theladyrose: (Default)
Here's what I've been up to today:

  • 21:15 Everything wrong with the US's social service system can still be summed up by "Officer Krupke." I don't know what to say about that. #
  • 22:31 "America," too, come to think of it, is a pretty accurate depiction of the immigrant experience. What social issues can song and dance ... #
  • 23:13 Reading so many psych articles in such a short period (8 pgs. of sources) is bad for my mental health, but it's reassuring to know that ... #
  • 01:34 Finally figured out what my hypotheses are. Also, 90% done with my thesis proposal! Just need to finish writing up the experiment desi ... #
Automatically shipped by LoudTwitter
theladyrose: (Default)
This thesis proposal is turning into my baby.

A strange, weighty, intellectual baby, but a baby nevertheless.

If you attempt to engage me in conversation, unless you ask me something specific I will automatically start talking about my thesis proposal. Its development is not so slowly driving me neurotic. I'm always checking up on the document whenever I turn on my computer, I'm obsessed that I'm not feeding it the proper sources (really, you need more Carstensen's background studies on socioemotional selectivity theory if it's going to grow properly) and do research in the free moments I can find. I subsist on coffee to get me through the day; I can't give blood; I'm twitchy and jumpy and have random cravings for vegetarian noodles and milkshakes with sketchy Asian names and vegan hot dogs.

Heck, I'm nervous about my regular meetings with the doctor, aka my thesis advisor, who has a PhD and thus can be legitimately be addressed by the title "doctor."

I've written 80% of what I need to submit in mid-April, and 8 pages of sources. I still don't feel like I'm doing enough or have a sense of what my hypotheses are. I don't know if I'll ever be a proper "parent" to this thing when I'm so clueless.

If I weren't asexual and had progressed beyond the hand-holding stage with a member of the opposite gender, I'd swear I was pregnant.

(Somewhere, on the Internet, there are many people laughing their arses off.)

I don't know what it's like to be a mother, but I'm starting to get a tiny sense of how offspring can drive you crazy.

I don't even want to imagine what the teething troubles are going to be like when I actually have to start using SPSS on all of the data and try to explain why the participants in the neutral mood condition were significantly more depressed than those in the sad mood condition.
theladyrose: (Default)
Written in response to this post by Dr. Robert Firestone on the decline of psychoanalysis and depth therapy, because I have quite a few critical issues with psychoanalysis and don't see enough debate questioning the validity of psychoanalysis.

I know that Psychology Today is pop lit and isn't exactly the most legitimate source around, but I feel that it's important to address some of the perspectives on the blogs because the truth is that there are quite a few who actually believe the crud written on the site. Not that I'm a clinical psychologist or even an expert in the filed by any means, but sometimes you need someone providing sensible comments.

Pretentious ramblings of a mere undergrad )
theladyrose: (Default)
I'm beginning to understand how addictions start; I've drunk more coffee since the start of the semester on Monday than in the entirety of my educational experience. I can somewhat rationalize my new Starbucks habit in trying to jumpstart myself to handle a packed semester because I really can't justify being unfocused. Due to my stupidity in drinking an iced caramel macchiato at 4:30 yesterday, I was up until 5:30 this morning reading like a maniac. It also means that I've done all of my reading for my aging policy class until spring break in mid-March and read my death and dying textbook from cover to cover. Naturally, of course, I have more difficulty focusing on this week's priorities, like writing this op-ed piece due Friday about the portrayal of Asian Americans in the media as perpetual foreigners, or divying up work on a presentation with a classmate due this Thursday.

My sense of priorities confuse me, too. But caffeine makes me feel like a superwoman, and I figure there are far unhealthier addictions to have.

Today I'm meeting with my thesis advisor to figure out what on earth I'm writing for my honors proposal, which will most likely deal with age differences in the mood congruence effect on certain types of verbal memories. The mood congruence effect, to quote Wikipedia, "refers to the tendency of individuals to retrieve information more easily when it has the same emotional content as their current emotional state." The simplified version is that depressed people tend to enter a vicious feedback loop regarding the world as uniformly negative and unchangeably so. With age, people tend to have better emotional regulation coping strategies and are generally more optimistic in what they remember. The other project I'm working on investigates whether or not older adults' optimistic bias affects the way they interpret facial expressions. Malcolm Gladwell has this thoughtful piece published in the New Yorker a while back about the power of being able to read expressions and catch their nuances and its value in lie detection. The research is genuinely fascinating, but I'm really not looking forward to learning how to score hundreds of cognitive assessment measures and having to work out some interrater reliability measures on the project off of which I'm piggybacking for my thesis.

I swear, you don't realize that you have a soul until you do research because it pretty much sucks it out of you. It's also made me seriously question whether or not I could actually handle a PhD program and if I really want to go down the clinical psychology track professionally. I'm considering jumping ship to gerontology and doing a PhD in that. I have a fairly decent chance of getting funded for a gero doctorate if I continue to stay here at USC after I finish my master's, which I start next year. My current classes in aging policy and the management of chronic diseases is proving far more interesting than I had expected it to be.

