Jun. 7th, 2013 11:49 am
clevermynnie: (smile)
My improv show was amazing!

Read more... )


Dec. 25th, 2012 10:17 pm
clevermynnie: (smile)
I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas! I am, because I swam in the sea!

christmas day sea swim


Jun. 14th, 2012 08:53 am
clevermynnie: (smile)
I am no longer sore from the race on Saturday! And I submitted my first paper with my new group yesterday! And now I am at the airport with Ben heading to Budapest for a long weekend!

Life is good.


May. 27th, 2012 03:29 pm
clevermynnie: (smile)
The end of this week had a huge surprise: remember how I was waitlisted for a fellowship? Well, I had assumed the waitlist was a consolation prize, but no, it was a legitimate waitlist and I was notified on Friday that I got a fellowship!

Obviously, this was a big surprise because I had already resigned myself to NOT getting the fellowship. I was so ecstatic to find out that I was actually funded! What this fellowship means is, I will continue to do my current job with my great group and awesome boss, but my salary will be paid externally for two years. This gives me a lot of job security, which is great because we are enjoying Ireland and would prefer to stay for at least a couple years more, but it's also nice in that I can switch groups and keep the funding if I need to. That seems really unlikely though, given how much I am already enjoying my job.

It's also a nice thing to have on my resume, a funded postdoctoral fellowship! I have never applied for and won this amount of money before (unless you count getting into grad school, I suppose). I've gotten some travel grants and small prizes, but this is a lot cooler!

Ben and I celebrated by going out to lunch at Yamamori, and then having a great relaxing weekend of the type that have been scarce recently. I am really happy to have a more stable position here, and to be able to keep living and working in such a great place for another couple of years.
clevermynnie: (smile)
I had a bunch of grump-inducing things happen yesterday, and was kind of in a funk yesterday evening and this morning before work. I came in to work, and nothing very unusual happened: I took some electrical measurements which sort of worked, I scheduled some equipment time, I emailed with people in my group about science, my boss dropped in and we talked a bit, I had lunch with Ben, and I got my contract renewal paperwork so that I can update my immigration status. None of these things by themselves was incredible but here it is at the end of the day and I am in a good mood! I am excited about how work is going, and I have some nice things going on outside work.

It is so awesome to have a job that is a source of positive energy in my life. My undergrad research position was that way, but it was so long ago that I had forgotten how it felt. Man this is nice.


Mar. 22nd, 2012 11:11 am
clevermynnie: (smile)
My contract is being extended!

I started at the beginning of February with a three month contract, and I still won't know until sometime in April whether I received that postdoctoral fellowship or not. But today my boss told me that he's keen to keep me on and has funding for me through the end of the year, whether that fellowship comes through or not!

I'm really enjoying the project I'm on, and my timing has been great because I got to survey the literature to help out with a grant proposal, and then get trained on all the fabrication equipment to get a few final results for a paper. Now the idea is to get a lot of papers out in the next year before filing a patent, and I will be taking charge of this push. It's very exciting, and I am thrilled to have the financial support to stay here.



Jan. 16th, 2012 05:01 pm
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
As a graduation present, my mom got me a digital piano (a Kurzweil MP-10). It was delivered today and so of course I have spent the last three hours playing it.

The first half of grad school, I kept up with piano, but I started to feel bad about being anywhere on campus other than in the lab, and we never had a piano in our Philly home. So I sort of stopping playing regularly, doing guitar lessons instead since I had a guitar and wanted at least some facility at it. And I'm really glad I did! But I think it's no slight to the guitar to say that it doesn't hold the same place in my heart that piano does... I've played guitar for three years, but I started playing piano when I was not quite five years old. It is so, so good to have a piano again. There just aren't words.

I played through tons of pieces I used to know, some that actually came off pretty well, some of which were understandably rusty. I pulled out the Sonata Pathetique, which I learned in college, and wasn't sure if I would still be able to play it. And while it wasn't at its best, to play it again was such an indescribable experience. I connected with it so strongly, especially the first movement, and coming back to it moved me to tears. Here's a nice video of Daniel Barenboim playing it, whose interpretation I agree with for the most part:

I would like to always have a piano at home for the rest of my life.

essay win!

