Thursday, August 30, 2007


My car, which already overheated and broke down once this month, went into the shop again yesterday. That alone is enough to make me laugh or cry since it's got 115 thousand rather hard miles on it and needs to be replaced soon. The longer I keep it to try to save money by not buying a more reliable car, the more I spend. And spend and spend.

After the last breakdown I decided I should start looking into getting another car. I won't say "new" because this implies ambitions which are far, far beyond me. I looked, I have some idea of what degrees of "can't afford" I can live with. I sought out a local bank which does auto loans (mine doesn't), and bookmarked a few pages. But I thought I'd have until at least October to start the process in earnest.

Therefore, it came as a bit of a set back to this plan when a week after diagnosing and replacing a bad thermostat which caused my car to catastrophically overheat, the parking brake light started coming on every time I hit the brake pedal. It started Tuesday morning, while I was on my way to a new GI doctor appointment. I had no choice but to get my car back in ASAP and see what was up or risk breaking down again, this time with no fella to come get me after. I'm without a safety net for the next two weeks since A____'s leaving tomorrow for a two week trip to Italy. So no A___ and no car of A____ to fall back on since his car will be in NYC the entire time (and is a standard anyhow).

I just found out that getting my car in immediately was a very good idea because part of my brake line is rotted. The light coming on was on account of my having barely any brake fluid in my lines. Fuck. Good thing I didn't drive it on the highway, huh?

The mechanic gave me the estimate for how much it's going to cost to patch up the brake line (and that's without dealing with the nearly worn out pads). Of course I always have the option of getting my car back without even the minimal $300+ repair to the line, but in that case the car will only be useful as a large paperweight, lawn ornament, or possibly a sled come winter.

When I got off the phone with the mechanic, I started chuckling, then laughing out loud. Within a moment I realized I was not only laughing but also crying. By the time August is out, I will have dumped about 5 months worth of car payments into a car which I will have to trade in for scraps as soon as possible lest I risk dumping more potential car payments into keeping this monster road-worthy.

I am currently ready to consider suggestions, recommendations, related experiences, and empirically sound advice in pretty much any form. If anyone has any experience in auto loan shopping, car shopping, deciding between bank loans and dealer based financing, etc that they'd like to pass on please do so. I've resigned myself to the fact that although I managed to live the last 15 or so years with minimal debt, that era of my life is over. And with acceptance comes some something like peace. With a somewhat frigid sense of resignation if not actual calm, I decided I will deal with these things as they come. This is life. For now, for just right now, I have to get on with my day. Maybe do some work before I go pick up my car later this afternoon. One more cigarette, I thought, then I'll go get dressed.

While smoking, I checked my email and found a cranky message from my cranky advisor who has forgotten everything about what I'm doing right now. I think I will make her a poster to hang on her wall. I'll update it as necessary. Oh then I'd need to make her another poster to remind her to look at it though.

I started to write back but decided speaking would be better - less opportunity for compounding what was charitably a text based misunderstanding. While I was waiting for the phone tree to let me access her extension, I opened another message in my inbox. This one was from my little brother. In it, he reports that his insurance has cut off his mental health benefits (he's HIV positive, an abuse survivor, and trying to kick a substance addiction) and that our mother was admitted at about 1 AM to a hospital for acute cholecystitis. I strongly suspect the gallbladder disease has a point of origin somewhere outside her gallbladder given that my brother tells me she's been complaining of severe fatigue for nearly a month now and that she drank Jack Daniels like it was water for 20+ years of her life. I certainly don't begrudge the universe the karmic balancing it is exacting on my mother these days but I do think her messes are going to be extremely hard on my little brother since he still lives with the 'rents.

Well, as hard as I tried, I think I have no choice but to acknowledge that I am standing on the doorway of the tea room again. Two weeks without my partner in crime to help me feel better about the shit in life, the start of an ambiguous school year, and family and financial fuckery most assuredly equals some down time for the psyche.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


7 pointers to lift a bad mood! was the line. It caught my eye since I'm apparently moving into a Saturn trine Uranus in my house of fuckheads transit. Or more precisely, my mood could use a boost or I'll end up in the tea room for sure.

