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.