Oct. 3rd, 2009 10:23 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)
The New York Times has an article about anxiety which I found interesting. They talk about signs in childhood of later anxious behavior, the difference between an anxious persona (outward appearance) versus anima (inward feelings), and about degrees and coping. I've always been more anxious than I would prefer, although I don't find it to be debilitating. But I identified strongly with these paragraphs:

"In the modern world, the anxious temperament does offer certain benefits: caution, introspection, the capacity to work alone. These can be adaptive qualities. Kagan has observed that the high-reactives in his sample tend to avoid the traditional hazards of adolescence. Because they are more restrained than their wilder peers, he says, high-reactive kids are less likely to experiment with drugs, to get pregnant or to drive recklessly. They grow up to be the Felix Ungers of the world, he says, clearing a safe, neat path for the Oscar Madisons.

People with a high-reactive temperament — as long as it doesn’t show itself as a clinical disorder — are generally conscientious and almost obsessively well-prepared. Worriers are likely to be the most thorough workers and the most attentive friends. Someone who worries about being late will plan to get to places early. Someone anxious about giving a public lecture will work harder to prepare for it. Test-taking anxiety can lead to better studying; fear of traveling can lead to careful mapping of transit routes."

Getting places early, mapping carefully, staying on the straight and narrow... yeah, that's me. Though I'll also procrastinate on things that make me anxious, which isn't a great habit. And the worrying is not always productive. :P I do tend to have a lot of contingency plans, though.


Aug. 28th, 2009 02:53 pm
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
I passed my oral exam. :)

I spent yesterday practicing my talk more and looking up physics for questions I thought I might be asked. Of course, most of the extra stuff I researched I wasn't asked about, and I was asked about some things that I had no idea about. For example, a lot of questions about the shells on core-shell nanocrystals which I didn't expect to talk about so much, questions about varying transition rates, questions about how changing the trap population causes the electrostatic potential in the nanocrystal to change. I didn't answer every question perfectly, but I felt that I answered most of the questions quite well, and my slides seemed good and felt natural and clear to present. I often got a question which I could answer with "I'll be discussing that on the next slide", which made me seem well-organized. Two students from my group came, and told me that my talk was clear and well-done (they saw my much rougher practice talk Tuesday, poor things). The professors asked a lot of questions during my talk, but not so many that I couldn't maintain focus, and when I was talking about possible avenues for future research it felt a little like we were all brainstorming together, which was cool. They asked the students and me to leave for a few minutes while they discussed my work, then called me back in to tell me that I passed. Sweet, sweet stress relief.

Choosing two very smart professors who ask a lot of questions for my committee seemed smart at first, then crazy, but they weren't so bad. They asked questions but not in a mean way, and it's very gratifying to know that they think I'm doing good work. It wasn't as bad as I thought it might be.

And I'm done! For the last month I have been preparing for this, for the two months before that I was writing a paper. Finally I can get back to experimental work, which means soldering and welding next week. Hooray!


May. 5th, 2009 05:09 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)
I was recently reading Every Other Thursday, an excellent book about female scientists and their strategies for success. One concept from it which resonated with me is the idea that nothing is enjoyable if you don't have adequate time for it. I think that has been a major sticking point in my life the last few months; I never seem to have enough time for anything, so I'm distracted and anxious even while doing things I should be enjoying.

It's hard to strike that balance, though. I pride myself in being the sort of person who gets as much out of life and time as possible; I manage to do so many sports and activities by being rigorous about scheduling. But what is the point of managing time so closely if I don't enjoy the things I am doing?

Now that I am out from under some of my recent stresses and deadlines, it seems like a great time to re-evaluate how I organize everything. But as always, I'm loath to give things up, which makes it hard to find more time to relax. Actually, the first thing I've thought of is trying to be more meditative when I am going between two activities, trying to make the transition calming rather than harried. That's a start, at least.
clevermynnie: (wealthy young woman-about-town)
Next Sunday is the Providence Marathon.