I clicked on it. I wasn't expecting much, but I sure wasn't expecting this, from Tip #4: Research has found that doing squats and leg presses will greatly increase your natural production of the "youth hormone". Increased growth hormone translates to an elevated mood, among other physical benefits.

Since squats and leg presses are pretty much flat out for me on account of the now perpetually fucked up hip, I wonder if I'd get a similar mood boost from watching someone else do squats. Probably. I'll have to find some way to try it. Now I'm thinking...Who that I know can be manipulated into doing a squat for me, and how would this be best accomplished?

Oh and the paperwork was all shuffled successfully by me. The woman whose job it was said "I'll look for it" and then went home, leaving me with an extra cranky advisor and two more frantic emails from the person waiting for the fax.

not monday

Why does my wednesday feel like a monday? It started with bad dreams about my parents in the wee hours of the AM, and realizing that if I have any of these waking myself up screaming nights in the next two weeks, it'll just be me and my cat (my fella's going to Italy for two weeks on Friday). Got up an hour late and found three emails in my inbox. The first was from my up to now recently "MIA" brother describing how he is extremely depressed after having tried and failed to get into rehab and to get housing assistance so he can move out of my parents' house. I want to help him but feel there isn't much I can do.

The next was from a person asking me to fax her some research paperwork stuff for work related shenanigans, work which I had been paid to do last year but which I am not being paid to do this year. And rounding out the set was a message from a woman I completely despise who is now apparently being paid to do the work I was doing - which in my eyes includes dealing with this paperwork.

Foolishly, I explained this to my advisor (boss of me and the woman I so dislike), that I feel if this other person is going to be paid to do this job, she should be the one handling today's last minute and apparently rather urgent paperwork shuffling. I had thought this was a good way to kill two birds with one stone. Bird one is doing someone else's job for her. Bird two is the much more immediate doing something which I didn't really have time to do today anyhow.

My day is chock full of crap involving standing in several long lines to get the rewards of my ever increasing student loan debt and meeting with an overly procedurally minded grad student who is in charge of coordinating for the class I am TAing for this semester. I missed our meeting this week because I had a much needed appointment with my psychologist, and this young lady (the procedural one) is insisting that I meet with her to go over what I missed. What I missed is her telling people how to organize and run the class. I've got a hell of a lot more teaching experience and training than her, even in this particular class. While I don't think this means I get a by on going to the meetings for the TAs, I do think it means it's not a federal case if I happen to miss one now and then. However, we do disagree on this. And so we have wedged a meeting into what was already a busy day for me even without the last minute paperwork I am being hounded to take care of asap.

It was foolish of me to be up front with my advisor though. As much as I tend to think that she is ok with direct communication, there apparently is an effect of academic culture which tinges any interactions. The preferred mode of discourse about such matters is through subtle and what I'd consider passive aggressive behavior. This really doesn't suit me, but my style sometimes doesn't suit her. So what I thought was going to be a simple matter of clearing up some of my schedule has turned into an argument with my advisor. Thus, I need to cancel some of the stuff I was planning to do today to go in and conduct some damage control with her.

If I were a different sort of person, I'd probably be mentally smacking myself on the forehead and saying "me and my big mouth" at this point. But I an arrogant and haughty virgo cusp person. Thus I deeply feel that I am right, that this is unnecessary bullshit which affirms my belief that these people and this career path sucks in the suckiest of ways.

I'm going to have to work to find reasons to not hate people today. I don't revel in despising. It is energy consuming and I have learned to be very stingy about my energy.