Jan. 4th, 2012 11:28 pm
clevermynnie: (mask)
Hey, remember how I entered a feminist essay contest? It was for the 40th anniversary Ms. Magazine symposium, and I got an honorable mention! This means I didn't win the cash prize (whatever), but my essay will be posted next to the Ms. cover I wrote about during the symposium. Which is pretty cool! I just wish I could attend in person, but it's in the Bay Area at the end of the month so that is not happening. Gloria Steinem is giving the keynote address, and she is such a stellar speaker, but having seen her before softens the blow a little bit.

The word limit was so low that I couldn't say everything that I would have liked to, but it was a good challenge to try to write very succinctly. I picked a cover that was about sports because I have strong feelings about women's sports... not surprisingly, if you think about my hobbies. (Note to self: I should fundraise for the Women's Sports Foundation with that 50-mile race I was looking at in June!) Anyway, here is the cover I wrote about and my short essay.

Florence Griffith Joyner seems poised to fly off the cover of Ms. Magazine. Her bold, strong form, her look of resolve, and the power evident in each tensed muscle show the extreme fortitude she possessed. This quality helped her to both set sprinting world records which stand today and persevere through intense criticism. Trailblazers in women's sports were denigrated for both their performance and their adherence or lack thereof to gender roles. But rather than becoming trapped in this double-bind, they relentlessly pursued their athletic goals. Women's struggle to obtain equality in the arena of sports has pushed humanity to recognize that the forms of physical prowess—strength, grace, power, agility—are not restricted to either gender. The popularity of female sports icons and the availability of school sports programs show today's girls the joy of knowing, using, and loving your body. Flo-Jo, and women athletes like her, are avatars of feminism.
clevermynnie: (Default)
My dissertation is deposited! Last hoop, jumped through! And, here is a photo of the view from our place:

the view
clevermynnie: (I see beauty)
It's one of my strongest beliefs that people should have an unconstrained set of choices, as full control over their lives as is possible in a system that attempts to give people an equal footing. But to me this also means taking responsibility for the choices that you make; one of my pet peeves is definitely people who complain about some part of their lives but are unwilling to make the choices necessary to make themselves happier. Sometimes our happiness is not entirely under our control, but often it is and all it takes is some careful thought and a willingness to change to make small or large improvements in our lives. I have a hard time understanding why people might not do everything in their power to be happy. One reason that I can think of, though, stems from something I am particularly bad at.

I have written before about stubbornness/perseverance, which I believe to be one of my strongest character traits. I do not let go of things easily, I hang on and figure out how to make it work, and sometimes that has positive results. But it can be a fault as well; another valuable trait is knowing when to quit something, when to re-evaluate and change tactics or change paths altogether. I do not do this well; the example that most readily springs to mind is when I played the violin in high school and was in the orchestra. There were two orchestras, one for freshmen and one for everyone else, but technically you had to audition to get into the higher level orchestra, and the best freshmen every year got to start there. I was in the lower orchestra my freshman year, but then was told by the orchestra director that while I was good enough for the upper level orchestra the next year, he wanted a solid concertmaster, and if I stayed in the lower orchestra for a year and was concertmaster I could move up the following year. It was a crap offer, but I didn't recognize that and I didn't see how else to continue with violin, so I stayed. I did not really enjoy orchestra much that year, and at the end of the year I was sick and almost didn't get the audition piece in time, but auditioned only to be told that I had to stay back another year because I was just not good enough--despite several people who had chairs behind mine getting promoted. I tried to take it to the music department chair, but of course she believed the conductor and not me, and didn't believe that he had lied to me about moving up or told me a variety of contradictory things about where I rated. I can see how from her perspective she thought he was reliable and I was making things up, although this director had lied to the students about many other things, like going to competitions and pieces to play and things like that. In the end I quit, I didn't want to add a second set of music lessons (on top of piano), and I have not played violin seriously since. It's impossible to predict how things will turn out, of course, and if I had stuck it out and moved up then maybe this would have been another story from my life about how perseverance pays off. It doesn't always, though, and sometimes persevering in the face of obvious mistreatment when there is no goal or improvement in sight is a decidedly stupid thing to do. It is a waste of happiness.

