Monday, December 12, 2011

Finals are a bitch.

Here's the thing, readers: I curse, real bad. It's not particularly ladylike and I try to keep it out of things on the internet, because you never know who is reading it. My mom, my old pastor, my girls, my future children, maybe they all creep on this blog. Or, maybe it's just my best friend and my aunt. But the cursing gets worse when I'm stressed out. And readers, I'm real stressed, although I'm trying to adopt more of a "Fuckit" attitude. That's right, one word. I've tried to adopt this attitude before, with little to no success. I just care too damn much. Yes, it's a giant problem. It results in anxiety and breakouts, even though I'm way too old to still be getting zits, and not being able to sleep until 3 in the morning and migraines, but I like that I care too much. My passion is one of my favorite things about myself. It pushes me. And I absolutely cannot stand people who don't give a damn. Frigging care about something. Please.

Anyway, I digress. The point of this post is to talk about how I am learning to let go. A little. I figured out last night that it is mathematically impossible for me to get an A in Stats. No dice, unless he curves the crap out of the class, which I don't think he will, because people like my freaking study partner and the Boy screw up the curve. (As an aside, dating someone who is smarter than I am continually shocks me. Granted, the ex was as smart, and probably smarter than I am, but he was smart in a different way. The Boy being smarter than I am, in the area that I am smart in, is really throwing me for a loop.) So I put down my calculator and said, "Fuckit." I can put in a ton of effort and anxiety and get a 100% on the final and still get a B, or I can chill the eff out and get my C- on the final and still finish with a B. I'm choosing to chill the eff out. I think the Boy is helping me with this. He does this thing where he takes the thing I'm flipping out about and says it in this totally serious voice and makes it sound ridiculous. And it's not like he's the first one that's done that. Bestie, my parents, probably previous boyfriends, they've all done it, but this is the first time that I'm actually getting it (even if it does drive me crazy). Perhaps it's just because this is the first time that I really have been working the absolute hardest that I ever have, and it's just not getting me where I want to be, and what more can I do than my best? Nothing, that's what. Point is, I can't infer causality. But there is a definite correlation (even if it is a meaningless one).

Anyway, I will be back home in 158 hours, and I can't freaking wait. Merry Christmas, y'all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Prepare yourself for a rant

This whole Joe Paterno business is really making me upset. This guy says it a lot better than I can, but I just can't understand the support for him. Yeah, he was a great coach. And apparently, he was a great mentor to his players. But that doesn't change the fact that he didn't do enough to stop his DIRECT REPORT from raping children in his building and elsewhere. Maybe he did what was legally required of him by saying something to the athletic director or whomever it was that he told. But that wasn't enough, and we all know it. The graduate assistant didn't do enough when he turned around and walked away and let Sandusky continue raping a little boy in the showers. The janitor that saw him in the 90's didn't do enough when he walked away from Sandusky going down on a little boy. They didn't do enough, and they do not deserve our sympathies or support.

It's no secret that I've been abused, and it's no secret that I still struggle with the emotional after-effects, 10 years after it ended and 7 years after the offender killed himself (Ok, so it is kind of a secret here in that no one in the program knows, so I seem especially crazy when I get this worked up over it. If they knew, I feel like they would nod understandingly instead of leaning back from the degree of wrath that I barely am able to contain when discussing this issue). I would never wish these feelings of brokenness on anyone, and sometimes I wonder what would have happened if someone had known The Abuser was this way before--what it would be like to feel like a "normal" person. Paterno and the others at Penn State could have saved countless children from these feelings. They could have made it better. They could have saved these kids from a monster, but they chose to do nothing, to say nothing, and in their silence, they too, became monsters.

