theladyrose: (Default)
First of all, many happy returns to [livejournal.com profile] st_crispins on her rather belated birthday! I suspect I've missed a number of other birthdays, too, since I last posted a few months ago - hope they were all good ones :) Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] eldritchhobbit and [livejournal.com profile] agentxpndble

I do feel somewhat guilty about not posting in months - I've been wrangling with writing an entry for weeks but keep being tied up with more pressing matters with eminent deadlines. I've been keeping up with reading entries but rather lax in commenting :( It's strange to realize that in approximately a month's time I'll be a grad student, working on my master's in gerontology. Unlike many of my friends of a similar age, I have a year before I'm confronted with the financial realities of being an adult. In other news, it's been six years and nine days since my friend Cathy passed away, and it's the first time when I can honestly say I'm at peace with what happened to her.

Sometimes I wonder what her life would've been like if she had lived past her teens, but I recognize the futility of immersing myself in the potential energy left of a live left behind. All too often we mourn those who die young for who they could have become (or rather, who we wanted them to become), less so for who they actually were. Reminiscing about my friend is a shadow exercise in assessing my own life. Lately I've been wondering about all those other lives I've could've inhabited but have willingly relinquished to the tail ends of the probability curve. Back in high school, I was expected to go to Stanford, maybe an Ivy, and then go to law school because that's what relatively enculturated Asian/immigrant parents "strongly" recommend, outside of med school and engineering. Needless to say, I ended up at a university that used to be known for its football team but has the most badass gerontology department in the nation. (I can't believe I just juxtaposed "badass" and "gerontology" in all due seriousness.) Thankfully, my parents have been really supportive in letting me figure out my career. That, and they probably got tired of me babbling about constitutional issues at the dinner table when I was taking AP US History, in that pseudo precocious way that ambitious but not really brilliant high school students tend to talk.

More youthfully self-centered ramblings about my future )

In other news, my "gentleman caller" as my mother refers to him, will be meeting my godparents over dinner in two weeks :) I suspect that extremely nerdy conversations will be taking place, given that Weird Al's "White and Nerdy" might as well have been written the gentleman caller, and my godfather (dad's old roommate) is rumored to have been complicit in some wicked MIT pranks back in his college days. The fiery readhead (FR for short), as [livejournal.com profile] dragonfly66 has nicknamed him, will be joining me the first few days of winter break after we're done with finals next Thursday. If any folks from the Bay Area are around the 17th to the 20th want to meet up with both of us, that'd be tremendously exciting!
theladyrose: (Default)
I have to confess, being off LJ and other blogs for 2 weeks was gloriously liberating - so much time available for so many new experiences! I'm hoping to strike a happy balance between being sucked into reading interesting things online and achieving my (existentia)list goals for the coming academic year.

I just realized that I haven't updated in nearly 2 months, and while I don't lead a completely and utterly fascinating life, I do feel like thinking things out through the written word to process everything that's happened.

Short version: turned the year that's the winning number in blackjack, seriously questioned life goal of getting a clinical psych PhD, learned about doing geropsychology research at Stanford, hung out with mostly 70 and 80 year olds when I wasn't chasing after them with pedometers, cheated on Douce France at Coupa Cafe with [livejournal.com profile] dragonfly66 and [livejournal.com profile] shakeitdown, visited my NY relatives, and spent an enchanting week in Oregon before returning to college

I keep hearing that college graduation's supposed to be this pre-quarterlife crisis inducing transition, and quite honestly I don't feel in the slightest anxious. Then again, I'm sticking around another year for grad school and crossing my fingers that Rose and [livejournal.com profile] darklightluna will do their master's here, too, starting next fall, so that I won't be bereft of college friends (Gabe, I already know you're sticking around :P). Despite the pessimistic trends in American unemployment data these past few months, I'm feeling pretty good about where my life is going - and increasingly it's headed towards the workplace rather than into a aging-focused psych PhD program.

