For a long time our stairs were made out of corn-chips. I figured this was my fault because I’m New Mexican, even when all evidence points to the fact that someone else has been eating my chips. When my flatmates are all out I take the opportunity to vacuum, and so it happened today that one can walk barefoot through 1/4 of our apartment.
I woke up at 6:30 and thought about how one more hour of sleep wouldn’t complete a REM cycle, so I should either get up or rely on the Real-Bad-Brand (trademark) instant coffee awaiting in the cold dirty downstairs. I opted for the latter. I did some real mean interning, and rocked up to campus after X hours of that. I worked in the music lab until it closed, accomplishing not-that-much and ventured into a vacant part of the building to load an episode of Breaking Bad on complimentary-campus-internet. When a group of students came in and started singing six-part harmonies I left.
I went to Woolie’s to buy pepper and corn-chips. I also picked up a container of yogurt with passion fruit built right in, which I have been eying since I arrived in Australia. Turns out it’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted. When I got home I saw my flatmates were headed out. Sandra was outside with them. I had not seen her for a while, but last night Candice had struck up a conversation with her via my Facebook profile, as we waited for our turn on Wii sports.
Sandra knows that I cannot resist a half a bottle of wine and a spoonful of Nutella, and so it was that we spent the evening browsing her Facebook nostalgia. After my fidgeting had dismantled a piece of plastic stemware, and her computer’s bat was near-dead, I took a shower with my pants on to wash the wine out of them. I had just done laundry, and I own 2 pairs of pants, so I’m not gonna wait a month or so to wear them again – they’re my internship pants! I’ll just have to wait a week for them to dry. I am a genius and I know everything.
I was looking out some giant windows into nature. Dense green foliage in a wild-ecosystem was inhabited by all kinds of animals, humans included. One of the humans had flowing gauze gown and a wreath of willow around her head, she was walking towards a doe, and a tapir stood in the background. I noticed a big white shaggy dog coming up to the window, wagging its tail. The dog used the giant gold crown on its head to break the glass and come to me. We loved each other so much. My heart unfolded. I hugged the dog.
I was early to the FMRI experiment I volunteered for, so I bought a cappuccino at the hospital coffee shop and studied my neuroanatomy drawings. I understand what agent Cooper from Twin Peaks was saying about giving yourself a treat everyday, and not planning for it, it’s these kinds of luxuries that turn a good day into an excellent one.
I had an excellent time in the FMRI machine. Because I enjoyed the noise generated by the machine so much, I was concerned that my audio processing would distract from the task (clicking a button every time one of the images on the screen I was fixated on flickered) but after all was said and done the experimenters said my responses had been accurate and that I had stayed tremendously still. The aim of the study is to find which area(s) of the brain are designated to process sights of hands. The experience also made me consider that experiments I plan to design involving music would be better suited to a quieter sort of imaging.
The mandate of complete stillness in a small enclosed space made for a meditative hour. At some points the noisy electric hum of the machine became the most beautiful music, even better than the sounds found in teeth-drilling at the dentist (I’m pretty much joking about that, but not quite. Mills music majors have uncanny appreciation for electrical noises with experimental modes of delivery).
The sonic space surrounded me with its integrated textures, timing, and melodic lines forming an interlocking field of contours and colors – an out-of-body experience in bright golds and teals. The feeling of liberation rendered each atom in me the same as a field of open-space. In between not thinking I thought about how much fun it would be to be a neuroscientist, and I thought about my dreams. The glee accompanying my meeting the dog continually broke through the glass of my perception. I am the white dog.
It looks like the barista job fell through, hopefully my gigs as Australia’s Next Top Guinea Pig will pay for groceries, goon, and transport. Now that I’m deep into my school-schedule I realize the time required for a job would be too much though. This way I can have education, sleep, and a social life!
This week I’ve been discipline’s disciple, waking up at 7:00 to begin studying, and only stopping studying directly before falling asleep. I study on the train, in waiting rooms, and while water boils. This was my plan for Wednesday evening as well, in spite of the singing issuing from a neighboring fun-party but when Candice and friends broke into my house and handed me a can of vodka I could not refuse.
As I did some bureaucracy the following morning, Chris, my academic adviser, asked if I had had a fun time at The Ranch. Naturally he was there. One of the main differences between here and the States is that social activities and academics are not inherently separate. Here RAs scour the village for parties to join, and at orientations academic advisers brag: “How drunk did I get last night?” and everyone replies: “SO DRUNK!”
I vacuumed my room in the morning. When I returned the machine my flatmate asked if I was going to the brunch at 45, and I came along. Brunch turned out to be upwards of 20 people, each with a bottle of champagne in hand. I was invited to play “Flip Cup,” which is closer to a drinking game than a sport.
|Flip Cup at 45
When the party got boring I walked the three steps home and cooked up an $9 bag of mushrooms that I got on sale for $4, making a heap of filling for barbecue mushroom sandwiches. For the sauce I used everything in the flat, and it turned out well balanced. I spent the rest of the day making neurophysiology flashcards.
In the evening I rode to the city. Adhit is also a vegetarian, and makes lovely food. He introduced me to a good new kind of sauce which I have forgotten the name of, and we had that on flatbread with spinach, olives, sundered tomatoes, and marinated eggplant on the side. We split three beers and went bike riding around the city – he happened to have an extra bike and an extra helmet. New South Whales has a lot of cash, so they made an adult-sized park full of fun things like a zip-line, swing-sets, and a big blue spinning disk for us to enjoy. The city also made the splendid exploring-grounds of well-lit modern architecture, juxtaposed with the literal old-school cathedral-like architecture at the University of Sydney. Thanks Australia!
|View from runway
|Gen and the Princess
On Sunday I went to “Wild Life” salon, where they bleached the fuck out of my hair for free.
I needed a haircut, and they needed a model who would let them do anything they wanted.
On Monday I had the opportunity to walk on a runway looking out to the harbor bridge and opera house.
My hairstylist, Gen, had the idea that with my “crown” of blue fringe I was the archetypal prince and her other model a fairytale princess – several tales woven into her six meters of extensions.
I dominated the catwalk and Gen won first place for my cut and colour, 2nd for the avant-garde princess-do, and apprentice of the year. I was so proud.
|Selfie of new haircut
Sunday evening I went to the city to meet with a stranger and go skinny-dipping in the ocean in the rain. I was drawn there by glowing blue gnomes from some sort of spirit realm, saying they needed a freelance-shaman such as myself.
I mentioned that I may be unrecognizable on account of the new hair, but got the following response: “You would be hard to miss with your retinue of winged-primate familiars and fashionable un-dead butlers.” The first thing I noticed about the stranger were his booze-fueled pirate swagger, laser eyes and robo-legs. We kissed in the sea in the rain.
When the monotenous myopic tasks of an intern span an eight hour day, it makes the intern illiterate in real-world. All an intern would need to do to get home and make some dinner would be to bend space-time and just ride a warped wave down the sidewalk.
After a day-to-day day though, one doesn’t want the day-to-day. All the energy that was in the eyes wants to re-join the rest of the body. The scrutiny on the tiniest meaning wants to stop analyzing at all costs.
A good remedy would be to use telekinesis to lift the birds of paradise, and use them to smash car windows. this would be done with no malice or joy, but a neutrality backed by extreme energy and efficiency.
Another great thing to do would be to pick up a fat white duck and say yell: “I always wanted to pick up a duck!”
I was down to a hundred dollars, and a hundred dollars was the minimum balance to keep an account open. I was running low on groceries, and had stopped going out, drinking, and snacking.
Luckily I was single-mindedly devoted to the idea of proving myself Australia’s Top Intern Candidate, and spent a lot of time making neuroanatomy study guides. I also volunteered for a couple of experiments, making ten and fifteen bucks at a time, and nearly spending it all on public transit.
My mom put some money in my account, and in two days I was hired as a barista and an intern in a neuroimaging lab. It turns out the shiniest thing on my psychology research resume was something I put in as an afterthought – proficiency in Final Cut Pro. The lab needs someone to edit promotional videos and experiment stimuli, along with helping with day-to-day lab work. I was hired for the internship on the spot, and wore a big goofy smile for about a week.
On top of that, all my classes are delightful. The Ableton Live and Neuropsychology courses are my favorites.
This is a letter I wrote for Tobacco. I couldn’t figure out how to send it to him, so I’m just posting it on my blog. That way it exists in open cyber-space.
After listening to Truck Sweat on repeat we decided it sounded like roasting giant marshmallows over humidifier steam, among other things: “Say, doesn’t this sound like a deer-getting shot from a ’58 Chevy?” “And doesn’t it just sound like the deer reaches a spirit realm and ends up tricking the hunter into dying there in its place, because ultimately the deer and the hunter are the same?” Anyway, with this semblance of plot in mind we gathered our ugly sweaters, bought some fog juice, and started filming.
It was “Back 2 School” day at The Ranch, and it was a costume contest. I worked all day on my Neuron costume, which I made with recycled fliers from STA, wire, duct tape, wrapping paper, and a red sharpie. I figure that neurons are the most important school supply. I made text-book like labels so the drunken masses would understand, and they largely did – “Oh, ha ha, you’re an electrically excitable cell that’s fundamental to the nervous system!”
Its always fun mingling in costume, because it takes away most social awkwardness. I was making friends of “nerds” and “sexy nerds” alike.
The bar staff pulled me away to say I qualified for the costume contest, so I got on stage feeling elite. My main competition were Leon, the head RA who was dressed as a calculator (which was a cardboard box with a print out on it) and a girl dressed as a bus (a cardboard box with a print out on it). When they called my name first however, I knew I wouldn’t win. The first never wins when the judges are are drunken mob.
The guy who won was wearing a hat and a backpack, because he had placed his friends in the front. He won a Macbook Pro. They should call it a yelling contest to be more accurate. When I left the bouncer asked if I won and I said no, adding that it was because I was the only braincell left alive.