To be honest, I'm glad for the supporters, that they can live in a world where they don't understand how unspeakably cruel the code of silence executed by several people at Penn State was, that they can think that 50 years of doing something as insignificant as coaching football is enough to excuse him and the others for allowing this to go on, that they don't know the damage that was done, to somehow think it "wasn't that bad", or at least not bad enough to vilify them as they deserve. I'm glad that they don't know what this is like, a decade later, that they have never experienced pain like this. I'm glad for them. I pray they never understand why my heart races at the horror, why my face gets flushed and I start yelling and cursing in front of my professor, why I'm nauseous, why it brings tears to my eyes. I pry that they can stay forever in their state of hideously offensive ignorance. In the mean time, I hope to God that someone makes Paterno and the others understand why this was so unspeakably, grotesquely, horribly, terribly wrong, because they will never be able to make it right again.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Mantra

"Problems worthy of attack prove their worth by fighting back."
- Paul Erdos (1913-1996)
 That's what I'm going to keep telling myself while I get my butt kicked by the amount and difficulty level of my work here.  
That, and that a little Comedy Central and making out on the couch will help me maintain my sanity. And cooking. I'm really starting to enjoy making food (mostly desert, but the new boy and I cooked last week and it was fun) and I have some yummy new recipes to try this weekend/next week. 
These will be glorious. They're a mixture of 3 of my favorite things in the whole wide world. And everyone at school will be so excited to see them.
And, despite the fact that reading Cosmo occasionally in a waiting room is fun and salacious, having a subscription is an exercise in repetition. I think they think if they keep giving the same sex tips over and over again, eventually people will just do them all because they have to be good if Cosmo keeps mentioning them, right? I dunno, that's my theory, because they're all the same, and not all of them sound like good ideas. BUT! Point of me mentioning Cosmo: they have a delicious looking pork loin recipe that I definitely want to try. It looks delicious, even though it'll be a crap ton of effort and takes several hours to cook. I told the new boy that I'd even let him make me eat veggies and I wouldn't complain because that pork loin looks so tasty. (His major flaw is that he likes broccoli and wants to change me into a broccoli-eater, too.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Remembering who the eff I am

So this period of my life is all about growth and change. It's annoying that I'm doing all this growth and change now, and not several years ago like most people, but that's what happens when you live at home in undergrad. You don't have any growing pains at 18, you get them whenever you move away and have to figure your life out on your own.  It's a lot harder than I expected. I took a lot of who I am and what I believe for granted.

Since I've been out here, I've adopted a "Yes Man" attitude and I just go along with things. Socializing almost every night (at least at first, before we had a crapton of work all the time)? Sure. Intramural Soccer? Why not? Make a website for the research project? Ok. Watch football? Yeah. I say yes now. These are all things I used to say no to, and while I'm glad I'm saying yes more, it's messing with my head. I'm becoming a different person. And I think I might like the person I am becoming, but I also kinda liked who I was before. I at least didn't dislike her. So it's disconcerting to think that she's going away to make room for this new, more easygoing? (no one who knows me here would call me easygoing, that's for sure) whatever I am.

And when I got my stats test back with a bad grade, I had this fatalistic freak out day. I cried. All day. On the phone with my parents in the quad, in the office with my roommate, on the most annoyingly bad service phone call with Bestie, all by myself writing an email to my undergrad advisor, I cried a lot. Big, heaving sobs. Stupid crocodile tears that refused to listen to reason, that didn't hear the "It's not so bad's" and the "You can recover from this's" and "You might be doing badly at the moment, but this is the first time you've ever been challenged in school and it's just taking some adjustment, it's not that you're too dumb to be here's". I seriously considered quitting. It's too hard to be here if I'm not going to hack it. I miss my friends and my family and good Mexican food and grid systems and getting enough sleep and watching TV and things being easy.

But then I woke up on Friday morning and thought to myself, "Self (oh, Mr. Evil WH teacher, how you still haunt me), what the eff. You are not a quitter. You are a hard worker. You are rise-to-the-bar-er. You do not let people tell you 'No'. You go after what you want. You make the best of things. You do not cry like a little bitch and take it. You make it work. Get your butt to school and figure it out".  And I did. I have a study group, and I'm going to office hours more often, and I'm changing the way I take notes, and I'm making it freaking work.

I might be growing and changing, and I might be being slapped in the face by assumptions that I held about myself, but I refuse to change some things. My stubbornness tenacity is one of my favorite things about myself, and I refuse to let that be beaten out of me taken from me.

Also, an official thank you to Mom and Dad, Bestie, Roommate, and Undergrad Advisor for talking me down from the ledge. I know it seemed like I wasn't listening to you and was actually pretty rude to you all when you tried to make me feel better, but I appreciate you. I came around eventually =)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Feeling Ornery and Argumentative

So tonight I was commenting all over Facebook telling people that I think they're wrong. Normally, I just do this in my head, because I find internet comment wars annoying and tedious, but tonight I just couldn't hold back.