My intense love-hate relationship with research continues to be...cyclical. The prospect of my future career focusing primarily on research makes me want to bludgeon my head with the nearest blunt object. As fascinating as I find the culture of academia, it's mostly because I know enough now to legitimately snark at it. Thanks, Stanford, for showing me that bureaucratic pettiness is rampantly flagrant even in the best psychology department in the US. Though I am just a wee bit jealous that they actually pay *all* their participants $15/hour. The intellectual territory they explore is absolutely fascinating, but being the one who actually extracts all the data from those who inhabit it - terrifying given the pressure to produce publishable, grant-awarded results on a continual basis. I know just enough about doing research to sound vaguely impressive to undergrad business students (ie. my college friends), but I keep realizing how little I know about meta-level stats. I stand in awe of econometricians and demographers. I can do multinomial logistic regression now, which is the most complicated stats test I need for my thesis data, but I'm not fluent in SPSS syntax the way I wish I were.

On the one hand, I love my academic mentors and my thesis project, and almost all of my personal idols are/were professors or otherwise educators. But reading PhD Comics and reading Thomas Benton's columns in the Chronicles of Higher Ed have been playing legitimate devil's advocate with all these voices telling me to get a doctorate. I've come to the realization that much of the appeal of having a PhD is the prestige, as much as I genuinely love what I'm learning. I'm working past my intellectual inferiority issues about being dumber than all my good friends and role models. Growing up in Silicon Valley, which is the most intellectually snobby place in America outside of Boston, instills a warped sense of linking higher education at brand name institutions with being financially and otherwise successful. Alas, that's just not true these days. My friends who haven't gone to college are some of the smartest people I know (I'm referring to you, f-list), and I have to get over my incredibly classist notions that higher education is the Path to being a person worthy of deeper respect.

As to what I was actually doing, I'm too lazy to summarize it, so I have my grant app report here if you're curious )

Outside of research - I swear I will actually elaborate on the rest of these experiences in a later post, but that's almost dooming myself to never getting around to it. Given it's the 1st week of classes, though, I probably will actually write about them : )

Loved my first day of classes and can't wait for film music history tomorrow with Jon Burlingame, one of the best lecturers I've ever heard and the producer of the MFU soundtracks. Here's to an incredible (and hopefully productive) senior year.
theladyrose: (Default)
Most entertaining thing I've heard all day:

My thesis advisor: We've had difficulty replicating the findings [that people in sad moods are more polite than those in happy moods; see Forgas, 1995, on his affect infusion model] because it's hard to incite our participants to be rude. Then again, Australians can be rather brash, so that might explain the variability their results...

(Apologies to the Australians on my f-list.)

Actually, it's harder to get participants to be rude on record, even if you've assigned them confidential subject ID numbers and will store their data in locked filing cabinets and password-protected computers as outlined in the informed consent sheets you gave them at the start of the study. Participants are definitely capable of being rude to you as you're conducting the study, but this is why professors convince undergrad research lackeys to actually conduct their experiments for them. Thankfully, professors and participants are generally agreeable to work with. Last Monday there was one fella in my group who seriously reminded me of a human teddy bear, like Mr. Paddington come to life except with a slight Midwestern accent.

Things like that make me ridiculously cheery, for some unknown reason.

I also have come to the conclusion that the longer I work in the gerontology building, the better I get at identifying Asian fetishists, or men you strongly suspect having a "thing" for porcelain lotus blossom geisha dolls who would love you long time. (Thankfully my thesis advisor isn't one of them, or I would've found someone else with whom to do research.) The older ones tend to give off more skeezy vibes. It's like honing your gaydar, except on a racial basis.

There's something depressing that I know I'm not the only Asian American female out there who's developed Orientaldar (damn, there isn't a witty phrase for this, is there?). But in cheerier news, I'm 90% done with my thesis proposal (just editing now) and am going home for President's Day weekend, which I'm looking forward to.
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 !

