talented amateur, the only gerontologist you know
24 May 2011 @ 01:28 am
"Will you run?"
"Like blazes, first chance I get."
The Prisoner, "Free For All"

You can only run so far before memory surges like a slow burn in every muscle, the aching traces of how far you've gone and what you spent of yourself to get there.

I've spent nearly a year figuring out what to write here, afraid of wasting time reflecting on life when I could actually be doing something that could leave some trace impression in the world. There are days when the multiple versions of myself scattered around unexpectedly converge in their actions, but when you're tackling so many roles time rushes forward all the more quickly. For the first time, my life is no longer structured by the educational system, and I will be moving away from the state where I've lived more than two decades to join my significant other (yes, the fiery redhead I mentioned here almost two years ago!).

I don't know what I'd do without my parents and friends and all those I admire online and offline who are doing good in their own ways even if they don't always realize their own impact. If I've been working on anything, it's to humble my sense of pride (I must do something important and be recognized for those actions NOW) and find one quirky, delightful thing to share with someone else each day.

Yes, I realize I'm a pretentious yuppie moron at my worst, but at least I know what I am. I will say this once because you're allowed to take pride in what you've done on your birthday even if you otherwise spend most of your free time freaking out about the future - I owe more people than I can count on both hands for not floundering in worry all the time. I graduated valedictorian of the gerontology department twice while working part time, getting published by a journal that no sensible person will ever read, and never paying a dime in tuition for undergraduate or graduate education. I'm working again at Stanford doing special projects in policy research (more eclectic than it sounds), but there's a good chance this is my last formal research assistant job as I transition to more of my freelance projects that'll move into full swing in the next few months. I know what I want to do in my working life (developing assistive technologies to help people age in their own homes), but it's still rather murky if I'll land a full time job with a steady employer before I move to Seattle. Not going to lie, freelancing is kind of terrifying if a total adrenaline rush in being treated and respected like a professional even if I'm not old enough to rent a car.

Originally I was going to call this "23 things I learned before turning 23," but if I've learned anything from studying gerontology, it's that there aren't any interesting birthday milestones until you hit the next decade :P
Listening to:: Elegy: Battlestar Galactica Season 4 (Bear McCreary)
talented amateur, the only gerontologist you know
I'm embarrassed to admit that it's been more than a year since I last updated, though I still follow the awesome that is all of you on a regular basis. Update about life stuff theoretically coming soon - not sure if I'm more excited or terrified about having one semester of grad classes left, considering I will be picking up my bachelor's degree tomorrow. At a glance, senior year's highlights involve hearing that Bear McCreary doesn't think that my commentary on his score for Battlestar Galactica sucks, becoming friends with the professor who produced the MFU soundtracks/wrote the season 4 DVD liner notes, utterly failing to avoid dirty jokes about wood while learning to play Settlers of Catan, and finishing my thesis on age differences in autobiographical memories that will theoretically be published in a journal 10 people will ever bother to read within a year.

In the meantime, however, I've been avidly following all the comments folks have been writing about Doctor Who, and after watching the season finale darklightluna and I felt inspired to write a slightly cracky meta ficlet pitch as to why you should become the next Companion today! You can read it on here.

Alas, the 5 minutes you waste reading through it is unrefundable in all but 42 star systems.
Feeling:: creativecreative
Listening to:: Shape of Things to Come: BSG Season 2 (Bear McCreary)
talented amateur, the only gerontologist you know
First of all, many happy returns to 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 eldritchhobbit and 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 futureCollapse )

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 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!
Feeling:: contemplativecontemplative
Listening to:: So Much Life: Battlestar Galactica Season 4 (Bear McCreary)
talented amateur, the only gerontologist you know
24 August 2009 @ 08:12 pm
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 dragonfly66 and 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 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 curiousCollapse )

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.
Feeling:: excitedexcited
Listening to:: Boeuf Bourguignon: Julie and Julia (Alexandre Desplat)
talented amateur, the only gerontologist you know
First of all, I wanted to say thanks so much to eternalmoogle, aneuhaus, eldritchhobbit, akane42me, swashbuckler332, st_crispins, comfortable_yet, and many other friends for the birthday wishes. My 21st did involve quite a bit of consumption, but none of the alcoholic variety. To celebrate, eyepiece_simile, dragonfly66, and I took the train up to San Francisco to catch up and walk from Union to Ghiradelli Square to indulge in Ghiradelli's famed chocolate-y goodness. And authentic, organic crêpes made by this awesome lady from Martinique. The day itself involved getting around to some books I've been meaning to read (Leonard Mlondinow's The Drunkard's Walk) and talking to some of my favorite people :D All in all a very pleasant day.

