Studying for exams. And writing a research proposal.


You know that moment in George of the Jungle, where Ursula’s mother says “oh God”?

That’s what my brain said when I went to open YET ANOTHER research methods .pdf. I swear it would have been audible to an outside observer, even though my lips and vocal cords did not move.

Like the time I was talking to someone and watching his lips and my brain suddenly yelled, “God you’re beautiful!” so loudly I was amazed the man I was talking to didn’t hear it. I then blundered away, trying the wrong door to get out, you know the kind of thing.


I am at that moment, like when you’ve been on a long tramp or a long stay in hospital, when you’re about three quarters or more of the way there and the end is almost in sight and you’ve STILL GOT SO FAR TO GO and you STILL have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, or one word after another, or have yet another dinner of reconstituted egg quiche and wobbly pudding and another blood test. 

I’m having bad dreams of conflict with my husband and weird concatenations of the TV I’ve been watching and my studies and the news, although that may have more to do with the warmer Spring weather combined with winter-weight bedding.

I am not tired of psychology, or brains. I’m tired of assessment, of having tasks set for me by others, which have nothing to do with the needs of real people. Writing pages and pages and pages which in the end will only be thrown away. I want to be writing reports which doctors and patients and families will read and which will help them and make their lives a little better, a little more understandable, make sense of the past in the present, give hope for the future.

I want that so bad I can taste it. (Kind of metallic, as my throat tightens and I carefully don’t cry.)

Unfortunately my coping strategies are not all that great. But I’ll come through, I always do. I’ll probably get As. It’s just the getting there that’s a pain in the ass. I may be here a bit more often in the next month, to try and get the conversational writing out of my system so I can settle to the dry academic style where I have to. I do get in minor trouble for being too informal sometimes.

Anyway, I better go, I have to take the cat to the vet and then pick the kids up from school. See you all again the next time a paper makes me scream.


The end of the beginning.

I’ve had my last class for this semester. We watched “Sicko.” I’m going out for drinks with my classmates in an hour or two to celebrate. I got 87% (an A) for my presentation. I’ve offered to speak to the kids’ school science club about brains and my supervisor is delighted.

I’m feelin’ good!



Us and them

I had a revelation last Sunday. I was singing in the choir for a friend’s ordination to the Anglican priesthood. There was incense. There was liturgy. There was lots and lots of heartbreakingly beautiful music. And as I was singing it, I was thinking, “Ha, at least believe what I’m singing.” You know, like that post I posted a little while ago?

And then I think God slapped me round the back of the head. “How the heck do you know,” He said, “that everyone else here doesn’t believe it too? Yes, INCLUDING all those other choir members over there who make risqué jokes and live together OUT OF WEDLOCK.”

“Um,” I said, “you know, I actually don’t.”

“And,” He said, “I suppose you never do anything wrong, like them.

“Um,” I said, “touché.”

“Remember that bit,” He said, “about ‘In Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female’?”


“How about, no Anglican or Apostolic, gay-marriage-supporting or non-supporting, liberal or conservative?

“In fact, how do you know if someone is ‘In Christ’ or not? Only I know that. Therefore, this applies to EVERYONE.

“You ready for this?”

(Actually, God didn’t say that bit. I just need a dramatic pause before the punchline.)


I was rendered literally breathless by the force of this revelation. It’s probably old hat to some of you who’ve been close to Jesus for longer than I have, or who are just smarter than me.

There is no right-wing and left-wing. There are people who, like me, care about their children’s future, and about the health of those worse off. There is no rich and poor. There are people who, like me, have food to eat every day, and people who, like me, worry about how to afford all the things their family needs. There is no gay and straight. There are people who, like me, can’t always help loving people they can’t ever be with, and people who, like me, are blessed to have someone wonderful to live and share a bed with.

I am absolutely NOT saying there is no sin. But sinners, like me, sin. And try to do better next time. Or, like me, don’t.

I feel like a different person, on the inside. Let’s see if it makes a difference on the outside.


I just read back through my last few posts. I feel a couple of updates are in order:

I have stepped down from one of the music groups, my church worship team. It was a heavy commitment and required a lot of responsibility and practice. I didn’t have the time to give it all it needed to do a good job, and I refuse to do a bad job. The team leader agreed with me that my studies need to be a higher priority at the moment.

I feel so much lighter! There is room in my brain! Plus, I can sing and listen to worship music and worship without having to plan my next list or mentally rehearse the keyboard parts! This is good.

The choir concert went pretty well. I don’t get nervous about them any more. Or maybe I just didn’t get nervous about this one because it wasn’t just our choir performing, there were two other choirs as well. Less pressure.

My presentation on music therapy went well as well. Well well. One of my classmates told me afterwards, “you’re a really good speaker!” And I had fun chatting with the kindy kids picking up and later returning their musical instruments. About four of the kids helped me, and had goes trying on my glasses. As you do.

As for the exercise, I’ve kind of, um, stopped completely. I got really tired, probably from overdoing everything, and then decided I looked frumpy going to class in my comfy but butt-ugly gym shoes, and then I got busy, and now they’re doing up my lab so I don’t have anywhere to leave my HEAVY bag to go to the gym, and the weather’s getting cold, and I have a cold, and, and, and …

Apparently if you come up with more than two or three reasons for doing something, you don’t really believe what you’re saying and are just trying to convince yourself.

It’s Mother’s Day today (or should that be Mothers’ Day?) and I got breakfast in bed, four hand-made cards and a cute plush stuffed neuron. I think it’s a pyramidal cell. I’m thinking about attaching it somehow to my backpack.

I like my life.


I expect it’s about time I wrote something again.

I’ve been at classes for three weeks now. Health psychology is loads of fun, development of brain and behaviour is stuff I know pretty well so far, drugs are interesting, and nervous system plasticity is not what I expected and is terrifying. I didn’t do seventh form biology, let alone first- and second- year psychology, so actually all that stuff about plasma membranes being made up of (correct me if I get this wrong – PLEASE!) a bi-layer of lipids with a phosphate head, and mitochondria doing the ATP thing (whatever that is) to supply energy, and smooth and rough endoplasmic reticulum making the vesicles that transport the neurotransmitters, was completely new. Completely. Thankfully Mum had some school textbooks which had better pictures than the university textbook my lecturer recommended. The school textbooks also didn’t contain sentences like: “Because of this continuity, the nuclear envelope is presumed to have evolved to ensheathe the chromosomes by an invagination of the plasmalemma.” (Kandel, Schwartz & Jessell, 2000, p. 70.)

I’m still getting exercise at least three times a week and am finally starting to feel some benefit from it. I think I may have some leg muscles now. And I quite easily and happily kicked a ball around after school with Mr 7 and his friends. The next real milestone for me will be if I’m able to take him running to train for the cross-country, which I think happens in spring, September-ish or something. Uncle P2, who completed the Wanaka Challenge in less than 14 hours, is keen to help with training.

The other thing that’s been drawing my attention lately is the election of the new Pope, Francis. I’m very excited about all I’ve heard about this man, especially since I was moved to fast during the selection process, and I believe that God is going to do a significant work of Church unity through this new leader. So far, it already seems my prayers for a man of integrity with a Christ-centred focus have been answered.

In Health Psychology class today we were asked, in the context of discussing a reading of a piece of research using photoelicitation, what we would take a photo of to capture our life today. Most people mentioned readings, their desks, their computers… I thought hard and came up with: in my recently redecorated bedroom, the double bed (signifying my husband’s space) with the piano in the background with a piece of choir music and a piece of church music sitting on it, me sitting on the bed with my laptop, surrounded by the three kids, one of whom is reading (Mr 10), and the other two fighting. I could also have decided I’d be wearing my gym gear, since that’s become quite important to me, and would have a Bible nearby. I have a complicated life.

I’m going to an international soccer match next Friday, the day before my daughter’s 5th Birthday Party. I’m going out on a date tomorrow night, to a show that my dad is playing music at, after spending most of the day (hopefully) at Brain Day lectures at Uni. I quite like my life, but it is very full. Thank God I haven’t had a migraine since the middle of last year and the dizzies only pay me fleeting minor visits when I’m full of pizza or PMT.


Kandel, E. R., Schwartz, J. H., & Jessell, T. M. (eds.). (2000). Principles of neural science. New York: McGraw-Hill, Health Professionals Division.