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, [livejournal.com 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.
theladyrose: (Default)
Before I forget: congrats to [livejournal.com profile] tortillafactory on being married and happy belated birthday to [livejournal.com 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...

reset

Oct. 28th, 2008 11:33 pm
theladyrose: (Default)
The funny thing about studying gerontology, especially after having an opportunity to interview the ever insightful [livejournal.com profile] akane42me and [livejournal.com 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)
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)
I was talking to [livejournal.com 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. [livejournal.com 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)
My first thought is that I'm a sucker.

I'm on my way to the supermarket, walking away from a roommate behind a closed door crying to her mother on the phone. I'm a coward for not staying after she finished the call to comfort her, but somehow making my way up the police blotter zone street. W. H. Auden wrote in "Moon Landing" that we were always more adept at courage than kindness, and at that moment I have to agree with him. The anger I have directed towards myself comes out in my stride, the guys drinking beer in front of the after hours storefront doorways instinctively moving out of the way.

I'm so lost in my thoughts that I almost miss him in the sage green tank top and black skinny jeans. "Excuse me, sister," he beckons me in a pleasantly androgynous voice, "but I'm a long way from home and I hate to say this, but I need help."

Just two days ago a 58 year old lady very rationally and very humbly beseeched me and another friend to pay for a tow truck or else her car would be impounded and she couldn't pay for the ticket. We all like to think ourselves good judges of character, and I handed over $11 while weighing the probabilities in my head of how honest she was about paying me the money back (I didn't doubt that she was in a tough spot). My friend, a native Brooklyner, reluctantly hands over $10 so that the lady has the $21 she needs. "From the hands of babes," she mutters before asking me for my phone number so that she can pay me back within the next three hours. She even recites her home address not so far away, although foolishly I don't write it down as I have no pen with me. I don't doubt that it's hard to knuckle down your pride and ask for money when you genuinely need it when you're in an area where so many people pass them by, assuming that blacks are stupid, lazy and aren't doing enough to get out of their crappy circumstances. I get that there are theoretically resources in the community designed to implement more long term solutions to these sorts of social issues, but clearly they're not able to reach enough people to a significant enough extent. I honestly don't expect to be paid back, although I have no idea if she called because I'm missing my cell phone at the moment. I just hope that she was able to take care of what she needed to get done.

"What seems to be the problem?" He goes on about how his boyfriend at USC invited him over for a good time but instead took his wallet so that he could buy weed. Now he can't, and home's far a ways a way up in Baldwin Hills, and the cheapest way to get there is by bus, but the buses come fewer and fewer as the night progresses and gee, this neighborhood's not concerned about public safety at all. It's not the greatest place to be "all Beyoncéd up"...I'm not really focused on the exact details of what he's saying. The eyeliner's applied with a skill I envy and the glittery silver lip gloss really complements his ebony skin. The effect's surprisingly subtle.

I hand him $5, and he shakes my hand firmly without being overpowering, holding on as he thanks me. "God bless, I feel a spiritual connection with you. You have a strong grip!" Somehow this connection gets to me, too, and I sense that he's hungry. "I'm on my way to the supermarket," I tell him. "Do you want me to get you something to eat?"

He lets go and smiles, revealing perfectly straight white teeth. "Are you sure?" He hesitates slightly. "I've been out here, and I sure am hungry..."

Read more... )
theladyrose: (Default)
Dear almighty f-list:

I have a major interview project for my feminist gerontology class requiring help from the ladies among you who are age 55+. The purpose is to examine your experience as a woman with aging and adjusting to becoming an older adult. How has your life changed over the years, and what is it like now? I want to know about your quality of life: changes in your health, your relationships, your social/economic status, etc. Although the subject matter is understandably personal in nature, your information will be kept confidential and be used strictly for educational purposes. My professor wants us to conduct this interview so that we students learn about how women perceive this transitional period so that we can gain a greater understanding of how to serve the needs of older adults.

