Saturday, 29 March 2014

Life is Totally Different Now!

Well, everybody is sick. Illness pervades the house. I was totally out of commission for two days this week and have been left coughing up disgusting stuff, and poor Del came home from work last night and collapsed in a pile of fever. Madeleine has been running up and down the stairs making hacking noises. Only Nicole has escaped (and am sort of avoiding her in hopes that it stays that way).

Have been meaning to blog for more than a month now, but the more I don't the more the pressure mounts and the harder it is. Luckily my cyberspace frenemy is whining again, which always makes me think a). jeez, at least I'm DOING stuff and b). if she can moan about everything online then I should probably at least update.

So yeah. How's married life you say? Well, it feels a lot like being plunged back into housematehood. I really REALLY liked living alone, and this place is tiny and full (the girls have vibrant social lives and people stay over a lot), so it's a bit hard to get used to again. The Del part is great but he's 1/3 of the housemates, if you see what I mean. But even though he works a ton (gets home about 8pm, usually) it is SO AMAZING to not have to work out Skype times and not have an imminent departure date. More Del time is always a good thing. Doesn't feel much like being married though (except that I already misplaced my ring once).

So what have I been up to? In a way it feels like it should be more, but I've been keeping busy.

1). applied for spousal visa - that took a week and a half of filling forms and locating documents and agonizing. Two weeks later the Home Office sent me a letter saying "we've sent your application to the people who take care of it. Don't bug us, don't phone us, don't contact us in any way if you ever want to see your passport again". So yeah. The waiting begins. They have mine AND Del's so we can't go anywhere (honeymoon? HAH) and, it turns out, we also can't open an ISA (tax-shelter equivalent of an RRSP) without them. So annoying - hurry up Home Office.

2). Applied for a million jobs. Okay, probably about ten. I had an interview on Monday though (for two of them) which I thought went pretty well, but didn't get the job. Was annoyed because I could do an awesome job, but I guess they were either looking for something else, or for someone whose proof-of-eligibility-to-work wasn't stuck at the Home Office for the foreseeable. (Whoops).

3). Applied for a grant for postdoc funding with my friend in Saskatchewan. We CANNOT move to Saskatchewan (it's not a hub of video game activity, how odd) but he promised we could work something out if I managed to snag it. Not holding out hope but it keeps me busy and in grant-writing practice, so…

4). Starting volunteering at the Victorian churchyard-turned-wildlife-sanctuary down the road. I LOVE this place. We get together Wednesday mornings and cut brambles off old graves. More about that later.

5). Almost (so close I can almost feel it!) submitted a paper. It's for one of those Very Special Research Topics - this one is on the Uncanny Valley, and this poor neglected paper has been sitting around for YEARS - Tyler and I collected the data in my final year of Ph.D., 2012, and I had it written and ready to go by June 2013. Supervisor never got around to looking at it and so it languished - till now, when Tyler spotted this special edition and did a little pushing. It's written and ready to go - am just struggling with annoying formatting issues and something about the abstract that doesn't sound quite right. Will give it another look today and try to get it out by the end of the weekend.

6). Working on two other papers, one review paper with Helena which keeps falling down the pile when deadlines come up, and one paper from my postdoc that I dread to look at.

So yeah, basically I'm busy and happy BUT feel like I'm totally being held hostage by the lack of a passport/work permit. Was talking to Olga, Aonghus' girlfriend from Ukraine, at the pub last night and am now counting my blessings that at least I don't have to register with the police every time I change my address or job (!), but it still is really cramping my style.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Went to the Trinity Episcopalian Church on the Green's Holiday Bazaar for old times' sake. And now I really miss Grandma F. and am feeling kind of sad. It was a proper church bazaar (although they couldn't quite live up to Holy Trinity Anglican in my opinion) in the church basement with a tag sale and a bunch of really... interesting... crafts and a bake sale. They had a novel idea, though - a Christmas cookie bar where you could pick your cookie types out and buy by the pound. I would have been all over that as a kid. I also think Grandma would have liked the innovative new scissors-and-pincushion combo with cross-stitch on the top.

Anyway, I may have accidentally spent quite a lot of money on a stack of some of the less-interesting-looking ornaments... Hope it helps them out.

