Being thankful

Well, I’m back.

Back to LA from a lovely six days in San Jose and a wonderful, wonderful seven hours in Berkeley. I was so happy to be home and with my family for the first time in a few months. I know I’m spoiled, but that probably is the longest time I’ve ever gone without seeing them.

I’m back from the zombie world after yesterday, when I got up at 4.30 am for my flight (which was delayed because the plane had to be de-iced), rode the bus for an hour to get to UCLA, and then had to stay on campus till nine pm. Airports are tiring, buses are tiring, getting up significantly earlier than your usual time is tiring, and of course I hadn’t gotten enough sleep, so I was just on survival mode all day.

And I’m back–and this is probably what counts most at this point–to the two weeks from heck, in which I have to read for, research, and write two ten-to-twelve-page papers, produce a personal statement for a funding application for next year, and do a multitude of other things involved with the end of a quarter, Christmas, and preparing an apartment before I go home for winter break. I say it’s the two weeks from heck because if I plan it well and stay productive, it shouldn’t be too horrible. Although actually… it’s not really two weeks, now that I think of it. It’s more like eight to ten days. Hell.

What’s keeping me going–and boy is it persuasive–is the happy thought that at the end of this time, two weeks, ten days, eight days, whatever it is, Erik will be here and we’ll drive back up together to San Jose, where I will get to stay for almost three glorious holiday weeks. Much as I love my LA apartment and my cohort, much as I am coming to be comfortable in and perhaps even enjoy LA, the past week has shown me what I’ve suspected all along: I still feel like my home is in the Bay Area. During those six days there, LA exerted no pull on me at all. I felt no desire to return. That never happened with Berkeley. Okay, maybe that’s because in LA I have to do serious work, but still. My family and most of my friends are in northern California, and I grew up there. It’s home, in a way that LA has definitely not yet become, and maybe never will.

And Berkeley… Berkeley feels like my soul home in so many ways. It was so wonderful to be back there, even if just for a day. My visit there brought me extensive pedestrian-ness (FINALLY, after all that driving), an invitation to lunch on my birthday, a yummy Christmas cookie and lots of laughs with Tina (on the fragility of human life: “you know what we need? we should all just have exoskeletons”), a fabulous early birthday dinner with Dana at Tachibana (where I hadn’t been for four years, and which, contrary to usual experience, was even better than I remembered), happy visits with two professors and Peter, and seven hugs and five kisses. At this point I can’t tell anymore whether my happiness in Berkeley is really because of my love for the people and the place, or just because it’s the place I’m most accustomed to and in which I’m most comfortable. But I miss it and I’m glad I’ll get to go there again in less than two weeks.

And now, to get started on the less-than-two-weeks from heck. But first, a link, rather appropriate for the weeks from heck: researchers at UCSF find that heavy stress seems to make people older, faster–at the genetic level. The study may confirm what we’ve all known or suspected for years (that stress is bad for you), but it also raises questions about the nature of stress. In the study, some women whose lives appeared to be very stressful, but who personally felt that their stress level was low, actually seemed to suffer less from the results of stress than women who had lower “objective” stress levels but who reported feeling like they were under a lot of stress. Hopefully a helpful thing to keep in mind as finals near and the holidays begin!

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]