Tuesday, August 14, 2012

T - Minus...

Aaand fast-forward to three days before my Ithaca move-out.  No wait, that's today.  When I look at it that way it was fast - but what I think might be happening is that I still have some residual momentum of "let me just get through this last part" that I might be idling away the week still trying to let it pass and not realizing all that I have to get done.  As my learning mind still only speaks Visualese, I'm blogging it out loud.

The week with its 'knowns' looks like:
- mostly free
- 1:00 meeting with researcher
- 10:45 meeting with advisor
- leave in the AM

Somewhere in there I must also:
- do my daily waterfall visit
- put together and drop off petition for the grad school so they change their mind about kicking me out of school (another story)
- finish fridge foods
- complete the thesis assignment for Thursday (not sure yet how to tackle this one so I've been avoiding it a bit...)
- pack (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom)
- clean bedroom for move-out
- laundry

I was thinking of doing some laundry this morning to jump start myself on a perceived sense of productivity, but the machines were occupied.  I guess I might start with the waterfall now, and head over there with a notebook so that I can work on my thesis brainstorming.  After that, hit the coffee shop and develop the above further and also get the petition together.  I won't do the drop off til tomorrow though, as I'll have to be on campus for the meeting anyway so I can do my printing and delivery in the same day.  Anyway, if I get a good chunk of work done today, then I might hit the second-hand store again - then home for doing that laundry, which actually works out better since I might have some finds from the store to add to the loads.

Okay, that's the tentative plan.  See if I can get out of the house in some timely manner.  More later.

Friday, August 10, 2012


One of the stressful things I had to do yesterday was sending an email about something I'd been dreading facing for a while.  I did the thesis work I was gonna get done for the day (which I kept at not-crazy, just drafting the petition and study plan), then sent the dreaded email off after that and left the office.  To ensure I had an excuse not to have to check email (stressed about the response), I stayed out.  First I went to the lake, hung out for a few minutes, watched from inside the car.  Then I thought I'll hit the animal shelter and go play with some kitties.  I texted my roommate about it too, remembering she'd said she likes cats, but without really expecting to hear back in time anyway.  Went to hit the waterfall to give the text a few minutes, then headed for the shelter.  Of course, they put the months-old, squirming, bubbling litter of adorable cute-tens right in the front lobby (like they'd have trouble finding homes :).  Gah.  Saw a bunch more fabulous felines and talked with some friendly volunteers.

After that, I headed for the second-hand shop.  I'd say not more than four feet into the store, I found the very reason for my visit, what had likely been calling me to this activity for days.  A perfect pair of red mary janes I had been seeking, just peering up at me - and, in my size.  (That's the challenge with this kind of shopping, that if you like something, it'd better also be blemish-free and in your size.  Hitting all three is quite the... feat.  Heh heh.)  The reward: the completion of many-a outfits, and a price tag of $8.95.

Then I picked up some Thai food, went home, dicked around online, and passed out relatively early.

Now at the breakfast table again.  Showered, dressed, and mostly fed.  Staring down at my banana which might be all I could do for this meal.  Due to my inexperience, I did not realize storing bananas in the fridge is a bad idea.  I bought ones that were quite green figuring they're less mushy and I'd take a while to finish all four anyway, but they jumped right over yellow and went straight to brown.  They're mostly green and brown at this point, shriveling dry at the ends, and now that I've left this one out of the fridge for a bit while avoiding eating it, condensation has started forming and the thing looks like it's perspiring profusely.  Honestly, I don't know how straight guys eat this stuff.  ...Probably by storing it properly.

Off to campus soon for my meeting with the Japanese bibliographer, a.k.a. my thesis' guardian angel.  Not sure where to after that.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Meeting and Thesis Stat

Meeting is done!  Still feel somewhat lost and a bit overwhelmed as usual, but it was good - the dense kind with a lot of discussions and take-aways.

One annoying thing was getting an email from the grad school today saying they've rejected my application for extending my leave status into the next semester.  (This is the same guy who took a while to process my application last year, bleeding into the start of the semester, then charged me thousands for pro-rated tuition, so his slight bitchiness is already established.)  My advisor's totally taking my side though and says she will write me a letter of support to submit with my petition, so I don't feel as bad.  We used part of the meeting today to figure out what to write in the petition.  Part of my necessity to take a leave this semester is because she will be on maternity leave and we won't be able to make progress anyway, which they'd be dumb to contest.  As she says, it'll probably turn out a-okay.  Just means unplanned additional work for this weekend (thanks, Gschool).