That, and I'm a wimp who is deathly afraid of multivariate statistics and advanced research methods. I don't know of any clinical or counseling psych PhD grad students who have a decent quality of life in their programs, and I interact with them on a regular basis thanks to my jobs. I also suspect that earning a PhD is my attempt to prove that I could be just as smart as my freakishly brilliant friends and the people I look up to, which doesn't really make sense when my problem is that I tend to lack more common sense about general life things than anything else. At least I know now that you don't die if you accidentally get hydrogen peroxide contact lens cleansing solution...twice.

On to more cheerful topics...

Brief thoughts on the Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Next Doctor, with spoilers )

Brief thoughts on Hustle 5x02 )

On a totally unrelated note, I discovered that many many moons ago, I attempted to translate the opening dialogue of the Prisoner into French. Oddly enough, it seems somewhat funnier in a different language.

- Où suis-je ?
- Au Village.
- Que voulez-vous ?
- Des informations.
- Dans quel camp êtes-vous ?
- Vous le saurez plus tard... Nous voulons des renseignements...
- Vous n'en aurez pas !
- De gré ou de force, nous les aurons.
- Qui êtes-vous ?
- Le Nouveau Numéro Deux.
- Qui est le Numéro Un ?

- Vous êtes le Numéro Six.
- Je ne suis pas un numéro, JE SUIS UN HOMME LIBRE !
theladyrose: (Default)
The news around my f-list has been going around like wildfire: Patrick McGoohan has passed away. I am very sorry to report that Ricardo Montalban has passed away today, too.

I found out the news just before going to my first death and dying class. Irony can be rather indifferently cruel.

I don't cry over deaths, generally - it took me 5 years before I could even shed a tear for Cathy. I spent most of class this afternoon dabbing at my eyes.

Many friends and I have lost a hero today, and many others around the world are mourning his loss.

It is a true privilege to have such a dynamic role model to whom I aspire. As corny as it sounds, his creative work as an actor, writer and filmmaker have left an indelible imprint on my life and have changed me for the better by giving me a greater sense of empathy, perserverance and appreciation of life's complexity. The characters he portrayed made such an impact on me, and I honestly don't know of anyone else whose acting mattered to me so much and have actually caused me to reevaluate how I view the world. My liberalism and beliefs about justice were largely shaped by the Prisoner and Danger Man, which is every bit as thought-provoking and morally ambiguous as the former if you watch carefully.

He inspired us to think more critically about the roles that institutions play in regulating, however covertly or overtly, our thoughts and behaviors, to accept the unsettling but ultimately necessary ambiguity that hangs over so many of our decisions, to recognize the human capacity to withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. If such lessons seem grandiose, it's because his work transcended the boundaries of intelligent entertainment and make for philosophical material that keep us debating and thinking to this day. He had the clout and the chutzpah to make a pop medium like television political without being explicitly so, thought-provoking and actually meaningful, even if the messages were often ambivalent. He made snarky paranoid eccentricity cool. There wasn't a role of his that I didn't enjoy tremendously that provided a bright spot in even mediocre settings (OK, maybe Brass Target. But that movie just stunk, period). His incredible integrity, personal and artistic, sets a standard worth following for all of us.

Death gives us the opportunity to come together to honor a life that has made ours so much richer. I can only hope that generations to come will discover what an incredible legacy he has left. If there is an afterlife, I can only hope that it's giving him a king's welcome.

Patrick McGoohan, you will always be a hero to me, and for that I am grateful.
theladyrose: (Default)
Here's what I've been up to today:

  • 15:03 @petserrano I'm crossing my fingers for you! #
  • 15:04 Not sure what's more terrifying: picking death over aging health class, or filling out the paperwork to make the schedule change #
  • 15:19 @petserrano Congrats to your bro! And have fun with the gift wrap : ) #
Automatically shipped by LoudTwitter
theladyrose: (Default)
I've been woefully neglectful in updating lately. My other blog has been distracting me. Catching up and reading many blogs has been distracting me further. All my friends here are what keep me anchored to this site, and for all of you I'm terribly grateful.

Unofficial resolution for 2009: start updating more here again. We'll see how that goes.

Best wishes of 2009 to you all!
theladyrose: (Default)
We all need people to stop us.

I have a tendency to dress up messages in formal language in hopes that it'll make me sound smarter. So much of the core emotions become buried under the abstractions that the impact is lost. So here I am, simply stated: thank you for making my world a better place and for restoring my faith that people really act on their intentions to do good for each other.

Thank you to the friend who went on Thunder Mountain Railroad with me four times in a row in Disneyland.

Thank you to the friend who snuck in turn of the century romantic adventure novels in my locker senior year.

Thank you to the friends who will let me ramble about Cronenbach's alpha and Piaget's stages of development because I like having someone to geek about research to.