Oh, I have one. Finding comments from Bubblewench and D on my blog. That was nice. And D's contribution of supercallafragalisticexpialladouchebag was indeed pretty damned awesome.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

golden throats

Some years ago, a friend played William Shatner singing "Mr. Tambourine Man" for me. Amazing. The album also featured Shatner reprising his role as Captain Kirk on alien mind control except here he is not falling in love with his communications officer or scheming against his friends but shouting his way through "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" (if you haven't heard it you really should at least sample it at iTunes or somesuch place). Lastly, there was Spock - I mean Leonard Nimoy - singing "If I Had a Hammer".

I recently decided I must have some of these gems. My quest brought me to Actors Who Try to Sing, by Kevin Murphy (yes, that Kevin Murphy). A nice review of a selection of albums by celebrities who sort of sing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

a word is born

I recently found myself in need for a word for ass cleavage. You know, other than "ass cleavage".
I ran a few contenders past my fella. He chuckled, then said "décolletush".

Indeed, witticism is the way to my heart.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Where we're headed?

I saw this headline and had two nearly simultaneous reactions:
- Moved on from beating up on just women I see
- In some of what are now considered to be mainstream US political circles, this wouldn't be all that far out as public policy

Nigeria: 18 Arrested For Sodomy - Face Death Penalty
Daily Champion (Lagos)
10 August 2007

EIGHTEEN suspected homosexuals have been arrested by the police in Bauchi for alleged sodomy.

The accused may be sentenced to death if convicted under Bauchi State's Islamic Shariah law.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the suspects were arrested Sunday in a hotel in Bauchi and arraigned Wednesday before Justice Taminu Abubakar of the Bauchi High Court.

Prosecuting police officer, Thadius Boboi told the court that the men, who were wearing female clothing, had come to the city from five neighbouring states to celebrate a gay "marriage".

He said the men's actions had contravened the shari'ah penal code adopted in Bauchi and other states in muslim northern Nigeria eight years ago following the end of military rule.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

best hit

"why is my father a douchebag?"
I take some pride in the knowledge that typing this question into google brings someone to my blog.

Friday, August 17, 2007

"There's a war on, you know"

Ammunition shortage squeezes police

Troops training for and fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are firing more than 1 billion bullets a year, contributing to ammunition shortages hitting police departments nationwide and preventing some officers from training with the weapons they carry on patrol.

An Associated Press review of dozens of police and sheriff's departments found that many are struggling with delays of as long as a year for both handgun and rifle ammunition. And the shortages are resulting in prices as much as double what departments were paying just a year ago.

I guess the notion of rationing ammunition is too unAmerican to even consider as it could potentially limit someone's god given right to shoot cans off a fence post.

I guess Chris Rock's proposal might not be too far off.

what's my tarot card?

What's your personal Tarot Card?

Justice! The card of virtue, fainess and compensation
Take this quiz!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

CT, we're expensive

I was up early today to see my fella A_____ off. He's got a talk today, one I should go to but during which I managed to schedule an appointment. I couldn't have timed it worse if I tried. It's not like the talk is new info. As of last night, I'll have heard his talk 4, maybe 5 times. But I still would have gone if I could because as I've said, it's bad not to be seen in grad school and the occasion of this talk is one of those places to be seen. Plus, if I have to attend a talk that is not entirely my cup of tea, I'd rather go to one where I have some good reason for being there other than what more often than not boils down to faculty mollification (i.e. at least pretending to drink the cool-aid).

So I'm up, under-caffeinated, a little cranky about my day's schedule, and reading the news while I wake up. And what do I find? More reason to dislike the state I live in.

Despite a slowdown in the housing market, the median sales price of a single-family house in Connecticut has climbed above $300,000 for the first time.

The Warren Group report shows that sales of single-family houses were down by 9.5 percent in June compared with the same month last year.

The overall point is clear: The median price of a house in the state has outpaced the price of consumer goods and services. In June 1997, for example, the median price of a single-family house was $149,900. If it had risen in step with the consumer price index, that figure would be $195,000 in 2007, not $307,250.

