Life as an Extreme Sport

Burning Tears in My Eyes

Anyone who’s seen me lately has probably seen my red, watery eyes and sniffling nose. They’ve probably thought it’s just allergies, but it’s not. The girl who never cries has been failing at holding back tears for going on weeks. And it’s not because I’m sad. It’s because I’m happy. I’m more than happy, I’m in awe.

I’m going to be graduating in the top 5% of my class in June, an achievement recognized by a lot of various honours and awards. I have been funded for a year straight in my research by the Gates Foundation, and I have been accepted to my dream graduate program. That I’m even making it to graduation has me in awe, the rest is icing.

Because for better or worse, my idea of myself has been formed around the only two long term relationships I have had, both of which ended with the man telling me that he didn’t believe I was ever going to make anything of myself. That I wouldn’t be able to achieve any worthwhile goals, that I would never be anything, anyone. That what I was doing was useless, and I would always fail. I shrugged it off as sour grapes from the first guy – after all, I was leaving him, finally breaking his hold on me. But the second one devestated me, and it’s been that tiny voice in the back of my head for the last two years. His voice, telling me that my choice of career and interests were part of the reason he was leaving me. The voice has been fading lately, and I expect that by June 09 it will be completely exorcised.

I am in awe that I have done what I have. The research, the conferences, the teaching – I’ve been going around thanking a few people in person the last few days, and each of them has said almost the exact same thing to me: that I have taken advantage of every opportunity to improve myself and expand upon my education. Every thanks has been met with a throwing it back upon me and what I’ve done, and I don’t shrug that off any more.

I am in awe of where I’m going. I’m not going to be doing…I don’t know. Something that locks me away in a tower somewhere. I’m going to be training to be in a position of influencing literal life and death decisions. That’s an awesome privilege, and power, to be facing.

As egotistic as it sounds, I see myself doing great things in my future. I see that I’m going to make a difference, and this isn’t something I saw even a few months ago. I see my potential, and I am not shrugging off and away or making excuses, I’m just looking at it, dead on, and it’s overwhelming to see.

So yes, if you see me, sniffly and watery red eyes, chances are I am caught in the beauty and the crispness of the moment, and am overwhelmed by the powerful feelings of love and gratitude towards those who’ve made this possible, who’ve supported me through my darkest hours and highest peaks. Chances are that my breathe is caught in my throat as I watch my future unfold in front of me, and chances are, chances are, I am finally, finally proud of what I have done, will do, and who I am.

Lend Your Lungs to Me

Eating is a strange thing for me, in that I rarely feel hunger, but when I do, I’m ravenous. (And this was prior to taking opioids, which have made the situation even worse.) One of the things that this leads to, aside from never eating, is eating badly. Hence, chunky me!

So this week, I’m trying to get into better eating habits, amongst other things. That means learning how to eat properly. I’m not terribly interested in dieting, for several reasons, but I don’t thinkk that eating properly need equate dieting. But my tummy is looking at the food in front of me (peaches, half a large muffin, a hardboiled egg, coffee) and says “well, can I have the coffee and skip the rest?” Sadly, the answer is no.

I spent a good chunk of yesterday virtually investigating Albany: asking questions on Albany-related LiveJournal communities, poking around newspapers and Craigslist. It looks like it’ll be some sort of combination of Eugene, Oregon and Reno, Nevada. I admit, that intrigues me; I do miss some aspects of Reno. Of course, most of those aspects are probably the ones not being translated back east, but… I also liked Eugene, so it’s promising. I am beginning to suspect that I’m capable of living in just about any environment, so long as I have an internet connection and some folks around who enjoy the same things I do.

We’re trying to figure out getting me back there to do a walkabout, an idea complicated by the fact that it will take me all day to get back there, and I’d like to go during the week so that I can sit in on a class and see the campus as a whole. That doesn’t sound terribly complicated, until you realize that I have class MWF, and I can’t miss Friday class, as that’s the day I teach. I wonder if I could leave on the 2nd and come back late the 4th or 5th? I guess I could technically do it the Monday after, as well. Er, although it occurs to me that I should check their schedule and see when spring break is.