I mention this because I am lucky to know several people in various parts of my life who have drastically changed their paths, because it will make them happier even if it is hard. It is hard to look at the path you are on, a career path or a relationship or an identity, and honestly evaluate that it is not right for you or not making you happy even after you have invested a lot of time in it. When you have put time into a degree but it is not in the industry you wanted, or when you are going into debt for something that is mostly stress and pain, or when you are in a relationship that used to be great but is now a dead end, or when you have to change everything to be with someone you love, or when you are strongly rooted in one place but know how much happier you could be if you moved, or when you left school a long time ago but realize that what you really want to do involves going back. I watch these people making these huge changes, and I am blown away by how difficult it must be, not just going against habit and momentum, but picking up and rearranging huge portions of your life because you know you will be happier. Some choices that lead to happiness are simple, some require stubbornness, but some require an incredible amount of imagination and courage, to pick up and go another way. I have not made any choices like that, but I admire the people who do immensely, and I am so grateful to witness people's audacity in defining their own lives.

It fills me with joy to know people who aren't afraid to pursue dreams.
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
Sunday was the anniversary of my wedding! Before we got married we would switch off who planned which anniversary, with Ben doing the odd numbers and me doing the even ones. Then last year, which would have been our seventh dating anniversary, we got married instead and went on a honeymoon. So this year we started over and Ben planned it; we went to Atlantic City and spent the day at the beach and on the boardwalk, which was great and very relaxing. We came back in the evening and went out to the Melting Pot, which he picked because we went there for restaurant week in February and really liked it... again, the food was great and the service was amazing; they gave us an anniversary card and gift and were super nice the whole evening. We came home and had the second bottle of champagne from our wedding night! We also have some wedding cake but it's still in California and hasn't been eaten yet.

Being married to Ben is a lot like living with him... some might say, exactly the same. But living with him is incredibly fun, so it works. The years pass and my feelings just get deeper, and while marriage used to scare me, now... if current trends continue, I have unplumbed depths of happiness ahead. :) I can't think of anyone better suited for me to spend my days hanging out with, so here is a picture of the love of my life contemplating his lemon ice on the boardwalk.

water ice, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

a couple more )


Jul. 1st, 2009 03:10 pm
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
I am in shock right now!

I heard about this Women and Power: Connecting Across Generations workshop from a few months ago. It sounded really cool, and I have a lot of female (and male) friends that I can talk to about gender issues, but I don't know many people who are feminist activists or working at nonprofits that help women, so it sounded like an interesting place to meet more feminists from different walks of life. But it costs money, and I don't make a lot of money. They had a scholarship application, though, which said that younger women, women whose household income was below a certain cap (based on household size), and women with "diverse professional experiences" were welcome to apply for the scholarship. My household income was a bit above the cap, but I thought, how many physicists are likely to apply... I will give it a shot. I threw together an application and sent it in, not at all expecting to get it... and I got it! It covers the workshop tuition, food, lodging, and transportation there from NYC.

I'm very excited because this will be a completely new thing, in an area that I've expanded into a lot over the last couple years. I hope to learn a lot. One of the speakers will be Gloria Steinem!

This is so crazy. I'm in total disbelief.
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
The last few days I have been really, really happy. It's no particular reason, just a variety of things... having a weekend to relax, getting stuff done but not feeling hung up on the stuff that didn't get done, buying 12 mangoes for $4, having the best Mexican food I've gotten in a restaurant since moving here which was conveniently also dirt cheap, running 8 miles for the first time since before Providence, talking to an old friend I don't get ahold of easily, learning new and interesting stuff at work, winning an intramural softball game in overtime... and running in drenching rain under clouds so thick it was like twilight, while lightning flashed overhead.

I haven't felt this unreservedly happy in awhile. It's great.
clevermynnie: (Default)
This is both really funny and a joy to watch.


Nov. 23rd, 2008 09:41 pm
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
It was great!

starting corral, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

halfway kiss, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

finish line, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

finisher!, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

I slept pretty badly last night, and our cab got lost this morning, but I was so excited I didn't feel tired, and we got to the starting area with plenty of time to check my stuff and stand in the very long bathroom lines. They had starting corrals based on the predicted finish time you give in your registration, and the start was in three waves to spread out the runners (there were about 18,000 overall, 16,000 of whom were running the marathon). Race-wise, I felt great for the first 15 miles, a little slower for 15-20, kept going but didn't feel very happy from 20-24, and then picked up speed and found a bit of energy to have a finishing kick at the end. I got very tired of the taste of sport beans and gatorade... in Manayunk, at mile 18 and 22, they had an unofficial beer aid station with bacon, cheese, and chips! But by that point I wasn't feeling awesome and I was afraid if I tried to down something like that, I might throw up.

