Monthly Archives: January 2001

well, my body has collapsed pretty successfully. i have barely been able to work, to type, to think, etc. almost a week ago, things got so bad that R managed to convince me to go see a doctor at the hospital.

bulges around the disk in the C4 & C5; need to CAT scan to find out more; think that the end goal is spinal shots & physical therapy.

symptoms: lack of feeling in both arms starting from shoulder, black outs in left eye, shooting pains throughout spinal cord. pulsing around all of neck, migraines.

questioning if my recent exercising is making it worse by increasing muscle mass pinching nerves…

now, i am walking like an 80 year old woman and feel aweful with any basic upright movement. to get to NYC this weekend, we filled the backseat with pillows and i rode like cleopatra.

but it makes me feel useless and aweful, unable to take care of myself and have any control – i don’t like it one bit. but as a result, i can’t keep up with anything.. i am on meds that make me sleepy.. i don’t keep up with work, with friends, with anything in my life. and i feel really guilty about it. erg. not sure what is the next move.. avoid people?

o i have been very grumpy about work these days. i think that it is time to analyze what i want to get done at work and why i am doing what i am doing.. just for a reality check up. part of the problem is that people keep asking me and i have formulated so many clean versions that i want companies to hear, instead of saying what i am actually feeling. and, worrisome enough, i start to believe my own retoric. and you wonder why i am worried about getting too involved with tech companies.

first, goals. i am in the technology field because i believe that current technologies are not made with people in mind. i believe that current companies is basically based on marketing and that even those who are doing research are doing it for themselves, thus upper-class middle-aged straight white men. this worries me. i feel as though technology will create a severe social divide. i know that i can’t change how everything is done but i want to make as much of an impact as possible – get in and make people think about how they are doing things, etc.

problem: you have to play to their games. something is only successful as an idea if the market picks up on it (i.e., Brenda Laurel). companies are surprisingly stupid. the older i get, the more i realize that companies are really not the best of the people; they are the worst. the social structure is one of social control and management. even in tech land where people _think_ they have freedom, they are really only minions in a vast system. its quite disturbing. because technology people have worked so hard to be scientists instead of modern day smiths, there is an overemphasis on science as meaningful and no desire to understand people or to respect work that has been done to understand people (except biology and neuroscience). psychology, sociology, anthropology are all considered pointless. how peculiar is that?

so why am i at the lab. no, its not the free food or even the fact that i didn’t have to take GREs (although that made a difference). it is the only place that i could find that values multi-disciplinary approaches to problems related to technology. problem is that i am starting to understand the lab and its kinda like a Model-T perspective. anyone can come to the lab as long as they are engineers. you can utilize other disciplines as long as everything can be analyzed quantitatively. its weird. and its limited. funny is that i am very quantitative but this environment is making me stand up for qualitative and social science perspectives on everything. kinda interesting in my opinion. its one of the reasons that i am so fascinated with my mentor and her work. i totally have an intellectual crush on her – in that stunned unable to contribute kinda way. her perspective is just dumbfounding and the fact that she is so motivated to work with engineers and make them get it is inspiring.

the problem is that i haven’t been doing a good job of narrowing down and doing work. instead i am just amassing knowledge. maybe that is a good thing but not by ML standards. that’s the problem – they want to see products, demos, sellables. although my advisor has been tremendously flexible thus far, i wonder what she is really thinking. is it ok for me to not have tangible things to show? somehow, i think that will wane really fast. i like the idea of doing qualitative visualization – i really think its an interesting subset of work. problem is that it is *damn* hard and i don’t feel as though i have even cracked the surface.

i feel as though a million people want me to do totally different things. and this is only a problem because i don’t know what i want to do. i really like working with my mentor and Henry and all of the other interesting folks.. i can’t get the gender stuff out of my head and i am not sure i want to. its always amazing to talk about queer issues in a boardroom – i find that fascinating. so i don’t know.. still confused.

why do i feel so overwhelmed by my life when, at the same time, i feel as though i am getting nothing done, have no direction or focus? i feel as though i spend so much time dealing that i don’t have any time to do anything. i have too many beloved friends, too strong a community and thus not enough time to manage that and get work done and start a life in Boston. plus, to make matters worse, the only new person that i have met since i moved to Boston doesn’t even fucking live here, adding to my collection of long distance, hard to maintain, impossible to manage friends. and i have no one to be at home when i break down and crumple. it makes me feel so uncertain about what type of community i need versus what i have. and right now, all i want is to be left alone by all my friends so that i can focus in on work. easier said then done as now is the time when everyone has time and wants to spend it with me. and all i want is to figure out how to get my research going. i don’t want outside visitors to my life; i want friends that pop up at lunch and tear me away from my desk to eat since i have forgotten to do so for multiple days. i want friends who drag me to play pool so as to look at the cute untouchable dykes. i don’t want impossible relationships or having to arrange my life around other people’s needs.