Oh, it was also the Yale-Harvard Game today. (Football, needless today). Town is rife with Yalies and Harvardians (?) stumbling all over the sidewalk and nearly getting run down by the New Haven traffic, which really doesn't care where you went to school. I also saw a live burro walking down the street. Going to have to assume it is related in some way...

Thursday, 21 November 2013


Del's game is out, and it's FEATURE ON ITUNES! With a video! And guess who got to decide what went in the video... Mr Designer himself. So proud!

In other news, I may well be losing it... woke up this morning and the stove was turned slightly on (just the gas, not the flame). Pretty sure it was off the night before - not sure if I'm sleep-rambling again or what. Or did I leave it on and somehow not notice?! I will be so happy when this move to the sublet is over and one huge stressor is removed (leaving only the postdoc, the wedding, the visa, the marriage, the overseas move and the lack of a job come Feb). 

Friday, 15 November 2013


Oh yeah, something else good happened today, though. I put my wood table up on Craigslist for super cheap ($10) and said it was solid but needed refinishing. The guy who bought it gets wood furniture from Craigslist or the side of the road, refinishes it, sells it and gives half to a charity that helps homeless veterans! How awesome is that... makes me so happy that 1). that table will get a new life instead of going in the bin, because I always wanted to refinish it but didn't have the talent, time or tools, and 2). that it will help the homeless at the same time! So glad that guy decided to respond to the ad.


I could scream. Or stab someone. Just ran into the maintenance guy for my building who was having a smoke outside the dive bar next door with one of his colleagues who works high up in the letting agency. I told them the sad story of being forced to move two months early because they are forcing me to sign a long lease, and she said, "WHAT?! That's ridiculous - this time of year it's no harder to rent a place in February than December. Call me and I'll sort it out."

So yeah, great, except I already got the keys off the sublet and sold half my furniture on Craiglist (other half to go soon, I hope! Rock-bottom prices!) Unbelievable. I KNEW if I could just get ahold of the right person it would all be sorted out, but of course if nobody answers the phone it's hard to get the right person... gah.

Anyway, can't back out on the sublet now (super bad karma) so I guess I'm still moving. GRRRRRR.

In other news, met my second mentee today for coffee. They both really seem to appreciate my perspective, which is kind of fun since it's mostly ignored at work. Had a lovely chat about pros and cons and decisions and she said several times that it really helped her. (Trying to decide whether to half-heartedly do a Ph.D. or stay at Masters level and get a job in public health). So that was pleasant.

Birthday tomorrow. Stephanie from work has really stepped up since I am not capable of planning anything right now, and has arranged a three-part celebration: 1). get together and write research statements for job-applying (has to be done!) 2). pedicure and 3). Dinner at the amazing tapas place in New Haven. Cannot express how much I appreciate her doing all the heavy lifting for this and making a fuss over me for the day. She is amazing - hope we don't lose touch after the postdoc. A couple weeks ago we went to the Yale Cabaret (organized by her) which was also super fun - it was actors and foley artists doing old radio scripts from the '50s on-stage, complete with sound effects. Totally different and excellent fun.

Oh, and got my grant in. After much buffeting by the business office. UGH. The budget has finally passed muster and it has been submitted. Blah. Also called the mental health people for Yale and am gonna take my six free sessions of counselling, because I really don't think I'm managing so well right now.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Ugh. Not doing well again this week. I sort of wish I could do this wedding-planning thing like a normal person - i.e., NOT while trying to coordinate two moves (one overseas) and while waiting with bated breath to see if my visa will come through - and maybe with some family to go shopping with or something.

That said, I did get a confirmation that the visa paperwork arrived to Sheffield (everyone else who is NOT trying to get married gets to send theirs to NYC - heck, I probably could have dropped it off there, but noooooo) and then got an email early this week saying they needed some extra things from Del - apparently the six months of paystubs was not enough: they also needed BANK STATEMENTS showing the six months of salary arriving in his account! Anyway, luckily  that was easy enough. Pretty sure there was a page or Appendix somewhere online saying I should have sent that stuff in the first place. I just about drove myself crazy for two weeks trolling through that maze of a government website trying to make sure I had every single thing in order, and apparently still managed to miss something. (I literally did spend two weeks working on that thing, plus took a day off to go to NYC to get my fingerprints taken, and another five days nagging Del for things - and then at the last minute I discovered a sentence in tiny print indicating I had missed what turned out to be another giant Appendix to be filled out and attached, along with extra copies of various other documents!)