Someone posted some blog/article about that "bootstraps" college girl who paid her way through school and how that sign is probably complete BS, which is actually probably true, but judging from my own experience of college and my lack of debt and the fact that my parents contributed less than $4,000 for tuition, etc (unless you count rent, which I partially paid for like a year? year and a half?) and they did help with my car(s), but I also paid a LOT of money for them--more than what most of my friends paid for their craigslist cars, and the fact that I ate out and shopped and such to my heart's content, I would say that it is, to an extent, possible to work hard and not have debt when you graduate. It totally is. And for some reason, I had to say it was. I couldn't just let it go.

And then someone posted about shoes. And I love shoes. And I have way too many. I like pretty things. And if you added up all of the money I've spent on shoes, it would probably horrify me. But these shoes were $700. For one pair. Of beautiful, but highly impractical shoes. And I was just like, "No. You cannot spend that much money on one pair of shoes. Go feed an orphan." And I realize the hypocrisy in my statement, but there is a line. I'm not sure where it is, but there's a line, and $700 crosses it. And I just had to say something.

And then a staffer from my old church/job posted about how he doesn't like it when he hears the students are at parties where there's drinking. Which I find completely ridiculous. If the student isn't drinking, it's not "of the world" to be there. It's actually probably a good thing. There's a sober person making sure that no one is choking on their vomit or driving drunk or having risky, unprotected sex in the bathroom (I know, because I was that sober student at plenty of drunken parties). It's being an example of someone who can have fun without being drunk. And he drinks! I've seen it! Which, by the way, I think is totally kosher. I drink plenty, but I do so responsibly and legally (I mean, when I was younger, there were a few instances of illegal underage drinking, but that's not the point here). My point was, I don't see how this is a problem. Is it ideal? No. But you know what? I would rather have kids like Brother or my cylinder girls at the drunken party than sitting around in their Christian bubble being all judgy. And I just can't let it go.

And I read a Dr. Isis blog about nursing in public and got annoyed at the commenters who were all "we can flash boob whenever and you can't be offended that I'm whipping out my boob in the middle of this CONFERENCE PRESENTATION.WHILE I'M THE ONE PRESENTING" And I was like dude, feed your kid, whatever, but use a freaking hooter hider. Have a modicum of consideration for the people that are around you. As much as the breast is about feeding an infant, it is also an erogenous zone, and it is sexualized, and frankly, I would be similarly uncomfortable if a dude I was in a meeting with took his shirt off/unbuttoned it so that a large part of his chest was exposed. Even if he had spilled something. We wear clothes in public. I've been around plenty of nursing women, and while it is very natural and beautiful and whatever, it's also weird to see my friend/colleague/family member's boob. It just is.

And I don't know why I can't let it go. I don't know why I HAVE to say something, but I do. Whatevs.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Things I tell myself when I don't wanna do it any more...

So I had my first stats test last week, and I was fairly nervous. I don't think that I like this thing where school is now hard. I miss school being easy. School being hard gives me anxiety. And that is really all I'm going to say about that. Besides the fact that it makes me a little sick to think that I will continue taking tests until I am at LEAST 28, which, in my opinion, is far to old to still be taking exams. FAR TOO OLD. I mean, that's 23 years worth of tests. Uuuuuugggghhhhhh. I better be a freaking genius when this is over. As much as I love what I do, there are certain aspects of it that I really hate. Like taking tests. But I just gotta remember: I don't wanna be doing anything else.

New thing that I've learned/had confirmed about myself: I actually really really enjoy teaching. Quite a bit. I was in a terrible mood Wednesday, but then I went to tutor and it made me feel so much better, because I realized that I DO know SOME things, and I can convey them in a coherent manner to someone who doesn't know these things. It was really nice.

Also new-ish in my life is I'm dating. Not that I've never dated before, but I'm dating someone new. It's new. It's not a big deal, but he loves Disney movies, too, which automatically makes him adorable. If there is something worth telling, I'll tell.

This weekend was Fall break at my school, and more than half of my cohort went home/their Undergrad institutions to visit (which I totally should have done when I realized that I actually don't really have anything on Monday or Tuesday either), making this the least eventful weekend I've had since I moved out here. It was nice though, because I got to go to bed early, and sleep late, and I went to church this morning, and did my cognitive midterm, and cut a lot of coupons, and went shopping (which I definitely should NOT have done). Plus I didn't have to deal with the craziness of non-rev travel, which is always nice.

