Friday, December 31, 2010
Two thousand and ten. What a year! At this time last year it nearly didn't register to me that the year was about to end. I had to work both on New Year's eve and the first day of 2010. I didn't have time to reflect on what 2009 meant to me, or to plan goals for 2010. Honestly, I had such a dismal end to 2009, that it didn't seem worth it to think about what lay ahead. Maybe it's good that I did it that way...I didn't have a lot of expectations for 2010, so it was easy to exceed them! And boy did this year come through for me. Here are some highlights:
January: Finished up my grad school applications and got accepted to a science teaching certification program. I spent most of my time digging my car out of the snow.
February: Biggest month of the year...got invited to recruitment weekends at two research universities (I only went to one) and was subsequently accepted into their program. And then I went on a great trip with a best friend to Spain! I thawed out, went to the beach, ate my weight in churros, drank dark coffee and danced all night.
April: I left my job!! It was such a relief to get out of there. Then I saw The Flaming Lips for the first time in KC. It was a little ridiculous how sad I was to leave the city that has nurtured my adulthood, but I had to move.
May: ROAD TRIP! Two of my best friends and I went on a great little trip to Notre Dame, Chicago, and then back to KC. Epic fun.
June: I moved into my very own apartment which was pretty terrifying. I also got back into the lab, which at first was daunting. I started second-guessing my choice to go to school.
August: School started! I was really glad to get back into classes again and I started a really great rotation.
September: I had a wedding and I saw The Flaming Lips again, all in the same weekend. Pretty spectacular.
October: Also an epic month...I saw Sufjan, went to another amazing wedding, and Fall Break Aught Ten (Road Trip) to OU.
December: Finished up classes and rotation #2 (not as good as the others). I was so excited and relieved to pass my classes; I'm really starting to feel like I can do this.
And now here we are in 2011. I had a really great New Year's Eve with one of my best friends. There was a fun band playing in Columbia and we danced like fools! To be honest, I don't know what to say about this upcoming year...I know I'm going to do some traveling (DC here I come!) and I will choose the lab in which I'll do my thesis work. I want to read more for pleasure. And study more on a regular schedule.
Other than that I'm keeping an open mind. Here's to the new year!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
1. Carole King- Tapestry
If there is any woman out there who has never listened to this album, the time to fix that is right now. Not only is this one of my favorite female albums, it's near the top of my list in general. King has a way of describing love and yearning that I'm positive can resonate with anyone. I didn't know this until recently, but Feel Like a Natural Woman was actually co-written by King on this album and Aretha Franklin made a big hit out of it after the fact. Top tracks: I Feel the Earth Move, Beautiful, Where You Lead.
2. Neko Case- Blacklisted
Where to start with Neko Case...? I guess her voice. Case has this sort of deep, soulful voice, with just a touch of rasp. It's so full and powerful that nearly anything she sings sounds amazing. Add to that her lyrics about life and its tragic sort of beauty (I know this sounds a little emo, but trust me, it's SO not) and you've got gold. This is an album for any mood. Top tracks: Deep Red Bells, Pretty Girls, Runnin' Out of Fools.
3. Regina Spektor- Begin to Hope
I love Regina Spektor because she comes up with such unconventional songs, both in content and structure. She uses her voice as the most unconventional instrument, making strange sounds that add a different layer to each track. I think at times she gets a little underestimated because it sounds sort of precious, but I think there's a kind of genius in it. Top tracks: Samson, Lady, Dusseldorf [bonus version].
4. Fiona Apple- Tidal
Just like with Ms. Case...what needs to be said about Fiona Apple? She too has a deep and soulful voice, but it's also sexy and jazzy. Her lyrics about love and loss are really poetic and mature, especially considering the fact that she was 19 when the album was released and younger when she wrote them. The video for Criminal is just as iconic as the song. Top tracks: Criminal, Shadowboxer, The First Taste.
5. Alanis Morissette- Jagged Little Pill
This album will always be special to me because it was the first cd I ever bought with my own allowance money. At the time I thought I was so subversive because Morissette cussed in the songs and my mom didn't pay attention to the lyrics. I have since realized a more mature appreciation for this album. There is a lot of anger in these lyrics and I think it's rare to hear a woman that angry in music, but it works well for her. This is the perfect album to blast when you are pissed off at a boy...it's cathartic. Top tracks: All I Really Want, You Oughta Know, Hand in My Pocket.