Anyhow. Isn’t my life exciting?

While I managed eating and exercising yesterday, as well as morning writing, I failed pretty miserably at everything else. Well, unless you consider writing up a recap of Grey’s Anatomy for Seattle MetBlogs and doing research about Albany as accomplishing things. I need to crack down a bit on myself today. I should get at least a few pages of writing on my thesis done, watch an episode or two of Stargate, and write corresponding papers to them. Not to mention perhaps read a chapter or two of a few different books. (Again, I reiterate: the exciting life of an academic.) I’ll be the first to admit that I need discipline, though, so longterm this is a good hell to walk through.

I’m sitting at the table, looking out the window into a stand of trees. Occasionally a squirrell the size of a small dog wanders by one of the tree branches, and behind the green I can see peaks of overcast grey. It’s going to be a cold day. If I look to the right, I can see out the living room windows; my parents cherry tree is starting to bloom. So although I’ll probably miss the UW trees, at least I get to see some. If I’m lucky, they’ll fully bloom and fall while I’m here. My father is pacing in the kitchen; he’s on the phone with one of his relatives, talking about the homestead in Alaska. It sounds like they’re going to split the property and sell half, developing the other half before they sell it for more money. This makes me kind of sad; although I know the homestead has no real value now, other than being a very pretty place, it’s something my grandparents worked hard for, and it seems like a shame to sell it. Then again, I wasn’t the one who had to grow up in a one room log cabin on that property; perhaps if I had, I’d be more inclined to sell it.

Anyhow, that’s it for forced writing on waking today. I spared you the talk about my dreams and nightmares, for which you should be thankful.


I made a long and somewhat rambling post to a LiveJournal I keep (largely for commenting in friends posts), talking loosely about friends and moving. It’s still on my mind, not the least for which it being largely uncommented upon by the people who saw it. This is not surprising – what do you say to someone saying things like “we never see each other, so will moving 3000 miles away really change anything about our relationship?” But I do think it’s interesting how segmented my life has become. I have my academic friends, and then the non-academic friends. They rarely mix or mingle, when they do get thrown together, it’s awkward. (I’m already wincing at the idea of my graduation…) I see many of those academic friends several times a week, where I see the non-academic friends once a month if I’m very lucky. Some of the people I still communicate with frequently I haven’t actually seen, face to face, in several months.

It pulls at me. It’s hard; I have a lot of friends I love dearly, but who I can’t talk much about my education with. I’ve finally reached that point of specialization where I want the indepth conversation I simply can’t have with people who aren’t also studying or conversant in the topic. We can still talk about other things, but as school and my thesis continues to consume me, it becomes harder to focus on things that aren’t about the phenomenological implications of affect in medicine, or however it should be phrased today.

It’s a corny metaphor, but I feel like a butterfly in a crysallis. Stirring, moving, coming close to breaking out of my shell and flying away. In a lot of ways, I’m looking forward to living in a new city. It’ll be hard, sure. I’m not great at making friends, social small talk and the like, but I’ll be around people with similar academic interests (I am largely isolated in my interests at UW), and that idea alone really energizes me.

I was at the Beaverton Powells on Friday afternoon, and managed to lose my father in the store. After wandering for a bit (and picking up books I hadn’t been planning on buying), I opted to stand in one spot and wait for him to find me. The spot I chose was the ethics segment of the philosophy section, and I just stood there looking over the books (and yes, okay, grabbing one or two to buy). Dad found me after about five minutes, and the first thing I said to him was “can you imagine? In a few years, my name will be up here somewhere on the shelf…”

Can you imagine that? Sometime in the not so distant future, you’ll be able to go into a bookstore and buy something I wrote. Something meaningful that I wrote. Now granted, it’ll have to be a large bookstore carrying a large ethics section, or a university bookstore (unless I go the pop culture route with my dissertation, who knows), but it will be out there. I will be out there.