Getting the thing to Sheffield was a story in itself too. I took it to FedEx, where I discovered they required I go BACK to the office and print out my own shipping labels. FedEx office dude "kindly" made me an account though, to make it easier to print. So, went back to office (via home for a cup of tea and cake because this stuff is STRESSFUL - that's my passport in that package!) and tried logging into this account. No luck. Phoned New Haven FedEx guy, he couldn't help and made me phone the helpline. Helpline girl spent 45 MINUTES trying to figure out what went wrong before discovering original FedEx guy put some random address on the account (she wouldn't tell me WHAT address) and therefore nothing was matching my actual address so I couldn't log in. Still couldn't fix it though. And couldn't make a new one because my info was attached to the original screwy one.

In the end I gave up, paid $300 for expedited processing of the visa to make up for lost time, and tried again the next morning when the FedEx website miraculously worked. So then I had to truck the whole thing back up to Whitney Ave to the FedEx office because I wasn't going to leave my precious passport in a postbox. I did, however, inadvertently get Original FedEx Guy in big trouble with his boss (turns out they are not actually allowed to make customers accounts in-store - IN CASE THEY GET THE INFO WRONG! Go figure).

Anyway, at least the $300 seems to have worked. Sounds like the Sheffield office is on the case.

In other news, supervisor did not tell me you have to tell the Business Office WELL in advance every time you apply for a grant, so now the Business Office hates me. Grant due on Friday. They heard about it last Thursday, because that was when I heard about this rule.... yeah. Cue many, many shouty and/or snippy emails sent in my direction.

(We aren't mentioning the last grant I applied for, before I learned about this rule!)

What else... invitations draft is done, looking into printing options in various countries. Caterer is booked. Photographer is not. Dress is ordered off EBay- have my doubts, but it was mega-cheap for a giant silk dress, so everyone cross your fingers. All of this is moot if I can't get my visa. Applied for a job at Oxford on Monday only to find out that while the job ad had a deadline of Monday, the application website had a deadline of the previous Friday. Cue much frantic emailing of screenshots to the Oxford job-website people to convince them to let me upload my CV (everything else was done). Will they actually put my application through? Who knows?

Oh, and ran my first kiddo with coprolalia this week. That was entertaining. I had been working with TS kiddos for a year before I ran into a case, which is why it always annoys me/takes me aback when I see moronic jokes that imply TS just means swearing a lot. In reality, the incidence is about 8-10% of cases. No idea why public perception is so off, but I get weirdly upset about this issue. I think it's hanging out with so many people with TS and those related to them, including parents who are scared to mention the diagnosis to their families because of that bizarre coprolalia-related stigma. Not cool, man.

(Other interesting things about Tourettes: many cases resolve by age 18, probably as the brain's inhibitory control mechanisms develop; and it is the comorbid disorders like ADHD and OCD that are often associated with TS that cause the most trouble/problems with quality of life).

Anyway... yup, so pretty stressed out this week, not doing well with deadlines or executive function, and REALLY not able to make any more decisions or plans until I calm down. That said, still have to move across town at the end of December... somehow. Gah.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Stress Management (probably not recommended by therapists)

I have decided to leverage the power of social comparison to manage stress.

Therefore, I am alternately reading the blogs of a). people who appear to have the most boring lives imaginable and never really seem to DO anything (interestingly this does not stop them from writing about it anyway) and b). people who had something really terrible happen unexpectedly.

I even found one with both elements - a saccharine and cliche-filled few years of blogging from a young wife and mother, followed by a total crisis when her 31-year-old husband dropped dead unexpectedly. (Interestingly, her writing got much better after the latter event - it got right rid of all the cliches and the saccharine).

This has the result of putting my worries totally into perspective: it has the dual effect of reminding me that things might be stressful, but at least there are interesting things going on; and that I better enjoy it because actually overall things are pretty great and you never know what is coming down the road. Something terrible could happen at any moment, and has totally happened to lots of people, which really puts not being able to travel for Christmas (should my visa not come through in time) in perspective.

This is working great so far.

Other, more healthy ways to manage stress include social support (had a nice chat with Judith today), the gym and crocheting like a mad thing. Always very soothing. This will all work out somehow, presumably... and at least I'm doing things and nobody has discovered an undiagnosed heart problem!