Monday, December 27, 2010

Hold It. Right There.

It is customary and traditional for me to herald my survival of Christmas with a post, but somehow it doesn't seem so important this year. Maybe because it really didn't feel like Christmas this year. It didn't. It didn't get off to a holiday-esque start with Christmas Eve, as it usually does. Mum said it was "as good as it could be", under the circumstances, but to my absolute relief, it was absolutely not like a Christmas party. Except for the decorations, the music, and Irving Berlin's White Christmas playing on the TV in the background, it didn't have an overtly merry atmosphere. Just a dinner, no presents. Just conversation, no discussion of how things had changed or further developments. Just a slice of what is left of the family. That's it. Pleasantries and technicalities and catching-up.

I slept in a tent with my sisters that night. We woke up on Christmas morning, and didn't care as much as we used to that the tree was over-run with gifts. Gifts that I wasn't sure that I wanted; gifts that I was sure that I had absolutely no room for. Gifts that were appreciated nonetheless. Then it was the Robinson party, which always always feels like Christmas no matter what. Even the year that we received a phone call in the middle of the mayhem announcing that there was another death. Even then. It was a perfect, beautiful death...but this year's death occurred a couple of weeks ago and thankfully there was not another one hiding underneath the Christmas tree for us to unwrap, surprised.

As cousins, we've always been close. Closer still when we realize each other's faults, although we were raised with especially high standards and morals. Because when we slip up, it can feel like a stain on the family crest; but when we slip up together and realize that things are more difficult than we had bargained for, we fall apart in tandem and it isn't so lonely or shameful. We build each other back up, synchronized, better. My cousins are untouchable examples of beauty and passion. We hold each other in high regard, and we try to make sense of things that knock us down a couple of pegs. I am glad for that kind of relationship with anybody, let alone with family. It is amazing to watch ourselves grow, and hear ourselves talk, and work ourselves ragged to figure things out, and have the courage to sing at the end of the day. That is the way it has been. That is the way it will be.

Among us, we fight a huge array of dark matter. Honestly, some of the reason why Christmas didn't feel like being thrown down a water-slide made of cheese-graters this time is the fact that I'm preoccupied with greater things. At least, things of a greater magnitude. As the rise-and-fall of my mental state continues, I continue my attempt at sorting things into their respective categories. These thoughts go here. This action goes over there. It is safe to talk to him but too dangerous to speak to her. When is my soul made of glass and when is it wrapped in steel? Because I am about to begin a treacherous journey. Something terrifying and uncomfortable, as of right now, that other people seem to know about more than I actually do. Lots of fighting, lots of preparing, lots of...insecurity. How? How does this work? How can I rock out loud at quantum physics but the silly, stupid, basic things that seem so easy for everybody else absolutely elude me? I don't want to let my heart go, and truth be told, I'm scared. Yep. The Great Becca Robinson is out-of-her-mind frightened. So I suppose I could take Josh Preston's advice and five-four-three-two-one myself into blast-off, with the courage to count backwards, and then the following question: what happens when I hit "one"? Is this the part where my whole life blows up? Is this the part where I surrender? You're in charge. Am I really this difficult and are You really this silent?

Yikes. Sometimes it seems like a mistake. I'm waiting for the point where it becomes natural, or at least comprehensible, or maybe...possible.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Just Flying

I looked into the mirror a moment ago and noticed a vein that I hadn't seen in a while, or at all for that matter. It was vast and green like the sea before a storm, and it looked like wings tattooed on my chest through transparent and winter-kissed skin. Like I had wings. Funny, since I had been thinking of a quote earlier from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."

If I wanted to fly, though, either metaphorically, spiritually or physically, why would I begin by throwing myself at the ground? Forgive my ignorance, but it seems like whenever I am flying (in an airplane, of course) or feel like I am flying on the inside, I am, in essence, very far away from the ground. Or am I?

Maybe real flying is hovering closely above the ground, above rock-bottom, and somehow missing the fall. Missing gravity. Missing the urge to get sucked back down. Flirting with death, but then coyly skipping away. In this sense, I feel like there has been a lot of flying going on lately.

For myself, there are few things that I currently enjoy more than:
a) the chance to catch up with people that I hadn't seen in a while
b) a glass of good wine (or two...and a half...)
c) a good night's sleep

If my life were a multiple-choice test and the question went something along the lines of: "Which of these choices makes Becca fly a little?", then the correct answer would just have to be 'a'. Because sometimes listening to people and talking to people is exactly like throwing yourself towards the ground. The best conversations are the most difficult ones. The moments during which we would be most vulnerable but find ourselves most secure are the moments during which we can fly. When truly amazing people die, their legacies allow the rest of us to fly. Things that stem from brutal situations are the things that make us fly. The closer to disaster that we come, the more opportunity there is to escape, somehow equipping ourselves better than before.

A good number of discussions this week stemmed from death. Literally. But these were discussions grounded in life, in lively revolution. Discussion of a paradigm shift. Ways to use what we know in the most effective manner. I keep coming into contact with brilliant, inspiring people who truly believe that everything that I am and have become will be used to dramatically alter some fundamental, currently unidentified characteristic of what we think we know. What a crazy, exhilarating responsibility. The thing is, only a handful of the people that I have spoken to over the past week or so realize how damaged I have been, and likewise only a few can realize the magnitude of this jump across the spectrum of my life. I'm not entirely sure what I'm trying to say anymore, honestly. So I'll close with a lyric that summarizes what I think just might be my ultimate point.

"...and God help you if you are a Phoenix, and you dare to rise up from the ash. A thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy as you are just flying past..." - Ani DiFranco


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Break Character

I figured I'd take a short break from my already-distracted and broken-up study sessions to discuss something that breaks my heart. Coherent or not, correct or not, this needs to be said.

