Monday, July 26, 2010

The Occasional Poster

Hello Dear Reader,

It’s me. You might remember me – at one time, I used to post regularly about what was going on in my life, and other random things. That was a long time ago… I have since degenerated into being an occasional blog poster – posting mainly boring updates and nothing else of consequence. You might have all but forgotten about me. Well, I deserve it. :-(

I celebrated my 31st birthday this month. I can no longer kid myself that I am still in my 3rd decade. I have my feet firmly planted in the 4th decade of my life (goodness – that makes it sound like I am pushing forty). Anyway, I made a bunch of birthday resolutions, not the least of which concerns this blog. I have resolved to make myself sit down and post at least one post each month. Maybe I will gain momentum along the way and rediscover my 28-year old erstwhile blog-post-glory. In the meantime boring (and exciting) updates…

After six years of Master’s and PhD study, thesis, prelims, dissertation and internship (my experience through all these things are recounted on this blog in past entries), I have finally finished. I got an email from the graduate college at Iowa State letting me know that I had completed all my degree requirements. And they addressed the email to: Dr. Stephen. My professor had called me that right after I defended my dissertation, but the email was the first time anyone has really addressed me as Dr. Stephen in earnest. This is apart from my wonderful father, who last May booked me in with a dentist under the name: Dr. Stephen. My dad, as expected, is far more proud of the “Dr.” in my name than I.

But the most exciting of the lot is that I now have a JOB!!!! I am finally ready to move on into my first real job. I started the job search in March (ridiculously late and procrastinating as usual). I don’t want to post the details of the job search here, save to say that I had a bit of a roller coaster ride. I had some wonderful experiences, went to a whole bunch of places, met a lot of wonderful psychologists, and finally four months later ended up at the place that I wanted to go to all along – the University of Oregon. I accepted the position on 7/12/10, and will start as soon as my OPT authorization comes through. In the meantime, I am wrapping up the internship, and moving back to Ames for about a month. I leave my apartment at the end of the month, and am packing and getting ready to say goodbye to MN.

Leaving MN is going to be bittersweet. I have loved my time here. I knew when I moved here that the move would be temporary. That makes it easier, I suppose. I have been genuinely happy here, and met some people who have changed my life in wonderful ways. I will miss them dearly (R, if you ever read this, I will miss you most of all). Halfway along the year, A&A left, and like I mentioned in a previous post, their leaving has made my move out easier. Above all, the excitement of starting a new job blunts any pain that I might otherwise have felt. As is always the case with me, despite all that may be less than ideal, life is beautiful.

That’s it for now dear reader. The next time it shall be more than mere updates, I promise!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Updates Time and some Poetry

Despite the very best of intentions, it has been a while since I have posted an update. I have been busy – busy with the everyday business of life. But transitions are on the horizon. I am in the process of searching for a new job. After almost three decades as a student, I am set to finally start working at a “job”. I have been travelling quite a bit for interviews at various places. I like travelling. Let me catalogue the reasons:
  • This will take me a step closer to a potential future job.
  • I get to visit new places as part of my travel. I already have visited two states that I have never been to before as well as revisited some that I have been to.
  • I get to catch up on my reading in the flight and in my hotel rooms (VERY BIG PERK)
  • It is free. I’ve never travelled without having to pay for it myself, so this is a good change.
  • I get to eat at wonderful restaurants. Most prospective employers have tried to give me a genuine taste of the city and taken me to delightful places with delectable fare. One never completely experiences a place until one has sampled its cuisine, and I certainly am getting a generous dose of this.
  • I get to meet all kinds of wonderful psychologists, and talk about what they do for their students – it gives me all kinds of inspiration for what I eventually want to do.
  • I rake up a ton of frequent flier miles.
  • I get to watch cable TV at the hotel. Ever since I gave up cable at home, I have not had the chance to watch trashy TV. I get my fix the night before the interview. Guilty pleasure. Hee hee. :-)

I would love to write at length about all my travels, but perhaps that will be a post for another day. Let me just say this - most beautiful college campus: Michigan – Ann Arbor. The beauty of this campus took my breath away. I think it also helped that it was the start of the summer break, and most students were away. Throngs of people have a way of diluting the effect of a beautiful vista. The ivy-laden buildings of the law quadrangle of the Ann Arbor campus might almost have been what Mathew Arnold had in mind when he wrote:

Pale blue convolvulus in tendrils creep:
And air-swept lindens yield
Their scent, and rustle down their perfumed showers
Of bloom on the bent grass where I am laid,
And bower me from the August sun with shade;
And the eye travels down to Oxford's towers...

He did not, of course. As the poem points out, he had Oxford in mind. I have never been to Oxford, and until I do, Ann Arbor must be my definition of the epitome of beauty amongst college campuses.

In other news, my friends A&A have left Minneapolis. I feel happy for them, and somewhat sad for me. A&A have been my friends since our Kansas City days, and after a few years of living in different cities, when I got matched with the internship in Minneapolis, we were in the same city again. A&A made the move to Minneapolis easier and infinitely more fun. There is nothing quite as nice about moving to a new city as having good friends already in place. Oh well… all good things end, and so A&A have moved to a different city. This is very exciting for them, since they have probably done everything that there is to do in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. A&A now live in an apartment with the most gorgeous view of snow-capped mountains that I have ever seen, and I have already received the first installment of photographs of their many new adventures. As for me, the transition out of this lovely city will be much easier by their absence.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Century?

I just noticed something curious. It appears that quite unwittingly, in my last three posts, I referenced in chronological order: months, years, and a decade. I can't think of anything to write about a century, but here's the obligatory mini-post anyway.

Updates on eating new species of plants: since my last post I have eaten a lot of other familiar plants, but the exciting new one is: Quinoa. More to come...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Farewell to the Naughties

In the millennial episode of Gimme Gimme Gimme, James Dreyfus’ character wonders what the next decade is going to be called. We had the 80’s and the 90’s. What’s next? The zeroes? With a fair measure of glee, he concludes that the first decade after the millennium ought to be called the “naught-ies”. The dawn of this year marked the end of the naughties. I first came to the US in 2001. I was fresh-eyed and eager to finally be an adult. Having lived all my life until then under the protective shadow of my parents, I for the first time was making really important decisions. What I really was doing was navigating my way through a new and unfamiliar culture by a process of trial and error – a fact that I did not realize until many years later. In many areas of my life, a considerable amount of “naughtiness” took place as a result of this naiveté – most notably in the areas of finances and health.

Being a graduate student for an entire decade took its toll on my bank balance which was constantly shrinking, and on my credit card debts which grew increasingly large. Also, having easy access to highly processed and cheap food, gave me a ready excuse to desert the kitchen and abandon my culinary skills. At the end of last year, I had a considerably larger girth and was much unhealthier than I was at the beginning of my life in the US. Any number of financial advisors or doctors would have shaken their heads at me in stern and somber disapproval. The naughtiness was complete.

While at the start of the year I had vaguely resolved to abandon the “naughtiness”, I have over the past two and a half months gained a much more clear idea of what I need to do to improve the quality of my life, pocketbook, and health. While I have little control over my financial life, I am doing what I can. My health on the other hand is another matter – I have complete control over this (almost). I have been scouting for health philosophies that work for me for the past year, and I think I have finally found it in Michael Pollan’s "In Defense of Food". I recommend it and Pollan’s other book, "The Omnivore’s Dilemma" unreservedly to anyone who has an interest in learning about what they eat. Consequently, I have abandoned nutritionism, and am reverting to a diet which consists of whole foods (Pollan’s definition of whole foods does not correspond with what is popularly considered whole food), and as much of it as possible organic and GMO-free. This will of course put a substantial dent in my finances, but for the moment, I think I will try and balance that out with other expenditure.

I will not bore you all with my progress on these counts. But one of the guidelines that Pollan suggests is that people diversify their diet as much as possible in order to include as many micronutrients as possible. For example, rather than eat blueberries to get one type of antioxidant, eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables to get a number of different types of antioxidants. Pollan suggests that a good diet consists of as many species as possible. Since I don’t eat meant, this means that I will have to eat as many species of flora as possible. So, I have resolved to include half as many different species of plants in my diet as there are days in the year. I don’t know if I will be able to find 183 different kinds of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, but I will keep you updated on my progress on what I think is a rather interesting resolution. I did not start counting species in January, so I will attempt to reach my goal between now and December 31st 2010. Right now (since March 1st), the count stands at 22 species, which I think is a good start. However, these twenty-two species include the basic elements of most of my cooking, so it probably will be slow going from here on. If you can think of novel fruits or veggies that I could experiment with, please let me know.

It finally is: Farewell to the Naughties!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Three Years

Happy Valentine's Day to you all!

Although I don't have much to say today, I wanted to make a quick post noting that today is the third anniversary of my blog. The last half-year has been rather slow in terms of updates and posts, but I anticipate writing some more soon.

I marked this Valentine's day by watching "The Hurt Locker", reading a few chapters of the first Lord Peter Wimsey novel, and eating vadas with tea while it snowed outside my window. Delightful Sunday afternoon, don't you think?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Five Months Later...

Hello All,

I have been neglecting my dear old blog for such a long time. There has been so much to write about, and so much that happened - none of which has had a chance to get posted. Over the past five months, I have settled in at my internship in the Twin Cities, completed nearly half of said internship, made some new friends, missed my old friends, had some interesting new experiences including an intimate acquaintance with the “Minnesota nice” which has shaken me up a bit, and have in general been far too busy to be able to make sense enough of my life to post it here. My friend Aarti pitches for a new post every time I see her, and here it finally is - five months later.

Life in Minnesota has been interesting to say the very least. Professionally, I have grown tremendously. Personally, I have grown a lot too. Life keeps casting fascinating things onto my path. Dealing with all of this has been rewarding, but draining too. I do want to talk about everything that I had hoped my time here would be, which it has not been; and of all the unexpected delights that have found their way into my life. My sister has given me various pointers about what I should write, but just thinking about all of that exhausts me. I’m going to do a yearly roundup of books and an update of what I am up to now. But other than that, I think I shall just hope that my wish to write does not dry up, and that I will continue to post about what happens from now on.

I read twenty-eight books this year. That’s one more than last year. I started with the lovely Villette, and it certainly has been a most wonderful year of reading. I don’t think that I had set a reading goal for last year, so I don’t feel disappointed about not meeting it. These are the books I read in 2009:

* The Evil Genius - Collins
* A Few Quick Ones - Wodehouse
* Mystery Mile - Allingham
* The Big Four - Christie
* The Professor - Bronte
* Young Men in Spats - Wodehouse
* Eggs, Beans and Crumpets - Wodehouse
* Service with a Smile - Wodehouse
* Sense and Sensibility - Austen
* The Clocks - Christie
* The Absentee - Edgeworth
* Castle Rackrent - Edgeworth
* The Thin Man - Hammett
* Passenger to Frankfurt - Christie
* The Vicar of Wakefield - Goldsmith
* Unexpected Guest - Christie
* Men Behaving Badly - Nye
* Murder on the Orient Express - Christie
* Thank You Jeeves - Wodehouse
* Rumpole and the Primrose Path - Mortimer
* Right Ho, Jeeves! - Wodehouse
* Carry On, Jeeves - Wodehouse
* How Right You Are Jeeves! - Wodehouse
* A Baker Street Dozen - Doyle
* Love Over Scotland - Smith
* Cranford – Gaskell
* Rumpole Misbehaves – Mortimer
* Villette – Brontë

I also read half of “Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories”, but ended up tossing the book out when I moved to Minneapolis. My goal for this year: thirty books.

I am looking forward to this year. It will probably mark quite a few landmarks for me. I will graduate after a quarter of a century in school. My parents will breathe a sigh of relief – I think they are rather tired of telling people I am still a student. I will have my first “real job”. I will move to some place where I will not live in the anticipation of moving. I have also resolved that I will do several other things that I have always wanted to do, but never got around to. My life is beautiful and only hope dawns on the horizon.

“Thus times do shift; each thing his turn does hold;
New things succeed, as former things grow old.”
~Robert Herrick (Ceremonies upon Candlemas)

Today is Candlemas day. But for my blog and my life in general - quite apt, isn’t it?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What Happened...

... to my previous post? It has disappeared!!!