river in iceland with a bridge over it and snow on the ground

Lying on the cold hard ground

I’m going through and rescuing some old drafts that got lost in the draft box, so hopefully for the next couple weeks I’ll be posting more frequently. Some of the details might be a bit out of date, though. Also, some of these posts might be a little bit silly and maybe not my best writing.

I like to lie on the ground. Almost all of the day almost all of my life, I would just rather be curled up in a ball. And I mean this in a positive way–I just really love lying down. I’m enjoying myself a lot when I am lying on the ground. Also, I really hate standing around (often talking) when you could be sitting–or even better just lying on the ground. I know eye contact is more important to a lot of people, so I guess that isn’t why people don’t have conversations lying on the ground all the time.

Maybe not everywhere I am, but a lot of places. Even if it is somewhere I am enjoying myself, I know that it would be more enjoyable if I could be lying on the ground. Except, there are reasons not to lie on the ground:

  1. A lot of time the ground is dirty or unsafe. Such as crossing the street.
  2. Sometimes I would get in the way of people
  3. It is not something you are supposed to do. For some reason, even sitting on the ground seems weird to some people.

So, I generally know I am not supposed to lie on the ground.

But when I get drunk, I care a lot less about this so I lie on the ground a lot.

And that is actually how I realized I always want to lie on the ground.

 

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Criss-Cross Applesauce

I’m going through and rescuing some old drafts that got lost in the draft box, so hopefully for the next couple weeks I’ll be posting more frequently. Some of the details might be a bit out of date, though.

I don’t sit still.


At least not as a general rule.

As a general rule, when I sit in chairs, I swing my feet. I kick things
(accidentally) and make unfortunately loud noises in class. Sitting
formally in a quiet room is a struggle, because if I am sitting properly,
feet on the ground, maybe ankles crossed, I have to spend so much focus on
being quiet and not distracting.

Which I don’t mind, really, because the tapping of feet and the clanging of
hitting chairs and the resulting table bouncing is an awful thing. I hate
when other people do it. It is distracting. It is painful. I understand
that there are situations I need to sit quietly.

But if I can sit on my feet, or criss-cross, with legs folded and wedged
into place, then I can sit quietly for hours (assuming I am also doing
something else, like typing or listening or reading or learning). Because
then my legs are comfortably wedged into place. I don’t have to worry about
forgetting that they are there, because they can’t go anywhere. It
generally requires conscious effort for me to take my feet out of
criss-cross. It is something I seldom do while I am paying attention to
something else.

But of course, not everywhere you can sit like this. Most of my clothes are
criss-cross appropriate… it is something I try to keep in mind when I buy
skirts and dresses (I’ve never really seen a pair of pants or shorts that
threaten flashing by sitting criss-cross, or at least not anything that
would fit my other clothes requirements.) Sure, I definitely have a few
skirts and dresses where I have to sit on top of my feet instead of
criss-cross, but I also usually wear shorts under those, so as long as it
isn’t too formal, I can usually get away with sitting criss cross.

The thing that is the real problem, though is desks. Those desks where the
desk and the chair are attached. Those can be difficult to sit criss cross
in. Those I generally have to settle for just sitting on one leg.

The other problem of course, is that sitting criss cross isn’t the formal
and appropriate way to sit at nice events. That isn’t how to sit at formal
dinners or at interviews.

And I have manners very thoroughly well ingrained, with the rules at least.

(I think my mom taught us something along the lines of “I know it is less
comfortable to sit with your feet down but manners don’t make sense they
are just a thing that everyone sticks to and then the other person knows
you are putting in extra effort because you respect them instead of just
being extra comfortable and easy).

P.S. I should write about manners and social expectations sometime.

P.P.S. I’m writing this while sitting very successfully quiet in a library
box working on prelim stuff. I am not the annoying library person. Well—I
am typing furiously, which I actually do get annoyed by other people doing
but that is a relatively quiet thing which I probably just need to get some
headphones to avoid.


For instance, from this P.P.S. I can tell that I wrote this over 4 years ago, since I took my prelims near the beginning of grad school.

Take a deep breath

I remember when I really learned how to handle my emotions. As in, the point when I was able to figure out how not to burst into tears over a stubbed toe. Before, I was prone to bursting into tears at these (relatively) small things.While I would burst into tears at minor injuries, I knew that I shouldn’t be upset. I knew it was a small injury and not a big thing. I knew that it would stop hurting soon. I just couldn’t stop myself from crumpling and crying. But then at some point, it just clicked. I was able to take a deep breath and walk it off. And after a few seconds, the stubbed toe or the skinned knee didn’t hurt any more and I was fine.

Part of the reason I remember this so well is because it definitely didn’t really develop until I was in college.

I still don’t really know why or how this change happened. I just know that all of a sudden, I was able to take that deep breath and pause for a second with a stubbed toe. And really, once you can do that, it makes it hurt so much less.

But before that, every time that someone told me to calm down, it didn’t work. When people told me to take a deep breath, to walk things off, it did not make any sense. I literally could not comprehend what people were saying or how it made any sense. I just didn’t have the tools in my brain to take a breath and make things stop hurting.

Some things just take time. Some things just happen late. Some things will probably never happen.

Quiet times

I found a post I forgot to hit publish on in my drafts, and I’ve noticed how much my life changed in a little over a year and a half, as I’ve gotten more settled into life. 

For the first time ever, my husband is out of town and I am not. Admittedly, as we have been married less than 4 months, it isn’t that surprising that it is only the first time. There are only so many business trips that he has to take in a year. Eventually, though, one was going to happen and there was going to be a break in the pace.

The routines were just getting built and settled. I like living with my husband. There are the prompts to make meals and eats. I get genuinely excited every time I see him. I like our Sunday nights where we sit on the couch and watch the Simpsons and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I fall asleep much better with someone else in the bed and it’s safer to wake up in the middle of the night and not be alone. I like the patterns of our lives. And I don’t like changes. Also, recently I’ve been watching a lot of nuclear apocalyptic television, so I’m (hopefully irrationally) worried that there will be some big disaster and we will be separated by thousands of miles and never see each other again.

Still, after the first night, it’s a good break. I come home and don’t say any words at all except for songs. I can play music out loud as loud as I want without thinking about who else is there. There’s no sport. No sports! It’s a nice quiet break.

I love my husband but I love the space. In the quiet space of all alone, I can expand and relax and fill up all the space I need to. When other people are around, I can’t. But when I have the house alone, just me and my non-judgemental dog, I can expand and relax and scatter around the house.

When there are other people around, I can’t fill up all the space I need. There’s always space taken up by the other person. Always some part of me that needs to focus on what the other person is doing and how they are doing it and what and where they are. Always adding up the math in my head. Even with people I know extremely well and feel completely safe around, it can be tiring.

I never realize how much time and thoughts it takes until I have a quiet break and realize how much less tired I am. It’s a nice quiet break.

It’s not sustainable, of course. The dishes are unwashed and the dog got taken out at 1:20am and I am not entirely certain if I remember all the steps to go to bed. Managing life on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis is so much harder. I was barely making it through and I was exhausted every day living on my own. And I love spending time with my husband and getting to come home to him and waking up next to him and getting to see him more than once a week.

I would worry more about trying to make space to be alone, but it’s accounting season soon, and the taxes will schedule in those hours for me.

Now we have been married almost 2 years. Plenty more business trips in the middle (we are just coming back from 3 weeks of seeing each other for a cumulative 48 hours). The best part though is that after almost 2 years of living together, somehow some switch has happened where almost all of the time, I can completely relax with him in the room. We’ve settled into even nicer routines and my brain has managed to accept (most of the time) that a night sitting on the couch reading separately is no more tiring than a night sitting on the couch reading alone (except when I’m not home alone I will guaranteed eat actual food for dinner, which my body appreciates. There’s some other differences too, but maybe I’ll write about them later.

Faces and being important

 

“Obviously it’s not important to you, else you’d have remembered it”…Uh yeah that’s not how it works.

http://andreashettle.tumblr.com/post/157544256183/obviously-its-not-important-to-you-else-youd
And I had thoughts that were longer than my normal length tumblr posts, so I thought I’d return to bloggy-land. I like tumblr for obtaining content, but not as much for creating it.

 

So, in undergrad, we did this weeklong service trip. We got to go do some manual labor, clean up some houses, play in the mountains. It was a group of maybe 20 people. We met a couple times, several weeks apart. Before every meeting, I would study their faces on facebook to try and match them. I’m almost positive I spent more time trying to learn their faces than anyone else in the group. I’ve learned, generally, that most people don’t study faces. I also did give my general face disclaimer–bad with faces, I don’t recognize my boyfriend when he shaves, etc.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Like seriously, the mountains were beautiful. And there were lots of trains, so I was pretty happy. Since I’m a fan of trains.

At the end of the week, people went around and said best and worst things about the weekend. One of the girls said the worst thing was that I didn’t care enough about them to learn their names. Other people seconded that. I’m pretty sure I spent more time trying to learn names than anyone else on the trip. But my brain does not like to learn faces.

Sometimes I forget my mother’s face. Often I forget my husband’s face. I know this is a regular problem that I face.

My grad school friends don’t really mind. When I met them for the first time, I mentioned it. I started grad school with my brand new (secret) autism semi-diagnosis and general weird-brain-awareness (although I have always known that I can’t recognize faces) and I would mention when I met them that I was extremely bad at recognizing faces. My grad school friends–science nerds–after 4 years of knowing them I can’t begin to tell you how much of nerds they are–would just excitedly ask “oh is that the face recognizing thing?” and then talk excitedly about prosopognasia. One person even asked me if I had brain scans (and what they looked like). Because brains are cool and differences in them are useful (in learning how they work). I like scientists.

*Darn. I was hoping it would embed visually. But it doesn’t seem to be doing that.

 

In the details and routines

Not everyone* is built for the story of adventures or super-mega-career-intensity told to us** that we should be doing (or maybe I’m spending too much time on the internet and not enough time around traditional old ladies who seem to tell people in stories and movies to settle down and this is a fake problem I’m creating for myself inside my head). Sometimes all we*** want is somewhere safe and familiar to base ourselves in. What is wrong with wanting to settle down? With wanting to put down roots and settle into comfortable routines of life? (Nothing. The answer is nothing.)
I was born too practical a person for reckless adventure. If I won a million dollars, even as a small child, my plan was to pay for my college education and then for my sisters. Now, I would add probably a house for myself and pay off my loans and my husband’s loans.**** I would never go vaguely off and adventuring. I’m not comfortable in new places (alone) or around new people. I like the familiar. I like knowing where my meals are going to come from next week and having all the ingredients and recipes for them prepared ahead of time. All these plans and routines make me HAPPY.
I’ve always been looking for reasonable solutions. There’s love in the details and negotiations of a slow and steady moving relationship. I have the letters saved from when my husband and I were dating and discussing if we wanted to take the next step (of kissing). It was slow and methodical and reasoned out. I can go back and look at them and while it first lets me know how young we both were, I can see the care and concern in each carefully typed letter I have folded into envelopes in the shoebox in my nightstand. There’s care and concern and thought put into these letters that have been outlines.
As we settle into routines of being married, it is safer and happier. The first week back was not as great, with jobs and schedules. There was a person in my place, where it had just been me and my dog before. And the dog listens to me (mostly) and doesn’t talk ever. I would come home from work to happy silence. I don’t like change, even when it’s ultimately good change.
But now as we have morning routines (more) figured out and are falling into patterns of life, it’s getting better and easier. Now that each moment of the day isn’t something new, there is time to think about the details of what is going on. Husbands will accommodate quirks that you can’t ask of roommates—I don’t like not knowing when people will be at my house. There’s love in the “at the bus stop” texts so that I have time to prepare. There’s love in the details when we count backwards to plan the timeline of a weekend day. Or in the weekly planning of meals where we trade each others dislikes to find meals we both will enjoy. Or in going through the Simpson’s episodes slowly, every few nights getting to one.

We are falling into patterns now and it’s comfortable and safe and good. Once you have a pattern and a base, then you can work towards something, because you are safe and can concentrate energy on doing things besides just surviving.

*aka me
**once again, maybe just me
***Pronouns are hard and I don’t like using first-person pronouns even when it is clearly appropriate.
****Also, now I know that a million dollars isn’t nearly as large of a sum of money as I thought, but I think I’d still be able to get a fair chunk of things out of the way. Or maybe the amount of money will increase in this hypothetical situation I am creating for myself.

Individual development plans

Every year we write Individual Development Plans in grad school. It’s part of being on NIH grants or something. Classified into career goals and specific goals and annual goals and all different categories.

The thing I need to work on the most is fear
the thing I WANT to work on the most is fear
I am afraid
like legitimately afraid of so so many things
walking and talking to myself to write down on a sticky note a question to ask
preparation still took me probably an hour for a 5 minute task

this is why i can’t use my time efficiently
and that will improve my career the most
by allowing me to communicate
network
reach out to other scientists
talk to my PI

(Of course I did not write that on my IDP. I wrote things about professional goals and improving my writing ability and my ability to communicate my research as well as my ability to develop a project and other such reasonable goals.)

I wrote this first part months ago when I was actually filling out my IDP but it never turned into a full post.

Because I can plan experiments decently well, over short and mid-term ranges of time. I had a thesis proposal relatively well thought out, if not written yet. I had preliminary data. I can edit my scientific writing into something which is very consistent with how an early graduate student should be writing (there’s struggles with transitions, which all my writing and presentations have, but enough copies and those can be added). The hard part–where you pick a project–was already painfully done over a horrible few weeks of crying long long long ago.

But now that my thesis project–or at least what was to be my thesis project–has been apparently already done–I have to restart.

Which also wasn’t planned
not part of my plan
But that’s science
And at least I found out now only a year into it instead of in two or three years when it’s published and I’m halfway through a thesis that’s already been done
but…
still…

Restart the awful awful part of finding and choosing a project from the infinite possibilities of things that can be done in zebrafish development. I’m still in the same lab, but I have to switch my focus to something almost completely new, so that not even my months of reading will be all that helpful in writing up my thesis proposal.

All new
completely new

and absolutely terrifying

try not to panic
or to spend all day writing scripts to talk to my PI so that by the time I get to one where I am able to ask for help, he isn’t in his office anymore

Literally
can’t
ask for help

because I don’t know how to ask for help

instead I spent all day trying to write a script down to ask for it and by the time it finished I missed him and writing the word panic down in different shapes (as you can see at the top of the page)

And my apartment has unopened envelopes piling by table and dishes piling on the stove and counter and my dog gets walks and that is about it in things get managed. My fridge has milk and cheese in it and that’s it.

This is a norman rockwell puzzle. It took our lab about 2 weeks of lunches to finish.There are small pieces everywhere of my life. They all turned into bits and pieces.

We’ve been doing puzzles in lab in the break room. Little pieces slightly different shades of blue to sort through and put back together. That’s the sort of thing I know how to do. That’s the sort of thing I know how to sort through and rearrange and fix. You have all the time you need to sort and organize the pieces by color and shape and slowly put them back.

But real life has time limits. And you can’t lie out all the pieces on the ground in order until they match up. The pieces of real life don’t sit and wait there until I can sort out where they go. The longer real-life pieces wait, the farther they fall out of place and the harder they are to put back together.

I know this is jumbled and messy and doesn’t really make sense. But lots of everything is messy and jumbled and doesn’t make sense and full of fluff and stuff and mess so that’s the state of being anyway.