I had another draft or two in progress about other things, but right now I'm watching the National Memorial Day Concert that my parents recorded, and it's setting off all of my political activist buttons. It's the sort of event embodying the sort of post-"isms" that make prejudice and discrimination so insidious to fight today.

Comments under the cut for lengthCollapse )
If you want to hear about how you can help, some resources are listed here.

And I have no new words about Prop 8. While I understand that the law must recognize the mandate of the majority, we're still disenfranchising countless individuals of their right to marry when increasing number of states, even DC, are finally mandating this right. At the risk of sounding terribly naïve, upholding prop 8 is denying people the right to benefit from the 1,000+ legal benefits that heterosexual couples can claim.

I can only hope that Sonia Sotomayor is confirmed soon to bring back justice to the Supreme Court.
Feeling:: indescribableindescribable
Listening to:: Bring Him Home: Les Miserables (Colm Wilkinson)
talented amateur, the only gerontologist you know
I haven't been very responsive here lately, I'm afraid; the end of the semester crunch has been occupying my time, but I'm home now.

I feel rather lucky to come home just in time to celebrate Mother's Day and be with my family again. We ended up going to see the new Star Trek movie, then I treated her to this awesome Vietnamese place. Short, non-spoilery review of Star Trek: worth seeing once for entertaining viewing as long as you don't spend too long staring at all the Enterprise-sized plot holes. It was surprisingly less campy than I had anticipated, with the actors playing Kirk, McCoy, and Scotty really owning their roles. Zoë Saldana's Uhuru is pretty damn awesome, too. Seriously, I was apprehensive about Kirk after watching the trailers, but he had enough charisma to actually pull it off. Unfortunately the bits with Spock just didn't cut it for me, especially that one scene at the end; there wasn't enough time to really flesh out his character with all the action going on, and the whole brooding Sylar in disguise characterization felt forced. But when it comes to hooking in a new generation into the ST franchise, I think it's quite effective by creating another dimension to the series for new and old fans to play with.

Anyway, Mother's Day once again has made me realize how lucky I am to have the people who support me in my life. I tend to wax sentimental when I write, but it really is true. As cheesy and cliché as it may sound, I do consider those of you who read this to be my extended family, the kinds of people I could only wish I could be related to just so I'd have an excuse to see you more often because you're all so awesome :D

And I can't imagine where I'd be without the wisdom, humor and guidance of the surrogate parents in my life who tell me the sorts of things that I have difficulty believing when my biological mother tells them to me. Even simple things like "Good luck" and "take care of yourself" - I take that to heart. And goodness knows you've helped me out in so many ways I can't name them all, from your Christmas cards to letting me interview/coerce you to helping me out on class projects to your sympathetic and often hilarious comments. Once again, thank you all!
Feeling:: gratefulgrateful
Listening to:: A Dazzling End: Doctor Who Series 4 (Murray Gold)
talented amateur, the only gerontologist you know
08 April 2009 @ 09:28 pm
I'm writing this in honor of national occupational therapy month, though I should really be working on my occupational therapy paper. A number of conversations in class and with various others inspired this.

Musings on illness, identity, activism, and suicideCollapse )
Feeling:: contemplativecontemplative
Listening to:: Theme from the Diving Bell and the Butterfly: Paul Cantelon
talented amateur, the only gerontologist you know
25 March 2009 @ 12:04 am
Here's what I've been up to today:

  • 20:22 Shockingly, as an asexual I don't need sex as my only source of satisfaction in life - tinyurl.com/cu3fak #

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talented amateur, the only gerontologist you know
11 March 2009 @ 12:04 am
Here's what I've been up to today:

  • 01:59 I can't believe we're renewing our lease at 3:30 in the morning - does our landlady sleep? Beats having to find a new place to stay, I ... #

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talented amateur, the only gerontologist you know
10 March 2009 @ 12:03 am
Here's what I've been up to today:

  • 18:48 Ah, the cellular level reason about why dreams are difficult to remember/memory encoding during sleep: tinyurl.com/ao5mlx #
  • 20:14 No food stamps for NY singles looking for jobs when the fed gov. is subsidizing it? SERIOUSLY?! tinyurl.com/cn4mg5 #
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