Monthly Archives: May 2014

My Story So Far

So, I want to tell you a story…

Actually sort of a recap of my life for the past year and a half since moving to California.

I remember how when I told people I was moving, they were always more excited than I was. I had no interest in moving here, it wasn’t really something I even wanted at all, it was something I felt I had to do, some unknown force. (Especially since I avoided California when applying to schools as an undergrad due to fear of earthquakes.) But this graduate program felt like something I needed to do. What I was excited about was going back to school (too bad it’s not quite what I had expected). And in hindsight, I realize I should have done a little (a lot) more research, and a little (a lot) more preparation. It’s hard to know what to expect when moving across the country on your own without family/ friends (although for me, it’s not the first time…I was seventeen then, an undergrad-with very few things…but I digress) to one of the most expensive areas (SF Bay area) in the country when you’re broke and dependent on an unknown (at the time) amount of student loan income, in a recession with unrealistic expectations of the length of time it will take to find a job in your field…

After two months, I put all of my things in storage and left my ridiculously expensive shared apartment and my jerk of a roommate whom I found on craigslist and chose as being the better of two unappealing living situations (the other having been less expensive but with four other people who didn’t seem to get along very well), having had only 1 week to find a place to live for me and my cat… (not to mention how pet-unfriendly most places in the area are…) and went back home (Chicago) for a month, where I subsequently lost, and found said cat, and decided to give California another try. This time with a little more insight (still nowhere near enough). But at least I was able to find a slightly better living situation (month-to-month lease, my own bedroom/bathroom/yard, but still shared, and still way too expensive for a struggling unemployed grad student with too many bills.) While I was home, I had told myself I would find my cat, find an apartment, and find a job. And within 2 months I had done all three. Although in hindsight, I should have been a little more specific…

I got a job tutoring high school students in math and science part time, which was cool for the most part…the kids were great….but it would have been nice if they paid me on a regular basis…

So at this point, I was ready to leave, move back to Chicago, Philadelphia, anywhere at all. And if I hadn’t gotten my current job, I would have…but apparently it seems to be in the cards that I stay, at least for now. And even though my grad program isn’t quite what I thought it would be, I have learned a lot (mostly about myself, which I guess is why they call it Consciousness and Transformative Studies). I’m still not sure if I will finish it, but I’m taking it one quarter at a time…

Even with my job, I couldn’t sustain life in the Bay area, so I moved to Sacramento and am definitely much happier there, even with the commute. I really don’ t mind the drive, but for me an hour commute isn’t terrible…(in Chicago, it usually takes about a half hour to get anywhere anyway so I’m used to that). I’ve noticed that most people seem to love San Francisco and the Bay area. I am not one of them. They’re definitely great places to visit, but not places I want to live…(SF = expensive tiny apartments, multiple roommates…I like my privacy too much, even Oakland and Berkeley are not much better); so now I have my own studio apartment in Sacramento and I feel much more at home :). It’s more suburban than I’m used to, and I may move to midtown when my lease ends, but my rent is affordable and no roommates (Yay!)

So I made another vow; to stop focusing on the problems in my life and know that everything will be okay. I have food to eat, a place to live, a job…that’s all I really need. Every problem, I think, has a solution and life is about finding them. The solution may not be obvious and you may have to be creative, but it’s there.

A couple of months ago, I started a full time temporary day job thinking it could be a solution. Because, although my rent is now affordable, my total expenses have not decreased much (the law of conservation of expenses has converted it into gas for my commute). Well it definitely helped, but not in the way I had hoped. I worked there for a week and a half before I quit. I found that I could not work a full time day job, part time (30 hour/week) night job and go to school. The work was boring, tedious, and I was so exhausted I could barely function. But in that week and a half, I learned something. It was because I hated it so much, that it made me realize everything I love about my current job (never having to set alarms and wake up early, not having supervisors monitoring my every move,  having free time during the day…)  It made the negatives mere annoyances (non-compete clause, ten hour shifts (as opposed to twelve), etc.). It helped me truly understand that I am lucky to have a job, especially one that I enjoy and that allows me to go to school. And I am definitely grateful, because a lot of the people I worked with there don’t have the luxury to quit.