Why? The article goes on to offer some shallow commentary from unbiased sources like a Century 21 agent and unsubstantiated speculation. (Thank you Fox news for lowering the standard everywhere.) Personally, I'd put my money on this:
The reason [for the local spike in home prices] even as sales decline, could come, in part, from a higher portion of sales occurring in Fairfield County, where houses cost more, said Steven P. Lanza, executive editor of The Connecticut Economy [published by a local university].

Fairfield county? The article has a table which lists the median price of a single family home in Fairfield county as $629,500. The county where I once owned a home has a median price of $243,750. Fairfield county is also the richest county in CT, and a nice example of how screwy the distribution of wealth is in this surrogate state o'mine.

The part of today's article which hits the point for me comes from this quote.
"It's still a very expensive housing market in the state, even in the midst of the housing recession we are going through," said Todd Martin, economic adviser for Bridgeport-based People's United Bank. "The state is still not very affordable."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Safety first

An email just went out in my department. It starts with this rather disturbing line:
The old fire alarm system is finally being replaced with one more capable and less likely to catch fire itself.

another word

I'm filling out this health intake survey thing for a doctor, well sort of a doctor, and I came upon this: "Please list adjectives that best describe you"
There are five numbered spaces under this item. Thus I am asked to sum up my personality in five adjectives.

I'm still stumped trying to think of a better word than "demanding". Words I sometimes have self-applied for this general aspect include "cantankerous" and "caustic" but I am (other word for demanding) even when I am in a pleasant mood and positively inclined towards the people around me. At issue is that I expect the best of people, in general. At some point in my 20s, I realized that the cantakerousness (the cantanker?) comes in when people fail, for no good reason, repeatedly, and under a variety of circumstances, to live up to what I see as a (person appropriate) minimum standard.

Any suggestions? Here's what I get in (not all of which are entirely the correct part of speech but could, presumably, be modified).

ambitious, backbreaker, ball-breaker, bothersome, clamorous, critical, dictatorial, difficult, exacting, exhausting, exigent, fussy, grievous, hard, imperious, importunate, insistent, nagging, onerous, oppressive, pressing, querulous, strict, stringent, taxing, tough, troublesome, trying, urgent, wearing, weighty

Fussy? Hell, maybe I should just write virgo.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Movies I'll love?

I put a rss feed up for the recommendations Netflix has for me. I do so with a caveat for those who have not experienced the flawed logic which drives the Netflix recommendations algorithm. Here's a relevant article on the Netflix recommendations, their usefulness, and (readily apparent) limitations.

I've got to agree with most of the assessment in that article. I've generally found their recommendations not terribly useful. When the recommendation isn't just 100% wrong (because I like some old Hitchcock, I'll apparently love anything staring John Wayne), it's more often than not something I've already seen (or own, or have seen enough times that I should own it).

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

my own personal douchebag

"Do me a favor," my father said to me after the funeral mass. "Say hello to your mother."
"I'll say hello if I see her" I said, meaning "no I won't seek her out just to make you feel better or some such shit, and if I can avoid her I will. I'm only talking to you because your poor sister who is standing right there saw us run into each other and I couldn't take the look of fear that crossed her face - only for a moment before she forced her features back into the careful mask she's been fighting to keep up all damned day, hell probably all week" I didn't say this because my aunt was right there and I am not a douchebag.

My dad replied "Bury it". He said it in his pissy voice. As a child, I would have described it as his growly voice, the one which was a yell without the volume. As an adult, I see it as an attempt to intimidate from someone who is in no position to do so. Someone who in fact should be groveling and averting his eyes when I pass, hoping I take no notice of him lest I choose to repay even one small sliver of what he dished out when we were kids.

I answered him in a low and sarcastic tone "Hey, maybe I'll kick a little dirt over it."
He half turned away from me then said loudly"No, I mean it." He hefted up the tote bag he'd been holding. "Literally bury it. I've got your uncle right here," he said, swinging the bag for emphasis.

