Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Batting Average

Taken from Wikipedia:

In modern times, a season batting average higher than .300 is considered to be excellent, and an average higher than .400 a nearly unachievable goal. The last player to do so, with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship, was Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox, who hit .406 in 1941, though the best modern players either threaten to or actually do achieve it occasionally, if only for brief periods of time.

Spring 2007. Three papers submitted. One paper accepted. My batting average: 0.333. Not much worse than Babe Ruth, so I'm feeling okay.

Friday, August 17, 2007


A full confession: I went on a rare beauty product shopping spree last week. For $30.53, I bought three hair products, a round hair brush, and mascara. Now I have moisturized, glossy, kinky hair, stylized with the round hair brush. The topaz mascara makes my blue eyes "pop:" so says the packaging.

Last night's spree was a desperate rebellion against my own rules of conduct. Since 1994, I've coped with being in a male-dominated field by disguising my femininity. Since coming to GradShitTowneVille, I've been more extreme in my covert acts. I say the f-word four times a day. I talk about changing my break pads. I talk like a big dog. I wear pants, never shorts; skirts are reserved for 101 degrees F.

Just last week, I was marvelling at how much ass I kick. Wearing an old pair of my dad's overalls, sweating in 90 degree heat, I was fighting the grass with my vintage push reel mower. After two hours of pulling and panting, battling the weed eater, and admiring my developing biceps (thank you weight-lifting), I had a front yard that could be a decent backdrop for a live local news broadcast.

Broadcaster: I'm standing in a North GradShitTownVille neighborhood where we are getting reports of a young graduate student who is holding her advisor hostage in her attic. Sir, can you tell us about the events taking place this explosive Friday afternoon?

Yeah. Like that.

But that's not the frustrating thing. That's not what I'm rebelling against. I'm fantastic at being masculine. I'm great at doing "guy" things. I'm horrible at giving myself permission to be a woman.

Ideally, I'd live in a world where there aren't "girl things" and "guy things." I would live where there are just "people things," and people do what they like. None of these other graduate students who tell me I should have a baby or ask me how my boyfriend's research is going. None of these predatorial professors who waaaaay overstep boundaries. Just me. Just "cs grad student" instead of "female cs grad student."

But after so many years of pants, what used to be a tiny inkling of femininity has lately turned into the rioting oppressed. She is demanding to be unleashed.

I don't know how this will resolve itself. Other women I know have different ways of being in this place:

"Emma's" voice drops a half-octave whenever there are men in the room, including her husband. I'm not sure if she knows that she does this.

"Jenna" takes charge of the room. She says she's more apt to be her bossy self with men present. She wears a t-shirt and jeans most days.

"Tina" replies to most comments or explanations with an uninterested "sure." She paints her fingernails and wears heels to class.

"Claudia" just acts like herself. She's cutesy and fun in her skirts and Keenes, proclaiming her love of graph theory in front of a class of 28 guys.

Lots of approaches, but I'm still not sure what's right for me. How do I assume my role as a woman in science, rather than a woman-in-disguise in science? I don't know. For now, I'll keep wearing pants, but with topaz mascara.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ovary Twitch

My friend Cheryl taught me the phrase, "My ovaries are twitching." We'd be in a park, walking the dog, and we'd see some super cute kids who want to play with the dog. They'd be polite, and sweet, and fun. For a brief moment, the ovaries would twitch, and we'd want to have kids. Of course, we'd quickly recall the pain of childbirth, or realize that neither of us have husbands. The twitching would stop.

Wait a minute, Cheryl got married last weekend.

That's not really the point of the story, is it?

My neighbors have been in the process of moving. For the past few days, they've dropped off their 2 year old son at my place for an hour or two, so they can move heavy furniture or clean the house. I don't really have any toys at my house, so the first day, I took him down into the basement to play with nuts and bolts and measuring tapes. He's just learning how to categorize things, so it's fun to sort the big bolts from the small nuts. It's funny how boring things can become toys.

When I was little, my favorite toy was a washrag.

The next day, we were coloring in the front room, when he proclaimed,

"I want coffee."
"What? Coffee?"
"Yes. Coffee. Let's go coffee!"

Keep in mind that this kid speaks three languages, and he's not great at always speaking the one I know. So I figured "coffee" was some Chinese word that I didn't know. It just happened to sound like coffee.

He grabbed my hand and lead me into the kitchen. Then down to the basement. And back to where we had been playing. And I realized he had been putting nuts and bolts into a big plastic coffee cup.

Smart kid.

So, yeah, my ovaries are twitching.

Oh shit.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Neat Thing That Happened While I Was Gone

The bathroom on the floor in my building on campus has "feminine hygiene" wastebaskets in all the bathroom stalls. Yay!!!! I don't have to tote a balled-up fist of toilet paper and tampon around the bathroom anymore!

Final Vacation Highlights

Three Amtrak train rides. $72

Three Sound Transit bus rides.

Four tanks of gas. $120

Effortless Shopping. > $100
- Olive linen jacket.
- Oversized linen sheer sweater.
- White camisole.
- Black Pat Benetar-esque t-shirt.
- White notched t-shirt.
- Textured button down shirt.
- Flattering jeans.
- Comfy cardigan.
- Gifts.

Most relaxing moment. Laying in a field in Discovery Park, soaking in the sun, letting the bugs sleep on me.

Luckiest moment. Getting a $400 travel voucher to volunteer to take another flight three hours later. Having a great friend in "The Big City" to put me up for the night.

Foodiest moment. Eating a demi-poulet with mayonaise at a hip French restaurant near Capitol Hill in Seattle. Sharing a taste of it with the boyfriend who is eating baked fish in a lentil ragout.

Funniest moment. I'm telling a story about this couple I know to my boyfriend and his friends. The story is about the woman who takes care of the kids, the man who does nothing with the kids, and the nosy co-worker who tells him he's a bad father during a staff meeting. My punchiline, "It's important to marry well."

One of the boyfriend's buddies asks, "Well? Doesn't that mean rich? What are *you* doing with a graduate student?"

I'm suddenly unable to speak English. I stutter, "We aren't mah...'Well' 'well' I mean, you know...not..."

The boyfriend leans back and proudly says, "She means well-hung."

Honorable Mention. Eating a sandwich on the train back to GradShitTownVille; the sandwich my friend Iu made for me while I slept in this morning.