Read more... )
clevermynnie: (I see beauty)
I am very nervous. In my stomach, in my hands. I have my stuff together and reserved a cab for the morning, and Ben is coming with me to stand around the starting area with me, then cheer when I start, cheer at the half-way point, cheer at the finish. I almost can't believe I am doing this. I'm so excited though, under the fear.

I'm not sure if this is helpful or not, but I've had a medley of "Eye of the Tiger" and the Rocky theme stuck in my head for hours now, after watching some of the montages with the Rocky movies with Steph just before she left this afternoon. It was brought on by this morning seeing a guy with a camcorder filming his son, dressed like Rocky, running through the Italian Market, and then criticizing him for doing it wrong. Haha.

I am guessing tomorrow will be a bit like getting married or getting into graduate school: something I have imagined so many times that when it actually happens it is surreal.

Well, here goes.
clevermynnie: (I see beauty)
I'm still sad about leaving, especially after my goodbye lunch yesterday. It's really depressing, and I'll miss my friends here so much. But I'm really excited about going back to New Mexico, because Daria will be driving my car back with me, and we're going to stop at the Grand Canyon for a day. I was there once when I was really small, but I haven't been since. Then I'm excited about Steph's wedding; I still need a dress, but I just haven't had time to get to DressBarn like Erin helpfully suggested. I'm also probably putting it off because I don't like dress-shopping.

Sam is coming to visit today, which I'm really excited about. But just as he's arriving, the weather turned bad; it got cold and a little rainy. And we have tickets to go to Alcatraz! Grrrr! I bought them in advance because it's normally so nice this time of year, and it has been really nice, and I want to go see Alcatraz before I move. But I'm thwarted again! I guess I'll always think of Alcatraz as I see it from my office, the balcony of Building 50, or the balcony of my old apartment. It's a feature in the Bay. But it would be nice to visit on a clear day. Maybe it'll miraculously clear up when we're there.

I also have a lot of stuff to buy for Europe. I need khaki cargo pants, brown nice-looking walking shoes, a money belt, and a purse-like bag that can hold my camera but is still pretty small and easy to hold on to (which, of course, will not hold my money or passport). Ben and I would like to each just have a backpack-worth of stuff, but we'll see how feasible that is. The Schedule is still in flux.

going away

Mar. 30th, 2006 12:00 am
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
I'm leaving tomorrow (today) at 4:00 AM for Michigan. I'll be at the Michigan visit weekend until Sunday, when I'll jet over to Penn to spend Monday looking around there. And on Tuesday I'll come back to Berkeley.

I'm really afraid... I have a hard time believing things are going so well. What if I don't like Penn? What if I don't like Philadelphia? What if somehow, things don't work out? I've been hopeful but fundamentally pessimistic for so long that it's hard to get out of, and the moments of clarity I can manage sort of consist of me, slackjawed, whispering "we did it!" and almost crying. Suddenly Berkeley is like a dream, like I'm already gone.

This is very exciting, but I always get a little sad at change. Even exciting, awesome, fabulous change that is the culmination of all my dreams. Heh, that really makes me sound silly. :)

Have a great weekend, guys.
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
I got an MRI Monday night but have still gotten no interpretation of it from my doctor. From an e-mail I sent my parents:

I called my doctor after the MRI last night to see if I needed to come
in, or if someone could just drop off the film for me, or what. They
said to come in and that he'd go over the report with me, and gave me
an appointment today. I finagled a ride there and went in with the
MRI film. The doctor then told me that the MRI place compiles a
report within 1-3 days, and he would call me and tell me what the
result of that was, and that's the thing that will really say whether
I have a tear or a strain. Then he said that the knee isn't his
specialty, and that I was about as qualified to look at the images as
he was, and then we went through them and he'd say things like "This
looks asymmetrical, that could be bad, or not, I dunno". So basically
there was no point in me going there, except that he ok'ed starting
very cautiously to use and stretch my injured knee.

Since then I've been using it a little. It can bear weight okay, but it hasn't got the full range of motion... I can bend it a little past 90 degrees, and I can nearly straighten it (though only when I'm 15 minutes into a hot bath). I came to work today and it's doing okay, though I didn't realize how hard it would be to walk from my house one block to the bus stop, or from my office to the cafeteria. I'm walking without crutches, a little unevenly. We'll see tomorrow whether or not I overdid it. I'm trying not to limp, but to walk slowly and correctly. It's sort of working. It's really nice to be out of my apartment, though.

As you might guess, I spent a lot of my convalescence reading, watching stuff, or playing WoW. I'm now halfway through Understanding Movies, which Ron lent me awhile back. It does a nice job of synthesizing storytelling and composition knowledge that I had from writing and photography and putting it in a film context, and it also is teaching me a lot. It really makes me want to watch more movies, too.

I obtained the miniseries that ends Farscape, and I watched it. I now proclaim that Farscape is the best sci-fi show I have ever seen. I really loved it, pretty much from beginning to end. There were episodes I didn't like as much, but no seasons I'd write off (which there were in other tv shows I've watched recently). A lot of it was just brilliant. I also got the first season of the new Doctor Who, from Ben, and watched it. It was really funny and enjoyable, although not fantastic stories or believability. But it was really fun to watch. This stuff makes me want to try Firefly or Battlestar Galactica and see if I like them. I've heard so many good things.

And yeah, I still love WoW and am glad I installed it before spending nearly two weeks at home not walking. It's a really fun way to pass an obscene amount of time. Those of you that play should tell me your characters and servers, so I can feel a sense of fellowship with you. :P


Dec. 12th, 2005 10:25 am
clevermynnie: (Default)
Another fun part of testing standby for the GRE is that you don't have a registration number, which makes it much harder to access your test scores. So I'm on hold with ETS, listening to really shitty renditions of music which is occasionally identifiable as Christmas music. It's very static-y and the volume keeps going up and down. I've been on hold for about half an hour, so I guess the problem is that they don't have enough canned music to sustain everyone else on hold.

There are so many things to dislike about ETS, from the surliness of their customer service representatives to the way they write their tests to the fact that they hold a monopoly over many tests which are necessary to pursue various levels of education, and have decided to take as much money from you as they can because of it. But what it mostly comes down to for me is that I want to go to graduate school so badly, and I'm really afraid of not getting in. I don't feel panicked, but I do feel increasingly anxious, like my guts are being pulled and twisted and trampled on. I want this to be over.


Oct. 5th, 2005 10:20 pm
clevermynnie: (wealthy young woman-about-town)
Today is my official four-year anniversary with Ben, which we'll be celebrating this weekend in Monterey. (I had to tell him at least that much so that he could get there.)

In a lot of ways our relationship hasn't changed much; we had a great time over the summer hanging out, cooking, going on hikes and picnics, watching movies, going to museums, eating well. It's great to feel that our communication and understanding of each other just keeps improving, and that makes the relationship even more satisfying to be in. I'm not a person who hides much, but I think it's especially obvious that I'm so happy with Ben, and I love and admire him so much. It's great to be a part of his life and have him in mine.

That said, I'm starting to feel like now we're getting to the tricky part... we've gotten through trials of long distance okay, ironed out a lot of things, but now our lives are getting complicated. My not getting into graduate school was really damaging to us, because I needed so much support after that and Ben felt like the person required to give most of it, and after a while there's only so much you can say. We both mismanaged things there, and the summer was a fortunate chance to talk through that and fix it. But there's the big one looming, of where we will go for graduate school. I obviously really want us to get in to the same school, one that's good for both of us, preferably a few so that we can be really happy, and preferably one where we could both get funding. I'm really worried about how things will actually turn out, though, especially since I don't think I'll have my pick of schools. And while we've done well with distance so far, neither of us really wants it while we're going for our Ph.D.s, and at this point we can only really get further apart, geographically, unless we get in somewhere together.

This is really scary. I don't mind not knowing what school I'll end up at, right now, but I would feel infinitely relieved if I knew I'd be with Ben. Time will tell (three of the most unhelpful words ever).

Sweets, we were so lucky to meet, lucky to be so compatible, lucky to avoid the big traps, lucky to find ways to be together some summers. And it wasn't just luck; we worked hard to be good to each other, to be the people we each wanted to be, and to support and enrich each other's lives. We worked hard to communicate and open up, even when it was uncomfortable, and look what the rewards have been. I'm so happy, and so proud of us.

But here's hoping we're lucky again.


Sep. 19th, 2005 09:51 pm
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
So, Ben has returned to southern California.

On Friday, we went to the SUPERB showing of Batman Begins per [ profile] juhi's recommendation. It was very cool, only three dollars, and really a very good movie. One of the best superhero movies I've seen, although the fight scenes were not very well done. On Saturday we went down to Foster City and Ben packed while I did his laundry, vacuumed the floor, and talked on the phone. Sunday we went to the Legion of Honor and had a good time looking at the building, admiring the Rodins and the period furniture, making fun of the silly paintings and bizarre clothing. We hiked down to the sea and picnicked, watching ships pass into the Bay under the Golden Gate bridge. And Sunday night we rented Goodfellas and had popcorn.

I'm kind of... processing. I miss Ben and I'm torn apart by some of the issues that have been coming up in our relationship. We had a good summer for strengthening our ties, being more honest with each other, and just having a good time, but all in all we're both worn out by the distance, and it's affecting the way our relationship is evolving, because it's hard to get close, so close that you feel you're part of the same person, to someone you only see every few weeks. There's a necessary separation, one that's stunting our growth. It's not anything like a breaking-up kind of issue, just a problem, the biggest one in our relationship right now. I just hope we get into the same grad school, and it's good for both of us, so we can move past this.

It's very important to see things clearly.
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
It's funny, the last week of the summer semester, I was unhappy. Freaking out about my class, my friends, feeling alone, and wondering if the entire next year would be like that. I said something like, 'I feel like I've done everything to get around the grad school thing, even waited for time to pass, but it's still there and nothing has changed'. Four months, I thought, and this is how far I got? It was like there was a me that had only just found out, in great shock and pain, who was walking everywhere behind me. Mostly I was aware of her peripherally, but if I turned away for too long, she'd tug at my sleeve and her touch was numbing, was blinding. I was starting to feel like I'd never get rid of her.

But then my final came and went, and I went home. I saw people I hadn't seen in a long time, and made it through the somewhat moving and somewhat awful visit to my grandparents, and spent a lot of time with my parents and a few close friends. And I was starting to feel better, to feel focused on the moment. I had felt for a long time that the only reason I was dealing with grad school was because I avoided thinking about it, but I had this moment in the car with Ben where I realized that even if I turned my entire mind to it, it seemed commonplace, something that had happened a long time ago. And then when I found out about the A and had that day of good things, can you imagine, good things happening to me... well, that helped a lot.

Being back in Berkeley is much easier. My job is still a bit frustrating, mainly because of hardware problems, and I still have another semester of quantum to go, but everything is brighter now that I got that one part of the task done. I talked to Rich Muller, my physics advisor who was so helpful in encouraging my thesis and talking to me about what to do next. He was very kind, again, and supportive, and happy about the A. I gave him a copy of my thesis and he insisted that I sign it for him. I also talked to Natalie, who is leaning more and more towards sending me to that IEEE conference in Puerto Rico in October, which would completely rock and would also mean a publication. And on Tuesday, I did a presentation for this small journal group I'm in, like 5 people, that was 40 minutes or so on CCD basics. It's not a huge deal, but I felt really good about it and how well I could explain it. It felt good to do, and good to get comments on afterwards.

My time is nicer too. It still feels busy, but I'm used to mornings of swimming, piano, and then lecture, and then home and to work. Ben comes up on the weekends and we have this thing now, of going somewhere (Lake Anza, Point Reyes, campus, Wildcat Canyon, etc.) and taking a hunk of cheese, a loaf of bread, a sausage, and some wine, and having a picnic. It's fantastic; I love it. I especially loved swimming in Lake Anza last weekend. I can really feel my love of swimming growing as I feed it, and it's turning into this new thing of wanting to swim in large bodies of water. I don't know how useful this is, though. :P

I have to admit that in terms of news, I've put up a shield. I get these times when I feel so connected to the world, to everything, that I'm either very happy and reveling in beauty, or unspeakably sad. I try to protect myself, at times, from what I feel is a case of my personal empathy drowning my own self in waves of compassion or tragedy. So while I feel a little bad writing this entry without mentioning Katrina, etc., I have to admit that I try not to think about it. I sympathize a lot with what [ profile] bookworm_myrtle said, about 9-11 killing you all at once, and then this. It feels as though tragedies increase, though probably I'm just becoming increasingly aware of them. And when they are too heavy for me, I try to embrace them and then move on, operate orthogonally so that they're part of the landscape, rather than a crushing burden.

I wonder if that makes sense.
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
My quantum final is in thirty minutes. My grade thus far is solid, if not quite as stellar as I wanted it to be. I feel very good about the material, but I also have the acute knowledge that it does not matter at all, to graduate schools, whether I know the material or not, just that I do well gradewise. I don't know that I've ever been so anxious about an exam, especially one I feel so solid on. But in two hours, when it's over, I'm going to really try to enjoy my vacation (some time in Mammoth, New Mexico, and the East Coast visiting my grandparents), and fall semester will be much more laid back.

Thank you to those of you who have supported me and suffered with me through this. I get the feeling sometimes that I'm not the same person I used to be, because my attitude now includes more frustration and anxiety than it ever used to. I have a hard time looking at things the same, because the stakes are so different. But I think it's more that all the parts of my personality that were really evident before all this graduate school bullshit happened, the parts with music and cooking and physics and happiness, are still there, and still do come out frequently. They're just more subdued, bullied into quiet by my pain, which is this stupid obnoxious thing that won't listen to any attempt I make to send it away. I do think it'll go away, though, and I keep working towards that, even when my apparent progress is minimal.

At least I feel good about quantum mechanics.


Jun. 20th, 2005 04:31 pm
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
I'm at the weird part of this year, where things start to get very different from how they've been before.

I'm having a very good time in SCAM. The workouts are well-written, and generally include some stroke work, some pulling and kicking, and some free. I can really feel the improvement, and they're also just enjoyable. Right now I'm leading the 1:40 lane (the lanes are organized by what time you can use as a base for repeating 100s freestyle) and hoping to move up to the 1:30 lane soon. I'm not colossally fast for the lane I'm in, but pretty soon I should be fast enough to hold my own in the 1:30 lane, and I think once I'm there I'll improve more rapidly. The walk to SCAM, which is half an hour and uphill, is starting to feel more routine, as is getting up at 6:15.

Work goes down to part-time starting this week. I'm a little nervous about work because I've only been promised a job through the end of the summer, and I really want it for longer. It's giving me too much anxiety, I think. Everything that I'm actually working on is going great.

Went to the first class for first-semester quantum today. This is going to be hard... not because of the material, but because of the hangups I have now. I have to forget that I've already taken this class. I have to forget what it cost me. I have to forget everything other than that I really have to know this material, both to ace the class and to do better on the physics GRE. And most important, I have to not get offended when someone's explaining the Bohr model to me, and I have to keep my jaw from dropping when someone asks if the changes in energy levels due to electron-proton mass differences are anything like the changes in energy levels due to the Zeeman effect.

The Zeeman effect? Come on, man. Gah.

On the plus side, Steph is coming to visit starting tonight, and Ben is all moved in to Foster City, and started his job today. I read this book that really made me smile, called Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh. It's always good to read a book and realize, ah, I needed this.


clevermynnie: (Default)

January 2017



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