In other news, I have my enzymology final tomorrow and then biochemistry on Thursday. Then my first semester of grad school is over. BOOM. ROASTED.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Norah Jones has a new compilation album out. It's basically a variety of collaborations that she has recorded over the years. There is a lot of variation....Talib Kweli, Dolly Parton, M. Ward, Herbie Hancock, Willie Nelson, Belle & Sebastien, etc.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I knew it would be a good night when an ambulance and a fire truck pulled up outside. They calmly brought a stretcher inside, but we never got to see if they brought someone out, so hopefully all is well.
I've always had a soft-spot in my heart for regional music. Actually, I don't know if that's what you would call it, but I mean down-home music that tends to define a place and time. It's music that tells a story and sometimes feels a little nostalgic. Bluegrass is definitely one of those genres, at least to me.
So, Yonder...I don't really know too much about them, and I've only heard probably a fraction of their repertoire, but I love listening to what I have. I've watched videos of live performances in the preparation for the day I would see them live. Their music just puts you in a good mood, even the sad songs.
I loved the show. I say this about most of the shows I go to, but this one was great for a very different reason. The music was great and the band was pretty interactive with the audience, but my favorite part was how much everyone in the crowd danced. Danced. I don't think I've ever been to a show with that much dancing. Yeah, people sway and rock and get into the songs a lot, but here they were actually busting a move. Which was enjoyable because the only way to dance to bluegrass music is to look like an idiot, and no one seemed to have a problem with that.
Each member is also ridiculously talented with their instrument. I've been inspired to take up the mandolin...in my copious spare time.
To close, I'm already anticipating my next Yonder show.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
My musical brain tends to flip-flop a lot. I seem to go through periods where my brain is interested in something very concretely rock and roll. Something with a solid structure, a nice beat, melody, clear lyrics (i.e. Bob Dylan, Wilco, The Black Keys, etc.). Then on the off times, it pulls a 180 and demands complicated and random sounds. Now is one of the latter times.
And my favorite right now: Animal Collective.
I didn't really start listening to them until about two years ago when a friend gave me their EP, Grass. I liked it and bought two other albums, but didn't really get into them. I recently bought their latest, Merriweather Post Pavilion, and have not been able to stop listening. For reals. I've been listening to it on my daily commute every day since I bought it. Saturday I bought a copy on vinyl (which I think is starting to become my new favorite hobby...buying vinyl that is).
The variation of the songs, resulting from the deep layers of noise that mesh perfectly, keeps my mind from getting bored. If you really sit and dissect what you are hearing, there is such a variety of sound, it's pretty incredible. It's hard to think that these completely random sounds would work together, but they do. Oh yes they do, like the jaw harp samples and the crazy mic effects of Lion in a Coma. It's also the kind of crazy-fun, nerdy music that makes you want to dance like a dork.
I haven't really listened to much of their side projects. Members Avey Tare and Panda Bear have solo albums which are on my radar I've heard great things, but I haven't had a chance to check them out yet. When I do, you'll hear about it.
Unrelated side note: Yonder Mountain String Band is coming to Columbia this Wednesday. I entered a little contest on facebook to win a prize pack including tickets. I find out if I won this afternoon. Fingers crossed-I would love to see them live at The Blue Note!
Monday, October 25, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Ladies and gentlemen, it's finally here. It has arrived. I have decided on a theme: music. I guess I love music and I already actually talk about music on here anyway, so it's a good fit.
I swear this one will stick...there are endless options and I'm actually really excited about it. I'm sure I'll add some life updates and some photos in between...but get ready.
Disclaimer: I don't in any way intend to to come across as some sort of music critic or as if I really know what I'm talking about. It's just that I like a variety of tunes, I like going to live shows, and I like reading and talking about both. There is quite a bit of attitude and condescension on the music scene, but I'm going to try and avoid it here. I know that I have plenty of guilty pleasures and I like a lot of stuff that in actuality is terrible, but that's the way it goes. People listen to music because it makes them happy, so deal.
Since my most recent musical adventure was the Sufjan Stevens concert in KC on Sunday, that's where I'm starting.