The following three articles summarize a current case in New Boston:

Read if you wish, but I will summarize, from the general knowledge of the case that I have. A young teenage girl at Huron High School ultimately took her life after reporting that she had been raped by another student, and later was tormented at school for coming forward. The assailant, evidently not believing that he had done anything wrong, was not found responsible because the complainant is now dead. Furthermore, the Facebook page created to honor her life has been bombarded with pornographic and appallingly disgusting and disturbing images. According to Fox News, the fact that the case was dropped is apparently something that "few can understand". Why? I suppose that few people have the opportunity to work closely with sexual assault cases and not all people have had the seams of their lives torn by such events, which is something that I am glad of, but really? It's much more prevalent than people are willing to say.

Personally? I'm heartbroken whenever justice isn't served, but this means that I'm heartbroken a lot. There comes a point when sometimes we have to look at something just as awful and gut-wrenching as this case and say "yeah, that's normal" instead of really feeling the broken heart that should follow.

But what does this solve? Next to nothing. The fact of the matter is that a mailbox, a bathroom stall, a glass store-front are all more protected by law than the human body. Doesn't that make you feel objectified? It does, doesn't it? I have worked closely with cases during which the survivor pushes for new legislation, new laws, a new societal perspective...but often times prosecutors won't even pick up the case in the first place. And then? We get angry. We start speaking out, and when we do, perhaps the same people that were so baffled by the dismissal of this current case are the ones trying to silence us. Because it's unruly to protest. It's a public unrest. It's not proper for the words "STOP RAPE" to be scribbled on a poster board or a sidewalk when, my goodness, there are children that might see! Honestly? I'd love to preserve innocence, but that's impossible. At this point, I'd rather have the children know. I'd rather have your child sense that there is something wrong about Gramps reaching down into his or her intimate crevices while you're upstairs getting dinner ready. Maybe if they understood, it wouldn't take you years to catch on. Maybe they would speak up. Maybe.

For a public that is so distraught, it is sure a public that can turn an opinion quickly. What if she had been just a couple of years older? What if she had taken six shots of vodka just prior? What if she were a lesbian, an atheist, a Christian, a Muslim, Mexican, African, German for crying out loud? Would it matter to the public? Often times, juries and judges try to squeeze meaning out of the most irrelevant facts instead of staring reality straight in the face, because reality is not a pretty face to look at. Reality stares back without blinking. It breathes a heavy mist that is dripping with responsibility and a notion of the ability to do the right thing, and that scares people. It scares me, sometimes.

I honestly don't have a solution. I don't have what it takes to change every mind, and I'm not much of a protester like some of my colleagues are. However, I do have an understanding, a familiarity with the system that surprised the public of New Boston. I continue to do my work quietly, on the other end of the telephone, when you call me because you need someone; perhaps occasionally in the hospital, when you're in shock and frightened and unsure. I'll do the work, and love you. Because I get it.


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Julia Child Disapproves.

Alrightie, readers, listen up. This is one of the very few times in which I will semi-rant about politics. Why? Because I simply do not invest my entire life and education into the political climate. In all honesty, I am not always politically aware and almost seldom active, unless it is time to vote. Politics are too unpredictable and I can't handle that kind of stress in my life. I'd rather deal with quantum physics. It's easier. Also, I have no official partisan affiliation. Why? Because I am an entire spectrum of different ideas and viewpoints. I am a liberal thinker with conservative values. How does THAT work? I'm not so sure, but I can tell you that some liberal ideas inspire me while others seem like the most idiotic jumble of jargon that I've ever heard of, and some conservative values sit well with me while others seem heinously legalistic, which I am no fan of.

Likewise, things about the Democratic party tick me off, and things about the Republican part tick me off. BUT, what ticks me off more is partisan politics, and the thing that ticks me off the VERY most is the people who try to convince me to vote partisan or straight-ticket. Can somebody please explain this concept to me, because it is absolutely baffling. (Of course, this statement does not apply to those who are officially and occupationally affiliated with a certain party; in that case, partisan politics make sense.) As a citizen of the USA as it were, who is proud to exercise her right to vote, I will review the statements and viewpoints of the political candidates of each political race prior to deciding who to vote for. Furthermore, for this election, I don't mind saying, my ballot reflected a relatively even distribution of the Democratic and the Republican parties. Of course, if both Democratic and Republican candidates didn't sit well with me, I would give up and just vote Libertarian (as long as the Lib didn't seem just as bad).

Here's my point, though. Why on Earth would a citizen trust that every candidate in one certain party reflects his or her values? When you actually look into the candidates, they don't all necessarily agree, even within the same party. How can people trust that they agree with the viewpoints of 100% of the candidates in ONE party? Especially in a country such as America, with so many ideas bouncing around, I am sometimes hard-pressed to find individuals that agree with me even a little bit, apart from basic common ground. Now we're putting faith in politicians just because they say that they are a member of a certain party, and since that certain party officially has a certain viewpoint, we assume that the certain politician adheres to it. It just doesn't make sense. I vote for people, not parties.

So the next time that somebody puts a door-hanger on my door knob urging me to vote partisan, I might throw up. It seems just as ignorant as the candidate-bashing political campaign advertisements on TV. I do not discourage activism, but I do encourage open-mindedness and education. Reading up on the candidates is always a good thing, and the only way that I would ever vote partisan would be if I thoroughly assessed the issues that are dear to me and each candidate, and still found only one party acceptable for my vote. I am an educated citizen of the US, and I vote accordingly.

So, to demonstrate my disapproval of blindly partisan politics, I thought I would use a picture from Halloween weekend.

Pretend that my sister in a bumblebee costume represents an annoying partisan political advocate, Republican or Democrat, buzzing into my ear and urging me to vote partisan. Disclaimer: This is absolutely NOT to say that all people who vote straight-ticket are ignorant, only to illustrate my disapproval of "blind" voting. Now, pretend that me dressed as Julia Child is really just me in real life. Obviously, I disapprove, and therefore, Julia Child disapproves.

