a man, was mostly awkward. I always want to get practical things that I know the recipient will actually use (unless it's for my sister, in which case I like to find the coolest, artiest thing around)... how do you do this for someone you don't know? So on this Father's Day weekend, as we wandered the mall yesterday with Dillon wondering if he should get something for his dad or one of his grandpas, I did take some satisfaction in the idea that I don't have to deal with that anymore. It still wasn't really enough to take the edge off, but perhaps if circumstances were different and we *hadn't*, on top of all else, seen the new Pixar movie with the elderly man as the hero (after his wife dies-- did I mention Pixar can make me cry in under 60 seconds flat? Just flash a funeral home with a sad man in front of it, guys. You win)... perhaps then the idea of not having to buy a card or a gift would've been just enough to get me through that loss alone.

At any rate, as we're staring down the barrel of more shopping to be done in the next few months, the idea of having to buy fewer gifts is becoming more and more appealing. Although I sure did want to get my grandma an iPod for her birthday.

And soon my even-tinier family is going to be shopping for new cars, new houses(?), and newly rescued dogs. And those will be the most painful gifts I've ever had to buy, because the whole time we'll all be thinking about the latest losses that they're trying to replace. In all honesty, finally getting a Mazda will be far less sweet because I won't have my grandma--the only other person in the family who likes Mazdas--to show it off to. And I'm excited to help my mom find the perfect rescue dog from the no-kill shelter in Riverside, but I can barely handle the idea of Rascal being put down now, let alone Zelda... but maybe Zelda can wait; for as sad as she is right now, she seems to be okay physically.

And June 30th will roll around, and then July 19th, and I can see why Catherine wants to be out of the area when that happens. And worst of all-- what will happen to Mom through all of this? I've been worrying about her so much but I can't even have a 5-minute phone conversation with her right now because she's so crazy about everything, and that makes me crazy, and that's the end of that. I'm hoping--futile, I know-- that all the crazy will dissipate once her obligations are finished. Maybe she'll go on a vacation for a few weeks, come back, and be my favorite version of her again: the strong matriarch with the carefree laugh, someone who doesn't need a man and doesn't expect that her friends do either. Or do I alternatively hope that she'll meet a man, so that if she doesn't revert to her old self, at least there will be someone to be strong for her?

I always knew things would be harder losing my grandma. I just wish that everything else could stay constant-- my car okay, my work on hold for a month or so, my mom going to be okay, Zelda okay-- so that when it happens, I can mourn without interruption. I think, because of all this, I will in the end be additionally shopping for a therapist for a month or so. For now, I just want to go to Disneyland.

Raw Sugar

My grandma has been saying that every year is her last for the past 20 years. Now it really is her last. And it's going to be painful, and relatively quick, so I won't have months to prepare like I did for my grandpa's recent death.

5. 4. 3.

They expect that fewer than 5 stressful life events will happen in one's lifetime. What happens when you expect 3 a year? What happens when you expect 2 in 6 months?

Bending spoons with my mind

Alone for the day. Thinking a bit about this time 3 years ago as I catch up on sewing.

Dillon told Natalia that he still just wants to show me that there are good guys out there. And then I thought, "Doesn't he want more for me than that, at this point?"

At least Natalia didn't tell me to break up with him. I mean, if nothing else, that proves that she thinks we're a good couple. Or she's trying to turn a new leaf, since several couples she's advised to break up actually recently have.

This whole sales tax increase is actually pushing costs past my threshold. I'm slightly averse to spending right now. I. Me. I'm frugal, but that's never stopped me from spending altogether. Neither will this... I just have to get used to it. Right?

I almost wish I were going today. I think I'm not in the right frame of mind, though, to be in San Diego, but to be trapped somewhere else. Not trapped, but that's how I'd feel. That's why I'm not going. This anxiety is not going to be assuaged anytime soon.

But a day alone will likely change nothing. I will sew, work on my stats homework, read, put away our luggage, play Animal Crossing, and sporadically check Facebook. Then I will either go see Natalia or Emily and completely avoid my darker thoughts, whom I should instead pay a visit today.

My mom read my CNS abstract and couldn't believe I had written it. I entirely believe that academia is systematically making me a bad writer.

Golden Age

20 things that I have discovered during my spring break:

1. Your average person in San Francisco is way friendlier and more outgoing than your average person in any part of Southern California (e.g., I haven't been greeted by this many strangers since I went to Disneyland for my birthday).
2. Your average person in San Francisco is also more likely to own a smart phone of some sort, and play with it on the bus. People don't even have their headphones in on Muni. It's all about the smart phones.
3. Homeless people here are crazier in a more fun/less scary way.
4. Homeless people don't ask for anything, for the most part. They know we know they're there.
5. I can handle going up and a down an elevator 39 floors each time, particularly when there's a wonderful view and amazing mango mojitos at the top.
6. I still *can* walk 10 blocks in stilettos, but I'm much happier when I don't.
7. I feel like a rich adult now, compared with when we visited two years ago, because I can actually afford three meals a day, have a drinky drink with each meal, and then afford to take a cab back to the hotel when I'm out too late. And then go shopping and sightseeing the next day.
8. I much prefer chill vacations, with sightseeing when it's convenient and mostly seeing old friends and exploring the neighborhood.
9. I miss Louisa like CRAZY.
10. Not Skyping with the cat isn't the end of the world, as long as there are multiple people watching him throughout the day.
11. Luke has the most vague way of communicating information possible (I sort of knew this before coming, but I think I truly realized it when he told us to meet for dinner at a streetcorner, and then forgot to mention which restaurant we were actually meeting him at).
12. 24-hour Kinkos are the devil.
13. You really need water when presenting a poster at a conference.
14. There is no way to absorb all the relevant information presented at a conference, even a smaller one like this (CNS). I can't even imagine SFN.
15. No matter how bad your research is, someone will always have worse research than yours.
15a. No one who has imaging data has actually analyzed it before presenting it.
16. Everyone who works with a brain damaged population won't understand why you work with normals.
17. Neuroscience of autism is mostly being studied in adults right now. Why this makes sense is anyone's guess.
18. It doesn't actually take 14 hours to get to and from SF. When you aren't stopping every 15 minutes, it takes less than 7 hours.
19. Butterfly insides are yellow.
20. The GPS doesn't always know where it is, even when it has 18 satellites.

Move You

Sometimes, when I'm really stressed out, I wake up thinking I lost a day or two and that it's actually the day that everything's due. And then I panic until I've found a convincing calendar.

I'm emo about my birthday this year. Not because I'm getting older, maybe because of a few other factors, but mostly because it's going to be depressing. It's the first big event since my grandpa died, and it's my first birthday ever that he won't be there. I don't really feel like doing anything big; I kinda wanted to go to Disneyland but now it seems that that won't happen. So all I'm really doing for my birthday is the depressing family dinner. And that's depressing. I know my mom's trying, but it's like she's the only one, and she's the least capable right now. And of course, at the same time, I don't really want anyone to do anything for me, because it doesn't seem appropriate. I just don't feel like it.

Oswald has decided that he likes hanging out on top of doors. He's been worse since he got neutered. And is having a growth spurt. Why does he do everything wrong?

Back to figuring out how much absolutely needs to be done today...

Finally, new year.

Pretty much all of January was devoted to family, specifically helping my family end the era of the Crumps. It's officially my mom, my sister, my grandma, and me now, and despite the slew of animals, the steadiest boyfriends ever, and the influx of Crump blood in our house last week, the family feels significantly smaller. In all honesty, it was hard for us because he wasn't just Grandpa-- he was also a stand-in for remembering my dad. And now there are only women in my family. And now they are all from my mom's side. And then there were four.

I never liked my grandpa much. I don't think I ever told him I loved him, and it really does't bother me. It feels like it should, though. He loved me so much, and doted on me... but I disliked him for precisely that reason. He should have doted on Catherine, he should have doted on my mom, but instead it seemed he showed the most contempt for them. It wasn't fair. It was rude and ungrateful. And now, as I still question whether that continued to be true toward the end, I guess it doesn't really matter. The things we'll remember about him aren't how he felt about us, but how he behaved, and who he was: the practical jokes, the humming, the weird phrases, the endless stories, his generosity toward anyone not related to him (indeed, pretty much exclusively for people not in the family in any way). I think my mom has sufficiently convinced me over the past month that it doesn't matter that he was grateful to the wrong people-- at least we knew our grandfather, such an interesting person, so well.

This all coincides with Chinese New Year, so I'm taking this opportunity to start again. It's hardly a blank slate, I'm hardly in a position to take time off for travel or something equally ridiculous-yet-celebratory. It's just time to start fresh. It's time to clean, really clean, bleach the mold, smudge the doorways, vacuum the flea eggs, and organize my papers. It's time to think of some new year's resolutions, take those bags of clothes to Goodwill, and if, somehow, we convince my mom to also take a weekend in Big Bear with the neighbors, I'll be happy.

So, here are my new year's resolutions:
1) Set up coffee every night so that I feel obliged to eat breakfast in the morning
2) Put away at least $50 a month in a separate savings account so that I can start paying off my loans when I graduate
3) Cut down on red meat and Coke without increasing shrimp and alcohol consumption
4) Take better care of my car (corollary: learn to change oil)
5) Improve myself as a researcher

Now I have to decide if I'm actually going to campus today or not. I thankfully am not too behind anymore, so it might be okay if I do my reading here rather than in my office, for once.