So now I look forward to going to work (I work as a sleep tech). And I started taking math classes at another school as well during my free time during the day. I’m currently taking a Linear Algebra class (which is where I quit math as an undergrad) here’s to hoping I can get through it this time around…first math class I have ever had difficulty with and I took Calculus through Differential Equations…conceptually I love it (vector spaces, etc.) but I can’t seem to finish the exams… This summer, I’m taking Discrete Structures and a few courses in my other grad program probably on psychology of consciousness and starting my research project. I’m also working on writing a sort of fictional memoir as well as  starting a science literary project and preparing to apply for PhD programs… I think I have finally figured out that I am a philosopher after all and am looking into programs in Philosophy of Science (neuroscience, physics, cognitive science, etc.) because I love to think about this stuff… (and if I got to do that all day, it wouldn’t be work).

A few weeks ago, I attended a conference on consciousness in Tucson, which was very interesting…I will post my thoughts on that very soon… So until next time…

Latasha Monique


DreamSpaces & Lucid Dreaming

I’ve been thinking a lot about vector spaces lately…most likely due to the fact that I’m taking an linear algebra class and that’s what we’re currently learning. I must have learned about them before when I tried to take this class as an undergrad, but it seems to make more sense now. Anyway, vector spaces have even been invading my dreams, which got me thinking about dreams, which is not unusual since they are what I am studying. And no please don’t ask me to interpret yours…while I do maintain that they provide us with insights and guidance and can help us uncover unconscious material, my main interest is in why we dream and what they are. So back to vector spaces, this thought occurred to me earlier today: what if the dreamspace is a vector space. We all know that in dreams, different rules seem to apply, such that the normal rules of physics, such as gravity, etc., are no longer standard. Sometimes we fly, we walk through doorways into the past, the future, seem to travel instantaneously, etc.  Which makes me wonder if there are any rules in the dream world…. Also is there such a thing as “the” dream world, or does each one of us have our own different dream world? There are times where I feel like I have a completely different dream life, a familiarity like I’m remembering having lived there before.

Recently, there was an article published in Nature Neuroscience http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nn.3719.html that showed scientists were able to induce lucid dreaming, which is where one is aware they are dreaming within the dream, by inducing gamma waves (25-100 Hz), which have been observed during spontaneous lucid dreams, in the brain using an electrical current. This is extremely interesting because we may now have a way to study dreams and experiment with them in a more systematic way than finding people who are able to do it spontaneously or inducing them with various drugs.  So back to my idea about vector spaces and the dream world. We could possibly test whether there are limits in the dream world, if there are fundamental rules that are just different from the ones we know in the waking world, or maybe they’re aren’t and anything is possible. Are there limits to how much control we have?

But then, this introduces the question of whether the lucid dream state is different from the regular dream state… As well as what actually causes spontaneous lucid dreams? It happened once when I woke up from an interesting dream and tried to go back into it, and when I did, I knew I was in the dream again. There was another time when I knew I was dreaming and wanted to wake up, but couldn’t….every time I tried to open my eyes, I would be in a different dream scenario…

Anyway, just some thoughts, possibly future research ideas, but for now I’m going to focus on my first question of why we dream and I have my own hypothesis, but more on that later when I actually start working on my thesis…


Listening to Philosophy to Stay Awake

51G5cOxCB2L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_  So for the past week or so, I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Heidegger and  Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates in order to stay awake during my 1 hr drive home after my 10 hr night shift and it seems to be working… Interesting that a book on the philosophy of death can keep me awake, but it definitely keeps my brain occupied which is what I need. Very interesting book so far, I’m about halfway through it. Taking it slow because I need it to last as long as possible until I find something to listen to next. Not only does it talk about various philosopher’s views on death, it combines with it the philosophy of consciousness and describes some of the basic areas such as dualism, physicalism, not much on materialism so far or panpsychism. The authors are interesting and include many jokes as well, all of which I don’t quite get, but that’s ok, still and interesting book so far and I will post an update when I finish.