In conclusion, far be it from me to tell anybody how to vote in particular. Vote however you want, just do it intelligently.


Monday, October 25, 2010

The Awkward Love Post

So, in the spirit of awkward teenage love (just fresh into my twenties, of course), I am going to post an incredibly sarcastic, non-serious, campy, cheesy love post about the current crushes of my life. And I'm writing this post to the adorable teenie-bopper and xylophone-ridden sounds of Never Shout Never, like a true hipster scene kid. This should be a dashing roller coaster through my girlish silliness, so readers be advised to hold on tight. Seriously.

Ok, I'm out of the closet.

Before you pull your hair out, my dear friends and family, no I am not referring to the lesbian closet. (But if I were, would you seriously love me any less? Would you? Seriously. Please let the answer to that question be a resounding 'no', because we're better than that. Alrightie, moving on...)

My closet is full of a much less feminine type of species. This species is often seen wearing plaid (which is a major plus for me) and possibly suspenders. These specimens almost inevitably have out-of-control eyebrows and, most importantly, some sort of Eastern European accent.

Yes, I am referring to my physics professors. I think that my baby crushes have escalated since PHY193, through PHY294, reaching boiling point in PHY321, and exploding in my current PHY471 class. Honestly, can these people get ANY more adorable? Now, I realize that this is probably super weird. What reasonably attractive and intelligent lady has her sights sent on old, crusting Eastern European physicists? THIS ONE. ME. I DO. I don't owe any explanation. I just love them. And here is why:

1. Outfits
This one mostly refers to my Classical Physics professor. Now, I hated that class with a burning passion and am happy to have simply passed, but I could usually look forward to my days in PHY321 because my professor almost always wore plaid. Plaid is a momentous joy in my life. I enjoy plaid in every way, shape, and form. I have plaid purses, plaid dresses, plaid bows, plaid pajama pants, you name it. I enjoy plaid so much that I even love it on the button-down starched dress shirt that belongs to a sixty year old Polish man. My physics guy friends think that I'm crazy. I probably am, but hey, if plaid was all it took, I feel like more men of the world would be falling at my feet clad in red and black checker squares.

2. Accent
This is a HUGE portion of my love for Eastern European men. Linguistically, I am half-past in love. Nobody else, save Antonio Banderas, can speak in a more soothing manner than an Eastern European physicist. It's true. It's basically completely intoxicating. It's a good thing that I haven't decided to backpack through various Eastern European countries in search of my soul mate, because that would probably end in, well, death probably. The more I think that Chechnya would be fun, the more delirious I know I've become. Ah, well.

3. General Mannerisms
I'd like to start out this section with an example from today's Quantum Physics lecture. Below is an actual quote from my quantum physics professor, whom I am basically in love with. Disclaimer: Please imagine the following statement being spoken in a Hungarian accent:

"The MSU Football team has not done this well in 44 years, since 1966. This was a very good year, because it is the year that I was born. Oops! Did I just give away my age? Oh well. I didn't know about America then, and I didn't know about football, because I was just pooping in my pants...or my diaper!"

...just digest that for a while.

To this, I nearly responded "Will you marry me?" However, I think that I was too blown away by the sheer brilliance of somebody who legitimately does not give a toss what people think about him, so I just reminded myself in today's notes that I am basically in love, and that is all. Who talks about being an infant and being able to fill up a diaper? Only a person who is genuinely hilarious. I've noticed a trend among these men; they are usually very large-and-in-charge and extremely confident, which I LOVE. And, hey, this professor is only 24 years older than I am. I was talking with my dear friend Caitlin, who shares my sentiments (to an extent, at least), and she brought up the point that far in the distant past, any age plus or minus 24 was basically the same thing. So, things that were acceptable back in the day are of course still acceptable in 2010, right? Right?

Now, it's time to get serious. Nobody is allowed to be alarmed by this post. Because in all honesty, I will never be "that girl" in awkward relationships with professors. At least, not with these guys. I just enjoy the atmosphere of these lectures, for the most part, and would rather have it that way than hating every minute of it while sitting on that cold ceramic seat, suffering through slide after slide and single-mindedly wanting to gouge my eyes out with my spiral notebook. This is not so, at least, not in PHY471. So, there you have it. A thoughtful reflection of my love for the physics department, or at least, the faculty of the physics department. It isn't why I'm a physics major, but it contributes to my enjoyment. It's not why I go to class or stay in the program, but it does put a smile on my face.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tube Socks and Legitimate Truths

When I'm at the university, I take my life in chunks. Week-long chunks. This week, evidently, I've been exploring the many different ways that a woman can be absolutely pathetic. It's been fun.

Whether it's been failing exams (and hopefully this won't be repeated tomorrow...), manic depressive behavior, irritability, slouching, eye-rolls, stress on a homework-free week, loud discussions, being completely allergic to bullshit (excuse me), or any other kind of stupid stupids, it's been QUITE a notable week. At least, for the record, I got sushi out of the deal, as well as a cousin day and a high school girls' volleyball game. But this post is about being pathetic, not eating sushi.

How is it that a girl can go almost four months, being set on fire, being finally free, being finally feeling like a post-anxiety hunk of leftover lunch meat? See, I thought, in my post-depression, that genuinely being okay meant that school would be genuinely okay. I should have taken the hint before I even moved in. Fake dis-enrollment (although it was real enough...), fake firing, fake re-hiring, and a very legitimate failure on a seemingly simple quantum physics exam. Now, I realize, since I've been trying to see things for the way they really are, or rather, for the way that they are invisibly, that this is all probably happening as some sort of test or psychological and spiritual battle. Somebody downstairs is probably pretty upset that I decided not to prostitute myself out to his minions anymore. So, since he knows that he can't have his way with me, he's been slowly chipping away at me using a very subtle pick-ax. How far will she go? How many tears can I squeeze out of this situation, even though she knows that life could be (and has been) so much worse?

It's pathetic.

The thing is, although I've tasted the honey of spiritual freedom, I let him chip a little. Because I realize that I am strong enough not to fall back into the spiral staircase of despair that I used to live on. Here's how I know for sure; here's the big difference: I know that I am okay. I know that I am okay now. Expecting to live in an independent bliss is ridiculous. Not letting yourself have a bad day is silly, because it's usually out of your hands in the first place. I am doing very well. I may be a little pathetic this week, but I'll grow out of it. It's just a season. I have confidence in the fact that on July 6th, 2010, I got better...regardless.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Thirteen Weeks. Twenty Years.

I definitely know what it is to be loved. More accurately, there is nothing like Facebook to make a gal feel special on her twentieth birthday. Nearly 200 people. Nearly 200 people wished me well today, and the only thing better than that would be to actually see all of those 200 people today. I wish I could take all 200 of you out for coffee, as I generally wish on people that I want to spend time with, but the reality is that some of you are very far away, and on the other hand, some of you are instead taking me out this week. I can deal with that too. :]

I promised a post about being the Elle Woods of the physics department, and I think that it ties in to today. A couple of weeks ago, I was out with
a friend and this subject came up. I believe that the conversation went along the lines of using my womanhood to conquer the male-dominated and difficult coursework that I love so much, and that perhaps I should get a small dog to carry around in my plaid handbag, nestled in between my Quantum Mechanics textbook and Linear Algebra notes. Of course, I'm not serious, but to be a real Elle Woods, I have to pass the Elle Woods Test.

Elle Woods Trait #1: Semi-perfect Body

Let's face it. Elle Woods, while falling below-average
where height is concerned, is above-average in skin complexion and overall shape. Have you seen anybody rock business-wear so well? Have you ever seen a skin tone that works so well with highlighter pink? Have you ever seen anybody look so put-together in sequins? I certainly have not. Elle Woods is second to none when it comes to professional and creative fashion sense and overall stature.

Now, I have been, for the past 13 weeks or so, attempting to grasp a bit of my femininity. My wardrobe, once replete with graphic tees and fishnets, is evolving into something a bit more class-act. I will admit that. I still love a good graphic tee and a solid pair of fishnets, but only if I can marry it with a killer necklace and dominatrix boots, and some really good eye shadow. There you go. But as for the body? Yikes, let's not even go there. I'm sure my gals have been there before, too. It doesn't seem to matter how many kilometers I swim or how many miles I run, I see "more of jell-o than of Gibraltar" when I look into the mirror. However, I do live on the fourth floor of Shaw Hall, meaning that I bounce up a few flights of stairs every time I want to come back to my room. So, I have illustrated for the reader's amusement my current thigh paired with the projected prediction of what my thighs will probably look like at the end of the semester:

Clearly, there is work to be done. I think that I am quite capable.

Elle Woods Trait #2: Quick-Witted Brains

Not only is Elle Woods a sight for sore eyes, but she is a relief from the old blonde woman stereotype. It's impossible to go from a fashion major to a law student to a successful lawyer to a woman working to pass a bill in Washington DC itself without some sort of natural talent. Seriously, give me a person with passion and all I can see is a mouth that runs and eyebrows that dance around on his or her face, and a lot of fist-pounding and cold-sweating, but give me a person with passion, drive and talent and I see potential. Not only potential, but I see promise. Elle didn't just speak of what she wanted. She acted upon what she saw that needed to be changed, because she had the brain for it. This is the person that I should be.

In the physics world, it isn't so difficult to silently float by. A lot of students do that. Maybe it's because we really don't have much to say about infinite square wells since the mechanics of those things are to be accepted before they are to be understood or even challenged. Maybe it's because physics sometimes tells us 'no' too much. Maybe it's because we're afraid of sounding incompetent. Maybe it's because we're afraid of hearing our own voices.

However, I am not afraid of my voice. I am not, but I am afraid of whether or not other people want to hear it. To learn to use my intellect and apply it and challenge myself...these are all things that are developing over my coursework. I'm getting better. I can feel that I am becoming a real physicist. I know that I have the brain to do well and understand. Confidence is not the issue, when I'm simply thinking about myself and how I view me. It becomes more of an issue when I think of how others might view me, of what reputation I already have, and how it might change or become conflicted. It is time that I sorted out what I think and feel, and if people do not agree, it isn't the end of the world. Not everyone agreed with Elle Woods, but she agreed to believe in what she knew to be right.

Elle Woods Trait #3: Loyal Social Circle

Three things: Bruiser, Emmett and Paulette, and Delta Nu. Elle's best canine friend, fiancée and best gal friend, and sisterhood. Ok, here's where I'm going to lose some of you. Here's what you're probably thinking: "Becca, you're not engaged. You said you never would be, and you're definitely NOT in a sorority. What the deuce?" Well, here's what I'm thinking. Elle's exploits as budding lawyer and political bombshell would not have even happened if it were not for Bruiser, Emmett, Paulette, or Delta Nu. Her sorority sisters supported her through her LSAT days, Emmett gave her invaluable advice on her first day at Harvard, and Paulette and Bruiser gave her the chances to fight for the things that she loved.

On the Becca side of things, my exploits as a budding physicist and overall bombshell would not have happened had it not been for my family, my friends, and my colleagues. I have never been truly lonely. I have never been truly in need. This is not to say that my life is free of difficulty, because it most certainly is not and neither was Elle's. My life is simply different, ridiculous, extraordinary at times, but I have never been without the things that I need and I firmly believe that this is because of the people that surround me. My family is helping support my college tuition, which is a wonderful thing because I certainly do not have $100,000 laying around somewhere to pay for my Bachelor's, and the Bachelor's is just the beginning of a long road to PhD. They not only support me financially but they support the woman that I am as well. My family and friends support my beliefs, my standards, my decisions, my intelligence...they are the backbone to my life. I would have no reason to believe in these crazy things that I am studying if it were not for them. I would have no reason to do much of anything. My colleagues believe in me as I strut through my academic and personal lives, and I believe that my success is based largely on that support system.

So, there you go. Three easy Elle Woods Traits. Clearly, the character and I are from two completely different worlds, but hey. I don't think we're so completely different after all. At the end of the day, she came home to her friends and family who love her. So do I, especially on this wonderful birthday. At the end of the day, she knew that she had lived to the best of her intelligence, and she did it in heels. I do this too, on occasion regarding the heels part. I have no intention of using the gender card to buy my way into anything. I won't succeed because I am a woman and they need women, I will succeed because I am a passionate and talented woman and they need more women like me.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Dip

A light-hearted post about being the Elle Woods of the physics department is on its way, but tonight is a too-much-coffee kind of night and this week is a heavy-hearted kind of week.

The kinds of unprofessional and unexplainable dramatics that make people fall apart quickly have been making entrances and exits.

In all forms.

But I was reminded once again that I have the greatest cousins in the entire world, and that they look out for me even when they don't even know that they need to. It's 1AM on Thursday morning, and this week is dripping with every low-viscosity shade of ridiculous. I can't even verbalize this. I can't. I could try, but it would just end up being some sort of incoherent rant.

A rant about how much humanity disappoints me. How even the heroes fall. How entitlement should never be something just flippantly acquired. How conflicted things have become again. How to distinguish between normal and demonic. How to know how much your best friend loves you.

But ultimately, how to simply walk through life, still a little afraid, still a bit without a voice.

I have a voice. Wish I could use it right now. Later.


Thursday, September 23, 2010


It is amazing to me that I can do most of the things that I need to do on certain days and have them finished before 10PM. Amazing. Clearly, just another clue that this semester is nothing like the previous one.

I goofed off in Ohio all weekend, starting in Ashland to visit Nikki and ending up as far south as Columbus, where I probably ran a couple of red lights while straining to re-visit the intersection of High and State where the State House and the Ohio Theatre are planted. I didn't even get out of the car in C-bus, mostly because I didn't want to deal with parking, but at any rate I simply wished to reminisce. Check check check.

But even before I made it to Ashland, and after trying to figure out the toll system on the Ohio Turnpike while laughing hysterically at my jar-lid of quarters and my own ignorance of tollways, I made friends with the tollbooth lady and promised to come back and see her someday. Then it was nearly sunset, and as I navigated the winding backroads of the Ohio countryside, I could barely keep my eyes on the road. Because Ohio is ripening in to autumn a few weeks before Michigan, and at sunset, everything was absolutely on fire. The trees and fields were so radiant that it was unbelievable, and I can't tell you how much this alone fed my soul. Sounds awfully poetic and simple, but I've realized lately that I am noticing the little things more, and concurrently realizing that those little things mean more to me.

Back at Ohio Wesleyan, I existed as an incognito, undercover Bishop for a while as Pam and I did homework at the library. I ate at Smith and slept in an old frat house on a bean bag. It was brilliant. Monday came and I finally experienced OWU with students and it was so alive that I almost didn't recognize it. I never thought I'd be so happy to be back there, and although autumn was coming, it was surprisingly warm there. I almost entertained the thought of just staying, because I'm very well acquainted with the quantum physics professor and all the rest down in the physics dungeon, but I bleed Spartan green too much.

While killing time in greater Columbus on Monday, I wandered around Polaris for a couple of hours and decided that Saks Fifth Avenue is and forever will be absolutely out of my price range. Also: I will always love Williams&Sonoma, though paying $36 for a muffin tin goes against my personal moral and frugal code. Either way, I thought about the fact that my 20th birthday is in a couple of weeks, but I feel as if I'm really turning 30 because of how all of the home furnishing and cookware stores have such a magnetic pull toward me.

Seriously. I live in a cube that is just big enough for me, but I can't wait until I have a home to decorate. There will be cupcakes in the kitchen and candles absolutely everywhere. It will be the joyful little suburbia that, actually, I've never really wanted before. But here's the thing: my entire life changed eleven weeks ago. My whole life changed. I love what I'm doing with a passion that was hard to find before. Even my seven year battle with the institution of marriage has begun to dissolve a bit. And I am absolutely fine with that. Absolutely.

I will never forget how depression felt, but I will never feel that way again. Instead, I think that I will live my life to the best of my ability. To the best of my intelligence. To the best of my radiance. To the best of my energy. To the best.

That will be all for today, because to turn a phrase, nuclear physics waits for no woman. Until next time, then.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Tens and Twos

Another Monday morning at Michigan State brought another 9:10 lecture for Linear Algebra. In addition to learning about matrices and solving linear systems of equations using them, and all of the rules and regulations and ifs and thens, as well as organizing my mental checklist items, I had other things on my mind too.

I know a grand total of one person in my lecture. I've mentioned offhand things to one or two others, but nothing otherwise. So today, during brief and momentary lulls in the lecture, I surveyed my peers. There is a girl with braids that wrap around her head like Heidi. There is a curly-haired brunette that loves to speak up. There is a former GM employee who wants to try his hand at teaching. The gal in front of me and the guy behind me are two feet away from me in each of their respective directions; so close that I could reach out and pat them on the shoulder if I wanted...but they seem so unattainable.

What is it about human contact that makes it necessary for us to be introduced into somebody's life before feeling comfortable around them? Why is it so difficult to live parallel to another life without feeling some kind of tension or competition or inferiority or superiority? That classroom is an equivalent plane, but without introduction, it looks like a mountain range to me.

