October 2009


I don’t know when the last time I wore a Halloween costume, so I thought I’d document it. I even made the hat from two other hats and a Christmas stocking. I spent $6 at St. Vincent de Paul’s on it. I expected my youngest friends, Miriel (who was Little Vampire on the Prairie) and Akira (who was her pet turtle) (very sorry I didn’t get photos of them), to be delighted but they just seemed perplexed. Maybe even disturbed. Everyone over 20 recognized it as Waldo immediately.

Nathen as Waldo

And I went to a Halloween get together with my CFT cohort at Sam Bond’s Garage. It was fun to get to hang out in costume outside of the classroom and not talk about school… Well, we actually did talk some about school, but not because we had to. And drink. (You can just see my glass of water behind Cher/Lorin’s arm.) And daylight savings meant I still got eight hours of sleep.

CFT Cohort Halloween

I’m reading a lot of scholarly writing these days. Unfortunately that means that I’m reading a lot of bad writing these days. I have some sympathy with these writers–they are writing about complex topics in a discipline (psychology) which has a long tradition of bad writing. I worked many, many, many hours on my honors thesis and only managed to get it out of the “bad writing” category, not into the “good writing” category, except perhaps here and there. However, there are two very easy things we can all do to make scholarly writing better: Stop using the words “utilize” and “extant.”

“Utilize” means no more or less than “use,” and “use” is a better word because it’s simpler and everyone knows what it means.

“Extant” means no more or less than “existing.” Scholarly writers love to refer to “the extant literature” on a topic. It’s not just bad because most people don’t know what “extant” means, it’s bad because if you do know what it means, you know it’s completely superfluous in the phrase “the extant literature.” That is, unless you are really making the distinction between the literature that exists and the literature that does not exist. And you are not.

It may be that folks who are using these words just can’t help it, in the way that a guitarist who has just learned a bunch of flashy licks can’t help playing them all the time. The thing is, you are a writer. You get to edit. Please edit out these words.

There is a saying among non-allopathic health care folks that goes, “You can’t heal what you can’t feel.” It’s the argument for not using analgesics unnecessarily: If you don’t really need it, don’t take a pain killer. It impairs your body’s ability to feel itself (by definition, right?) and that will impair your body’s ability to heal itself.

Is this true? Is there any evidence that taking a ibuprofin prolongs the whatever-it-is that’s causing your headache? That taking dextromathorphan makes your cough last longer? I understand that taking drugs can allow you to continue pushing your body, and that that could prolong a sickness. I understand that your liver has to deal with these chemicals, and that’s probably not good for it. But if all other things were equal–the same amount of rest and your liver is just fine, for example–would you get better faster if abstain from drugs than if you take them?

The story I’ve been told about the action of viruses is confusing me. They get into our bodies, take over the nucleus of a cell, and use our genetic apparatus to manufacture more viruses, which go out and do the same. What we feel during the course of a cold or flu is largely the result of our immune system, and that it’s possible that without an immune system, the first symptoms of a viral infection might be the faltering of some major body  system–heart failure or delirium, for example, if the heart or brain became compromised. Why do we have such a narrow range of symptoms? Fever, headache, congestion, sore throat, vomiting, tiredness, cough, maybe losing our voice–that’s about it, right? But why is there any variation, if what the virus does is the same? Why do we get a cough with one flu and not another?

Add new knowledge to the field of social psychology with my honors thesis: Yes, I did this, though it was not the knowledge that I was hoping to bring forth. I uncovered some information about how and when people think about power—being under someone else’s control versus controlling yourself versus controlling others. See the discussion section of my honors thesis for a thorough explanation.

Break my habit of scratching and picking my skin: No, I did not do this. I managed to stop for a couple months, using a cognitive-behavioral intervention, but it did not stick.

