Up and Down Day

Today was an up and down day.

Up, because my course director was pleased with our progress on our Master’s thesis. That project, at least, is going very well.

Down, because the stable security of my plan for the next year has suddenly become very shaky indeed. The short version is that I have been counting on a position as a research assistant while I finish my master’s in CS, and funding for that does not look hopeful. So if I can’t be an RA, I’d have to work as a teaching assistant to get a tuition waiver. The trouble is, no one can tell me what the teaching assistants make, because that hasn’t been decided yet. I have been a teaching assistant before, as an undergrad, but that was back in 2008. As I recall, I made about $500 a month. Considering that my rent is half of that, and bills are probably $70 on top of that, that leaves $180 a month to live on. This is not impossible–I could do it, albeit somewhat uncomfortably. However, I’d still have to pay fees for school (which are typically more than tuition anyway), so this would mean yet more student loans. Is another degree worth another eight grand in loans?

So money is worrying me. I have $400 in an American bank account, two pounds in my Scottish bank account, and maybe eighty pounds squirreled away under the vibrators in my drawer. This is supposed to last me until I find a stable income, which I was hoping would start August 20th. Needless to say, I’m a little worried. Alicia, dear sweet lady, has offered me money if I need it, but her next six months are even less stable-looking than mine are and I hesitate to take any. I don’t actually want to take money from anyone. i would just like for this to magically stop being a problem. Fortunately I have enough rice and lentils to last me until I go home.

I have often thought, through this past year of stomach-churning, cold-sore inducing constant instability, that our lecturers just don’t have a clue. When you have a place to live, and a stable income, and hell, vacation days, it’s hard to remember what it’s like when you have $60,000 in student loan debt, are moving around constantly, and have to worry about having enough money to pay for school, and food, and a roof.

I’m so sick of being tired and worried and poor. I just want to go home to my parents, and share a bedroom with my sister again (I promise we wouldn’t fight like when we were kids).

Alicia made Aaron and I dinner last night, a pasta dish with a mushroom sage cream sauce. I returned the favor tonight, making turkey burgers. I mixed ground turkey with a little bit of bacon, some grated Parmesan, bread crumbs, and two egg whites. They came out a much richer food than I had intended–too much bacon, which I think is the first time I have ever thought something had too much bacon. Still, it was nice to be eating meat again. I’ve kicked it largely vegetarian lately. While my sister was here it was to accommodate her, but truthfully, meat is expensive, and Alicia and I have bought it only sparingly our entire year here. We tried to make mayonnaise to go with the burgers. I tried, first by hand, then using an immersion blender, then using a regular blender, and failed spectacularly through it all. There simply wasn’t enough volume to the single egg yolk to make the blenders work properly, and there’s only so much whisking I can do. Aaron gave it a shot, too, whisking for ages before finally declaring it bust. Food people tell me that making mayonnaise is easy, and so delicious that once I do it I will never go back. I no longer believe them.

I have been having trouble with my workouts, lately. The second week my sister was here, my workouts started getting harder and harder, without me actually having changed anything. I assumed that I was anemic, and started eating a lot of black pudding. (A kind of sausage made from blood and oats, for the uninitiated. It’s delicious. Don’t knock it until you’ve tasted it’s crispy goodness.) This didn’t seem to help much.

So, I dialed back the workouts a bit. I took almost a week off. I thought maybe I had been over training myself. My run this Monday, the first run in over a week, was amazing. This seemed to confirm my inkling that I had been over-training, so I’ve laid off the swimming in the mornings, just keeping up with my runs, weight training, and cardio.

Wednesday’s run, however, was a dreadful, abysmal failure. This might have been related to the 21 mph headwind, or my very angry uterus. I got horrific side stitches, and quit the whole thing five minutes before I finished the workout. In twenty minutes on Monday, I covered 1.24 miles. I didn’t even make it to 1 mile in almost the same time frame on Wednesday. I came home with a horrific sinus headache.

