More Than Ships Passing In the Night

Month: September, 2012

This explains so much about the way my mind works…sort of

1, 2, and 3 are siblings. 1 and 2 are boys, 3 is a girl. 2 likes 4. 3 and 4 are friends, but 3 is younger than 4, so she is that young friend that looks up to 4. 4 and 5 are siblings. 5 is a boy. 5 and 6 are friends. 4 likes 6, kind of the way Sally likes Linus. 6 and 7 are siblings, 7 is a girl. 7 sometimes hangs out with 5 and 6, but 7 and 8 are best friends. 8, 9, and 10 are siblings. 8 and 9 are girls, 10 is a boy. As the older sister, 9 sometimes associates with 7 and 8, when she isn’t flirting with 11 and 12. 10 prefers to hang out with 11 and 12, who are siblings, along with 13 (here I think the relational cycle starts over, i.e., “1, 2, and 3” = “11, 12, and 13” etc.)

Ever since I learned my numbers, I have always associated this scheme of relationships with them. I also associate colors with them. For example: 1 is black, 2 is gold, 3 is pink, 4 is red, 5 is blue, 6 is marigold, 7 is dark green, 8 is light green, 9 is brown.

Tonight I stayed up listening to a 2-hour radio program of Shostakovich and reading blog entries from I only mention this for the sake of context. Shostakovich isn’t particularly relevant to this blog post, but his birthday was earlier this week, so I feel like the least I can do is give him honorable mention in tonight’s post. Anyway, in one of the entries I was reading, the writer talks about synesthesia. I’ve only ever really heard the term used to talk about hearing sounds as colors. But on a whim, I went to the ever-knowledgeable Wikipedia and started reading about the phenomenon of synesthesia. And in so doing, I discovered that, at least based on what I see in my mind with regard to numbers, letters, days of the week, and months, I experience two types of synesthesia: color-graphemic synesthesia and ordinal-linguistic personification. It feels weird to write that – like I’m trying to diagnose myself with something. But I’m not. Synesthesia isn’t a disease. It’s just a way of explaining a specific neurological occurrence. I’ve always been aware of it – I just never knew there were such technical names for it, or that scientists had put so much effort into researching why people such as myself think that 5 & 6 are pals, E is blue, F is green, and all 12 months are gender-specific.

This might also possibly explain why I view time as a calendar in my mind. Although it seems like it would fall more into the category of number form synesthesia or spatial-sequence synesthesia, which makes me feel like I should be better at math. I’m not good at math at all. I just happen to think about time as if it were a calendar. Maybe if my brain wasn’t so busy involuntarily associating distinct personalities, colors, and relationships with numbers, I’d be better at math. Stick THAT in your research pipe and smoke it, scientists!


(New rule: no blogging after midnight)


Coffee Fails, part 1

I tried to make a home-made variation on a pumpkin spice latte earlier this week. I inherited this can of Trader Joe’s “Pumpkin Spice” coffee from one of my roommates when we all moved out of our apartment. It’s decent… given that it was originally purchased & opened last fall, so the freshness factor has significantly deteriorated. During the summer, I didn’t really use it because, let’s be honest, who really wants anything pumpkin spice in the middle of July?

But now that Starbucks has officially proclaimed the advent of Fall with the return of their pumpkin spice latte, it occurred to me one morning that I should try my hand at making my own. You know, since I can’t really afford to drink a latte from Starbucks every day.

So, I made the pumpkin spice coffee in my trusty little French press coffee maker. And then, to sweeten it, instead of just sticking to the agave sweetener that I’ve been experimenting with lately, I remembered that we had Gingerbread syrup on hand. Obvious choice, right? If you’re going for all things warm, spicy, and Fall-ish, the perfect combination is bound to be pumpkins and gingerbread.

I added the syrup, added some frothed milk, and anticipated sipping my warm, deliciously fragrant creation in the coziness of my little cubicle when I got to work.

Reality check.

My coffee was neither fragrant nor delicious. And by the time I got to work, it was lukewarm (no thanks to you, yucky morning commute). But I can tolerate lukewarm coffee if it makes up in flavor for what it lacks in temperature.

Oh, this coffee had plenty of flavor, all right. But it was not a pumpkin spice flavor. It was not a gingerbread flavor. It was not, as I recently described the Starbucks version, like drinking Fall out of a cup.

This coffee tasted like………….



…………………………………………………………..peanut butter?

And if you are trying to salvage that as a potentially positive attribute and envisioning something like one of those peanut butter Moo’d drinks from Jamba Juice, let me assure you: it was nothing like that.

It was,



I tried to muscle through it. I tried using mind tricks. I asked myself: “If this was served to me at a coffee shop, would I like it better simply because someone else made it for me and I didn’t know what was in it or what flavor to expect?” I tried to imagine it in a paper to-go cup: a mysterious latte handed to me by some hipster barista at some small, independent coffee joint with original artwork for sale on the walls and twinkle lights in the window.

It didn’t work.

Eventually, I had to call it quits. My attempt at a pumpkin spice-gingerbread latte had failed miserably. All I had concocted was some kind of bizarre peanut butter latte.

Chocolate & peanut butter? Good idea.

Coffee & peanut butter? Terrible idea.

So, here is your take-away wisdom at my expense: pumpkin spice lattes taste like Fall. Gingerbread lattes taste like Christmas. Pumpkin spice-gingerbread lattes taste like peanut butter.

Take note and take heed, my friends. Not all good things should be combined.

The light is changing

I’m drinking my first pumpkin spice latte of the season and it tastes like Fall. In. My. Mouth. Obviously, this warranted a blog post.

Although it’s some 80 degrees outside right now, the weather has already started to drop hints of change. Cold gray mornings, slanting afternoon light, cool evenings, and darkness at 7:30pm… it all points to the same thing. Fall is coming. There’s a certain quality in the air that is different from Summer – a crispness that you only find during months that end in “-er.” And there’s a certain quality about the light that is also different, but I don’t have the words to describe it.

The last time I got to watch Summer frost over into Fall  in the Bay Area was in 2007. All transitional anxieties and challenges aside, I’m pretty excited to experience this again.

Speaking of changes and transition, we are currently in the middle of a big one at the office. Our faculty support team of five lost two of our members on Tuesday to jobs in another department. We had all known that this change was coming for a couple of weeks, but this is the official first week without them in the office. Support for the entire body of faculty in our department is now distributed between the three of us who are left. So far, it hasn’t been too bad. Ask me how things are going when exam time comes around.

The change has definitely affected the dynamic of our office, however. Take a person out of the mix and the whole personality of a place can change. In our office, we had to say good-bye to someone who contributed in fantastically positive ways to the office culture, both in terms of her personality and her capability as an admin. She was the person who trained me when I started working here and her work ethic served as a role model for me. It’s been a lot more subdued without her in the office. When I started working here, she trained me for a week and then went on a two-week vacation. Because of that, I think I’ve mentally convinced myself that she’s on vacation right now and will be back in a few weeks. And that apparently is how I cope with unwanted change.

In other news, another element contributing to this whole “Fall is here!” mentality is the start of classes. I’m taking a Sign Language class and a Small Business Start-Up Management class at my alma mater community college. After not being a student for a year, it’s funny to find myself having come full circle: back in the community college environment. It’s bizarre to be back on the campus where I first started my college journey and to remember what it was like to take my first class when I was sixteen, feeling so young in comparison to everyone else. And now I’m back here voluntarily. I have a college degree. I’m taking these classes for fun. For the first time, being a student feels unnatural. It’s fun… but strange.

This has been a significant week for me because I realized this week that, for the first time since I moved back, I feel like my life is pretty good right now. It took me three months to get to this place, and there wasn’t any one thing that triggered the arrival point. But it suddenly occurred to me the other day that, really, I’m doing okay. I worry sometimes that if I get too comfortable, it’s just a sign that I’m regressing into childhood. But I don’t think that’s actually the case. I’m too restless for that. I will keep propelling myself forward, almost compulsively, in order to figure out where I want to go from here. And even so, I’m starting to appreciate where I am right now even as I explore what I want to do next. I won’t jump ship until I know where I’m going to land, but I don’t feel like I’m just marking time anymore. I see the goodness of life today, right now, in this moment… not in some distantly future half-realized possibility down the road.

I’m okay with not knowing what happens next. And I’m okay with taking my time to figure it out. Hello, world.


Labor Day good eats:

Two cups of French press coffee

Eggs Benedict complete with Hollandaise sauce and deliciously runny yolks

Chocolate chip scones

Lemon curd

One fish taco with goat cheese, hummus, and sundried tomato chipotle spread on it

Dried dates

Shortbread with tiramisu mascarpone spread

Most of this delightful fare was served to me by the even more delightful Mrs. B (formerly known as my roommate). I got to spend my holiday enjoying brunch with the newlyweds in their adorable apartment. There are very few things that I like more than catching up with good friends while sharing good food.

Happy Labor Day!