Anyway, I'm now going to take my last few hours of nothing-to-do-ness and watch tv online. Because I can. And it shall be glorious. The end.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Neuroticism and Unrealistic Expectations and Gender-normative behavior, oh my!

This something I started last week that I want to remember, but is not how I necessarily feel anymore:

Graduate school is an interesting beast. I'm smart, I know this. I am not being conceited, it's just what is. And typically, I do well in school. It comes easy to me. I have a curious mind that likes to learn new things. Never before have I felt completely lost for more than a day or so. Eventually everything clicks, and I just get it, at least well enough to be amongst the best in the class.

It isn't like that here. Here is like I'm drowning in my inability to make myself understand, but it's like I think I'm swimming along all nice and successful (ok, not successful, but I'm not sinking) until I get my first assignment back and it's like some nefarious riptide has grabbed hold of me and is dragging me under and swirling me around until I don't know which direction is up. And the truth is, I didn't do that poorly. I actually got a B, which is perfectly respectable. Not near the best grade in the class, but not near the worst, either. And you know what? I actually expected to probably get a B on this assignment. I knew I didn't get everything right, because there were some things where I didn't understand what he was asking. But he wrote "there were more things that were a little off here than I expected." Reading between the lines I see, "I had better expectations for you, and I'm actually pretty disappointed. You should have done better, and I now see you as less than I did before." And that B now feels like a D. I went and talked to him, and I feel a little better, but I really kinda don't. And I feel guilty any time I do something that isn't work. And I feel guilty because I want to sit on the couch and watch a Disney movie or 90210 or something, instead of reading about the visual cortex. Or doing my next problem set. Or failing at making a website. Or coming up with a research proposal or something.

Last night I baked. Granted, it was from a mix, but I busted out my beautiful Kitchenaid mixer (it makes me feel like such a grownup to have a Kitchenaid mixer) and I made some delicious brownies (with marshmallows) and some chocolate chip cookies, because someone in the program doesn't like brownies (I'm fairly certain he's an alien, but whatevs, more brownies for me) and asked me why I wasn't planning to make chocolate chip cookies like a normal person. Anyway, baking felt good. It felt nice to be doing something for someone else (and also, if I had left them here, I would have eaten enough of my feelings to have to engage in retail therapy because I would get fat). It felt nice to not fail (they were delicious and the cookies didn't fall like they normally do). And I was doing ok until I realized that I was disassociating from school to spare my feelings and doing something more gender-appropriate to compensate. And then I felt bad. And then I thought about how sometimes I wish I couldn't readily identify that what I was doing was disassociating from school and instead associating with a gender-normative behavior as a coping mechanism to make myself feel better for doing (semi) poorly on a (somewhat) male-dominated task like statistics, because sometimes ignorance is bliss. And then I was like, who cares? I like baking. And I'm not going to let myself get hung up on why I like baking. If it makes me feel better, I should just let it go, right? I mean, I'm not self-medicating with alcohol or drugs or anything, so I figure it's fairly harmless.

Anyway, I'm working on adjusting my expectations, both for the world, and for myself. And I'm letting go of some of the crazy. Or at least I'm trying. Whatever, I could be more crazy. And sometimes I'm endearing. And now I'm justifying. And procrastinating. Back to work I go.

Things I have learned in my first month of grad school

-Self-handicapping is real, and its name is stumbleupon
-I was wrong. I am not good at statistics.
    -Getting an answer right in statistics now feels like what I imagine a baby taking his/her first steps feels like. Awesome, completely foreign, and a little unexpected.
-I don't want to be a cognitive psychologist (ok, I knew this already, but it's been confirmed)
-Sri Lankan food is good.
-There is always something you can be doing, but you have to let go of the guilt.
-Putting something in a frame does not make it "art."
-It is important to try to see the sun, at least a little every day.
-There is never enough time in the day to do everything you want to do.
-Disney movies are good for the soul (again, I already knew, but it's important to confirm these things).
-Physical contact (hugs, hand pats, high-fives, even just knees that touch on a crowded couch) are necessary to normal functioning (again with the confirmations) (Don't believe me? Google "nonorganic failure to thrive.").
-Handwritten letters are better than anything in the world.
-Time differences are stupid and annoying.
-Baking makes me feel better after a hard day.
-Cute shoes improve your whole day (confirmed).
-Throwing your head back in a belly-shaking snort-laugh at least once a day gives you as much recovery as a 1-hour nap (confirmed).
-Archer blows.
-It's important to make the effort to keep in touch with people back home. Even as you grow and change and learn new things, you need to hold on to the people who knew you when you were small and the same and stupid. They'll keep you grounded and true to yourself.
-Saying you're not going to do something means you probably will. Just thinking about an event makes it more likely to happen (and I'm too lazy to find the citation for this one, so just trust me).
-My brain is more awesome than I am. 

