It dawned on me yesterday that between mid-March and mid-April I have a lot of shit going on:

1. 15-page paper due for English (race and visual imagery)
2. 15-page paper due for History (comparative colonialisms)... don't even have a topic yet
3. 15-page conference paper for the Assoc. of Asian American Studies (haven't started it)
4. Pack up all my shit, clean the apartment, book a moving van
5. Move to a new apartment, and unpack all my shit
6. Get utilities and Internet set up at the new place
7. Finalize my reading lists for qualifying exams
8. Write and submit my program of study (due last quarter)
9. Present my paper at the Assoc. of Asian Am Studies in Chicago
10. Organize a dinner with my Asian Am conference buddies at the conference

I pretty much don't get to stop and breathe until April 19th when I get back from Chicago. Speaking of which I need to book my flight. Robyn, we should coordinate...how many nights you plan to stay, which airport you flying into, and when?



I was sitting here at Suzzalo Espresso reading Landscapes of the Jihad for my history class when an older white woman came up to me holding a file folder full of papers. I thought she was going to ask if she could sit at my table. Instead she asked, "do you speak English?" Given a different context, time, place, state of mind, I might have unleashed my fury on her, verbally of course. I had a flashback of the time a white woman at McDonald's in Orlando asked if I was part of the Splendid China circus performance she just saw because, you know, all Asian women do acrobatics and spin plates on their heads.

Anyways, I replied only with "yes." She asked if I could do a 5 minute psychology study and out of curiosity I agreed. Knowing that these tests always involve tricking participants I wanted to see what this was about. The task involved coming up with as many words as possible out of 6 letters. I filled the whole page. Then came the survey and it was about feeling American and wanting to be American and my level of anger at the beginning of the task. The debrief at the end explained it all. It was a study of Asian Americans and confusion/anger about not being accepted or thought of as "American." Cool. I wonder how they record reactions of people who refuse or comment on the "do you speak English" introduction and how that factors. Actually it probably doesn't since it's a social science study and all this stuff probably falls by the wayside. But I do also wonder if they use the same research assistant to collect participants and if they're all white and female and older. You would have to control for that I'd imagine. Man I'd hate to be that research assistant walking around the campus of an English-speaking American university asking Asian American students if they speak English. Basically getting paid to be an asshole. Sucks to be her. But it's cool that someone is doing that study.



Most people know I'm allergic to all sorts of shit and the sunny weather lately has caused me to wake up really congested which means I get to make gigantic snot and tissue wontons every morning. I was just reading my university's daily newspaper and there was an ad for some company that collects plasma from people with various issues, like allergies, so they can use it for research in developing new drugs. I haven't quite thought through the ethics of all this but they give you a hundred bucks for the donation and some sort of screening and it'd be nice to figure out for sure if I'm allergic to bees without doing the allergy test through my school's medical center which I'm sure will cost me money I don't have. Anyways, I was browsing the whopping 2 pages of that company's web site and found something I had read about before. The relationship of certain ragweed and pollen allergies to fruit allergies. They write:
Some people with ragweed allergies may have a "cross- reaction" to melons such as watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew.
Some people with tree pollen allergies might have a "cross- reaction" to fruits like cherries, apples, pears and peaches.
Go figure. I'm allergic to cantaloupe, honeydew, cherries, apples, pears AND peaches. The only thing on that list that I'm not allergic to is watermelon which I find too tasteless and messy to be bothered with. So should I whore out some blood for a hundred bucks or what?



Well that was quick. I was just notified that I was the applicant chosen to get the 1 bedroom I looked at on the weekend. Here are the specs:

2 Story, 1 Bedroom, 1 Bath, 650 Square Ft.
- Rent $710, Deposit $600, 12-month Lease
- View, Quiet, Sunny
- Seattle U is just across the street
- Hospital in walking distance
- Shopping nearby
- Secure Entrance
- Water, sewage, garbage included, just pay electricity
- One free parking spot

Most small studios in the First Hill/Capitol Hill area are going for about that price and without parking. The one I saw last week was cheaper but it was 200 square feet (that is not a typo) which is unlivable in my opinion. This one gives me some room to stretch out since the living area is big and the bedroom is upstairs. Task completed successfully without missing a beat at school. I am a Craigslist superstar. What's scary is that this will be the 9th home I've lived in since October 2000, so I'm averaging more than 1 move per year.