If you're interested in participating, please leave a comment and we can discuss matters further over e-mail. If you know someone who might be interested in being a part of this interview, I'd be very grateful if you passed the word on to her. Thank you!
theladyrose: (Default)
If you were interested in that article about how women supposedly think about shopping as much as men do about sex, there's an interesting complementary article about how sexual arousal can lead to more impulse spending, at least for men. I'm curious as to why women weren't included in the study, as theoretically the study implies that neural mechanisms for rewarding behaviors driven by the biological imperative for reproduction or novelty should be roughly the same. I'm sure the psych geeks among you have much more insightful comments about the matter.

petty grad school angst )
theladyrose: (Default)
It looks increasingly probable that I'll be staying an extra year here to get my master's in gerontology, or the study of human aging. It also means that I have to get my recs and whatnot for grad school ready by fall of next year, but on the bright side, I don't have to take GREs, and I think my chances for getting into the program are pretty decent. Mostly it's that USC's really making an effort to retain undergrads for their grad programs...unless it's the clinical science psych program, in which case all bets are generally off because it's one of the most research-intensive out there. Go figure.

What happened to clinical psychology? The average PhD acceptance rate is lower than that of med school at 6%, and I don't think I have the mettle to last 7-8 years in a research-oriented program. After doing research just as an undergrad, I've realized that I'm really not cut out for it; my mentor/professor was so right when she warned me that (quantitative) research sucks out your soul. Seriously, I wasn't sure if I had a soul until research this semester nearly drained it from me. My chances of getting into a doctorate program are much better if I specialize in working with traditionally underserved and rapidly expanding population, and if doctorate programs don't end up working out, at least I have a good vocational safety net in an area that honestly interests me. My preoccupation with caregiving issues and the fact that I have a much easier time connecting with older adults than with kids seems like a decent preliminary indicator that the subject matter's a good match. At the very least, all of us grow older, so you might as well learn while you're young about the issues that you'll be facing.

My mother's response to hearing about all of this was "We'll support you, but is your heart really in it?" That's the first time I've been criticized for giving primarily practical reasons for a decisions! I laughed inwardly when she said that - my mother, the would-be writer who wound up in finance, is much more the closet romantic than I am. People, even my mother, tend to see me as either having a brain or a heart, but not both in equal measure. I attempt to research my future in nauseating detail so that I can plan accordingly; dreams are great, but you can't expect that desire alone will get you where you want to be. I can't exactly tell her that one of the main motivating factors is that I want to know how to take care of her and dad better in the future when she herself is anxious enough about the prospect of aging. I don't know how to explain to her that pragmatics can coincide with passion, that I understand that compromise is necessary if you're going to achieve anything sustainable and worthwhile.

On a somewhat related note, Dad has his "one year later" follow-up with his neurologist to check up on the progression of his Machado-Joseph disease in a couple of hours. Around this time last year, he showed "significant clinical improvement" a month after a month of stem cell treatment in China. As for the long term gains, who knows. I'm personally skeptical that it'll do any good in the long run. Due to the fact that Dad received spinal cord injections of umbilical cord stem cells and not embryonic ones, he basically received a sophisticated form of blood doping where most of the stem cells turned into extra red blood cells, which temporarily make one feel more energized. I can't quite remember where I obtained this information, but from what I've heard, umbilical cord stem cells aren't as good at passing through the blood-brain barrier.

In some ways, I'm one of the worst people to be "educating" people about stem cell therapy from personal experience. I've written a brief account about it here, but I seriously doubt that anyone on campus really read it. The reporters still call home sometimes; inevitably, we know what articles will be written by the Western press. Honestly, it pisses me off that they write about we patients like we're a bunch of desperate patsies looking for any cure that has some sham of promise. There was this one Salon article that makes me cringe for its condescending tone. People don't pay $20,000 to be human guinea pigs solely because they're naïvely deluded about the possibility for being cured. The prevailing social stigma and discrimination against people with disability makes their lives so unbelievably difficult on them and their caregivers that they are willing to try anything because they have nothing to lose.

When you've grown up with a parent with a chronic medical condition, you know better than to even think of cures. I don't expect to see a cure for my dad's condition in my lifetime; to be honest, from a utilitarian viewpoint, funding's better allocated to other medical conditions such as cancer and stroke that affect a greater proportion of the population. I just want to live in a world where people with disabilities can actually find jobs in accessible workplaces and be able to use public transportation without fearing that the bus drivers won't stop for them because loading them on will delay everyone's schedule. In some ways, that's why I have difficulty understanding all of these "Walk to Cure Muscular Dystrophy" races. I don't doubt that new vaccinations and screening measures will benefit everyone in the long run. But why must we spend so much time and money on developing medical treatments that will inevitably only work for some of the population and yet neglect relatively simple accommodation measures for people with current impairments? The medical conceptualization of disability posits disabling conditions as needing to be cured, rather than to be accommodated and a focus of lifestyle adaptation in cases where the underlying medical conditions currently lack a cure. A social model of disability advocates an environment that's universally accessible and recognizes the influence of social attitudes about the capabilities of those with physical and cognitive impairments play in the roles we have available for people in the disability community. And being tired makes me ridiculously wordy.

Anyway, getting back to my original point - as important as it is to foster dialogue about the ethics of stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine, we risk overlooking the underlying issues of disability awareness and rights. The dangers of focusing so much on finding cures for severe medical conditions is that we ignore the necessity of providing accommodation for those with disability and creating more enabling environments so that everyone, not just the able-bodied, can truly celebrate “culture of life.” Using stem cells to cure chronic diseases underscores the prevalence of the medical model of disability and the social prerogative in eradicating the conditions that cause disability. Patients are driven to seek expensive, potentially risky experimental treatments abroad because they find that their quality of life has significantly deteriorated due to the lack of resources for people with disabilities and their caregivers. If legislators are hesitant about funding embryonic stem cell research, they could invest public resources instead into extending access to people with disabilities instead of forcing scientists to pursue embryonic stem cell research elsewhere. The ideal goal of stem cell therapy is to improve the quality of life for those with medically related impairments, but there are multiple avenues of pursuit in achieving this objective. As important as it is to acknowledge and protect the rights of humans coming into being, it is all too easy to overlook the eroding civil rights for people with disabilities and the sociopolitical conditions that have made stem cell therapy such a pressing issue in the first place.

OK, I confess: this is my belated Blogging Against Disablism Day post. And there's a lot more I have to say about the subject, except that I really need to finish my take home final for my disabilities and healthcare class, so I'll get around to that later.
theladyrose: (Default)
“Parting is such sweet sorrow” rather accurately sums up my last day at the family shelter where I've been spending time. I never really saw myself as the kind of person who enjoyed being with kids as more of my volunteering experience has been with senior citizens and hospital patients with chronic disorders, or tutoring older kids one-on-one. My priorities there were to ameliorate academic difficulties, act as a mentor to kids dealing with the usual teenage transitional issues and be a source of comfort and distraction to those experiencing various kinds of pain. Those experiences were certainly valuable, but I developed fewer deep relationships at those places as I had less of a chance to get to know the others there. The relatively privileged teenagers I spent time with were either going to grow out of their current problems or go through years of self-destructive experimentation finding themselves, or the more sickly people would approach the end with dignity or despair; I had a more finite range of expectations for their outcomes.

Needless to say, my experience at the shelter was different in that I had expected. I am ashamed by my initial, low expectations and am honored by how much they let me into their tightly knit community. To actually have a group of people really look forward to seeing me, even if it was just once a week — I feel privileged that they welcomed and accepted my relatively brief presence in their lives. It's so rare to feel like I actually matter to anyone my age, that my value is more than being useful by fulfilling a set number of expectations or responsibilities. What’s amazed me the most is the resilience of all of the people I’ve met at the shelter, the sense of family and community they’ve developed in the face of uncertainty. One or two of the younger children were more “troubled,” probably compounded by general developmental issues of testing the boundaries of authority and being new admits to the shelter, but overall the kids were motivated to do well in school and foster positive relationships with each other.