Thank you to the friends who let me call our bell choir group the Electric Penguin Anarchists and politely never pointed out how I had no idea what I was doing trying to figure out our chime rhythms. Or that I always tried stealing the D5 and D6 bells because the hammer wasn't loose.

Thank you to the friend who was willing to split the tempura/sashimi combo at Sushi House.

Thank you to the friends whose families have treated me like one of their own during dinners and vacations.

Thank you to the friends who drove me around when my mother was sick and after my car accident.

Thank you to the friends who dragged me down the hill when I couldn't walk in Arlington Cemetery.

Thank you to the friends who put up with my driving the wrong direction in parking lots and speeding a bit too quickly around hilly curves.

Thank you to the friends who enjoy doing nerdy things like playing Trivial Pursuit, jumping on trampolines, beading and candlemaking with me.

Thank you to the friends who let me ramble about my inner geekdoms, film music and Doctor Who and James Bond and the Internet and so many other things.

Thank you to the friends who go out to dinner with me to explore random awesome places in LA.

Thank you to the friend who left me chocolate and roses by my door even when I wasn't talking to you. No words convey how sorry I am for treating you as I did.

Thank you to the friends who've cooked and let me shamelessly mooch their food.

Thank you to the friends who make APASS the wonderful, open and zany work environment that I'll always look for in the rest of my jobs.

Thank you to the friends who blurt out the awkward, hilarious things that we're all thinking but too shy to say aloud.

Thank you to the friends who make me laugh, even when I'm being emo as all heck.

Thank you to the friends who let me be a shameless gossip.

Thank you for the fact that I've never heard of any of my friends backstabbing me.

Thank you to the friends who've changed my view of the world and made me think about all of the beautiful and astonishing things in it.

Thank you to the friends who don't call me out on being a pretentious ass.

Thank you to the friends who don't give me a hard time when I screw up and deserve to be yelled at.

Thank you to the friends who listen and sympathize when I whine and angst about anything and everything.

Thank you to the friends who still put up with me even when I flake out.

Thank you to the friends who trust me with their secrets. I'm touched and honored that you respect me enough to share so much of yourselves when it takes so much courage to speak up.

Thank you to the friends who keep me updated on what's going on in their lives, even when I'm too busy/tired/lazy to write back. I do pay attention.

Thank you to the friends who want to reconnect weeks/months/years later without contact and having the same closeness as we did since we last met.

Thank you, friends, for being the people I hope I will be.

Thank you, friends, for helping me when I didn't know how to help myself or know how to even ask.

Thank you for being there in my tie of need.

Thank you for being there because I honestly don't know how I'd do it without all of you.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends, and may it be a good one.
theladyrose: (Default)
Let's face it - Veteran's Day isn't the most celebratory of holidays. This day is an opportunity for us to remember what people have sacrificed to allow us to live the lives we have and to acknowledge to recognize the incredible suffering that lingers on after the war is over.

Captain Sargent Binkley is my next door neighbor, whom I've written about before. I have known him and his family my whole life. We're close, as in "I can see into your kitchen window from my kitchen window" close. After the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, he and his siblings cheerfully babysat me as our parents cleared the broken glass out of our living rooms. I still remember when he stashed the two bikes he bought with his own pocket money for his younger twin siblings in our garage so that they wouldn't discover their Christmas presents early. He was the kind of guy you could always rely upon to do the right thing.

Two years ago, Sargent turned himself in after robbing two pharmacies at gunpoint to feed his addiction to painkillers. This wasn't a junkie committing a crime to get his next fix. Sargent had been suffering from PTSD and chronic pain resulting from a hip fracture for several years after a traumatic injury on an undercover military mission in the Honduras. I Though he was armed, he never used his gun; one of the pharmacists, Dennis Pinheiro, actually wrote to the authorities on Sargent's behalf. You can read more about the details about Sargent's background and the details of the crime here.

You can also watch this Youtube video:

Sargent faces a minimum of 12 years because he was carrying a weapon - one that he never used. The judges have the power to reduce his sentence to 3-5 years if we convince them to take into account Sargen's circumstances.

Want to help?

Sargent's trial in Santa Clara is in 5 days, and his trial in San Mateo in 33 days. Even sending the DAs an e-mail or giving them a call as a concerned citizen could give us a chance to actually have a fair sentencing; there are guidelines on the website as to what to say and/or write. Frankly I've found it discouraging talking to the DAs. They're convinced that not enough people care about taking into account how mental illness warps an individual's decision-making capabilities. Even signing this petition lets them know that you believe otherwise. Passing the word on to your friends makes our case for Sargent even stronger.

This isn't about leniency, or "letting a crook off the hook;" this is about attaining justice for a man who did what he could to seek help but was shoved off into a corner by the system to deal with things on his own until it was too late. I watched his family shuttle from VA hospital to VA hospital trying to find a center that could provide Sargent with the physical and psychological resources he needed, but there's simply too much of a demand within the veterans administration. It's bittersweet to know that he's finally able to live without the painkiller now that prison has finally provided the rehab treatment he had been seeking for so long.

