succumbing to peer pressure

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dating my brother
(insert WV joke here)

Not really, of course, but part of the whole therapy trip I was taking with my brother over the past two years was motivated by the fact that I was playing out my crappy, manipulative relationship with my brother in my intimate relationships with other men. I could perhaps live with a crummy family relationship, but not when it's bleeding into other areas of my life. And part of what played out with my brother last xmas was his desire to pretend like nothing had happened between us, like we hadn't been estranged, at that point, for well over a year, and carry on as if we were on totally friendly terms.

Well, this evening I played out that same damn scenario with a particularly noteworthy man from my past. I'd like to think that I'm in a better place, mentally and emotionally, but I suppose time will tell.

The short-ish version - he and I were friends for years, but we parted badly, he treated me badly, and said many mean and hurtful things to me. I said unkind things to him. The parting probably was surmountable, with apologies. Nothing said or done was beyond the pale, just the standard behavior of hurt people. Not that that makes it ok, but to contextualize that we're not talking about any truly dastardly behavior.

But apologies were not issued, by either party, and we fell out of each other's lives. Over the past two and half years or so I have thought of him from time to time, more often than not fondly, and as my tenure here is coming to an end, I guess I wanted a nicer ending to this particular segment of my past. So I sent an e-mail, saying I missed my friend, and this evening we saw each other for the first time in years.

It was one of those situations where I didn't even know what I was hoping or looking for, not until I got home and unpacked my unsettled feelings with the help of AWB. And what I want is an acknowledgement of our past, both the good and the bad of it, before attempting to slide back in to a friendship based mostly on complaining about graduate school and politics. And I think now that I've had this one little meeting, I'm ok demanding this, at the risk of closing the door on the friendship before it gets started again. There's a wonderful discussion over on AWB's site about deserving things and hoping for things and heebie-geebie has a nice comment about her dealbreakers - things she's willing to demand at the risk of getting neither them nor the companionship of the person of whom she's demanding. It's actually quite a nice place to get to.

Good News!

Not that I expect this to change people's minds, but this court ruling that vaccines are NOT linked to autism is good news nonetheless.

In other news, I have a defense date! Tuesday, March 24, 1pm. Send me all the good vibes you can spare, ok? And, because my roommate is awesome and hilarious:

Me: Is it inappropriate to send out Save the Date cards for my defense?

Roommate: the cover of the invitation should be a picture of you flicking off the camera with the caption "take that, suckas!"
Roommate: can i wear a jumpsuit to your defense?

Of course, I don't feel the need to flick off cameras and shout take that, suckas, because, as I say over and over again, I've had a mostly positive experience these past 6 years. But I still love the idea of sending out formal invites with such crude sentiments.

Also, I keep telling friends and colleagues to save the date, and a few look confused for a second and ask if I'm getting married, to which I reply, No! Something waaay more exciting! On the one hand, that seems reasonable, since hopefully one doesn't spend six years preparing for a wedding. On the other hand, is that a sad statement about my grad student life?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Sadly, President Obama's justice department has invoked the states' secrets excuse in opposing the reinstatement of a legal case against Boeing (alleging that they flew individuals to other countries as part of our extraordinary rendition program). BoingBoing has the round-up.

Ok people, we elected him, time to hold his feet to the fire.

White House


Sunday, February 08, 2009


Excuse the random video posting sans comment, but I'm still trying to get my brain back, and I felt awkward launching in to this post immediately following the news about Dad. What can I say? I have successors* guilt.

I'm getting my brain back because Tuesday was the committee meeting, followed by very nice impromptu dinner with friends, then three days of workshopping at the CDC with my new boss, followed by this head cold (which I really, really hope 25 hours of sleep over two days is enough to knock out).

So. The CDC workshop was interesting and informative, but mostly featured me seeing my boss speak publicly for the first time, and trying hard not to drool. I have admired this guy, and his work, for about three years now, and seeing him do the whole passionate presenter thing was intense. Working closely with him for three days is also an excellent lesson in thinking of myself as his equal and walking in to rooms with that sort of confidence. (though, to be honest, I think a good deal of my job description will also be to carry his/our message with somewhat more tact and diplomacy)

We blew off one afternoon of the workshop to hole up in his hotel room and write code and analyze data and I can't even begin to tell you how awesome and fun that was. This is so precisely the right job for me. And - I'm good at it! I don't know what more I could possibly ask for.

Oh, wait, because the new boss also spent the past three days rattling off all the places he plans to send me. First on the list (though I'm trying not to get too excited because I know this could all change) is a trip to The Netherlands in July to watch him testify at The Hague. Plus, when I mentioned the possibility of penciling in some vacation time in December to attend my brother's wedding (round II) in Nepal he said oh, we have tons of work to do either there or in Thailand, so we'll just come up with some project and then pay for your plane ticket out there! (wedding guests are staying at the Yak and Yeti hotel; how can you not love that?)

*this is the closest version of survivors guilt I can come up with - Dad successfully worked for the same company for 32 years, was 1950s Dad, and provided for his family. Now he's losing his job (it all feels a lot more like getting fired than retiring) and I'm embarking on my shiny new dream job. I've got some guilt over gushing about just how happy this job makes me.