Let me recall the homes:
1. Pacifica/Daly City, CA
2. South San Francisco
3. couch surfing in Potrero Hill in San Fran
4. South San Jose
5. Schooner Bay Apartment in Foster City, CA
6. Miramar Apartment in Foster City, CA
7. The Admiralty in Foster City, CA
8. My current place in the Lake Shitty area of Seattle
9. My apartment in First Hill/Capitol Hill as of April this year.

Oh yeah, this weekend was also my birthday but I'll post about that later. Man, too much going on. I need a vacation that doesn't require planning, thinking, coordinating, scheduling, reading or writing.



What the hell is that bright thing in the sky? I don't recognize it. Check this out. A sunny weekend in Seattle in the winter. Holy shit, I can't wait.

Weather for Seattle, WA
Wind: N at 0 mph
Humidity: 76%
Partly Sunny
50°F | 38°F
Mostly Sunny
52°F | 36°F


Another month another adventure. The last one involved putting chains on my tires in a sudden snow storm, the one before that involved pumping several inches of water out of the floor of my car, and before that the busted radiator... at night... on the side of the I-5... in Bellingham...alone. Luckily this adventure does not involve my car. My roommate D has decided to move to Maui to join his folks... in two weeks. Luckily I'll have until the end of March to get re-situated. So the plan is to move to Capitol Hill as we had planned originally, only I'll be looking for a studio, or if I find a very very suitable match, sharing a 2/2. I think I need to push for the studio though as qualifying exams are coming up this Fall which means I need to be reading piles of books and articles starting Spring and for me reading requires silence or at most, soft music with no words (or at least not in a language I understand). Ack I have more to say but I have to finish reading a book tonight to stay on schedule.



Dictionary.com's 3rd definition of weekend is "any two-day period taken or given regularly as a weekly rest period from one's work." However, I usually use the term like this, "I can't wait to catch up on my reading and papers on the weekend" which means that I'm not actually resting during that two-day period.

In fact, the only time I actually devote to not doing reading/writing/grading or other schoolwork is late Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings after I spend about 5-8 hours during each of those days on school work. During that time (daytime Saturdays and Sundays) K usually manages to do a 2-3 hour ride on his bike, have a long shower, take a nap, buy groceries, clean his house, and do chores. When he is done doing all that, I'm usually still sitting in the same chair in front of my laptop pulling out my hair and cussing.

I'm typically too fried to use my brain after 7pm on weekends but sometimes I have to do that too. Weeknights look like this: Get home from school at 8pm, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up, do homework (and simultaneously do laundry) until bedtime at midnight.

I think that if you actually count the number of hours that Ph.D. students spend at school or on schoolwork per week, it would easily rival the hours spent at work by software programmers and i-bankers...but they make a tonne of money and we're broke. So I ask myself once again. Why the fuck am I doing this?


Having said all that I do have to share the non-school related stuff I got to do this weekend which was unusually busy with non-school related shit. Friday night had take-out sushi for dinner, returned some stuff downtown, and watched Flannel Pajamas. The movie was kind of plotless. It was like being a fly on the wall watching a relationship begin and end over a 4 year period of time. It was touching and realistic but sort of boring. Saturday, homework day as usual except for a 2 hour break where I tagged along to a caucus to see American politics at work. I was shocked by how antiquated, confusing and disorganized this whole caucus system is. Later that night, dinner at K's friend's house where I got to play with two awesomely fun dogs. Sunday was a break from homework but it was a long busy day consisting of a course on how to use my digital SLR camera which ran from 8am to 5pm followed by a 3.5 hour dinner show at Teatro Zinzanni (K's Christmas gift for me). Show was a pretty awesome combination of musical theater, comedy, and circus acrobatics and a delicious 5-course meal.