I know that it's just the morning-shyness, or the upper-level-math-course attitude, or the fact that it really isn't necessary to talk to anyone. So we don't. But for a moment this morning I wished that I could take everyone in that lecture out for coffee. I am convinced that they would have marvelous stories to tell and have weaved their individual lives in a way that nobody else could copy or even mimic. It's time to value other human beings, right from the get-go.

After the lecture, I realized a couple of things. Most importantly, that I haven't cried in ten weeks to this day. At least, not that I can remember. But a few minutes ago I shed a grand total of two tears, upon a series of stupid, fickle, frustrating events. These were not sorrowful tears, merely disappointed tears; and here's why:

Tear #1: I missed quite an important deadline for my boss (who happens to be a family friend) and as a result of my lack of diligence, I single-handedly screwed over an entire algebra lecture. Who does that? But it happens. They will survive, and I will survive. I simply missed it. And when I went to apologize and deliver the late quizzes, my boss didn't yell or act flustered. She is all business; she simply states facts and makes requests with little to no emotion involved (although I am positive that she is a phenomenal wife and mother, and far from an apathetic and gray human being). So as I left her office, as frustrated water started to accumulate in my eyes, I wondered why she had been so nice. I kept thinking: "She didn't yell, I would've yelled, I would've yelled." But here's the thing--I really wouldn't have yelled. Because it happens. It's a silly thing to get worked-up about, and she knows that. I do too. I didn't yell at the girl who backed into my car a couple of weeks ago, because she was kind and honest and didn't mean to. I also am kind and honest, and I also didn't mean to. So we move on.

Tear #2: This droplet was split between two things. I walked back into my room to find one of my picture frames on the floor and broken. If you happen to know anything about my love for black and white 8x10s, this might make a little more sense to you. It's just annoying, and given the previous circumstances, it just seemed like something that just makes your insides scream "Really?!?" It constitutes half of a tear right there. But the second half is just an exaggeration of my mental state. Basically just a little pity-party. Mainly about the fact that I haven't really spoken to my best friend in a couple of months, and how we used to talk all the time. I miss that. Immensely. Painfully. Probably too much, but apparently just enough for half of a tear.

So, there you have it. A tumultuous morning. Hopefully noon brings a bit more positive energy, and I think it will--the sun is already spewing it enough to make East Lansing 66 degrees. It's a lovely temperature, and will be a lovely day.


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Prying Open

Welcome to September. It's ridiculously windy up here, anywhere between four and six stories high, in my half-glass cube. Reminds me a bit of my post-tornado fright, especially sitting in a living room during a blustery Irish winter some years ago.

Anyway, school is back in nearly-full swing. I've finally fixed my schedule after dis-enrollment, which is a lovely thing in and of itself. Lately I've just been filling up and filling out my time in hopes of having a semester that in no way resembles spring of this same year. Only because I am a person that in no way resembles the person I was during spring of this same year.

On that subject, as of today another individual has had the opportunity to experience the story of what really happened this summer. Not the fact that I had a phenomenal job, met extraordinary people, jumped sand dunes, crashed into waves, or discovered a beautiful Depression-era theatre--although the Depression has a great deal to do with my real story.

As it turns out, I've been much more open with people than I've ever been. Just because I'm completely shame-free. Every time I've told somebody what really happened, I began with my usual disclaimer of "okay, I know this is completely weird but..." or "this is a crazy story, but it's absolutely real, I promise". After that, it becomes the choice of the listener as to whether or not the story is believed. Every time, though, the story has been received with open ears, hearts, minds, and arms. Because it's incredible. It's unexplainable. Because these are people that I love and trust; people who love and trust me back. In the words of todays recipient: it's so "moving".

People ask me, as a scientist, how I feel about something that I can't find any logical explanation for. I tell them that I don't care. I don't care that I can't crunch the numbers or find equations to make this fit. I don't care that it doesn't make sense. It is finally something that sets me free and allows me to breathe, move, dance, smile, share without being chained to a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea. It worked and it's real and it doesn't make sense, but I don't care about that. This scientist can't make an equation this time, just a reality.

So, it would be nine weeks today. It doesn't make any sense. That's why it's a miracle.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Eight Week Win

I figured I'd get out of August with a bang, as well as herald the 8th week of my non-depression. So, currently, I'm living in Shaw Hall at MSU in a not-too-shabby little room. It's just the right size for me and my guitar, and half of my wall space is taken up by windows facing north and west. Bring on the sunset, baby, and the cross-breeze...because it's hot as Hades in East Lansing.

My dad sent me a quote today over email (from Albert Einstein, whom he referred to as one of my 'brethren'-another reason why my dad is a keeper) and it reads:

"If A equals success, then the formula is: A = X+Y+Z, where X
is work, Y is play, and Z is keep your mouth shut."
-- Albert Einstein

He said that he thought it was cute, if not true. Personally, no offense to the great AE, I wouldn't be half as successful as I am right now if I had been keeping my mouth shut. Now, he probably meant to keep your mouth shut in situations where it would be most prudent to do so, such as during a lecture, while arguing with an idiot, while feeling insubordinate and full of angst, while concentrating on solving the Schroedinger equation, or perhaps while traveling at nearly the speed of light. In my life, though, I certainly wouldn't be published in the field of nuclear physics yet and most definitely would not have had my summer job in stellar astrophysics research if I had been shy and kept my mouth shut. Because I believe that my mouth has a lot to offer, and it's proven itself quite able in the past semester or so, considering all of the things that had been trying to pull me down.

Success can be defined many different ways. Mine is defined by opening my mouth at the right time. So, thanks for the quote, Einstein (and dad), I'll make sure to work as hard as I can, play as often as I have time, and keep my mouth shut unless opening it will make my life that much more enriched. Sound advice, for somebody who can think as abstractly as Einstein; and for my mind as well, which has always been a little bit different.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

We'll Get There

Typical week in the life, it hasn't been. Instead, it's been a wonderful dose of holiday and saturated fat, in the best possible way, of course.

I'm finding it interesting, on the dawn of my 51st day depression-free, that I have never been so enthused about investing in the lives of people as I am now, or at least, as I have been this week and last. For instance...

Monday: A post traffic-jam lunch out with an old friend turned into a pilgrimage through each and every book, home furnishing, and cookware shop that Eastwood has to offer. And during this journey, conversation thickened with the realization that we both share the same opinion regarding my hometown. Now, this doesn't seem like such a big deal, but when you try to tell the average Williamston family that there might, just might, be something invisibly toxic about their town, well. Let's just say, it doesn't go very far. It was a Monday well spent indeed.

Now, that was just Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday both turned out to be replete with conversation and exploration...with trading marbles and painting clubhouses and legos and hot soup and creative card-making. And after all of that, I sat down with three particularly wonderful friends, on separate occasions, on one single glorious day; and all three of them fed into me as I fed into them. Individually, we weaved our colors into each other's, and things got brighter inside of almost-fallen tears. And then, we slept.

So, although I woke to find an unfortunate scratch and painted dent on the side of my car from a kind and honest stranger, I was left with something else. Something a little better, I daresay. I think, after a day or so of letting it all sink in, that I was left on more solid ground than even the night before. That because of these individuals and more, I am surrounded by understanding nods, squeeze-the-life-out-of-me embraces, listening ears, intelligent minds, and brave souls. Genuinely remarkable human beings. Do you understand? This is something to value, and I do! I do. Most ardently.

The rest of the day has been spent doing one thing or another, mostly packing up my mess of a place to sleep at my parents' house. I've to go and finish that now, or at least continue. Until next time, then.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Back to Basics

So, blogosphere, I just watched Julie&Julia for the first time. For those of you who have seen the film or read the book, you understand why I am currently feeling reinvigorated and re-inspired to put finger to keyboard. Julie's journey through cyberspace and reality reminded me of my own journey, mostly the journey that I've taken through cyberspace. Reality remains up and coming, and those are stories for another day.

For now, cyberspace.

I remember my first LiveJournal, which ended abruptly when I decided that I needed something less full of angst and different colored fonts. My life was taking me slowly through adolescence, and I didn't want to sound like a child to the rest of the digital world. So, I took up this blog. March of 2005, and I was fourteen. Five years. Can you believe it?

To my pleasant surprise, I ended up meeting several people from around the globe. We followed each other's lives, groping along as if we were climbing a staircase in the dark; we couldn't see one another but we felt the days going by in the shoes of a wireless friend. There were the spunky and wildly fun Dutch twins Lena and Dina, strong and capable activist Nettie, friendly and supportive Maurice, warm and wonderful Melissa, and several others salted and peppered here and there throughout my typed-up existence.

To this day, over five years later, I still am in communication with some of these people. In fact, I had the pleasure of driving down to Kentucky this summer to visit Melissa's inviting home and spend an absolutely lovely day with her. Sometimes the greatest friendships come from unlikely places, I've found.

Now, somewhere along the line, the blogging fad fizzled out and so did these cross-comment-induced friendships. I used to write one post, sometimes two posts, every day and could expect at least one comment within the hour or so. I do miss it, but maybe if a blogger can get one or two good friends from the experience, it was well worth it. I think so.

So, maybe my blog will never be as big as Julie's, certainly it won't! I do, however, feel that this experience has and is allowing for readers, known or unknown, to experience a layer of me that is usually unseen. I value that. It's one of those things that make me smile. So this is why I continue to write, however infrequently or frequently, and I will for as long as my fingers will move quickly enough.

Until next time, my traditional, nonsensical sign-off:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Like the 1940's...Without WWII.

I'll explain in a moment.

First of all, I've discovered a great many things about myself (and others) in the past couple of weeks. In list form, I guess my realizations would look something like this:

1. I eat so much food. No shame there. This woman cannot live on sugar snap peas alone.
2. I like to run barefoot, but this is a bad idea in 75 degree weather on gravelly blacktop for a four mile loop.
3. Allowing people to start sinking into me deeper than my first few layers is not entirely a bad idea.
4. I am a wide-open-spaces kind of gal.
5. The more physical miles I put behind me, the more grown-up I feel. So road trips are a must.
6. There's more to life than a PhD, but those are still three letters at the top of my list.
7. Cincinnati looks like a platinum version of the Emerald City at night.
8. I have way more spiritual authority than I thought.
9. The amount of unsurpassed love and adoration that my professor has for his wife is indescribably encouraging.
10. I still love hugs and playing with Casey's hair more than most things.
11. Leaving Ohio is going to break my heart. Just a little.
12. Angela told me that I was worth more than this. It's absurd and wonderful how much she loves me, but I am beginning to believe her and I love her back more than the amount that is probably healthy.

And to segue from #12, in other news:

13. I don't have depression anymore. Rather, depression hasn't got me anymore. Because apparently I am worth more than the occasional panic attack and perpetual paranoia. It's time to grow out of mental health issues, for now, for good. At least this one. At least to live a life that more closely resembles the life that God has wanted for me. Something about hope and a future from Jeremiah. Living in post-depression isn't bliss, but it is real life. Finally.

So it's like I said, post-depression. Like the 1940's...without WWII.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Empty, Empty

I woke up at 6:30. That is to say, 6:30 in the evening; I worked last night, and will work again tonight, at a place that I have grown to dearly love.

So, if I am so blissfully happy with my job and everything about living down here, what explains the sinking feeling? How is it that I can lay on a blanket reading Dandelion Wine underneath a cloudless sky, watching the sun sink and the moon appear, leaves still and green, ants climbing stalks of grass...and still feel like only a shell of a human?