Celibacy: Yes, by my definition I was strictly celibate all year. Now, making this resolution might have made it sound like not having sex was a lifestyle change, but it wasn’t. I don’t go around having sex with people I meet and never have. I just tend to think about sex a lot, and that’s why I decided to be intentional about my normal, celibate lifestyle. I had hoped to get some specific insights out of it, which I’m sorry to say I did not get. I’d hoped that being celibate would take sex out of my mental conversation, kind of like how I stop fixating on sugar when I go off sugar. I hoped, too, that changing my mental conversation in this way would show me my own, unconscious sexism in a clear way; how might I treat women differently if there is no chance or intention of having sex? Maybe I would get to see what it was like to think of women as fellow human beings, and no more. In fact, I thought about sex significantly more while I was celibate. My celibacy acted as a trigger: Being around women reminded me that I was celibate, which reminded me of sex. Oh well.

On the other hand, I do think that being celibate was a valuable experience, just not in the ways I was expecting. I would recommend it to any single person. I don’t feel at liberty to go into those details right now, though. Ask me about it some time.

Dance every day, working on 1) musicality 2) vocabulary 3) style: Well… I danced nearly every day, and I did improve my musicality, vocabulary, and style significantly. But I did not work on those three elements as consciously or rigorously as I’d intended. I just danced a lot and got better. That said, I’m happy with my level of dancing. I can almost always have fun on the dance floor these days, and that’s satisfying.

Finish bachelor’s degree: Yep. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and graduated with honors.

Get accepted into a couples and family therapy graduate program: Yes, I got accepted to the CFT masters program at the University of Oregon—a great program, very competitive and highly regarded.

Maintain this blog: Yes, some months better than others. I love it.

Meditate every day: This I did not do. I meditated about two out of three days, on average.

Produce a record with David Waingarten: Nope. He made a movie instead of a record.

Record an EP with my band, Abandon Ship: No. We do have all the songs written, though. They just need arrangements. Coming, coming…

See healthcare provider each month until all body concerns are resolved: Yes, I did this but while it felt good to look for help, I failed to resolve any of the symptoms I was having when I wrote this goal. And I’ve added two more… but at least I spent a lot of money. I feel even more cynical about the ability of health care providers.

Set up a slick system of musical collaboration over the internet and use it regularly: No. I’m still on the verge, but I failed to get my studio up and running after my move. This is the failure I’m most sad about. I was really wanting to have my system set up by the time I started grad school, so I could just record and email a demo whenever I got an inspiration, without hassling with gear. Now I’m super busy and there are several hours of work between me and easy recording.

Shift my schedule three hours earlier for at least one term: In bed by 11 pm: Nope. I did shift my schedule two hours earlier, on average, and I did get to bed by 11 for about one term, but not in a row, which was my intention. I like the earlier schedule, though, and I’m on track for in-bed-by-11 this term so far.

Sing out every day: I did not sing every day. I sang more, but not every day. When I did sing, I sang out, like I meant it, and I think my voice has improved in some ways. So many things to do every day!

Take African dance classes: Yes. I took two or three classes and loved them. But they made my back hurt and I haven’t gone since last November. I ended up taking ballet classes instead.

Write at least one song per month: No, I did not do this. I barely wrote any music. It makes me sad. I don’t like it.

I count 7 yeses, 8 nos, 1 clear kind-of. Not too bad. And 4 of the nos weren’t complete failures. Overall I’m pleased with what I accomplished this year

I started this blog on my birthday, one year ago, with a goal to maintain it for a year. It’s been fun. I have no plans to stop. Thanks for looking at it. I hope it’s been fun for you, too.

Here are some stats for the year:

Total views: 5,214

Posts: 64

Pages: 33

Comments: 160

Categories: 114

Here are my “views per month.” This made a nice arc, but I can’t figure out how to copy the image out of my stats page, and I’m too lazy to make a new one for you. The obvious main variable was how often I posted:

October          282

November    244

December     161

January          230

February       212

March            516

April              564

May                721

June               760

July                696

August          509

September  199

Here are my most popular posts and pages–everything that got 20 hits or more–with convenient links to them.

The Five Rabbit Holes of Abstinence Diet 62

Nathen 62

Photographs 60

I Am About to Move 59

Learning 58

Graduation Photos 50

I Am About to Graduate 49

Advice for Insomniacs 49

On Breaking Down in Portland and My Dad 47

Ballet and Lingering Homophobia 41

Nathen’s Miraculous Escape #38 40

Four Lists about Relationships 38

July 4 37

A Little Rant 36

Something to Know 35

Stress Cues 34

Final Stretch, Fall Term 2008 33

The Illusion of Control 32

Blogs 31

Honors Thesis Posted 29

Stepping Stone Has Changed Me 29

Suntop V15 (or so) 28

Worms, Ducklings, Life, Death 27

Viewing 27

Weather Makes People Talk Funny 25

Some Things That Make Me Joyfu 25

Reading 24

Swimming Lessons for Akira Zap Talaba 23

Reading Year 37 22

My Fledgeling Sabbath 21

Cell Phone Etiquette and Ethics 21

Seattle Balboa Festival 2009 20

Goals and Intentions for Year 37, Plus Outcomes 20

Here’s a list of things that had people searched when they found NME. I find these amusing:

nathen’s miraculous escape                                 12

nathens miraculous escape                                   9

nathensmiraculousescape                                     7

kyla wetherell                                                              7

david waingarten                                                       6

nathen\’s miraculous escape                                6

Obnocto                                                                         5

nathen’s miraculous escapte                                 4

poppe “social psychology” matthijs or m.       4

nathen miraculous escape                                      3

abstinence diet                                                            3

nbtsc                                                                                3

nathen lester miraculous                                        2

nathen’s big escapte                                                  2

grace llewellyn kyla                                                  2

ethan mitchell Vermont                                         2

this is now waingarten                                             2

my psycology journal                                              2

not back to school camp grace Llewellyn       2

kid and grandpa                                                         2

nbtsc 2009                                                                  2

seluga, university of Oregon                                2

college party                                                               2

my baby duck was born with its guts out       2

taber shadburne                                                        2

psycholinguistics empathy                                  2

“naomi uyama”                                                         2

“tilke elkins”                                                              2

\”damian lester\”                                                   2

72 year longitudinal study in the new yo      2

kyla weatherell                                                         2

locus of control illusionary control                2

\”damian lester\”\”joshua tree\”                    1

ducklings crossing in ca i5 yesterday ma     1

nathen + kyla                                                            1

ann murdy                                                                  1

highly sensitive person                                         1

reanna under                                                            1

http://www.bugs schags.com                                          1

karyn gal 38 on facebook                                    1

\”damian lester\”\”abandon ship\”               1

african wildflowers                                                1

awake!! abandon your sleep of illusion        1

baby ducks grate                                                    1

idiomorphs in psycholinguistics                     1

ethan mitchell food sensitivity                        1

vangie seagull                                                         1

I have fallen head-over-heels in love with Reanna, and she loves me back. I’m very happy. In my honest and totally objective opinion, she is about the best person ever. She is very, very smart, creative, brave, athletic, adventurous, loving, beautiful, sexy, and fun. She’s a great writer, rock climber, and conversation partner. Her family is amazing. She laughs at my jokes. She loves to dance with me. She loves how sensitive I am.

Unfortunately for us, we will live 425.6 miles apart for the next two years. We’re working out how to do that sustainably. I think we can.

Here are some photos and a video of us during our last few minutes together for nearly three months. We were trying out different facial expressions.

Pleasant

Pleasant

Sad

Sad

Surprised

Surprised

Terrified

Terrified

Angry

Angry

Disgusted

Disgusted

Ashamed

Ashamed

Kissy

Kissy

The video below was impromptu, and is, in Reanna’s (totally objective) words, “sick cute,” so watch at your own risk if you can’t hack that kind of thing. I wrote for YouTube, “Our last few minutes together for three months. ‘I love you.’ Gratuitous kissing. She stabs me in the eye with her glasses. Not for the faint of heart.”

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