alice

Onward

 It has been a long time since I regularly posted in a journal. I think the last time I did was before I came to graduate school. Speaking of that, I basically (the official date will be in the spring) have my PhD! I still owe my committee edits on my dissertation, and need to submit a paper with my doctoral adviser, but I've passed the final exams. I DID IT! It really is surreal to be at this point in my life.  Part of me didn't think I'd ever finish, but here I am!

Next week I start my first real job, and move to Florida. I'm excited and scared at the same time. The job is basically a dream for me: an elite level lab with tons of resources studying awesome stuff.  The job is not closely related to the research I performed in graduate school, so I am going to be doing a lot of learning on the job. I'm excited to dig into something new.  

Life is really amazing right now. [personal profile] naroom and I are engaged.  We have a wonderful dog.  Our place in Florida is beautiful, and we are going to get to go on a bunch of adventures.  I really am a lucky girl.
alice

Board gaming

Both my body and my brain are not very good at sitting still. I was a difficult infant; I'd wake my mother up all the time just to be entertained. Back then, entertaining me was easy (I was a pretty big fan of sitting in front of the dishwasher), but keeping my adult brain busy is a much more difficult problem. I've dealt with this in an assortment of way; my major boredom medication of choice is a constant influx of projects. Most of these projects are inversions on the same couple themes (science, music, cooking, plants), with occasional aberrations making an appearance and fading away (yoga, arthouse movies, roller skating). My general pattern is to obsessively focus on a project for several months (usually 3-6, sometimes up to a year). I acquire skills and tools; I learn and acquire some level of mastery. Over time the novelty fades and boredom develops. So, I “fuck fish,” as Chris Cooper's character in Adaptation says; I drop the project, move on, and generally don't look back. My “pantheon” of interests has not expanded very much in recent years. However, this past April I had a major addition: gaming.

I discovered the wonders of board gaming through a local Meetup group that theoofthewired  found. I've never been a big gamer, but I've played with it a bit in the past. Being a student at Georgia Tech basically required me to have some gaming, especially video gaming, experience. I've spent some lovely weekends in college feeding a Diablo addiction; I disappeared off to the wilds of Stockbridge to be surrounded by cats, libertarianism, and Soul Caliber; I stayed up late into the night engrossed in watching Jet Set Radio. Part of the reason video gaming did not excite me was that I'm an average video gamer player at best; my dexterity definitely limits me. But, I could have developed those skills with times. My real issue with gaming is that it seemed so escapist. This was a narrow view.

I've had a major about-face. Once I stated playing I found gaming was deliciously fun. When I am playing a good game, I feel incredibly alive. My brain feels like it is on fire; I'm in bliss. I'm hardly in new territory here; I was experiencing a well known psychological phenomenon called Flow. My interest in Flow lead me to read Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's seminal work on the subject: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Reading this book really changed my mind about games. Instead of escaping reality, games were about creating an optimal experience, where my ability were beautifully matched with a challenge. Playing games felt like some of the best moments I've had doing research; it was the “Aha!” moment without the annoying parts. To overstate their importance, games gave me a a surefire pipeline into happiness.

But as with most of my hobbies, I've gained enough mastery to bored me now; the shine of novelty has worn off. I expect I am not done with gaming. I've got a beautiful collection of board games now, and I'd certainly like to play casually from time to time. I wouldn't even be surprised if I go through another gaming phase in the future. But for now, I'm done with this fish.
alice

Time is short.

My wonderful friend Lydia is trying to win this online burlesque competition  (She needs to stay in the top 6). If you already haven't, please go vote for her!   She is such an amazing performer, and she's really close to making it to Vegas.  

She's Talloolah Love.
http://www.vivalasvegas.net/intranet/vote_main.php
alice

Motives

As I have gotten older, I've put more and more energy into trying to understand other people.  I like to evaluate people's actions and figure out why they are doing the things they do.  But, there is danger in this.  It is very easy to get upset if you apply your own motives to other people.  We each have our own reasons for our actions.  You simply can not apply the same set of reasoning to everything another person does.
alice

A homecoming

“Then, brothers, it came. Oh, bliss, bliss and heaven.... Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh.” - A Clockwork Orange

Our separation was a trying ordeal. Although initially intended as a 1 month "break" from our relationship, our time apart had extended into 3-4 months. I can't say that I was not tempted, but I remained true.  Now, we are together again.

Oh joy, oh bliss, oh wonder! My clarinet is home!  I sent her off to get fixed in July, and she was finally finished this last week.  I celebrated by playing part of the Copeland clarinet concerto and Rhapsody for Clarinet by William Osborne and some Klezmer music.   It is so good to have her home.