Archive for February, 2004

Call me anything you like…

Tuesday, February 24th, 2004

…just don’t call me late for dinner. Ha, ha.
Marriage involves a lot of Big Questions; from whom should I marry, to where will we live, when should we have kids, and so forth. One of the questions, about which my friend Kim wrote a while back (3/6/03, can’t figure out how to link directly), is what the bride will do with her name. (So far the question of what if anything the groom should do with his name hasn’t become a big issue.) This wasn’t a big question for me, I decided a long time ago that if I ever got married I would take my husband’s name. It’s not something I think should be mandatory at all; in fact I like having options and I think it should be a personal choice based on a couple’s individual situation. Of the three of my four bridesmaids who were married, one changed her name, one kept her name, and one hyphenated. I actually added my old last name as a second middle name, for a total of four names; a situation about which I have a small feeling of pride, for reasons which I prefer not to attempt to analyze.
Our name decision was mostly based on my feeling that it would be nice for our family to have the same name. I don’t feel like I’ve given up my identity; I’m still the same old person and I know exactly who that is (perhaps unfortunately). I think one reason that I didn’t feel any qualms about changing my name is that hardly anybody uses my last name. If I had to change my first name it would have been a much bigger deal.
Concerning why our family’s name is my husband’s rather than mine; there’s no particular reason why the chosen name should be the husband’s other than that tradition favors it. That was a good enough reason for me. I think marriage should involve mutual sacrifices, and for me this wasn’t a big one. Other people have other factors to consider when making the name decision, which is perfectly fine with me.

I am blase about my own inadequacy

Monday, February 23rd, 2004

On “Gilmore Girls” last week, the character Rory, a freshman at Yale, had a near-breakdown because a professor suggest she drop a class due to the fact that she was taking more than the usual courseload and not keeping up. I can relate to that. I’ve had an average of one complete freak-out per year at the University of Chicago. However, over time they’ve decreased in intensity. A while back, Alan blogged about at what point one “plateaus” as far career or general competency and such (here it is). Well, I’ve found mine and I’ve pretty much learned to accept it. Until I started grad school, I was always one of the smartest people around. At least as far as school and the jobs I’ve held, I’ve been pretty good at things without trying very hard (although in other aspects of life, I’m quite clueless). I never reached capacity, I guess you might say, and always wondered how smart I really was. At the University of Chicago, however, there are scary smart people, and a lot of them. People to whom the mind-boggling enormous amount of reading and work we had to do seemed effortless, people who could grasp all sorts of complicated theoretical arguments without any difficulty, people who appeared to permanently memorize massive quantities of data by simply skimming through the hundreds of articles we were supposed to read. And, most humiliating, people in entirely different fields of study who know more about my own field than I do. (Nod and smile, nod and smile).
I would never be one of the leading researchers in my field even if I were willing to put in the million or so hours of work a week that would require. I’m just not good enough. Which is okay, because of something else I think I’ve learned while in school. If you need to be the best at something in order for that thing to be worthwhile to you, that thing is probably not the thing you are supposed to be doing. If it’s enough just to be there, to be around people better than you, to plug away at your own capacity and contribute what you can, even if you never achieve renown or fame and fortune at it, that’s what you are supposed to be doing.
While I can relate to Rory’s distress, the concept of an extremely intelligent and competent person freaking out because they are not a super-person is quite funny. Good enough is good enough; probably the people best suited to be the top people in any area of life are those who are humble enough not to need to be.

You say “tomato”, I say “tuhmatuh”

Thursday, February 19th, 2004

This is likely to be one of the most boring blog entries in the history of the internet. So go ahead and skip it if you have anything at all else to do. To start off, I notice that almost everyone in the country besides me pronounces the word “lawyer,” “loyer.” I pronounce it “lawyer,” which Andy thinks is funny for some reason. I tell him that he has no respect for the loy.
If you are from Nebraska:
the “ee” sound in the middle of a word becomes “i.” Thus, the word “meal” becomes “mill.” “Meal deal” is likewise pronounced “mill dill,” which makes me giggle.
the “ay” sound in the middle of a word becomes “eh.” Hence, “mail” becomes “mel.”
if you are from central Nebraska, an “r” is sometimes placed in the middle of a word: “wash” is pronounced “warsh.”
The name of the town “Norfolk” is pronounced “Norfork.” Beatrice, Nebraska, is “bee-AT-rice.”
If you are from Kansas:
final vowels, and sometimes other vowels, become a schwa. “Missouri” is pronounced “Muzzeruh,” “tomato” is “tuhmatuh.”
a final “ay” sound, on the other hand, becomes “ee,” notably in the days of the week: Sundy, Mondy, Tuesdy, and so on.
vowels occurring in the middle of words frequently aren’t pronounced, and are replaced with a brief pause: “veteran” is “vet-ran.”
Kansas City is “Kans City,” for whatever reason.
In the Northeast:
People make fun of me for calling sweetened carbonated beverages “pop” and pronouncing “wolf,” “woof.” Sticks and stones…
In Boston, you don’t pronounce a final letter “r,” so that Mister is pronounced Mistuh. But if a word ends in a vowel, you add an “r,” so that “Lisa” would be “Liser.” According to my freshman roommate who was from Boston, Bostonians do not elide “r”s in the middle of words, as in “attorney,” so if you hear somebody pronounce it “attuhney” you know they are faking the accent. I don’t know if that’s true, but Tom Hanks did it in the movie “Catch Me If You Can.”
The town of Calais, Maine, is pronounced “Callous.” Bangor is pronounced “Bang-gor,” with a hard “g.”
In Chicago:
A co-worker of mine once told me that her new apartment was not on a “mean street.” It took me a while to realize she meant “main street.”

Adventures in medicine

Tuesday, February 17th, 2004

Andy and I now both have colds, and they’re of the persistent variety that threaten to hang on into spring. As a result, Valentine’s weekend involved a lot of sitting around, staring into space. I guess if you have to spend a weekend that way, it’s better to share the experience with the one you love.
Misty and Teti are getting crabbier about taking their medicine. Teti caught me a good slash across the back of the hand yesterday, and she’s supposed to be the good cat. Misty is a little easier, since her method of avoiding the medicine is to push her head against me, looking up towards the ceiling with her mouth open. I don’t think she’s thought through that strategy too well. Today, I put Teti in a pillowcase to keep her claws away from my flesh. It worked pretty well and looked quite hilarious. I think it will be more difficult to get her into the pillowcase next time though; this time she seemed quite nonchalant about it. She’s usually a very agreeable cat, but she really hates that medicine.
Four more weeks–actually three and a half now–until exams.


Thursday, February 12th, 2004

I have a cold. I think it’s on its way out now. But I’m still kind of sleepy and easily distracted which is why I’m writing this instead of studying.
The cats went in to the vet to have their teeth cleaned and more testing done yesterday. Fortunately most of our concerns proved unfounded, but they decided to take a sample of Teti’s skin to make sure she doesn’t have an autoimmune disorder. They shaved off a giant oval patch of fur from the back of her neck and shoulders and she has stitches where they took the samples–it looks just awful, but she shows no sign that she notices anything is different, which is kind of funny. They are getting antibiotics and pain medication now. The pain med is a gel which we have to rub on the insides of their ears, which is totally bizarre. Andy drove them back and forth yesterday since I was sick and slept most of the day. He says they showed him how to administer the pain meds using the “clinic cat,” who must be an incredibly mellow animal.