I’ve learned more about my own limits and prejudices, realizing that if I expect abused children to act like they’re emotionally “broken” true healing and growth can’t take place. My own academic concerns have been focused on adolescent/adult onset of psychological dysfunction and how self-destructive patterns manifest themselves, often in the long-term. Only over the course of these two months, however, have I come to really understand why early intervention is so critical. These children really have learned to look out for each other, and I find myself continually amazed by their spirit of adaptation. I can only hope that I can become as capable of moving beyond suffering as they have. [livejournal.com profile] laleia, do you know if it's possible to volunteer with JEP even without taking a class?

Best words I've heard all week, while playing tag:

Mark (aged 10): You're hiding inside a playhouse made for 6 year olds. Aren't you too old to do that?


Needless to say, there's great value in being humbled by someone half your age and acknowledging your own immaturity :P


Now, for something completely different:

There's a pretty interesting discussion about sex in 60's and 70's TV at [livejournal.com profile] cult_tv_lounge. In other cult TV news, Hulu has quite a few episodes of various hard-to-find American TV shows alongside currently popular ones; as far as I can tell, the site's totally legal. [livejournal.com profile] lilbabiangel888, who I have to thank for the recommendation, told me that one of the sponsors is NBC, which is why the quality of the clips is so good because they're pulling everything from their archives. Unfortunately the version of The Invisible Man up isn't the one with David McCallum, but I really can't complain about the overall variety! I just started watching I Spy, which has been surprisingly enjoyable; I finally get a glimpse of the Hong Kong where my mother grew up because of all those on-location shoots.
theladyrose: (Default)
It was a decadent sort of weekend, luxurious in its relative idleness. Blessed be the professor who gave us all an extension on that paper! Still, I can't really afford to be this lazy when there's less than a month of the semester left.

I guess what's stressing me out most right now is research and the perpetual sense that I have unfinished business to take home. With my old position in the social psych lab, I'd go into the lab for a certain number of hours and be done. Now there's a weekly team meeting and other random meetings with my supervisors to make sure I'm getting stuff done correctly and then actually evaluating the tapes and/or revising the evaluations so that they can be critiqued at the next group meeting. Being dumb, I always find myself procrastinating because I'm terrified of realizing how much further behind I am than anyone else. I know that it's a dysfunctional way of handling things, but it's hard to break out of the cycle. No point in ruminating about it at this hour, though, when I have a midterm at 10 this morning and an admissions panel afterwards.

In a little more than a month I'll be Verona, away from all this madness before another couple of years of who knows what. All the scholarship paperwork's officially taken care of, and I've finally figured out my transportation arrangements. Though we're going on a number of day and multi-day trips throughout Italy (Firenze, Padova, Milano, Mantova and Roma) as a group, there are definitely a number of other places I'd like to see - Venice, for one. Hopefully Vienna as well as I've always wanted to go there after seeing The Third Man, though I swear I've heard that Prater Park is closed now. If all goes well I'll be meeting my mother's Swiss half-siblings, who probably compromise the entire Chinese population of Lausanne, as well. I'm not really sure what other cities/countries are feasible to visit during my two extended weekends, so if anyone has any suggestions I'd be more than appreciative. I'd love to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] eyepiece_simile and [livejournal.com profile] zedhaus and anyone else who might be around the area.

Generation meme )
theladyrose: (Default)
No thanks to the moron(s) who pulled the fire alarms in my apartment building at 2:17 this morning, I've stayed up for more than 24 hours. Scarily enough, this is the first time my brain was still just functional enough to be aware of this fact.

Lessons learned:
1. Taking an extension can end up causing a lot more pain than it's worth.
2. Procrastinating by actually writing papers due this coming week is still procrastination.
3. The most surprising things will keep you going, push comes to shove.
4. Psych textbooks don't come close to describing the reality of actually doing research - you don't realize how deadly dull it is to recruit participants for long surveys. Sirens in the background and planes flying overhead on the therapy tapes are just as likely to elicit *headdesk* behavior as are interrater reliability tests.

I think I'm going to crash on the couch now before my brain becomes too scrambled. It's going to be a long two weeks before finals come around...
theladyrose: (Default)
I officially have somewhere to live next year! [livejournal.com profile] lilbabiangel888, Xiaolin and my friend April and I are living in a decently nice 2 bedroom 2 bath place not too far away from campus that's less than our current rent. And unofficially I'm the coordinator of the PEER mentoring/counseling program next year, so I'll be gainfully employed doing something that really matters to me with people I love as well :) Oh, and I'm officially going to Verona this summer! I'll be there from May 20-July 13 before heading out to New York for our annual family reunion.

It's been hectic getting a number of things out of the way before going home spring break next week, where I can catch up on more work/evaluating research tapes. Theoretically I'm organizing the TO academic conference (where I gave a presentation last year) coming up in April alongside everything else. Maybe [livejournal.com profile] laleia does have a point about my inability to say no. Thank goodness at least we have a committee to plan it all so that the work is spread out in a much more manageable fashion.

After much encouragement from a mentor/professor, I have a website with various snippets of writing up. Most of it is academic under the pretense that I have something to show grad schools/prospective employers (?), but I also have some more personal odds and ends there as well.

I should really stop procrastinating on a paper proposal due in a couple of hours, but once you start figuring out basic website stuff (and I mean really basic), it's disturbingly addictive.
theladyrose: (Default)
I managed to somehow churn out a 898 news magazine feature in the last hour; I wrote my faculty profile yesterday when procrastinating on studying for my research training exam. For a first draft for the piece I just turned in, I'm actually OK with it. (Note: I edited this a couple of weeks ago so it's hopefully less self-righteous and whiny now.)

There's a lot more of the frustrated single liberal Asian American female here, and I don't mean to sound critical of any of my friends. I was having trouble with the whole "c'mon, guys, take me seriously! Asexuality is a legitimate sexual orientation!" tone; I just don't personally know any other self-identified asexuals, and sometimes it's just hard when you also want to be considered as serious relationship material as well but are hindered by being out as asexual. I keep hoping my luck will change; we'll see how that goes. I find that the more I seriously think about my future (grad school, career and looking after my parents), the more I have to consider the very real possibility that I might be single for the rest of my life.

strange love, or how I learned to stop worrying and love my sexuality or lack thereof )
theladyrose: (Default)
To be honest, Valentine's Day never really meant much to me. I've never had anything against it, but neither have I seen it as fairytale romance on crack. Calling February 14 Singles Awareness Day strikes me as rather silly.

Maybe I'm just terribly idealistic and having always been single at this time of year has skewed my perception of this day as much less passionate than the media and the marketers portray. In a weird way, I've always treated Valentine's Day as a sort of second Christmas where you give friends and family something small, preferably edible, as a token of your platonic affection for them. Spreading love doesn't have to be romantic. All of my roommates looked pleasantly flabbergasted when I gave them wrapped bundles of candy; unfortunately, I forgot to send my parents V-day cards, so I'm brining them a bouquet of chocolate roses tomorrow. I baked two dozen chocolate cookies and anonymously put them by the doorstep of a crush.

Call me childish, but that's what Valentine's Day is to me: simple and sweet (literally). If something actually develops with the guy I'm interested in, that's great; if it doesn't, nothing's changed and I haven't lost anything in the process. At least I can tell myself that I tried something.

A number of my single college friends have proclaimed themselves virulently anti-Valentine; the ones who don't have midterms tomorrow are out commiserating their single status with Jack Daniels and probably venting about why guys are clueless assholes. I decided to stay in and catch up on reading so that I have more time to spend with my parents and friends this weekend when I'm home. Being angry about Valentine's Day doesn't do you any good; vilify romance all you want, but you still can't deny how much romantic aspirations control what you want and how you feel. We're all human and do stupid, awful things to each other; much as I love those friends (and really, I do), we're partially to blame for our relationship woes as well, especially in hyping up our expectations of what a romantic partner should be and then blaming a potential love interest for not being the ideal. Treat others as you wish to be treated, and hopefully some good will come of it. I don't think I'm optimistic enough to believe in karma at the moment, but studies generally show that we end up regretting what we didn't do more than what we did.

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June 2010

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