September 30, 2011

Thoughts once school started

Portland was an excellent trip, but with being gone from Ben over the summer, followed by an intense course in Monterey, and finally some down time to process it all in Portland, I was going through some heavy internal searching that week. Here's an excerpt from an email I sent to my friend Dave.

"Last year Ben and I listened to a spate of This American Life and RadioLab podcasts that all had to do with happiness, and how the human brain is wired to remember the good, forget the bad and thus be happier. Or how people choose to focus on the good to be happier (some people don't chose that). I've always thought of myself as being and optimist, and some people see Ben as a pessimist although he sees himself as a realist. Meaning that I'm probably happier than he is, but at the expense of "lying" to myself to be happier. I don't know whether truth or happiness is more important to me at this stage. I think I am going through some pretty heavy soul searching these days. Ben recognizes my reticence & forlorn-ness (word?). I question things that I always took for granted before, like my ability or wish to maintain a single relationship most of my life, the independence and self-sufficiency I always felt before. I find respite in schoolwork and thoughts of a career (finally), but wonder if I'm just distracting myself from facing issues that seem to be bubbling up now that I don't have destitution breathing so hard down my neck."

Lots of questions, lots of reflection, and not-taking-things (good or bad) for-granted. My skin is broken out with the stress of these questions. Doubt is not an easy thing to deal with, though I believe it is important for learning, growth.

Portland 2

Bear with me, as I dump some pictures to catch up to my life now. Here are some more of our awesome Portland week, back in August. We hung out with Emily and Joel, who I became friends with in vet school. And I had a fancy piƱa colada at one of Portland's tiki bars.
This is Ben with his Viking wrap, at the food cart parking lot near Phil and Tara's. They had this viking helmet sitting on the picnic table, ripe for photos.
Ben and I really enjoyed going to the Japanese Garden. I went 4 years ago when I came out to Portland for the first time, to go to Joel and Emily's wedding. It's so beautiful there. Definitely worth paying the entrance fee.

The coloring of this photo doesn't reflect how well ben matched the color of the foliage he was touching:

Then we went down the hill to the rose garden, which was free. And very cool. Roses are not my favorite flowers. But the sheer variety amongst them was impressive and interesting. Lavender roses:
Enormous roses:
Roses with spots:
Ben photographing some of his favorites there:
Some of my favorites. I love the multi-hue:
And this yellow one was my very favorite. It grows short like a bush and is extremely prolific.

Here we are outside of the place where we ate brunch. It's a picture of Tara, but really, it's a picture of the hipsters behind her who were not only eating brunch next to us that morning, but were also at the bar we went to the night before, literally burning money. What's up with that?


At the end of the COS MARINE course, Ben and I finally had some time to enjoy with one another; we spent a week up in Portland.
Portlandia: Put a bird on it! It's not even a joke. That shit's for real here.

We stayed with our close friends Phillip and Tara. And, basically, we ate well and didn't do a lot more than that. It was my only true vacation this summer!!!
Eating at a Japanese ramen house

Me ordering food at one of Portland's ubiquitous and genius foodcarts


Next door neighbor's colorful garden

Phil, Ben and I took a walk to watch the colors change on Mt. Hood as the sun set

We made a rhubarb pie

Ben chilling

We picked and ate a million delicious figs at P & T's friends' house

Mmmmmm, figs

Back home in Monterey--COS MARINE Short Course

Driving back to Monterey, there's this little portion of Highway 1 where you peek over the edge and see Monterey Bay and Del Monte Beach...and it's there that I always get this rise in my chest of gratitude to live in such a beautiful spot.
Arriving at home, the naked ladies were in full bloom (that's what these flowers are called):
And unfortunately for me and Ben, I was thrown immediately into an intense 2 week course hosted by the Stanford's Center for Ocean Solutions (COS) Monterey Area Research Institutions' Network for Education (MARINE) program. It was AMAZING. But super intense. I had to tell Ben to pretend I wasn't home yet so he wouldn't get disgruntled by my 10-13 hr days away. Most of the students were masters (of science) and Ph. D. candidates (also of science), though there was one law student and 3 of us from MIIS (policy). That means I was the one of the few with both a policy and science background. We had excellent speakers, it was a great review of everything I've learned this whole past year, and we were treated like royalty.
We had a special dinner prepared for us, and set in front of the newly re-opened Open Sea exhibit at the aquarium, where we were also addressed by Julie Packard, the director of the aquarium.
I thought that was pretty magical.

And of course Monterey is so lovely, and with the alyssum blooming, I feel ever-so-welcome here.
The flower on the right is lantana...I finally learned the name of it this summer.
During the 2 weeks, the pacific islanders sailed in on their navigate-by-stars-and-wind-only boats, and we were able to watch them sail in, through our classroom window:
We had a special welcome party for them one night. (Our illustrious law professor, Meg Caldwell on the left, and the captain of one of the boats on the right)
But I got sick going from 100 degree weather to 50 degree weather (this is me feeling a little crappy):

But the course was awesome overall.

A beautiful german boat in for the pacific islanders

Buck by the sea

I was an extra on the set of Otters 501 that week too.

Teensy dead crabs washed ashore.

One day our lecture was on the beach, and our blackboard was the sand.

And the last night, we got to spend the night at the aquarium
in front of the Open Sea exhibit again.
That was cool.