There are a lot of strong feelings about his most recent album, The Age of Adz. Many people think he has made a complete about face to his previous musical styling, and at the casual listen that's probably true. It's a lot more 'in your face' than his previous work; the synths make it seem harsher than the sort of delightful banjo melodies of old.
That being said, I love this album. Since it was available on NPR's First Listen, it's been on my iPod. Sufjan has a confidence in his voice on this album that is hard to deny; he's really trying to get something across. What that something is, I'm not always sure, but nonetheless, I hear him.
Seeing this album played live was incredible. When he played 'Impossible Soul' I thought I was going to explode, I loved it so much. That's quite a feat to play 25 minutes straight of noise (in the best sense of the word). Sufjan was very open about explaining his new sound. He mentioned that his previous songwriting methods have let him down over the past couple of years, so he went back to the basics on this album. He was inspired by the art and life story of Royal Robertson, which was a great backstory to hear from Stevens' perspective. He threw the audience a couple of bones starting out with 'Seven Swans' and ending with an encore including 'Chicago' and 'John Wayne Garcy, Jr.'
Great show, great album, great time with my beloved friends from Jewell and KC. What a perfect end to a perfect weekend.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Another week down I suppose. I'm glad this one's past...it was pretty rough.
It's amazing to me how tired I am at the end of each day. School just wears me out. I think it's really more of a mental fatigue than a physical one. At least I sleep well (for the most part)...
This weekend was nice. The weather was gorgeous and I got some work done. I also got the chance to have an uninterrupted, 45min+ conversation with my sister. That rarely happens.
Speaking of tired, I'm headed to bed.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
I had a great weekend full of friends new and old, but I'm too tired now to go into details. Suffice it to say that I spent quality time with one of my best friends, went to a sweet and beautiful wedding (and saw more bests!), drove drove drove, and totally rocked out to the Flaming lips again (first time I've ever gone to two shows on the same tour).
Spent today in lab and got some key steps finished for one of my projects, but totally failed on the other one. Now I'm behind a couple of days, after being behind a couple of days anyway because my reagents didn't make it in time. I'm a little frustrated, but not at anything in particular.
Thanks to Mr. Mangum I'm going to relax and then fall into what I'm sure will be a blissful sleep. Goodnight!
Sunday, August 29, 2010
To be honest I feel like the first week was a little bit of a let down. Most likely it's the result of the summer. I've already gotten used to campus, met a lot of people from my department, and been in the lab a lot, so it doesn't feel that different. I just have classes.
I'm taking three courses this semester, one of which is a seminar and only sort of counts. Biochemistry is good so far, it's a lot of review, but in much more detail, which I think will turn out to be extremely helpful. It's team-taught by three different professors and they crack me up, but I'm sure they are not trying to be funny. Enzymology is a lot of chemistry and math, which is nice, but at times confusing.
I really like the lab I'm in right now, everything just kind of clicks for me. Plus, I've only really been there a week (not even full days, just in between classes, etc.) and I'm already really comfortable, as if I've been there for a while. The PI is really open to questions, clarifications, and discussions, which is super helpful to me. I really like how hands-on he is.
Fall is shaping up to be a busy season this year. Of course I have school, but there are also two weddings and other things happening. I'm lining up my Fall concert series. I have a ticket for Sufjan Stevens (how awesome is it that he's touring?!) and will also have a ticket for either Vampire Weekend or The Flaming Lips, depending on how the scheduling works out. My ears are so pumped.
Speaking of music, I'm not sure I've ever been as anxious for an album to come out as I have been for this. I've been watching the video from that article at least five times a day since I saw it. And I've read various interviews of both Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy about working together. I can't believe that she is 71! My album copy has been pre-ordered so now I just have to wait for that beautiful download. Seriously excited.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Honeslty, though, I think Facebook can just read my soul. Because here's the thing: wish I was Jewish.
I guess it's not actually that I want to convert to Judaism or anything, but I wish I was a part of a bigger culture, clan even. Within the past few years I realized that I want more traditions and I guess the Jewish people are just a good example of tradition (thank you, The Fiddler on the Roof, for that delightful pun).
It's kind of a restless feeling I suppose, but I just want to feel connected.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
First and foremost I spend time in the lab. At least 7 hours a day. Currently I'm attempting to optimize a few protocols for the cells and protein we're working with. It's a little slow going so far. I've been working with another student who just finished his first year exams, but neither one of us really knows what we are doing. And we really don't get a lot of direction from our 'mentor', so we just blunder along. Which is probably better in the long run, because we have already made a bazillion mistakes...so we're learning, right? I think so.
I don't drive. On average (at least for the past three weeks) I've only driven about twice a week. I'm trying to bike/walk everywhere. Which has had some funny moments so far, like when I crashed my bike on the street and I thought no one saw me, until a few minutes later when this older gentleman came to check on me because he thought I had seriously injured myself (fyi, I had not). He offered to fix my bike too, but it was fine. Given the recent heat waves that seem to have settled over all of Missouri, I inevitably sweat all day too. It's nearly impossible to walk even a few blocks without being drenched. Gross.
I've been watching the World Cup. I've never seen the World Cup games before, but I started watching this year. And I'm hooked, for better or worse. The fans are so enthusiastic and I love their outfits. MU's been showing the games on a big screen in the union and it's fun to sit and watch with all of the international kids. Watching the games is also a great reason to have a beer early in the day (only for the weekend games...).
Last weekend I went home and went to my first bachelorette party at a Cardinals game (I think there is a new sports theme to my life). It was basically a blast.
All I can really say is that I'm having fun. I'm learning about life and living it on my own and being a graduate student and budgeting. It's weird. But I think I'm liking it.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Blerg. It's been a while. I find it so intimidating to try and update when it’s been so long.
I have been a resident of Columbia for over a week now. I’ve been in the lab for one week. That doesn’t seem possible. I still kind of feel like in a few weeks I’ll be heading home or something, like this is just temporary. It hasn’t sunk in that this is [semi]-permanent.
I like being in a ‘real’ college town so far. I like that nearly everyone I meet is a student of some sort, coffee shops stay open late, and there is a plethora of great food and beer. That all makes for one happy girl. I don’t have cable or internet and that has been a little hard to adjust to. I've just been mooching wifi at coffee shops and all around campus, which hasn't really been too bad.
Slowly the lab situation is improving. I feel a little more each day like I actually belong in this environment. It was kind of a rough start, which has only been compounded by the fact that my mentor will just be around 3 days a week and I'm still not sure which project I'm actually working on. But the other lab members have taken me under their wing and I've been able to tag along for some of their work, which has been fun. I got to help remove embryonic mice brains yesterday in order to grow some neurons. That was pretty sweet. And I'm still learning a lot, so at least there's that.
That's all I have for now.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
On the way home I realized that when my sister was my age, she had been married for almost two years and was pregnant with her first child. And that made me sad. And then I felt weird that it made me sad.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Over the weekend I went to look at apartments in Columbia with my mom and my aunt. It was actually a lot of fun and I think I found a place that I really like. It was on the higher end of the rent spectrum I'm willing to pay, but it's a good size and it's literally blocks from campus. It has a cute little front porch area where I could put out a table and chairs. It has a new kitchen too. I'm going to look at some more this Friday. Even if those don't work out, at least I know I really like this place. Bah!
I'm also officially registered as an MU student. I'm enrolled in my class (which isn't really a class...it's just lab time) for the summer too! So excited. I still don't know exactly what I'll be doing, but that's ok with me.
Soon I'm going to Jewell's graduation. Three days later Hannah and I are heading to South Bend for Road Trip '10. I'm going to see The Black Keys. I'm going to a bachelorette party at a Cardinal's game.
This is certainly shaping up to be a wonderful summer!
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Then I went for lunch at Chipotle on 39th. Chipotle is one of the few places that I feel totally comfortable eating alone because they have a counter by the window. The counter makes it easier to eat alone because there aren't extra chairs at the table mocking you. When I walked in I saw that Mike from JW was there, but I'm not really friends with him so I didn't say hi. He's also a lot cooler than I am, which sometimes makes him intimidating to approach. I took Blue Like Jazz (also: bringing a book to read is fun when you are eating alone) and had it sitting next to my food. A lady stopped me while I was eating to tell me that she was also reading BLJ and loved it. She said she's been reading it for two months, very slowly, because she doesn't want it to end. I thought that was pretty neat. I love it when things like that happen. It's just nice to know that there are some strangers out there who are willing to connect with you, even just for a minute to share that they are reading the same book.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Yesterday I got my 'Welcome to Columbia' packet via FedEx. It has apartment guides and a directory for services in Columbia. I'm feeling so conflicted. In the middle. So happy. And unhappy. I am so excited to get back to school and move to Columbia...start something new, etc. After so much rejection, it feels good to have this kind of validation. But, I'm sad too. I hate leaving things. Endings. Goodbyes. I know that this is really dramatic because honestly I'm moving in between the two most important cities to me. But still.