ok. so i am cranky. isn’t this the definition of january? this month, this year is going to go down as a month of utter physicaly pain and mental anguish. SAD gone extremely awry.

erg. more grumpiness from the homefront. my body is on strike, vowing to yell and scream until i stop – only i don’t know what stop is. no longer is Advil affecting anything – pills 13-16 got downed an hour ago.

but, despite my feeling like a jack hammer, i managed to impress the folks at I. so much so that my mentor is trying to finagle me three separate summer internship offers. scarily i am taking them seriously. my mentor has offered me her spare room for free for the summer and i would be able to travel with her to Europe and do field studies, learn something about anthropology & actually get to think outside the box. i guess that’s the motto anyhow. i spoke with my advisor this week about a summer internship and she was in favor of me doing so, primarily because she knows how many money problems i have. only, she’s not so thrilled at the idea of me working for M. her past student had mucho problems with IP rights, particularly since they are not sponsors of the lab and thus don’t want all the other companies who are to know about their research. she wants me to seek out an internship at places where various sponsors have been focused. this actually makes too much sense. plus, i adore my mentor. i almost have a crush on her because i am so fascinated with her – mostly because i see myself reflecting back, just as bitch and gender-focused and fuck-you-all corporate culture. she’s loud and obnoxious and touchy-feely and totally aggressive and active. i feel so shy and foolish in comparison but i know she adores me too. I knows how much M will probably offer me which will only make this process more frustrating – i guess the thing is that the main reason i want to be at M this summer is to see if things can work out between me & boy. but i have also vowed not to let other people affect my career direction at this stage, putting me in a weird position. oh goddess, i am confused.

i was having a better day. was, of course, being the operative word. woke up this morning, got my laundry to the laundramat where H stayed with it & got it all done.. got to the lab & had a productive meeting where i helped brainstorm for other projects in my group & got compliments (or teasing) about how much i knew from the SIGGRAPH community. then i went to R’s class which was entertaining. next, had a very productive meeting with my advisor & partner where we did quite a bit of talking about our project which was good. had a fabulous time swimming with H&R and folks at the lab. rushed off to go home, made food & watched TV. giggled with R and goofed around in general. then tried to come back to the lab.. and i remembered why i hate this fucking town. ice. it is all the fault of the ice. i slipped down the stairs in front of my house and now my left side hurts and i am grumpy. erg. i hate this weather. my insides hurt, my outsides hurt.. i feel like i am done with this body – how the hell am i going to be able to grow old?? i don’t get it.. i don’t know how to deal with my body and that is irritating. and i wonder why i am so grumpy.. my mind is definitely following my body’s lead and that is not a good thing.

ok.. more absurd events in my life. all because earlier this evening, i was whining about my back/neck/hands and everything else that has stopped functioning properly.

we – R, H and R’s friend spent the day in restaurants playing Cosmic Encounter and laughing hysterically. R & his friend have known each other for 21 years and are a bloody riot together, knocking on everything; H & i couldn’t stop laughing for the life of us. we got lost in Boston, looking for a really cool cafe that has since shut down – we were very sad about this. finally, we ended up in finagle a bagle at park street. tehehe.. stayed there till they kicked us out.

back at my place, R decides that we should go hottubbing – i laugh at him, reminding him he is on the east coast now.. he putzes around, calls a bunch of different places and finds an open hot tub place in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. so we head off to the lovely state of New Hampshire. R books the tub until the place closes, which shocks the lady at the desk who says that she doesn’t know anyone who has ever stayed longer than 2 hours.. R said she doesn’t know him yet.. he’s the 6/7/8 hour type. we talk, lounge, listen to music, play scrabble. i got a massage that put me into glory heaven state. what an ecstasy nite without the drugs. fabulous conversations.. i spent most of the nite listening to R&H get to know one another and, as i predicted, they got along fabulously, babbling away about relationships and ideas for the future.. typical H happily directing R into emotional talk and i was impressed in the amount she got out of him.. it was precious. my silly friends.

everyone keeps asking me about boy. and i don’t know entirely how to respond. add that to the fact that i am in such a fucked up state right now. body very upset forcing sex drive to approach null & void. all together get emotions all fucked up making me just a pissy little thing. i think R is about to kill me over it. i am unmotivated to work, to think, to deal. i don’t want to talk to people and have been in the habit of not responding to personal emails & phone calls.. i have avoided my date from last week and by now, i am guessing she thinks i am a freak; although she may also think i am out of town since i told her i was going to portland this week. i am just not in the mood to deal and i am not quite sure how to handle that appropriately. the total emotion can be summed up to “blah.”