One of the things I need to include in the petition is a Plan of Study, so we sat down and hashed that out too.  With how things are coming along, it's looking like I'll be going back to work (job) in the fall while meeting semi-regularly with either the advisor's researcher via Skype or her PhD student if she's available (she lives in NYC).  In the spring, I'll reconvene with my advisor and hope to put together a chapter a month, then defend at the end of the semester or next summer.  I guess if I look at it that way it'll be another whole year before this is finally kicked, but I know I've really been working on it this summer and my advisor knows that I've been making a lot of progress as compared to before too, so I feel okay, that it's not really a true delay or entirely because of me f'ing up, it just legitimately is taking this long.  So long as the grad school doesn't keep being a bitch, I should get the green light to go ahead with this plan.

So there I have it.  I am finishing a masters degree in the time people get PhDs.  Heh.

Now (with the meeting done for the day) I have a wee breather.  I do want to go check out some used clothes and do something fun to keep the mood up, but I feel I might feel better later if I stay and keep working for a few more hours.  Either way, I'll go get some food first now.

Stomach, Meeting, Shopping, Wedding, Buddy

Aaand, morning again.  I have my advisor meeting in three hours and a few things I have to do beforehand so can't make this long, gotta get my butt to campus, but thought I'd organize my thoughts real quick.

Yesterday went mediocre work-wise.  Had a stomach ache most of last night (might've been the second cup of coffee that day, tried to stay up late to work).  I was woken up in the middle of the night by the pain too, and it still feels funny now.  I have one packet of some Japanese stomach med left that my mom had given me - wanted to save it for an emergency but this might be the time.  Eating is a little harder now because it seems the stomach is now upset by a lot of things.  Gotta figure out breakfast/lunch...

Not too much planned after the meeting today though so I might take a break then and go do something fun / relaxing (thinking second-hand store shopping).  Maybe pick up lunch somewhere.  I'll see.

In other news, it was just determined that my friend John can make it (as my date) for our mutual high-school friend's wedding reception, a girl neither of us has seen in 15 years (crazy).  It's the day after I get back from Ithaca, so it's nice to have that to look forward to (the enjoyment of which will largely be owed to John going with me - I'm so glad he was able to make it since it's one of those scenes I'd otherwise feel bad for not attending but would feel uncomfortable and awkward at by myself the whole time with lots of people asking what I've been doing with my life, etc. (this is the largely-doctors group of acquaintances).  John's my good old buddy who also happens to be a vegan and a graphic designer so a good ally indeed :) (although of course I'm just happy to see him).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mid-Day Report...

Back from meeting, and having breakfast/lunch.  Ideally would've eaten before the meeting, but making up for it with a nutritious meal: rice (ancient grain blend with beans) and natto with green onions.  No, not for everybody, but it's got the protein from the rice and beans, the tryptophan and vitamin B6 from the soybeans, and magnesium from the green onions.  Washing it all down with soymilk.  Not sure how much niacin is in this collection, but I randomly had some peanuts before bed last night which happens to be a good source so at least I got that.

Now, as for work: an update.

Yesterday was productive up until the last posting here or so.  Then one of my new roommates who I just befriended a few days ago came home.  As I was going out for my daily waterfall visit and we had discussed it previously, I invited her.  We went around 7:00, and ended up chit-chatting for the next four hours (not all at the waterfall).  Part of it was because she struggles with English somewhat (she's a researcher and a recent arrival from Poland), but it was nice connecting with someone from such a different world than mine, not just physically but mentally and culturally too (I think it helps me get out of my head more by letting me see myself and others more objectively).  After we parted, I managed some amount of work before getting to that point of sleepy where it's best to hold off on sending important emails and just call it the night.  Maybe it was around 2:00.

The cool thing though is that I heard back from the Japanese bibliographer I had emailed yesterday.  He returned to me an exhaustive list of references that I don't even know how he knew would each be perfect for my project that has yet to take shape.  And he tells me that's only a portion of what's available.  I still need to run article searches, but he gave me so much in terms of prints that I can put it toward one of the two assignments for tomorrow (literature research) that I was supposed to work on last night and instead went to socialize with a new friend for the first time in months.  Worked out sorta nicely~.  At my meeting earlier today, my researcher told me that I should really concentrate on developing the themes (the second part of the assignment due tomorrow, the part I was going to work on today) because my advisor is really good with discussing them and that I should take advantage of that while we still have in-person meetings.  I'm glad she told me this, as I was thinking about abandoning that a bit to keep working on the literature search.  Hence, this will be my focus for the rest of today.

Alright, back to it.  Gotta clean the kitchen, then figure out whether to work at home or get a move on and hit the coffee shop.  Today is likely the last day that I can work at the kitchen table (where the landlady usually works but she is out of town til tonight) - it's under a sky light and comfortable and there's a pleasant energy about it (generally speaking, just a lot better lit than my bedroom), and I found it to work out yesterday when I tried - so I might stay in today, at least until the waterfall.

Mornings and Food.

Another day, another fight.  I feel like I've become a different kind of non morning-person now.  Before it used to mean that I had difficulty waking up.  Now I don't have that issue so much, I wake up before my alarm most mornings in fact, but I just do not feel well during this portion of the day.  I know it's not unusual, but just that when it's particularly bad it makes me feel like I'm reset to square one every morning and the first thing I have to do if I want to do anything with the day is build myself back up to a minimally-functional state.

Today it took me about two hours from wake-up time to here.  That included showering, getting dressed, and making coffee.  I do still have to make and eat breakfast.

I've really been trying to eat better the last several days.  I'm fairly certain I'm severely lacking in some nutrients and I've been reading up on what they might be.  I realized that I'm finding it actually quite distracting and inconvenient to have to stop at least three times during the day to make sure I make/find and eat as much food as I can get down.  Then I thought, how did this used to be second nature, a necessity even, to me?  I don't even ever remember it being such a struggle and nuisance, I used to look forward to cooking and eating.  Last time I went grocery shopping, I went with a list of foods high in tryptophan and all that good stuff that's supposed to make people feel better.  They included some things I particularly don't care for, like vanilla yogurt (the only brand of yogurt that I somewhat enjoy was out of my flavor, maple, and vanilla was the only flavor that had maple syrup in it - even though I really don't like vanilla...  nor yogurt...).  I also picked up some organic bananas.  All these mushy foods that I usually avoid because they require me to concentrate while eating in order not to gag.  The other day I bought a breakfast bagel in the morning to "kick-start" the day.  It took me five hours to finish it.  I stuff food down, crying.  Then I cry some more about how pitiful I feel that I'm crying about something so simple as eating.  Then I cry for the guilt I feel of having such a ridiculously 'privileged' issue (I'm complaining because I didn't get my favorite flavor of yogurt?!).  I don't even know.  Since eating more, each morning I've woken up to stomach aches and intestinal rejections, while my head's not feeling all that much better, so I'm not sure if it's even working.  I guess I'll just keep eating to see.

I know it's kind of silly to be writing here about something so mundane as eating, but it's something that is on my to-do list right along with the thesis stuff.  I want to get better, and I believe that I need to tend to and regulate my physical health as part of it.  I also have to start feeling better about what I am getting done and not feeling so shitty about what I'm not yet able to do.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Specific To-Do List for Today's Literature Research

Searches to run / places to look:
  • Cornell library website
    • Databases:
      • Web of Science
      • JStor (also jstor.org)
      • Avery
      • Open House International
    • search combinations of following keywords: Japan*, United States, U.S., America*, east*, west*, cultur*, nation*, sustain*, build*, design, green, environment*, eco-*, eco *, individual, character*, societ*, space, time, natur*, cross-*, internation*, ethnograph*, psychol*, anthropol*, sociolog*
    • other topics / areas:
      • 'cross-national' studies
      • cultural psychology, psychological differences
      • cultural patterns
  • Amazon.com
    • books on the topic
    • the "customers who purchased this book also liked" section under each book
  • Google Scholar
    • look at number of times each reference has been cited to determine weight
    • look at any reviews of the article by others, to figure out other available literature and / or get a feel for what's authoritative in the field
  • References cited and/or required readings listed on online college/graduate school course syllabi for cross-cultural study classes being offered
    • general search
    • look up old CMU Japanese profs' courses
All finds:
  • throw into RefWorks
  • read introduction to get an idea of conventional / widely-accepted understanding of topic
  • read literature review section (if available) and references cited to pick up more related publications
  • if available, read reviews / critiques of the literature
Some existing starting points:
  • list from advisor of items found during last meeting
  • "The Geography of Thought" book
  • any response from campus Japanese bibliographer (pending)

There's probably more if I think hard enough, but I'll get started on these for now.  Else I'll just be blogging all day :-p.