Perhaps this: life stopped, recently. Life stopped and we changed the locks.

What am I afraid of? People. People hurting, people leaving, people fading. People giving up, people growing up. People saying things that they don't mean, people meaning things that they don't say.

People haven't made this easy on me. Here's how it will be: I will leave at some point, to finish what I am starting, to finish my degree, to finish on paper. They tell me that this will be the most focused time of my life, that I will have little left to put toward anything else. For somebody with as many layers and complex systems as I have, this is worrisome. Only because of people. I don't necessarily mind what will happen to me, or how I will have to strain and work to succeed. I just don't want to come back home and find that everybody else has moved so far on that they have forgotten. Forgotten why we existed in the first place. Forgotten why we met. Forgotten why we matter.

If I say that I love you, it means that I don't want to lose you. Simple as that. So when it seems like I have given up on you, I haven't. Don't you dare give up on me.

And now, on my own island of summertime bliss, something seems wrong. I realized that everything that matters cannot be seen. I could turn absolutely inside-out and feel the same; bones and muscle tissue exposed, things pumping and flowing and moving, twisting. I still wouldn't see how it works, what is really going on. I can't see my cells divide, I can't see the regulation of my systems, I can't see my thoughts. Everything would be the same. Everything that really matters is invisible, no matter how far you is either too small or too far away.

So for now, I'll just hold on to people. Because, as far as I can tell, I can't see people for who they really are, for how they really matter...but I can feel them. This is why I won't ever let go of you, whoever you are, so please don't let go of me.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Observations at the Observatory

I work astronomy hours now, or have been for the past two nights. Midnight to six. No more normal-people-hours for now, at least as long as it's clear out.

But it's lovely. As far into sadness as I go sometimes, it's nice to be in the middle of the forest with stars. Just stars.

I haven't anything substantial to say at the moment. It's 4:30. I've been thinking as we wait for astronomical twilight.

I've decided that it's time for me to have a child. A little girl. One last attempt at innocence. If and when that doesn't work out, I officially give up on humanity.

Of course, I'm not serious. It's a bit laughable to think that I have time or sanity to give birth pre-PhD. Or even post-PhD. Also there's the slight necessity of having some kind of sidekick to help me produce the kid. Biological details.

Actually, I think what I find intriguing is the thought of having somebody to protect, actually protect this time. Not over-protect. Just protect. To preserve some sort of innocence, to prevent some sort of inevitable destruction. It's silly to think that such a thing is possible, but why not? Why not be able to explore freely? Why not have curiosity without your cat being killed?

The Sombrero Galaxy is staring at me. So is Hiram Perkins. Also some Soviet-era Cold War memorabilia, and seemingly Soviet-era computers. Twenty four-ish minutes until astronomical twilight. I love this job, with or without my imaginary child.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Crazy Like Eloise

I am far too dizzy far too often.

Turns out, the semester is almost over. I have until next Wednesday at 2:45PM. That's terrifying. That's too good to be true. That's ridiculous because I pretty much haven't written anything at all this semester.


I move to Ohio in a couple of weeks for my summer Astrophysics research job. Not to say that I'm good at Astrophysics. Not to say that my tentative publications in Nuclear physics have anything to do with MY intellect. I'm not sure I have any intellect left. Whatever intellect I had probably got flung into the open, empty space in my room when I was convulsing. Not to say that I convulse. Much.

All of a sudden I am shy now and I don't want to speak in front of people anymore. Eyes shouldn't see me. Ears won't hear me for a while now. That's all very well.

But if you asked me what I learned this semester, I'd say this:

Every family has an expiration date.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Fashionably Late

For those of you who read and follow all of my jumbled thoughts typed out, I apologize for being absent for the past number of weeks. I admit it's halfway intentional, but I haven't any excuse other than that.

Except, maybe, that life as I knew it ended and a new one took its place. That things are different, a world of difference. That I'm slower but faster somehow, that I shake more and I swim more, that things went backward before they could go forward. But that's all.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thrown. Back.

I am floating right now. Floating in between blue lemonades and classical mechanics. Through relativity that I thought I could grasp better than I can. Between a forgotten license and a blizzard and wet, warm, mildewy socks and boots.

There are lots of very secret things in my head right now. Lots of very thought-provoking particles of light and darkness. I looked back for a second and was surprised by how quickly I reached for a ball of blankets and crammed it in between my ribs. I was thinking about silence and voices, and where I am versus where I thought I was, where I think I should be. Where I was. And what if, by some chance, I asked myself a question because somebody else asked me if I would come and join in her blissful choreography of blatant, public liberation-after-truth? Here's the truth; listen up. My feet wouldn't move for them. Why should they? Their feet never moved for me. Not much, anyway. And how do I know that she can even admit to herself that she's free? Is she free? Am I?

How charming, how beautiful pain is.

Silence masquerades as a giant leap in a healing process and meanwhile chokes the living daylights out of the innocent. I'll be as loud as I want to on any possible surface of any conceivable texture. I am, or, she is still silenced nevertheless. There are things that sounded awfully familiar and things that reminded me of Becca-minus-five. Wait...six? Six soon. Six is too long. Six is a flat road stretching through Oklahoma. Six is a root canal, times a million. And yet, I'll write it on any wall anywhere in very permanent ink. Becca. September. 2004.

Tiffany. November. 2008.

Veronica. June. 2007.

Rachael. Stephanie. Alycia. Emily. Angela. Nettie. Leann. A small child.

The whole world painted a sky-meets-ocean teal. The color of a drop-off or the eyes of someone radiant. I have a paintbrush and I'm probably not afraid to use it. Just to save us. A single shade of blue just to save us.

Not that we can't save ourselves. We just get a little tired sometimes, a little weary.

So we keep painting our worlds with our secrets. Shhhh.