His birthday's coming up in a couple of weeks - he'll be sixty six. Now I forget. Is sixty six Massengill or Summer's Eve?

funeral, take 2

Another funeral this weekend. Certainly not close enough to the last one this April to readily count as a member of a group however prior to April I think the last funeral I went to was in the early 90s.

All of the grandparents died off when I was still relatively young. The last was my mother's adopted mother who died while I was in my mid twenties and living in MI. My mother's mom, otherwise known as "Nanna", always struck me as incredibly frail. She was quite skinny, had pure white hair which she had set and styled at least once a week so it constantly fluffed out around her head, creating a brilliant, glowing poof. Her hands were exceptionally thin. They looked like bone with the thinnest layer of skin spread unevenly onto it, slipping off the more peaked parts into the wells between knuckles and ropey blue veins.

She had looked like this for as long as I remember her.

Still, she lived past cancer and even into several levels of heart failure. She had the first heart attack while out on her daily walk - far more than I manage to do these days even so go Nanna. I didn't hear the news that she had died until many days and many subsequent heart attacks and resuscitations later. My mother told me she hadn't wanted to disrupt my studies with the news. This was, like so many other things out of my mother's mouth, a load of crap. My mother had issues with her mother, to the point where she took her mother's death just one of the many inconveniences she felt the woman had thrust upon her.

The family mythology was that either my mother reported her father's was sexual abuse to Nanna or that Nanna had caught him in the act. In either version, according to my mother, Nanna had told the bastard (in front of our mother) if she ever caught him doing that again, she'd send the children back to the orphanage.

Being a sophisticated enough audience, it only took the one time for her to explicitly point out to my sister, brother, and me that this had meant Nanna had essentially sealed my mother's fate. Keep silent if it happened again or get sent back to the orphanage.

Bad Nanna!

Many years later I heard a different version of this story. This version is not nearly as cut and dry and involves my grandmother moving with the children out into the chicken coop rather than let them continue to be around the monster she had married. Mind you this was like early 1950s rural New England. There were no fucking shelters.

Nanna's funeral was the last in the family before this week's but due to my mother's machinations I didn't go to it. This week's was my uncle, my godfather in fact. We weren't close but his wife (my father's sister) and he had no children. In fact, none of the women on that side of the family had kids. I don't know for sure since I'm not at the stage of my life where my age group peers are dying off but I suspect that knowing you have family, and specifically knowing there is another generation coming up after you may be in some ways comforting or at least a little reassuring.

I may be wrong. I'm basing it on implicit impressions of older relatives speaking of death and on numerous pop-cultural reference. The aunties do like to talk about their nieces and nephew (just the dear brother) .

So A____ and I went up Boston-way for a smoldering hot Saturday morning funeral mass in the "Immaculate Contraption" church (as my brother is fond of calling it). A_____ had never seen a catholic mass before - this was the real deal complete with drunk clergy.

My aunt seemed genuinely happy to see that all of us "kids" were there. We first saw her on our way into the mass. I hugged her, possibly for the first time in my life. She felt small and full of an uncomfortable energy. In our phone calls over the week between when her husband died and the funeral, I noticed she moved with little transition between speaking casually of life and its minor details to choking up on a sob when the topic touched too close to certain aspects of the notion of her very recently deceased husband. The energy I felt when I held her was both the strain of holding this in and some seepage of the very stuff which was being held in.

She had arranged for coffee and refreshments to be served after the mass at the church school, which was behind the church. I walked out after the mass was over to the front entrance of the massive, circular church (yeah J, it's like one of those conan churches!) and I realized I was on exactly the opposite side from the school. There was no shade en route. I had already been feeling unwell soon after arriving over an hour earlier. The had been church was cooler than a late morning August parking lot, but not quite cool enough to refresh me after walking to and from the car to the church entrance twice - one trip there had turned into two after we realized Hey you probably can't walk into a church with a huge cup of dunkin donuts iced coffee and they had no trash cans about. I'm sure my feeling a bit, well, swoony for lack of a better word, during the service was not helped by the usual up down up down up down of a catholic mass. After the mass concluded, my sister helped me get to a bathroom where I threw water on my face, arms, and neck. (Oh fyi, apparently the Boston area catholics save all that christlike asceticism for the restrooms.)