I know that you're all busy, but even signing the guestbook to let Sargent and his family know that you're sympathetic to his cause gives them more hope than you could imagine.

Thank you for your time.

(And I will get back to comments soon - I swear.)

watery woes

Nov. 8th, 2008 11:49 pm
theladyrose: (Default)
I'm so so sorry about being tardy in responding to comments. I've got both an exam and a presentation both this week and the week after, and I'm going home next Thursday with Lillian so I'm trying to get everything ready in advance.

I've been trying to cobble together an older women and medication management website as a final project due a month from now. It's the most glamorous subject matter, but I hope it's comprehensible or at least readable. I've got about 75-80% of the content up now. I swear if I stare at it much longer I'm going to down the bottle of Martinelli's sparkling apple cider I have on reserve for emergencies.

It seems that the plumbing in the apartment goes haywire before I have a counselor training workshop to run. Last month our only toilet...well, on second thought, this is too gross to discuss in polite society. Let's just say it was a shitty morning. Earlier in the week we had no hot water in the showers, but on the bright side we conserved water.

The kitchen sink resembled something out of a horror movie yesterday and today, but I think I now worship the emergency plumber who came this evening. We had to periodically bail out the water and stuff from the sewer and the pipes that would bubble up when the tenants in the apartment above ours would turn on their dishwasher. On the bright side, [ profile] lilbabiangel888 was kind enough to get us sushi for dinner as the kitchen was a mess. Lysol may be my Xanax; I'm starting to see why my old roommate Rose would obsessively clean things when she was stressed. You feel instant gratification as you see and realize that you've theoretically killed off 99.9% of bacteria and viruses on various high-use surfaces. That, and I suspect that breathing in the chemicals kills off some of your brain cells in the process.

yes we can

Nov. 4th, 2008 11:32 pm
theladyrose: (Default)
I rarely say this, but I am proud to be an American citizen today. This was my first big election, and I can only hope to see how my country becomes a better homeland for all of its citizens in the years to come.

But the battle's not over, not by a long shot. I'm glad that most Californians and I voted the same way on the propositions, except for the redistricting one (dude, WTF, way to grant permission to disenfranchise a ton of voters!) and more significantly, Proposition 8. We can't sit back and just hope for change.

A month ago I was interviewing an Obama precinct captain and some local community organizers for a story on Asian Americans and campaigning for the candidates. For them, Obama's appeal wasn't just about creating a culture of change in Washington, but reigniting a sense of civic activism in ordinary citizens that's been gone for years. I predict at the top levels of government there'll be a lot of partisan gridlock considering how many ideas are floating around about how we should address the economic crisis, healthcare reform, environmental conservation efforts, the wars abroad and so many other issues. Reaching consensus when the stakes are higher than ever is going to be a painfully drawn-out process.

We can't just wait around for our Congresspeople to legislate solutions to us. Our politicians are only as responsible to us as we are to them; effective reform is not top-down alone. That communities will come together to bring back democracy to the front porch again and attack the issues at the local level, too. Our school districts need us to mentor struggling kids at risk of falling through the cracks. We need volunteers and donors to make sure that our hospitals outreach to the sick in need of aid, for arts organizations to create productions that enrich the soul (cheesy but true), for consumer watchdog groups to monitor the safety of our products, to name a few.

We can't just sit back and expect our president to fix everything to everyone's satisfaction. We as citizens must own our responsibility to look out and care for each other. How successful Obama's presidency will be depends on our input as regular citizens and community members.

I am reminded of Eleanor of Aquitaine's monologue in the Lion in Winter - the future is in our hands as much as it was in 1183.

How clear we make it. Oh, my piglets, we are the origins of war: not history's forces, nor the times, nor justice, nor the lack of it, nor causes, nor religions, nor ideas, nor kinds of government, nor any other thing. We are the killers. We breed wars. We carry it like syphilis inside. Dead bodies rot in field and stream because the living ones are rotten. For the love of God, can't we love one another just a little - that's how peace begins. We have so much to love each other for. We have such possibilities, my children. We could change the world.
theladyrose: (Default)
Before I forget: congrats to [ profile] tortillafactory on being married and happy belated birthday to [ profile] greenhoodloxley! I'm afraid I'm rubbish about remembering these things on the days they actually occur, but the wedding photos looked like a lot of fun and I hope you had a great Halloween birthday.

As of 5 PM this evening, I am officially into my master's program here in gerontology. Considering that the paperwork took two months to complete, it felt rather anticlimactic. I'm just glad that it's all taken care of now and that I was able to register for all but one of the classes I needed today. Well, except that I have to take the GREs by the spring of 2010 if I want to increase my chances of convincing the university to continue paying my tuition, but I have all of winter break to study.

Speaking of which, taking a practice GRE may be the scariest thing I've ever faced on Halloween. And that was just the psychology subject test, which left me feeling mildly homicidal towards the creators of standardized tests. Thankfully I didn't waste all of Halloween on obsessing about the future and hiding indoors from obnoxious neighbors. Ailsa, Lillian and I went out for a 10 o'clock ramen run at the ever delicious Daikokuya, followed by long talks over the multiflavorful tastiness of Yogurtland, in Little Tokyo. I highly recommend both places, especially on a student's budget. We gawked at the surprising number of non-skankily attired revelers wandering around downtown. It was exactly my sort of favorite holiday - good food and company, not necessarily in that order. It's the sort of luxury I crave these days.

Funny, it's the second year in a row I was in Little Tokyo on Halloween. Last year I was improvising a historical group tour of the neighborhood alongside my boss and trying to figure out how to transport 18 people in one car because the DASH bus stops running after 6. Maybe I ought to make it a tradition...


Oct. 28th, 2008 11:33 pm
theladyrose: (Default)
The funny thing about studying gerontology, especially after having an opportunity to interview the ever insightful [ profile] akane42me and [ profile] st_crispins, is that I'm now more obsessed with instilling healthy habits. Reading about the potentially debilitating effects of various chronic diseases and how Social Security benefits generally screw over those who take time off work to care for families (i.e. women) does that to you.

In some ways it's easier to prepare for the distant future than it is for the time on the cusp of present and future. Eat more fruits, veggies and soy (alas, being pescetarian for 4 years doesn't mean that quitting junk food is that much easier), exercise more frequently, actually get more than 6 hours of sleep a night. And while I'm at it, write half of that paper due in a week and a half right now, clean the bathroom from top to bottom and learn to say no to nonessentials to which you can't completely commit. Changes spark a cycle in moving towards more positive changes, although there's still the occasional temptation to stay up late just because I can or to indulge in laziness. Strangely enough, 8 AM classes and work have really helped in reforming my habits; I know I wouldn't be motivated enough without those morning committments to jump start the day. And it helps that X has been doing so much better lately, too.

I didn't think it was possible, but I may have managed to become duller than I already am; alas, this whole system reset in priorities isn't the greatest for working in more time for a social life. We've determined that my mother went to more parties her first semester than I have in my entire college career to date. After this summer I've been making an effort to live more simply so that I actually have the time and energy to get everything that I want done. That, and a desire to lock into low health insurance rates once I have to graduate and actually find my own plan. I'm a signature away from confirming that I'll be spending another year here at USC for grad school, but I figure it can't hurt to start preparing for post-graduation life. Then again, we'll have to see what changes after the new president establishes himself in office over the next few years.

Fellow Americans: if you haven't sent in an absentee ballot yet, remember to vote by November 4!

My mother's somewhat annoyed with me because whenever I call I'm always asking her if she's taking calcium supplements or if she's had a mammogram recently. I'm trying to figure out more PC ways of checking in so that it doesn't sound like I'm implying that she's old. Though if I look as good as my mother at 50, I'll be pretty damn happy; I get mistaken for her sister or her peer at a slightly depressing frequency.
theladyrose: (Default)
Yesterday in my gerontology class I wrote a letter to a 73-year-old woman in prison for life for 1st degree murder of her husband.

"I'd kill him again," she wrote when directly asked whether or not she thought her sentence was justified. "He bought a gun. I knew he was going to kill me. It was a matter of him or me."

Most female inmates in their 60's and older are in prison because they murdered abusive husbands or conspired to murder their abusive husbands. The ones who were willing to talk to the social worker who presented to our class about women aging in prison say that they don't regret what they did. They remark upon how much more violent incoming inmates are because many of the "new girls" are female gangbangers or got caught trying to help out or protect a bad boyfriend.

"The conditions here are inhumane. You have youth and education," she wrote to our class, "You must help us." The typical cell houses 8 women sleeping in 4 bunkbeds. The wardens rarely honor requests for older women having priority to sleep in the lower bunks, which puts them at greater risk for falls. They work for $1.50/day in the state of California; the lucky ones train to go into cosmetology, but most of the others are involved in eyeglasses manufacturing (Lenscrafters has a contract with certain prisons) and other blue-collar industrial sectors. They have no choice but to drop to the ground in the scorching heat during certain drills without even the reprieve of shade.

Healthcare access is extremely limited; they can only schedule an appointment for one medical condition at a time, which is a problem when you have comorbid health problems and when the copay is $5. Many choose to forgo medication in order to buy food. Nutrition is appalling - "the food is all beige and from cans," and fruits and vegetables are hardly a priority. Forget about having the canteen take into account special dietary needs if you're diabetic or if your dentures are ill-fitting, which they almost certainly are and took ages to obtain. Substance abuse issues are generally given the blind eye. And god knows that STDs and STIs, especially AIDS, are reaching epidemic proportions for all inmates. Older women significantly underestimate their risk for getting HIV.

Maybe it is relatively clean and the guards don't beat you in the women's facilities. But when you have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning and don't go to bed until 11 and your sentence is 20+ years, it's undeniable that it's a damn hard life. The question is about what we expect to get out of sending criminals to prison: is our focus on rehabilitation or on emotional retribution? Obtaining parole is harder than most think; from what I've heard from some forensic psychologists, parole board members can make $100,000 a year. Think about the financial implications for them if an inmate continues to be up for parole and has to keep coming back.