The weather was chilly (low 30s) but otherwise fine: no wind or precipitation or anything like that. I wore an extra shirt because of the cold; my longest training runs were in the mid-40s, which is the average temperature for the Philadelphia Marathon but we are having a cold snap this year. One consequence of the cold, though, is that two of the water stations that were in the shade had black ice by the time I got to them, from people tossing water cups and the water freezing. We all had to slow down and walk very carefully!

The event was very well-organized, the volunteers were great, and I was amazed at how many people came out to cheer (even to cheer strangers!). Ben got up early to keep me company at the start, then went to a nearby train station to read for some time, then went back to see me at the halfway point, then back to the train station, then met me at the finish. :) My parents and a few of my friends plus Ben signed up to either get e-mails or text messages of my splits; it was useful for Ben so that he knew when to come back, and fun for my parents to watch. I came home to a lot of e-mails from them as they had tracked my progress.

I ran a 5:24, which isn't an impressive time but is in the range I was expecting. I am hoping this will be the first of many marathons and I can train to improve my time. But I'm very glad to have done it! I think if you consult guides and make a good training schedule, and stick pretty assiduously to it, it is not that hard to at least manage to finish like I did. I never thought that something like this was within my reach, but I feel very empowered and strong for having accomplished it (and along the way, gotten more active and managed to keep a running schedule with no training buddy).

So I am pretty sore now and rather tired, but very happy. Very, very happy.
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
Today is my birthday, as some of you have already noted (thanks! ♥), and I am spending it at work preparing slides for my literature review talk at our group meeting tomorrow. This is despite it being a university holiday, fall break, and my birthday! Oh well. This is still better than that birthday I had where I had a midterm, a talk, and a cold.

I did have a really nice weekend though. On Saturday Ben and I drove to Cape May, New Jersey; it is on the southern tip of New Jersey between the Atlantic and the Delaware Bay, and it has lots of nice beaches and Victorian houses. We started out at the Cape May Wildlife Refuge, on their beach and dunes trail, which was a 2-mile roundtrip with lots of plant identification placards and sea birds, and some tiny crabs and a big horseshoe crab skeleton. Ben kept picking up bits of crabs and poking me with them while I was trying to take pictures of them. Then we went to the Emlen Physick Estate, which has a big Victorian house that you can tour. They also had glassblowers and a mechanical organ outside. The inside of the house was beautiful and well-preserved, though unfortunately photos were forbidden. There was also a guy impersonating the original house's owner, who gave this short speech that was supposed to teach you about the time period. Ben said it well, that "it was like PBS assaulted me and I couldn't escape"; really hard to keep a straight face during something so cheesy. But it was interesting and the decor was really elaborate and cool. Then we went to the Cape May Point State Park, which had lots of trails along the beach and through a coastal forest, a big lighthouse, and lots of birds! Cape May is prime birding territory, with lots of birds' migration paths going through the area. We saw swans, egrets, sparrows, gulls, plovers, ducks, mockingbirds, and we actually saw a Cooper's hawk attack a group of sparrows, catch one, and drag it into the bushes to eat. (We saw this from a platform with maybe 30 birdwatchers and a couple park rangers on it who exclaimed about what was going on.) Then we went to Sunset Beach, which faces west over the Delaware Bay, and watched the sun go down while nearby, a couple got married and there was a flag ceremony using a casket flag from someone that died in WWII. The sunset was amazing.

I had a great time, but one fun part of the day is that I got a new toy for my birthday, a camera to replace the one I've had for 6 years. It is such a colossal improvement. What's funny, though, is that at such a big birding place and also at Sunset Beach, we saw so many multi-thousand dollar cameras that people had for their hobbies. Ha, well, I still like my new camera. :) The great zoom enabled a lot of photos that I just couldn't have gotten on my old camera. And it has lots of features I am already using, and a lot more for me to figure out.

photos! )

orange, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

So I'm officially 24 now. I am so happy with my life and the last year. I married my great love, I made a lot of progress and learned a lot in my job, I'm training for a marathon (I went 19 miles yesterday!) and in good and getting better shape, I adopted two sweet and wonderful cats, I grew tasty food in my backyard and made delicious food at home, I got to go to new places in the U.S. and outside of it (Crater Lake and Turkey, chiefly), I'm preparing a piano recital for December (more about this later), and I've gotten to see almost all my old friends recently because of the wedding and make some new ones too. It is easy to get frustrated with yourself or some aspect of your life you aren't happy with, or to be frustrated over circumstances you can't change. It's important to remember the good things, and to appreciate them as much as you can. And to always work for and aim for improvement, for a crescendo instead of an arc. To become more complex, more intricate, more knowledgeable and more balanced, able to see and connect as much as possible, to recognize beauty and joy and integrate them into yourself. There is wonder in all things.

july 26th

Jul. 31st, 2008 07:08 pm
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
we're here where the daylight begins
the fog on the street lamp slowly thins
water on water's the way
the safety of shoreline fading away

I didn't sleep that well the night before... )

15_Wedding_Kiss1, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

there's more... )

Now, finally, while the band really contributed to how much fun and party-like the reception was, the dancing wasn't my favorite thing about them. See, when I hired them I had asked if they played 'Leavin' on a Jet Plane', a song which means a lot when you are in a long-distance relationship. They said they didn't usually but might be able to work something out, and I said well don't worry about it, it's not a big deal, but if you could it would be great. So what happened was, after everyone was done eating and we were standing mingling, they announced that they were going to sing us something special, a capella, before our first dance. I heard that and thought, wow, they are singing it just for us, that's so great. We were standing at the back of the room, and I turned to Ben as they started, "All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go..." And his face was shocked and his eyes were tearing up, and I realized I never told him that I asked about that song. He looked at me, in the weepy-happy way you get a lot of at a wedding, and while they sang the song with no backup, we stood in the back of the room embracing and crying a little. It worked out well that our first dance was upbeat and fun after that, but during that song I can't tell you how joyous, in love, and almost triumphant I felt, that we made it through. "Every place I go, I think of you; every song I sing, I sing for you; when I come back, I’ll wear your wedding ring..."

on a jet plane, taken by tall steph and uploaded by clevermynnie.

clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
I am going to be writing a lot about the wedding, and posting a massive amount of pictures (most of which won't be taken by me), because it's important to me to have a full record. I understand if it's less interesting for other people, especially people who were there and saw everything, but it's not for you that I'm writing this. :)

everything up to the polar plunge )
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
I am still a little bit bowled over, and there are things I have been thinking that I forgot to say yesterday.

Firstly, I was floored that Ben actually got some friends and family to be there when he proposed, because one of the silly things I'd told him was that it would be cool to be proposed to in front of friends or parents or something, but I didn't expect him to really do that. And it happening in New Mexico was perfect. Every time I come back here I have mixed feelings; on the one hand, I grew up here, and I miss lots of things about it, but on the other hand, I don't want to move back, to the town or the state, and it grates on me after awhile. I didn't want to get married here, if we did get married. And the reason is that New Mexico feels like the past, and a wedding is about the future. But on the other hand, I have deep roots here. Having our engagement happen here gives me enough connection to here, though, that I feel totally fine getting married somewhere else.

At Starbucks afterwards, either Jeanine or Ben came up with the idea of getting married in Mammoth Lakes, where Ben's dad has a big house. That really appeals to me, because it has beautiful mountains and scenery, but is in California and is convenient for lots of people. And though Ben's family doesn't live there any more, they moved away pretty recently and have connections, so it wouldn't be so horrible planning everything from afar. I know it is easiest to have your wedding in the same place you are planning things from, but Philadelphia and the East Coast don't mean a lot to me, and I'd rather not do it there.

Because Ben told my parents and some of my closest friends before he told me that he wanted to get married, I have had somewhat fewer people to call about it. But I had to tell my bridesmaids (yes, I kind of already knew who it would be) and my dad has been calling relatives all day, both to wish them a Merry Christmas and to tell them about it. I will get to see all my relatives! At the same time! That's exciting; my family is terrible about keeping in touch. And I will have another round of telling people when I visit Berkeley in January and go up to LBL, which will be fun. And again when I get back to Philadelphia. I'm not sure whether or not to announce it to my WoW guild, ha. Maybe.

It makes me really happy that this happened right before Christmas. I am just overflowing with joy this year. We cooked a big dinner with my dad today, with a pork roast, Moroccan sweet potatoes, stuffing, jalapeno corn chowder, salad, biscuits, and apricot cream. And we drove out to my mom's street to look at the farolitos, under a nearly full moon.

Life is amazing! I love you all!


Dec. 23rd, 2007 10:46 pm
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)

ring, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

Ben asked me to marry him, and I said yes.

Read more... )


clevermynnie: (Default)

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