The water helped but I still felt drained. Seeking to avoid the rather lengthy shadeless walk to the school hall, I made my way over by walking through the outer church corridor which ran the circumference of the big round building. Every now and then there was a break in the corridor. We'd go through a door to the outside, and then a few steps later go through a door back into the indoors corridor. Hot as it was in the church, it felt positively cool compared to the oven of the nearly afternoon parking lot.

I say "we" because my aunt made this whole strange trip with me. See, just before embarking on this procession, I had taken my aunt's hand. She had started crying when saying how happy she was that we could all come up, so I held her hand and said how wonderful it was to see her. Someone mentioned we should get over to the reception, and so my aunt and I began walking. She had continued to hold onto my hand although I had somewhat loosened my grip when I realized I was planning on making such an oddly interrupted and circuitous path out of the building. She fussed about my staying indoors, commenting that this path (i.e. not so much through but around the inner part of the church) would be best. Saying "I'll walk with you dear..." and holding my hand up in hers.

So we walked together, in and out, blinding and blazing then cool and dim. Others from my family - people I know mostly by face and not name, and my sister and A___ walked behind us, A____ coming up ahead sometimes to open a stuck door for us. At some point I noticed that this promenade was like some kind of closing ritual. A counterclockwise circle made slowly and deliberately by the mourners. Not fully closed until A____ and my sister and I piled back into the hot car and drove the rest of the way around the church and out onto the street.

Monday, August 06, 2007

blog like a girl?

You throw like a girl.
Your hair looks like a girl's.
You run like a girl.
Your bike looks like a girl's.
Your ride your bike like a girl.
You dance like a girl.
You kick like a girl.
You play like a girl.
You cry like a girl.
You scream like a girl.
You dress like a girl.
You drive like a girl.
You swing like a girl.
You fight like a girl.
You sing like a girl.
You sneeze like a girl.
You laugh like a girl.
You talk like a girl.

Note that "girl" and "fag" are interchangeable in the above.

Here's what I think.

The insult in its common use has little to do with a direct comparison to any particular individual - which would explain why the authors of such insults rarely feel their words are sexist or in any way bigoted. The insult calls on a definition of "girl" or "fag" which means not so much "juvenile female" or "gay guy" but more specifically things inappropriately unmasculine.

That these labels are used for this purpose does kind of make me wonder if this is an indication that all things are supposed to be masculine. Sort of subverts the whole binary gender role thing though.

And I think ultimately it's just an analogy. That is, while there is no individual or perhaps no specific people (whole real people) who are being referenced in the "like a _____" frame, there is a semantic collection, a prototype which has an unfortunate negatively tinged essence. This property of the abstract group can and will be applied to (even real) members of the group, current or subsequent.

It's hard to know how the negative "unmasculine" property (or set of properties) came to be applied to the group and the group members even in the apparent absence of experience with individuals from the group or with contrary experience with individuals from the group. My guess is that it occurs through a top-down, category to member spreading of the negatively charged property after this property has been applied to all categories which could be defined as definitionally non-masculine.

This contrasts with a bottom-up property affiliation, where icky, weak, whiney individual "girls" one after the other built up and reinforced the properties of the category.

My main reason for thinking it's more the former because honestly, how many gay guys could your average 10 year old boy have met? I know full grown straight men who, when asked "are you friends with anyone who is gay?" have to honestly answer that to their knowledge, they don't even know anyone who is gay. How fucked up is that?

I find it personally insulting and I think it's socially damaging that "girl" is used as such a negative label. I sometimes wonder if I am making too much of it. I wonder this when men who I thought were not dipshits go and say stuff like this ("crying like a girl") as a joking insult to one another, or even as a self deprecating comment. When I inquire, I am invariably told by such men that they have (a) engaged in a fair amount of self reflection and (b) they do not believe that the term implies a stereotypical set of beliefs about gender and subsequently (c) that the use of the term in this way (as opposed to _____ way?) is not sexist, does not transmit sexism, does not perpetuate sexism, is not derogatory to women and girls, does not reinforce the equation of NOT MASCULINE = BAD = FEMALE/GAY which can effectively serve to limit what roles real individual "not masculine" individuals are allowed while living in a world dominated by the NOT NOT MASCULINE.

Which brings me to today's news blurb.

Bad Thai cops to endure Kitty shame
Thai police officers who break rules will be forced to wear hot pink armbands featuring "Hello Kitty," the Japanese icon of cute, as a mark of shame, a senior officer said Monday.
The striking armband features Hello Kitty sitting atop two hearts.

"Simple warnings no longer work. This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor," said Pongpat, acting chief of the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok.

Friday, August 03, 2007

I bleed

Below is an excerpt from an eMedicine article about a somewhat controversial condition called "premenstrual dysphoric disorder". For a not terribly well done overview of the controversy, see this APA Monitor piece.

(gotta love the feminist argument in that link, btw. By the argument as it is alluded to there, no one should be diagnosed with or treated for conditions like endometriosis because such a condition reaffirms stereotypes about women, i.e. that female anatomy and physiology are pathological as is evidenced by the monthly disability they cause.)

In the eMedicine article, the cognitive and social learning theory and the sociocultural theory are both pretty swell. But the one below, the psychosocial theory, is my absolute favorite. It's not just favorite PMDD causal theory, but my favorite example of misogyny and outdated shrunken gender roles being applied to clinical practice. I copied it and hung it up on my wall in my office.

The psychosocial theory hypothesizes that PMDD or PMS is a conscious manifestation of a woman's unconscious conflict about femininity and motherhood. Psychoanalysts proposed that premenstrual physical changes reminded the woman that she was not pregnant and, therefore, was not fulfilling her traditional feminine role. Obviously, proving this theory through scientific evidence is quite difficult.

Yeah, obviously.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

no no show

My advice if you are considering going into a PhD program is "don't".

However, if you simply must anyhow and you now find yourself in grad school wondering which of the many guidelines, advice sets, and plans you need to follow and which are more meant as suggestions, here's a bit of concrete must follow advice for you.

Whatever you do, whatever happens to you, you cannot disappear.

Disappearing acts - a series of little ones or even in some cases a single poorly timed one - will cause faculty to lose faith in you faster than pretty much anything else (short of plagiarism) you can do.

This especially applies if there's been anything shaky or spotty about your graduate career thus far but you are lucky enough to have an advisor or other faculty member who is willing to advocate for you. If you fail to show up and fail to call up, you will lose that support quite quickly.

Even for the non-troubled grad, face time is key. Contact is important. For the student to whom fate has conspired to add multiple life crises on as an extra-curricular activity, the importance of these things becomes even stronger.

Say your mother was just hospitalized, your cat is having seizures, you wrecked your car, and you yourself just broke up with your partner of 10 years leaving you needing to go out and find a new place to live lest you sleep in your wrecked car starting next week, at least call and/or email your advisor to give them even a cursory overview of what's up. During this conversation, tell them when you anticipate being done with what's up. If it's going to take some unspecifiable period of time which is more than a few days, promise to follow up with them at some agreed upon time and then DO SO.

What prompts this warning is that I'm watching a student disappear her way out of my program right now. Genuine crises abound, but the disappearance is making it hard for her advisor to continue to advocate for her. It is truly a terrible thing to witness. To borrow a phrase from a friend, it's like watching a train wreck every day.