After reading her account, I had no idea what I should write back. Then I remembered what my counseling supervisor last spring told me that's stayed with me since: when in doubt, you can always fall back on empathy. I have to admit, I was a little shocked by her response about whether or not she'd kill her husband again; I can't imagine what it's like to be in a position where I didn't think I had any other way of protecting myself. It's awful to think that in her time that she felt she had no other choices to deal with her domestic abuse. There's still so much that needs to be done about domestic violence nowadays, but at least shelters exist now as a haven for battered women and their children. I asked her about what she thought should be done to make prisons more humane and better serve the needs of older inmates like herself.

I wonder if I'll get a response back. I don't even know her name, just the first initial of her first name due to privacy issues. It's virtually impossible to schedule prison visits these days because of Schwarzenegger's budget cut. Visitors require extra guards and extra processing, so many advocates aren't able to check up on conditions now.
theladyrose: (Default)
I've come to the mildly depressing conclusion that when I LJ, I'm angsty, pretentious, flippant or preachy. Most of the time I'm actually fine, but it's hard to squeeze a word in when I feel like I ought to be doing something productive or ought to have something extraordinary or meaningful to say. Hence my tendency for introspective rambles.

It's been a crazy year on campus - since classes started the last week of August, there have been 2 hit and runs, 4 rapes two blocks away from where I live and 1 guy stabbed dead also two blocks from where I live. Over 400+ other students hospitalized for a particularly nasty stomach virus within the past week alone. Admissions recruiting this year will be fun. Coupled with the plunging stock market and the onset of midterms, anxiety levels have been high. I've been trying to cut down on the extraneous noise in my life. Funnily enough, having to actually wake up early for classes/work has been, well, a wake-up call in getting my priorities straight. Admittedly I'm still figuring out how to make it all work as I missed my 8 AM class both times this week and have a midterm for it on Wednesday - oops.

Keeping up with classes, work and research while trying to get everything together for grad school makes me appreciate simpler luxuries a lot more - sleep, for one. I went through this unnecessarily complicated conundrum about whether or not I should graduate early next spring but have decided to stay a full 4 years (yay, scholarship coverage!) so that I can write an honors thesis (trust me to pick a pretentious reason). The convenient thing is that I can use data from the paid research I'm doing on older adults and the effects of emotion regulation on memory and interpretation of facial expressions. Staying a full 4 years also means that I can probably keep my current job as well as take those film and TV music elective classes taught by Jon Burlingame. It sounds rather strange to say that I feel content when I've balanced my checkbook, written two papers in advance and haven't had a group of 70 year old research participants stage a mutiny on me (sadly, I didn't make that last one up).

It also helps tremendously that X seems to be feeling happier and healthier than she has been in months, so I'm really glad for her. It's been nearly a year since she's been this talkative; I just hope that this is pointing to a positive trajectory of recovery.

For now, I'm willing to accept small things as victories where I can find them. I love the blessed peace of curling up on the denim-slip covered couch in our living room with the hazy Los Angeles sun streaming in through the crooked blinds and the distant roar of cars on the motorway outside. It's hard not to view writing as a decadent luxury, but I'm trying to get myself to work on various pieces in different stages of completion. I've bee meaning to finish this Agatha Christie tribute story featuring two certain spy guys for ages...
theladyrose: (Default)
If you look at my record, I'm incredibly boring.

Believe it or not, I've drunk half a shot of vodka in my entire time at USC. My record was five glasses of wine on a full stomach this past summer over the course of an evening, and if you look at any photos from that night in Florence you'll see that I don't experience the "Asian glow" or act plastered. I've never been drunk and never intend to. I don't consume coffee except for those two iced granita caffés at that place right by the Pantheon in Rome this past summer. I don't smoke or sniff or shoot up or pop pills; I take no prescription medications. Believe it or not, I actually prefer to avoid anesthesia when possible during dental procedures; besides which, my dentist is a Bruin and I don't trust him with injecting me with painkillers. I'm kidding about that latter part, although we needle each other endlessly about the crosstown rivalry during my dental cleanings. I've been avoiding meat for nearly four years now, although unfortunately I don't have the willpower to cut out seafood or dairy.

Because of these habits, people tend to mistakenly assume that I'm really conservative and super religious. Nothing could be further than the truth, though I'm not one of those new age "I refuse to consume anything that ruins the sanctity of the temple that is my body" people. I like refined sugar and french fries too much to ever give those up completely!

I've been a secular humanist for many years now, though I respect and admire the religious beliefs of those I know; I don't have the courage, at least at this stage in my life, to make that leap of faith. At the same time, I don't judge people who take drugs as immoral. I do believe that medical marijuana should be legalized and find "just say no" education to be ridiculous, even if it happened to work for me. My general philosophy is that as long as you're not endangering your own health or those around you, then I respect your choices. I get frustrated, though, when people force others to bear the burden of what's their responsibility.

Blasting music so loudly that the people next door can't get to sleep at 1 AM on a Thursday - believe it or not, that's a problem because *some* of us actually have to get to work/class early in the morning. Projectile puking on someone's floor - that's a problem. Stealing your roommate's pills and pretending that you didn't - that's a problem. Landing yourself in the hospital where you need your stomach pumped and worrying the shit out of your family and friends - that's a problem. Slapping your girlfriend because you get violent when drunk or forgetting to pick your kid up from school because you're that sloshed at 3 in the afternoon - that's a problem. If you get to the point when you inconvenience those around you, you need to change your habits.

I don't doubt that consuming certain substances in certain amounts can have beneficial effects. There are some compounds in a glass of red wine that seem to do good things for your health, although there are probably more beneficial things you could be doing for your health that don't involve drinking a glass a day - exercise, anyone? Drugs play a role in certain religious ceremonies in bringing about a transcendental state of consciousness; I can respect that people would take them in those circumstances. There's no way, though, that you could ever get me to try them; there are plenty of other ways of expanding my world view, thanks. The "it's OK for others but not for me" mentality smacks of self-righteousness and elitism, but I have legitimate reasons.

My problem is that I have a sense of what the worst case scenario looks like and frankly never want to put anyone else in a situation where they're forced to take care of me. I hate waiting around in hospitals not knowing what the outcome will be and can only hope that no one I know will find herself in the same agony waiting for me. It's more than that, though. When you evaluate therapy tapes involving alcoholics, heroin and crack addicts, you get a sobering taste of the ripple effect of damage from addiction can effect on multiple lives, even entire communities, in several generations. No behavior exists in a vacuum - you may own responsibility for an action, but you can't always control the effects of what you do on others. The potential for uncontrolled destruction is far too high - I don't trust myself to stop at the critical point (it took me three years to beat a pathological addiction to Spider Solitaire in high school), so it's best to never reach the point where I have risky cravings in the first place. I don't miss out on drinking or trying pot or smoking because I've never been interested; it's as deceptively simple as that.

The truth is, my aversion to alcohol has more to do with an unrepressable association with abuse. I don't know if I'll ever be able to overcome my ambivalence towards the alcoholic in my life - and no, that alcoholic is not one of my parents. I derive my strength to resist from my inability to completely forgive that person because that would legitimize the pain that was inflicted in someone I love. So be it.
theladyrose: (Default)
I've been meaning to write a real entry for ages. I swear I will, and really it won't be angsty. But in the meantime, this poem probably best sums up how things are at the moment:

I worry about you-
So long since we spoke.
Love, are you downhearted,
Dispirited, broke?

I worry about you.
I can't sleep at night.
Are you sad? Are you lonely?
Or are you all right?

They say that men suffer
As badly, as long.
I worry, I worry,
In case they are wrong.

(Wendy Cope)

This could describe how I feel about many people, as if somehow carrying around this growing mass of angst about other people will somehow counterbalance their anguish and make it all OK.

Dad's not been doing too well lately. It's been more like a sudden shift in decline rather than a full blown avalanche, but it's hard to tell how bad things are over the phone. He's lost a tooth and got stitches around his face twice within the span of a week and a half from falling down the stairs. I'm hoping that he and mom didn't have to go to the emergency room again tonight for an uncontrollable nosebleed.

Dad's seeing his neurologist this Friday; at the very least, it'll be interesting to see what sort of effect, if any, the stem cell therapy from two years ago has on his condition.

Frankly, I wish we could reset the clock to when I was five so that my family was happy and healthy again. It kills me not being able to do anything.

Any good hopes and prayers for my parents are very much appreciated.
theladyrose: (Default)
It's been demonstrated that particles have a definite position while waves have indefinite position expressed in probabilities. At the same time, David Pincus writes that in "the act of observing a wave turns it into a is impossible to ever know the position AND the momentum of a particle at the same time." New studies suggest that observing matter not only affects the substance of the particle (particle or wave) as it is now, but how it is measured in the future affects the outcome of the measurement in the past. Simplified, the future can change the past. Basically, if you're going to read anything today, you must read this blog post about physics and psychology because it has mind blowing implications about things like the universe having consciousness.

So if the mere act of observation does affect of the nature of a particle, and we're all made up of particles, then we still effect change, however subtle, even if we're "just watching" objects and events from a distance. The acts of faith vs. a life of contemplation debate stemming from early Christianity (I'm not sure about other religions - I think it also applies to Buddhism) may be less insoluble than we thought. As well-meaning professors and textbooks try to convince us, the ideal of observational/correlational research is not just to develop and test theories but to apply the findings of the research for practical uses. One potential philosophical ramnification is that observation could actually allows us to bend time and space, that perhaps all those ivory tower intellectuals possess greater powers other than illuminating our knowledge of how things are as they are now.