I have been blessed beyond measure by Jacob's Well. The people there have been warm and welcoming. Encouraging and supportive. I know I've only had friends there for about 6 months, but these friendships are already very dear to me. At JW I have been challenged intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. My faith has grown exponentially. Which is great, but it makes me nervous. I'm afraid that I won't find that in Columbia. And if I don't find it, I'm afraid what will happen to that growth. I know that church does not equate spirituality, but I'm nervous that without the people to support and encourage...I don't know what will happen, but can't imagine it'd be good.
I know for sure that I am ready to leave my job. I'm honestly starting to really dislike it. For a variety of reasons, but I'm just ready to be finished. It's a lot like senioritis, especially since I know I'm getting ready to move on to something I'm passionate about.
So, I started reading Blue Like Jazz recently. Honestly I went into it thinking I was going to hate it. Not sure why exactly, but that's how I felt. It has completely surpassed any of my previous judgements. I can't put it down anymore. It has caused me to really reflect on the mission of my life and I've been realizing a lot of new things. No offense, but those are subjects for my private journal. Just note that I would now recommend it.
I can't stop listening to Wilco. I'm mean, I've been listening to them regularly since high school, but lately there has been some kind of new quality about them that I just can't get enough of. It's rediscovery at it's finest. Not only do I love the music itself, but the lyrics really mean something to my life right now. They are the kind of lyrics that you get, but don't really understand at the same time. That doesn't really make sense, but it's the only way for me to describe it.
I'm completely in love with golden raisins and avocados. I've been putting them on everything. But not together.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Tomorrow morning I'm leaving for Espana. I'm sooo excited! And a little nervous because I haven't really traveled by myself, or without someone more experienced. BAH!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Since I got the disclaimer out of the way, here's the latest headline: I GOT AN OFFER FOR GRAD SCHOOL FROM MIZZOU! There are no words to express how happy I am. Happy isn't even the emotion for the occasion....it's more akin to complete and utter joy. But that might not actually capture it either.
I just feel so validated. Like I have a direction again. I think these past 8 months have been the hardest in my life so far. And I really mean that. After all of my disappointments, I was seriously losing my focus and my sense of self.
I think this was all meant to be. I think I need a radical shift in my outlook on life and that is definitely what this time out of college has done. Despite the fact that I am going back into the school environment, I will not be looking through the same glasses (quite literally since I have a new prescription).
I'm bad at coming up with the words to explain all of this at the moment. I'm a little better at it in person.
On a lighter note, it blows my mind that in just a few months I will be on track to get my PhD. Oh yeah, that's right, my PhD. Charles what now? I can't believe that when I come through this I'll be Dr. Collins. While this is all good and exciting, I'm having a little trouble keeping it in check. I'm finding myself wanting to tell people that I got in to school, just so they think I'm smart...which is not a healthy path to start.
I have an interview at KU in a few weeks. I don't really want to go. I just want to move to Columbia tomorrow. Oh and I'm going to a little country called Spain in two weeks and two days.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
So much is about to happen, that if I stop and think about it, I lose my breath a little. Granted, it's an exciting kind of overwhelming, but overwhelming nonetheless.
In the next six weeks or so I have two grad school interviews, one international vacation, one grad school app due, one education program app due, two standardized tests relating to said education program, a teaching internship, and I could be moving into a house (well, this one's more like a few months away). Bah!
Only one thing is (hopefully) official for my future: by the end of the year I will no longer have my current job. It has turned out to be much better than I originally anticipated, but it is not a place that I can thrive in. I am grateful for the skills I've learned and I think they'll definitely help me in the future.
There's more that I want to say, but it's not coming out well right now. Hopefully I'll feel more inspired a little later.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
For an adventure update. In approximately seven weeks I will be here: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/65/2007-12-18-04706-02_Spain_Almeria.jpg