So the biggest pressure as a Ph.D. student aside from getting as many conference presentations under my belt as I can is to publish. I have nightmares about this. Currently I have zero publications. I have two papers under review, one of which has been held hostage by the editors for over a year. I've also got some entries I wrote for an encyclopedia which is way behind schedule but encyclopedia entries count for almost nothing in the wonderful world of academia. Publishing is a difficult process because you can only submit a manuscript to one journal at a time and the review process takes forever. If you escape that immediate rejection, you often get a "revise and resubmit" letter which means a whole lot of work on the manuscript but even that would be a huge success for me at this point in my career. I am watching a recent discussion take place over an academic listserv about open access publishing which is an interesting concept that I sort of didn't understand because I thought the point of peer review was to ensure that what gets published is solid work. But then I read this part of one of the emails:
The most successful scholars in any discipline form a group who all know each
others' work, monopolize editorial board positions, and tend to inflate
the value of each other's work and that of each other's students such that
papers by those outside the group are denied publication much more than
consideration of quality warrant.
Great. It's the who you know, not what you know problem all over again. Should I spend more time reading and developing insightful arguments and theories, or making friends at the top? I pose that question with tongue in cheek but honestly, I'm going to have to accept the fact that there will be politics everywhere I go and it's unlikely that I'll ever benefit from any of it.



As a Canadian I totally do not understand this caucus/vote/delegate business. I especially don't understand the caucus thing but I'm going to go to one on Saturday with K, who as a good citizen, is skipping his team ride to attend. Yay for him because I have no tolerance for political apathy.

Here is some info from my colleague who has discovered that many people in our program, even with 6-10 years of university education, are confused by this ridiculous and inefficient process. I thought it would be useful to share for you Washingtonians:
You can vote in BOTH the caucus and primary as long as you vote in the SAME party. For the Republicans, both votes will count for selecting delegates. For the Democrats, ONLY the caucus vote will count. It probably wouldn't hurt to mail in your ballot anyway as a symbolic or reinforcing gesture, but at least as things stand now, it won't count. If you don't believe me (and you shouldn't because this whole thing is so convoluted that it doesn't really seem logical that it could actually be the case), do your own fact-finding. If PhD students are having problems (and I include myself here) getting the correct information about how the process works, I imagine there might be some general voter confusion.

Start here: http://www.wa-democrats.org/index.php?page=display&id=266
and here: http://www.secstate.wa.gov/elections/2008/WAsCaucusesandPrimaries.pdf



K's company hosted its annual Whistler trip this weekend which was good fun once we got there. The getting there part was far more challenging than I expected. We got to Squamish fast enough and thanks to my lead foot we were well on our way to getting there in the expected 2 hours from Vancouver when all of a sudden it started to snow and that snow stuck. It must've only snowed for about 20 minutes but in that time my car decided to lose traction so I pulled over and K had to figure out how to put on the chains we'd borrowed from his coworker. Luckily another driver was just finishing up putting on his chains and gave him some tips but it's never an easy process and I don't think K really cared to pick up this new skill. With chains on, we were on the road again for a mile or two. We got within a few hundred meters of the Welcome to Whistler sign when the cars just beyond the sign got into a collision, then the tow truck that went to help became part of the collision. Which meant all of us behind them were stuck there for over an hour as they untangled the mess. Total drive time 4 hours. Man was the trip up ever a test of patience and ability to not drive each other crazy. Totally felt like the Amazing Race but we managed to make it unscathed and relationship still in tact.

Once we got there, it was Whistler so it was worth it. The snow was awesome, it was clear and sunny the next day, and I got to eat a beaver tail with sugar, cinnamon and apples. I even got K linking turns on his 2nd time snow boarding. The biggest hurdle on the slopes for him was that wretched heel side to toe side turn which he described as "really freaky." For me, I learned how to navigate trees efficiently without having to dig myself out of too many tree wells or making any face-to-tree contact.

In comparison, that time it took 7 hours to get back from Tahoe to the Bay Area, totally not worth it.