Someone please correct me if I'm making erroneous conclusions and misunderstanding all of this.
theladyrose: (Default)
I was talking to [ profile] laleia the other day about what it means to be an adult and how after hitting the big two oh we're reevaluating the way we think about the future. She was telling me about how after working this summer, her vision of the future was less about what she wanted to do during her vacation time and more about envisioning what her apartment would look like after graduation. The increased leisure and freedom we associate with having total control of our adult lives is underscored by recognition of responsibility and a desire to do something productive with our time. Erikson's life stages come to mind, with the middle adulthood phase focusing on generativity vs. stagnation. Some say that we're growing up too quickly as a generation, being forced into situations that require us to think in the long term (college debt, anyone?) before we know any better.

Adolescent psychologists love talking about how adolescence has become a prolonged lifestyle stage and that in Western/"developed" societies, there are few clear markers as to when we actually become adults. In the US, you can get a driver's licence at 16, buy cigarettes and porn and vote at 18 and drink at 21. Those are just your legal rights. A lot of us work part-time jobs but aren't financially autonomous. Our parents expect us to do more around the house, but some give more decision-making authority to their children than others. If a teen becomes a parent, it's generally safe to assume that the pregnancy was unplanned. All these milestones of what it means to be adult take place at different times nonlinearly. If it seems that my generation has problems growing up and moving out of the house, in our defense it's more challenging when none of us know what's supposed to happen when.

Hence the new "young adult" period that roughly marks age 18 to the 20's, the ambiguous span from when most enter college and slowly transition to some kind of general self-supporting autonomy. We have a vague notion of self-reliance (how very Emerson!) when it comes to delineating adulthood, but with a globalized intellectual property/service-based economy so many college grads are living at home and/or relying on parents for financial assistance even if they live apart. And to be honest, most people my age don't have well-balanced functional romantic relationships. Maybe we know how to conduct a t-test or write a paper that can garner an A, but sticking to a budget, assembling a bunk bed or managing time well often seems out of our intellectual reach.

To be honest, I don't believe that the jobs that most students have make them any better at managing their own finances or learn the value of money, because the research on middle class kids shows that they espouse more cynical views of the workforce and workplace ethics, become more materialistic and be more likely to engage in some forms of "deviant" behavior like drinking. Working (10+, if I remember correctly) actually diminishes academic performance. (Though personally, if researchers actually bothered to study teens from less wealthy backgrounds, it'd probably show different and more positive outcomes.) For one thing, many high school college students use the extra income from being office gophers or filing away library books to buy personal luxuries and things they don't really need. Combined with poor financial literacy and the astonishing availability of credit, it's no wonder that we're hopelessly ignorant when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

It's so easy to become arrogant, thinking that just because we've gone through so many years of higher education and taken tests measuring our likelihood of success in the education system means that we have any idea of what it means to be a successful, well-functioning adult. Sometimes I wonder if we, the entitled and neurotically achievement-oriented Generation Y, just have a massive lapse in emotional intelligence. Or maybe I'm just too timid to tell the kids across the hall to keep it down because some of us actually have to wake up at a decent hour of the morning tomorrow.

This isn't to say, of course, that Generation Y fails at life. We're more worldly, technologically plugged in and theoretically more tolerant of people from different backgrounds than ever before, and quite a number of us are finding creative new ways to save the world or at least dedicate serious time to volunteering locally.

Call it the burden of complexity that grows heavier with each decade and century. Sometimes I think we're so busy trying to fulfill an agenda that we forget about how valuable it would be to ask someone who's been through a similar experience already to help guide the way.

I need my older friends to gently smack sense into me when I'm panicking or approaching Hamlet levels of angst. It's much easier to listen to and accept the advice and guidance of someone who has the experience of your parents, being parents themselves, who doesn't have all the history of conflict and the traits that irk you about your own mother. In friendship, you can simply relate to each other as the people you are now. I guess this is my terribly convoluted way of saying thanks for putting up with me lately and serving as examples that yes, people do manage to happily survive these emotional quagmires of the teens and 20's.
theladyrose: (Default)
I think I'm coming to the rather terrifying realization that I could get by with doing far less work in college classes than I'm used to. I could probably get away with skipping a lot of the reading in both of my most advanced classes, which are fascinating but easy enough now as the work for those don't pile up until later. I'm frankly suspicious by how smoothly and quickly things are going right now - ah, the joys of taking only social science classes and being almost done with my psych major. [ profile] eyepice_simile probably wants to strangle me because I don't have problem sets and far fewer long papers than I used to.

I don't know how this works - I'm a junior now; isn't this supposed to be the hardest year? (Let's not think about how far behind I'm on recruiting mentors for work.) I'm really tempted to fill the patches in my schedule by working on a new research project for another professor examining the relationship between depression and heart disease because my inner nerd needs something to occupy it.

I've officially started the paperwork for grad school. Navigating the red tape is challenge enough for now.


theladyrose: (Default)

June 2010

27 282930   


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags