the land of bimsk

chicago dweller | matt lover | emmett motherer | family and friend adorer | benny obsessor | phd pursuer | allthingsfood inmybellyer

i’m using a form of computational linguistics to mine meaning in text for one of my dissertation studies. with this method, i’m assuming that you can tell the meaning of a word or group of words based on the words it occurs with (this is based on wittgenstein’s distributional hypothesis, for anyone who’s curious). i’m not totally sure that i 100% agree with this assumption. but it seems to work well for what i’m doing and really, is there any perfect way to have a machine quantify meaning??

anywho. i can’t help but apply the theories i use for my work to my life. and as i watch emmett make meaning of the world, i can’t help but think about how he uses context clues to understand the function or purpose of an object. and then that makes me wonder what foundational schema he’s building right now and how we can have some fun with that.

it’s just fascinating. he’s crawling around like a little maniac these days, poking his head into every little crevice possible, tasting every little thing possible (he really enjoys trying to eat benny hair. so we’ve really stepped up the vacuuming in our house). and over the course of the last few weeks, i’ve seen objects in our house go from novel to a given. he was, at once point, totally shocked by this vintage medicine cabinet we have. now he knows to go straight over to it, try to take out all the drawers, and do his best to lick all over the vintage oil can we have displayed in it (that is going to have to be removed). we used to be able to close the door to his baby-proofed nursery and trust he’d be stuck in there for at least a little while. now, he’s figured out how to throw his body at the middle of the folding door, claw it open from the side, and emerge victoriously at our feet. basically, he’s habituated to his environment and is learning to navigate.

this simultaneously scares and excites me. scares me because i’m realizing all the hidden dangers of our house. excites me because, well, it’s exciting. i want him to habituate to certain things - the presence of matt and me, the comfort of familiarity, the knowledge that even if we leave for a bit, we’ll always come back for him. but i also want him to keep questioning and exploring. and, ultimately, i want to ingrain in him somehow that things can have multiple meanings/purposes/functions.

sometimes i see him really fixating on out-of-the-ordinary things. like when we let benny lick peanut butter off a spoon. or when a piece of furniture is out of place. i’m thinking we’ll start to switch up his environment a little. for example, there’s a (now always empty) trash can that he loves flipping over, poking his head into, then beating like a drum. every once in awhile, i’m going to put something in there. like a piece of tupperware (why do babies love tupperware so much?) or a favorite toy. so, rather than assuming that his usual favorite trash can is there with its usual empty interior, he might take a moment to indulge his curiosity and occasionally find a neat surprise instead. maybe it’s behaviors like that that eventually encourage questioning and investigation.

every year, as the days get shorter and the air gets chillier, i think, “hey, i should try one of those pumpkin spice latte things.” and then, every year, i take my first sip and think, “holy hell these things are sweet. my teeth hurt.”

sunday funday. on sunday, we got dressed in cozy fall clothes (seriously…fall clothing is the absolute best), loaded emmett up in the stroller, and took the el downtown. we walked around a little bit, then hopped on a water taxi on the chicago river. the sky was a beautiful blue, the air was crisp but not too crisp, and we were starving. we rode along the river, emmett made some friends and enjoyed the water occasionally splashing in his face, we enjoyed the scenery that really, you can only get in chicago, and got off at the chinatown stop. we walked straight to lunch where we ordered tsingtao, soup dumplings, shanghai noodle, and twice cooked pork which was basically a pile of delicious spicy pork belly. we ate it all. every last bite. oh my god it was good. then we wandered chinatown and sat down to share an almond milk boba tea. and THEN, to top it all off, we ordered buttery condensed milk toast to go so we could have a snack on the way home. we got back on the water taxi and decided to get off near the ogilvy station. since it was such a beautiful afternoon and we were having so much fun (and we had gooey sweet toast to fuel us), we decided to just walk and see how far we get. we walked the whole four miles home while emmett took a nice long stroller nap. we walked through all kinds of cool neighborhoods, saw all kinds of cool buildings, and even walked by a front yard petting zoo complete with pony, llama, and goats. we got home and piled on the couch and let our aching legs rest. i took benny out for a bike ride (he runs alongside my bike around the neighborhood). and then the day got even better. matt took emmett to the store so i could have a little break, picked up dinner ingredients, and made prosciutto/mozzarella/arugula sandwiches for dinner. my boys are the best boys. <3

- Monday - kimchee jigae
- Tuesday - Portuguese kale soup with crusty bread and salad
- Wednesday lunch (cooking for some lovely ladies) - pumpkin and kale lasagna
- Wednesday - chili
- Thursday - dinner at davanti enoteca!!

- for Emmett - healthy fried rice made with brown rice, kale, mushrooms, and egg

It’s looking pretty autumnal these days. I love cooking in/for this weather.

i’m right square in the middle of one. i’ve been feeling this feeling for awhile…like i’m moving slowly through this holding pattern with no clear vision of what’s to come. just a clear vision of what is and what we are holding off on until the next step. having a baby only magnifies this feeling. by quite a lot. and it’s making me antsy.

when i made the decision to get my phd, i knew it would be a long long road. and it is/has been. and i’m fine with that, but as i’m getting closer to the end (not really that close, but closer to it than i was say five years ago), i’m starting to get itchy for the next step.

there’s the feeling of wanting to see what the culmination of all this work will be. there’s the feeling of wanting to know what kind of job i’ll have. there’s the feeling of wanting to know where we’ll live. there’s the feeling of wanting to know what our lives will be.

and then there’s material stuff. matt and i have agreed that we’ll stay in our place, won’t get a new car, won’t think about a new couch, won’t get a bigger bed, etc. etc. etc. until we move. as in, when i’m done with my phd, have landed a job, and we start to get settled into a new life.

most of the time i’m fine with it. sometimes, i get frustrated and want to have some vision, any vision, of what might be in our future (that is especially tough since i have no idea what the job market will be like when i am actually on the market. and family keep asking us where we’ll end up and we don’t have the foggiest. and we think about stuff like where should emmett go to preschool? but can’t really do anything about it since we have no idea where we might be. the list goes on…). it’s that fuzziness, i think, that plays a big role in the antsiness.

i read something the other day that said something along these lines. life is lived in phases. and every phase brings different benefits and different drawbacks. and rather than eagerly looking forward to the next phase, it’s worth your while to pause and recognize what is unique to the current phase since it inevitably will pass. i like that idea.

so what’s unique to our current phase that is really fantastic and likely won’t be the case forever? hmm. well there’s a lot of things.

- my incredibly flexible schedule.

- matt working from home.

- the fact that these two things combined make for tons of face time with emmett and lots of family time dispersed throughout our work days. i definitely do not take for granted that we can both do things that advance our careers while cooking lunches together and seeing our baby throughout the day.

- we live in a great great neighborhood where there are plenty of restaurants, bars, shops, and parks for all members of the family (benny included).

- we live in an amazing metropolitan city. an amazing metropolitan city that is affordable and accessible.

- some of my very best friends moved from sf to chicago at the same time as me which has created the best little community.

- the ability to work on research that i’m 100% interested in. my advisor and program which have been nothing but fantastic and supportive and engaging and challenging.

- matt and my ability to work from anywhere which makes extended trips to visit family that much easier.

- great friends who also have flexible schedules and a crystal clear understanding of the challenges of being a graduate student (and also cook awesome meals and provide the very best study company and study breaks)

- this early adulthood phase. knowing myself well enough to know what not to expend my resources on. but still being in a formative enough part of my life that i’m open to new modes of thinking, types of people, and ways to spend my time.

- this early family phase. there is something so special about being newly married with a new baby. it is fun in a whole new way. both events - marriage and baby - have opened me up to a whole new range of emotions and it’s been really wonderful settling into these feelings. and again, the ability to live this early family phase with so much in-person time with my boys is truly something i appreciate.

i know. i know deep down in my heart of hearts that one day, i’ll look back at this time and feel so nostalgic and fond and warm about it. i also know that when i finally wrap up this phd and we take the next steps, we’ll be coming from a great foundation. and i know that there’s no other group of people (matt/benny/emmett, family, friends from near and far) i’d want to be with day in and day out.

so i guess that’s it, then, right? some pieces of my life are movable and changeable (and moving and changing) and some pieces are constant. those pieces that are constant provide such a wonderful base for enjoying everything else, no matter how fuzzy the future looks and how anxious i occasionally am to take a peek.

on thursday, we packed our bags, loaded emmett up, and hopped on a plane to charlottesville, virginia. matt’s brother got married and it was really the perfect weekend.

here’s what we did:

- thursday - landed around dinnertime, went straight to a pizza place to meet up with matt’s family for some food and some beer. of course, the family immediately flocked to emmett. he didn’t mind one bit.