Most of these things aren't actually related to graduate school. I've learned some (I think) things about psychology, but this blog is mostly about my life, and I'm trying to not allow psychology to become my life.

On that note, if you want to feel happy (even if you are introverted), act extroverted. It will improve your mood. Science ftw. Don't believe me? Go read this.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Mommy is better than your Mommy.

Today is my Mother's birthday. Unfortunately I am 2,101 miles away from her today, so I couldn't be with her. Here are 44 (she's not shy about her age) reasons why I am so grateful that she is mine.

1. She's always cold. I am also always cold, so I can count on her to lobby for the thermostat with me. I can also always count on her to have a blanket/sweater.
2. She is kind. Everyone that knows her knows that she is an unbelievably kind woman. This sometimes means that people take advantage of her, which makes me sad, but proud that I have the kind of mother that other people know they can rely on.
3. She's generous with her love. I've had many friends consider her their second mother, and she took in my brother's best friend when he had no where else to go. Her best friend's children also love her deeply and know that she is madly in love with them, too. She chooses to love, even when she doesn't have to. Robert Brault once said that "there is an instinct in a woman to love most her own child--and an instinct to make any child who needs love, her own." My mother is the epitome of this woman.
4. She makes me chocolate chip waffles, even though she doesn't like them.
5. She shares my love of happy endings and sappy love stories. It shows me that she is ever hopeful and wants to others to share the happiness that she's found.
6. 23 years after meeting him, she is still madly in love with my father, and has managed to keep him in love with her as well. This is a testament to the both of them and how wonderful they both are, but also shows her immense loyalty.
7. She is fiercely loyal. Often referring to herself as the "Momma Bear," she will fight tooth and nail against any and all things or people who threaten those she loves--even when we're hurting ourselves--and will do all in her power to restore us to health and happiness.
8. She is funny, and silly, and willing to do things like jump in bouncy castles with me.
9. She pushes me to do things that are scary, because she knows that I need it. It was her refusing to carry me anymore that made me learn to walk, her refusing to drive me anymore that made me learn to drive, her wrestling me into the cart that made me learn to love roller coasters, and her believing in me to bring me to this place.
10. She does not gossip. Although she is usually surrounded by people who bring her gossip and wish that she would engage with them, she does not disparage others, nor does she share secrets that are not hers.
11. She has taught me the importance of the little things that show support. Things like making a favorite treat or always going to sporting events/concerts/plays/graduations/parties/whatevers, holding hands, a little note, a "just because I love you" present--she is a master of these small but oh-so-significant gestures of love.
12. Like me, she hates veggies.
13. She has an inability to extricate herself from a situation. It is impossible for us to leave anywhere without at least 3 people stopping us to talk to her. It's annoying, but it shows how well-loved she is.
14. She loves a good bargain, and has taught me the value of a sale.
15. She's really smart and loves smart-people humor.
16. One drink makes her tipsy. This was good for laughs on our vacation to Mexico.
17. She's a great hugger, and even though I am now a grown woman, she always pats my back as if she's burping me when she hugs me.
18. When I was a baby, I didn't respond to lullabies, so she wrote me my own. It still relaxes me when I'm having a hard night.
19. She likes to plan, and make lists, and has taught me to always be prepared.
20. She knows what people are capable of and insists on excellence.
21. She will stay up late to whether it was to wait for me to come home from hell week, just so she can make me a warm dinner, or because I needed to talk, or because Brother needs someone around while he does his homework, or because we need something made or mended.
22. She will then rise early the next morning to help us get ready, or to give us a ride, or just spend a few minutes with us.
23. She ages gracefully. While she does not dress like an old woman, she doesn't try to cling desperately to her 20s. She is stylish, but appropriately so.
24. She shares her food and her drinks with us, and everything tastes better with mom-spit on it.
25. When I was dating a boy who had a horrible mother who was cruel to me and made things difficult, she was graceful and did all within her power to make it as easy as possible for me. She changed her holiday plans to accommodate me, because she didn't want to make the fight any worse and knew that ultimatums are not the way to love your children or the people they love.