ok.. last nite was absurd. yesterday morning, after a nice long swim (first one in over 1.5 months!), i ran into my formal mentor from Intel at the Lab. she’s pretty darned cool but i didn’t expect to see her there; i am, afterall, flying out to Portland to spend a week with her next week. but her vacation plans got fouled up and she ended up here to work with one of my colleagues. she asked if i wanted to do dinner and of course i agreed – how can one possibly pass up free food as a freefooditarian?

so i spent the day successfully doing nothing. where the hell is my mind? why do i have no concentration or desire to work? this needs to end soon or i am fucked. i hate this weather with a passion – can i even work in winter? i was thinking back and i don’t remember a winter where i was able to concentrate on anything academic. last february, i went from taking 5 class to taking 2 classes (only one of which i passed). given, things that didn’t require thought, but required action were quite easily finished (i.e. silly concerts). the year before that, i was in Amsterdam and didn’t need to do any thinking in the early months because it was a bunch of bullshit. the year before that, i wasn’t thinking; i was doing software engineering mindlessly. the year before that, i was miserable taking thought-based classes and that was the semester i went insane and locked myself up for 2 weeks. hmm.. i think i need that i light.

anyhow.. back to dinner.. so, this kid at my lab chose the restaurant, a place called Clio; only better restaurant in Boston is the Four Seasons. ok.. sure.. whatever, i can behave and eat in the class that i definitely don’t belong to. sure. so, we order.. first, nice red wine (similar in the fruitiness and smoothness to last nite). fancy salad involving blue cheese and a vegetable that i don’t remember the name of – something like elive or something weird like that.. next, suckling pig. ok.. this is all fine and well.. dessert comes around and i order a nice port and mint mousse. no problem right? well, right before we order dessert, the kid who arranged the dinner told the waiter to say hello the chef and that we were from the lab. oh boy. next, comes this pineapple jello-like stuff with a frothy coconut topping. then, a fancy after dinner drink with citrus in it. next, a big chocolate egg filled with liqueur where the waiter poured hot chocolate liqueur on top of it until it split apart, melting. next, these funny “mints” which were slivers of a mint-like substance that melted on our tongues and were to be followed with this other fancy chocolate. by the end, i was the stuff pig and thought that you would be humored, especially given my inability to actually explain in detail any of what i ate..

can i ever actually think of this as normal? at dinner, i was constantly in awe.. and i stated that shock, mostly in my expression. the think is that my mentor joked that it is now her goal to teach me how to spend industry money and not think about it. ::the table laughs:: the thing is – will that ever just settle well with me? do i really want it to be a no-brainer? it goes against everything that i think of as normal, all of my goals for doing this grad school / elite class bullshit. i don’t want to be a part of the system, as much as get inside, behave as i should in order to change things. that’s always been my goal. what will the impact of the greed into normalcy type thing be? will i just think of it as normal to have a $40 dinner a nite as so many of my advisors and friends seem to encourage? maybe this is why all of my housemates were so appalled that i would go on to academia in the hopes of changing industry. or even the thought of me going to industry.. erg. mental debate.

my hands hurt. i really wish they didn’t – its almost as though they are my primary nemesis, as though they intend to thwart my thinking, my life, my goals. i often wonder if i think through my hands, use them as something beyond a tool, a way of life. they are my livelihood, because they are the way i can best express myself. they allow me to think. i remember reading an article by sherry turkle, explaining how when graphical programs for word processing became the norm, she was no longer able to edit or write without her computer in front of her. this always made sense to me. i feel stifled without my computer and my life feels like its on the brink of only being virtual, and i am not so thrilled.

i used to crave things that i wish i didn’t remember that i did. now, a day without being plugged in and i crave email with the intensity of heroin. i ache for it and i feel on edge and uncomfortable.. my mind wanders to what messages i might have and i fail to pay attention to the subject matter at hand. only i rarely go long with any feeling of withdrawal symptoms before plugging in. maybe there should be a computer addicts anonymous. only, because it is my work and my pleasure, i am excused. hrmpft.

last nite, i spent the evening with my former advisor, Andy, another tech addict. only he is fascinated with what might possibly be, with an eye on whatever has already been. that’s what you get when you live through the entire span of computing history! he told me stories about being on TV in a program right before a ridiculous, unknown, crazy, disrespected French chef named Julia Childs. he was talking about the state of hypertext and the future that it would mean for literature and fiction. only today, he is upset with the likes of Robert Coover for destroying any ideas he had and calling HTML hypertext. i guess that’s what you get when you are a hypertext pioneer and your ideas are only still ideas 30 years later. at least you aren’t Ted Nelson poor Ted Nelson…

but what a fabulous evening with Andy.. reminded me how much i love him. we talked about people, about research, about my ideas (including about me), and about how i am not going to work on my ugrad thesis any longer – and he even bought it! he tried to teach me to be a lady and do things proper – helping me order the “appropriate” entree and learn to drink & enjoy wine. he was adorable. just like a good father. he gave good advice and we had great brainstorming sessions. ah…