- friday - emmett and i went to breakfast with matt’s brother, mom, and stepdad while matt hung out and worked. then we walked around charlottesville’s adorable downtown area and soaked in the last of the summer heat. matt and his buddy met us downtown, picked us up, then took us back to his buddy’s house (where we were staying) to play some basketball while emmett napped. then we got all dressed up and went to matt’s brother’s house for the wedding. it was the cutest affair. they had tons of wine, delicious little appetizers, and about fifty friends and family hanging out. at some point in the early evening, matt’s brother declared it was time to get married. so we all gathered on their little deck where matt helped marry his brother. it was a two-minute ceremony filled with heartfelt words and lots of cheers. then we all went back inside, continued drinking and laughing and hanging out (we figured out later that, based on how much wine was drank, each person drank more than one bottle of wine), and headed downtown for dinner. we had a big back room to ourselves where we ate and drank and partied til late in the night. emmett completely shines in situations like these. he loves loves loves loud parties, lots of people, being passed around, and taking it all in. he was in his finest form that night.

- saturday - we passed through charlottesville’s really cute farmers’ market for some iced coffee then went to a little spot for breakfast tacos and extra spicy bloody marys. friends and family were all there and we hung out on the patio and chitchatted the morning away. then back to matt’s buddy’s house for more basketball and naps (and his friend’s daughters got to hang out with emmett. they were so sweet to him - carrying him around, making puppets for him, playing with him). after we all got freshened up, we went to matt’s brother’s place for a big wedding party. there were fresh oysters, a vodka luge, fried chicken, 144 cupcakes (i put a pretty good dent in those), plenty of bourbon and wine, ham biscuit sandwiches, coleslaw, etc. etc. etc. we hung out there til late in the night and emmett continued his very strong showing. we have such a little party animal on our hands.

- sunday - went over to a friend of matt’s brother’s for a delicious brunch, decompressed on matt’s brother’s couch, headed home around five, landed back in chicago by six thirty, had chinese delivery at our door by seven.

the whole weekend was just perfect. so full of love and fun and laughter and celebration.

  • monday - tuna burritos (matt’s brother makes these all the time and evidently they are delicious. they consist of seared high-quality tuna, rice, avocado, wasabi mayo.)
  • tuesday - tonkatsu, sesame miso glazed eggplant, and brown rice
  • wednesday - pan roasted chicken thighs, roasted vegetables, and melting potatoes
  • thursday - kimchee jigae and brown rice

also, emmett is eating more and more solid foods these days. he usually gets some of what we’re eating as well as something extra healthy. not surprisingly, emmett is an excellent eater and eats everything we put in front of him. it’s been a lot of fun to come up different foods to cook for him. this week, he’ll be eating (alongside those goodies listed above):

  • lentils and kale cooked in chicken broth
  • chicken cooked with a little bit of sesame oil and sea salt

yesterday, i worked a record sixteen tomatoes.

today, i did this:



now, i’m feeling a mix of relief and terror that i misspelled my title in the header or something stupid like that.

last month, i focused on letting people i love and appreciate know how much i love and appreciate them through gesture. hmm. i’d say i didn’t do that great with this one. i did a few things here and there, but it certainly didn’t turn out the way i thought it might. i was really busy this past month, and while that did distract me, i don’t think it’s really an excuse. i did do a few things. i wrote some thank you cards for baby gifts and gave some to people in person while the others are still sitting in my office unmailed. my study buddies always cook awesome meals for me and i got it together enough one day to bake a peach pie for them. matt always gets me thoughtful gifts while he’s out by himself. i love receiving these little gestures and picked up a sweater that he’s been wanting while i was out one day. i tried to verbally let people know how much i appreciate them. but…still. this is one i’d like to try out again since i do think it’s really important to be mindful of such things.

for the month of september, i will focus on limiting my spending.

i don’t know what has been going on with me the past few months but i feel like i’ve been spending more money than i usually do/need to do/ought to do. it’s little expenses that add up like lunches out or a little thing for emmett or something for the house that we “absolutely” need. it’s also been big things like getting something on our car fixed, boarding for benny while we’re out of town. so. this month, i want to limit my spending. i also want to watch my spending. i’m going to record what i spend on what everyday. i’ll parse out what was spent on the family (ex. groceries) out of our joint account and what was purely personal (ex. another pair of shoes i don’t really need) out of my personal account. maybe seeing it all laid out like that will make me think a little more carefully about where and how i spend money.