26. She loves to read and gave me a love of books.
27. She has taught me the importance of faith, and reminds me that even when I am angry with God, there is a piece of me that will always know Him and will always lead me back.
28. She is possibly the most empathetic person I know and cannot abide the hurt of others, even those who deserve hurting. She raised Brother and I to be the ones that see the hurting and to include and defend them, and to never intentionally add to the hurt, but to do our best to heal it.
29. She has taught us to prioritize the important things in life, like our family and our friends, because when we look back, those will be the things we wish we had spent more of our time, talent, and treasure on.
30. She is a servant. She sees what needs doing, and she does it. She cares for far more people than I think I ever could.
31. She is steadfast. No one has ever accused her of wrongdoing, and no one would believe it if they had.
32. She taught me to value myself, to see that I am lovely and worthy of love, smart and funny and kind, because she taught me to be those things, and to see them in others.
33. She always points out the silver lining in my grey cloud of complaints.
34. Thomas Edison once said that his mother was "so true and so sure of [him], [he] felt that [he] had someone to live for--someone [he] must not disappoint." My mother has such a belief in me that I have no choice but to do well, because I must honor that faith. She makes me better.
35. She never gave us all that we wanted. Although we were helped, she never spoiled us. She gave us an appreciation for what we had and what we worked for.
36. My mother bruises like a peach. This did not stop her from rocking Brother while he periodically leaned forward and then whipped his head back into her sternum with all of his power, because he loved being rocked.
37. She is always on the other side of the phone when I need her, whether it's for a recipe, or instructions on removing a stain, or someone to complain to, or someone to listen to what I'm excited about, she is always there.
38. Although I have made her spitting mad, and disrespected her, and taken her for granted, I have never for a moment doubted her love for me.
39. Her ability to forgive is formidable. She taught me that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting it to make the other person sick. She also taught me that once forgiven, one does not have to put oneself in the same position again.
40. My mother is the kind of woman who brings peace wherever she goes. I know this because I am a terribly anxious person, but being around her is like being able to breathe again after being underwater for a while--it's like all is right again, or will be soon enough.
41. She is a master at "Mothering"--taking care of others, and it is a skill set and a character trait that she has passed on to me. It's probably my favorite thing about her.
42. She brought me into this world, and as she always says, she can take me out--meaning she will not tolerate any of my crap. It means I give less crap.
43. Alice Walker said "Yes, mother, I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me." My mom taught me that everyone has flaws, and that it's ok to not be perfect all of the time. Sometimes our "flaws" are the most beautiful things about us. 
44. She is an excellent mother, and so many people have told me that they wish she was theirs. I am so glad that she is mine.

Mommy, I miss you, but I hope you had a great birthday. I love you so much.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

One Month Later

It's been exactly one month since I got here, and I was right. It's not THAT bad. I mean, it's not fantastic, but it's definitely as bad as it was those first few days. I'm not ALWAYS lost, and I've gotten used to copious amounts of u-turns (some of them are always necessary because they don't believe in left turns here, and some are because I still do get lost a lot). I think I can legitimately count the people here as friends now. I'm still homesick all of the time, and everything makes me think of the people and the place that I've left behind, but it's not so painful all the time. It's better when I get out of the house--sitting home alone is tough, so I socialize A LOT. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, but it does result in things like my 2 1/2 hour nap today (which was also because my brain is exhausted).

I was right that this was one of the hardest things I've done. I don't know if it's because my brain had atrophied from disuse in the semester I took off or if it's because this stuff is really hard, or because I care so much more now (or some combination of the 3), but I am trying so much harder now than I did in undergrad. I think this is probably a good thing. It's SUPPOSED to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great. Or, at least that's what I keep telling myself.

My point is, I was right. Even if it didn't seem like it would get better it did. