Not so perfect, not so young

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

5 hours of my life that I will NEVER GET BACK

Today I saw the following headline on, and I honestly thought it might refer to the pub crawl we went on on Saturday night:

Cops: 1. Naked, oily ninjas: 0. Pirates unavailable for comment

Unfortunately, it was an unrelated story.

As for the pub crawl, the "pirates and ninjas" theme sounded like a good idea at the time. The evening was a bust from the get-go. In short:

The bus was an hour and a half late
Assorted 40-year-old men joined us (the moustaches! the Kenny G hair! the high fives!)
The bus was stolen.

The only redeeming feature of the evening was how hard we laughed about it the next day.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Daytime drama

[suspenseful, old-fashioned soap-opera organ music plays in background]

[melodramatic male voice speaks]

It's 10:22 am. 120 journal articles are strewn across her living room floor. Another 40 PDF articles are in a folder on her desktop.

[spoken with increasing urgency, organ music rising to a desperate crescendo]

Will she have those articles sorted according to their relevance to her research project? Will she have created a flowchart to illustrate that organization? Will she have gone to the library to get even more articles based on the reference lists from the original 120 articles? And all by 3:00 pm this very afternoon?

Tune in for today's episode of: Meeting with. . . The Supervisor

[dun dun DUHHHHHH]

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


I've had Jesus in my life for a long time, but Science just came along lately, and it gets crowded in my little brain sometimes. I don't wrestle with my beliefs often enough, so I really treasure moments when I hear someone else articulate thoughts and feelings in ways that I could never hope to.

That's why I have to share some interviews that I came across online on a website called Meaning of Life TV. I haven't seen many of the interviews yet, I'm sure to disagree with lots of them, but there are a couple that blew me away.

I've never heard of Robert Pollack before, but what he had to say about Faith and Reason, as well as Religion as Pathology makes me want to hear more from him. Check it out, if for no other reason than to marvel at the linguistic-y goodness of his speech. Mmm. Vocabularific.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Occupational Health and Safety

After months of existing in a bleak, brown purgatory between autumn and spring, a great abundance of snow has fallen on our city. It's a winter wonderland! As I walk to school, enjoying the brisk winter air and the sparkle of sun on an unblemished field of white, thoughts of undergrad psychology fill my mind.

So I'm not a care-free kind of person. It's no secret. I just keep thinking about how my "sensation and perception" prof used to nag us his students to WEAR SUNGLASSES WHEN OUTDOORS! I don't wear sunglasses, so I'm afraid that in addition to etching squinty winter wrinkles on my face, I am damaging my eyes in ways that I will regret a few decades from now.

Continuing with the theme of eye-damage, I've been at the library A LOT lately, photocopying article after article for a lit review that I'm working on. I'm a photocopying machine (hee hee) - I could photocopy journal articles in my sleep. Most of my efficiency comes from the fact that I don't close the lid between copies. Instead, I stare blankly at the magical light as it scans each page that I copy. Each of the hundreds of pages that I copy. Hundreds of pages of retina-searing goodness.

Um, again, eye damage, anyone? This can't be good. But who has ever been warned about gradschool-related eye damage?! (Besides the link between all the reading we (should) do and worsening myopia.)

So in the interest of preventing further damage to my eyes, my new habit is to look away as the magical light scans the pages. It's best if there's a window nearby, or one of those library posters that tells you that you're breaking the law and belong in a federal prison. Even then it's a bit strange.

(you have no idea how quickly I copy - I'm looking out the window every three seconds. I look like I'm really worried about peeping-tom library stalkers, or like I have compulsive disorder of some kind)

Now, if I just bought those sunglasses, I'd be prepared in all situations. Wearing sunglasses at the photocopier. . . hmmmmm. I feel cool just typing that last phrase. Look for me at a library near you.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

And then I did this, and this. . .

It has been a long weekend of choir, choir and more choir. After a Choralfest performance on Thursday, an epic four-choir concert on Saturday, a church service this morning, and an afternoon performance in another city. . . . . I'm tired. But not too tired to write about some of the highlights of these musical adventures.

Highlight #1

At Choralfest, one of the adjudicators, Stephen Hatfield, workshopped one of our pieces with us. That man is larger than life, and the musical metaphors he gave us were oh so unforgettable. For example, wanting to help us express the longing and aching prayer of the traditional spiritual "Deep River", he said (with gravitas befitting a Shakspearean soliloquy, and with illustrative gestures) :

"You know how when you floss your teeth, the floss can pull a bit sometimes, and give you a little ooh (grimaces)."

Choir nods. (I'm thinking that a dental hygiene analogy might not work for me, as far as expressing emotional intensity goes. I actually enjoy flossing.)

"As you sing, I want you to convey that same ooh (grimaces again) as you floss your breastbone with your soul."

As he says this, he mimes gripping his floss-like soul between his thumb and index finger and drawing it painfully across his xiphoid process.

Ah. Now breastbone-hygiene, that's a different story. That wouldn't feel very good. It was a very effective illustration. And funny.

Highlight # 2

A second highlight of the weekend was after our afternoon performance at a multicultural event. A small group of 12 or so singers rather than the whole choir, we performed a number of African songs, with movement and drums. The enthusiasm of the audience was contagious, and we really enjoyed our performance.

It's always nice when people express their appreciation after the concert, but my favorite BY FAR was when a little girl, about 5 years old, in a knit poncho, touched my hand, and said:

"I heard you singing before."

I crouched down to hear her better, and I asked her if she had danced along with us. She (still holding my hand) said:

"No, I just did this" (kicks her right foot forward and back a few times)

I told her that was similar to some of our movements in the songs, and she continued to demonstrate her moves:

"And then I did this (kicks left foot a bit) . . . and this (kicks right foot) . . . and I did this (absently kicks with left foot again ). . . ."

This went on for a while. It got to that adorable little-kid point where she was thinking, "Okay, the nice grown-up is still listening to me. . . so I'll just keep talking" and was just making up nonsense. I don't think she even remembered what I had asked her. And that's why it was SO CUTE!!!

The beauty of today's performance is that it largely wiped out my memory of last night's performance (part of the four-choir epic concert I mentioned), from which I have NO HIGHLIGHTS TO REPORT.

(Except for the part where I cried as a choir of small children sang a poignant song with text written from the perspective of a deaf child - but that's it.)

I think a video file of that concert is going to be posted as the Wikipedia entry for Gong Show.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


I read Barbara Kingsolver's excellent novel The Bean Trees last week. I loved it. This book resonated with me on many levels. Her characters are vivid and sympathetic.

In particular, Kingsolver captured the major themes of my upbringing with her portrayal of the paranoid Lou Ann. This particular passage could have been written about my own dear mother:

"Lou Ann's life was ruled by the fear of salmonella, to the extent that she claimed the only safe way to eat potato salad was to stick your head in the refrigerator and eat it there."

Love it. Mom loved it too.

I haven't done it justice by highlighting only this passage, but it's a beautiful book, and I recommend it very highly.

Monday, March 06, 2006


This weekend my family was in town for my little brother's soccer tournament. We went to most of the games at his last tournament, and it was a bit sad. His team was beat so badly that they stopped adding the opposing teams' goals to the scoreboard, to minimize the losing team's humiliation. This time, they won a game, and put up a good fight, losing by only a couple of points in their other games.

It was a very intense experience. We shouted ourselves hoarse, and were deafened by the cheers of the soccer parents around us. A lot of the families were francophone, so "Allez-y!!!!!" mixed in with our "GO GO GO!!!" I love Canada. And I can't wait to be a soccer parent, because based on my observations, I can then 1) bleach my hair and wear it too long for my age, 2) wear a pink winter coat with a faux fur collar, and 3) carry a Timmy Ho cup everywhere I go.

My brother's soccer skills have really improved lately, and he scored some very nice goals. Daniel took some video clips of the games, and my brother spent a LOT of time reviewing them at home afterward. This confirmed what I have long suspected: we are officially the most narcissistic family of all time.