Wednesday’s run may have been an anomaly. Today, for instance, I felt great–I think I could have had a great run today. But I ran out of light before my dinner digested enough for a good run to be feasible. However, I’m also looking into other potential causes for my lack of fitness improvement lately. Possibly I am not getting enough protein. I have been eating a lot of beans and lentils, but even then I barely squeak by with getting the minimum daily recommended amount (and that’s eating two-three servings a day!) I’m going to bump up the eggs, because they’re cheap, but in comparison to chicken breast they just don’t have the same bang for the caloric buck, so to speak.

It is getting hard to listen to the end of Eat, Pray, Love. I am smitten by Elizabeth Gilbert’s lover Phillipe. He’s amazing and delightful and so very sweet and supportive. I envy her her love story. Mine do not ever seem to end well. I feel lonely, lately, and starved for affection. I would like for someone to love and adore me the way Phillipe adores Elizabeth. Some days I feel like no one ever will. (And now I realize that I’m on the wrong blogging platform, and should move back to livejournal to be with my 14 year old peers.)

In general, I feel that the book of her journey is a nice parallel to my journey this year. We both left seeking balance. I think she found hers more efficiently, and I still struggle, but who the hell am I to compare our journeys? Regardless, Alicia and I are thinking of taking up meditation. We think it will help prevent cold sores and other stress-related ailments.

Things aren’t all bad. I made a crazy dessert from whipped cream, blackberries, crushed meringue nests, and macadamia nuts. Ignoring the fact that it was totally more calories than I needed to consume today, it was still pretty epic. You could make it with Cool Whip to make it somewhat more healthy, if you consider swapping fat for petroleum products to be a step in the right direction. I think I might have figured out how to whip yogurt, though, so I may eventually be able to replace the whipped cream. I think if I just add gelatin (unflavored, please) to Greek yogurt, it might–just might–whip up. Or maybe add Dream Whip instead of gelatin. Except that I’m not really sure what Dream Whip is, or where to get it.

I want to read a really good book. I feel that I haven’t had time to do so in ages, but it doesn’t really look like I have time now, either. I have lots of field notes to write and tag, and a project brief to rewrite, and more people to interview this weekend, and more data visualizations and data processing to do, not to mention that if things go really pear shaped for the fall, I’m going to be needing to apply for Real Adult Jobs(TM) a year before I had planned to do so, something that involves a lot of portfolio development and CV shining.

I’ve been watching Nigel Slater’s Simple Supper on BBC iPlayer. He’s awesome. I realize that I have one of his cookbooks at home in the states, and both dinner and dessert tonight were inspired by him.

Alicia and I popped by the Sexual Health Clinic at Ninewells today. I’d never been out there before, and it was both interesting and strange. The inside lobby area of the hospital was oddly mall-like. A group of four cute, polite little boys, probably around 12 years old, walked in front of us, at one point holding a door and standing aside for a woman with a walker. Once they reached the door of the Sexual Health Clinic, they stood there, egging each other on to go in. While I was making an appointment, they dashed in, completely cleaned out the basket of free condoms, and dashed off, giggling madly. If they use all of them, they’re getting luckier than any twelve-year-old has any right to be.

Meringues remind me of my grandmother, who calls them “forgotten cookies”. The meringue nests here in Scotland are too sweet for my tastes, a complaint I have with a lot of the packaged treats. I would like to see if I could make them a bit less sweet. As I recall, though, forgotten cookies are a little finicky about humidity and temperature and proper whipping, and as my bread and mayonnaise making failures attest, i don’t do so well with finicky food making.

I’m going to Berlin in eleven days. I think I am supposed to be very excited. I haven’t been in four years, since a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful German boy broke my heart in a particularly spectacular way. I will be glad to see my friends, but I am apprehensive, too. The four years that have passed haven’t been that kind to my body. I would rather not have to face everyone there as I am just now. But, tickets are booked, and I love Berlin more madly than I have loved any place on the planet.

I will be fine. The universe will provide, as the universe always provides. This would be a convenient place for me to quote something about the birds of the field, and not worrying about their feathers or clothing of flowers or something.

Registration for the Race for the Cure has opened–I am going to register to run in the fall, provided I can afford it.

Up and Down Day

2 thoughts on “Up and Down Day

    1. Rachel Shadoan says:

      You are so very good to me. Careful, I may take you up on your offer, and live on your sofa like a sofa hobo.

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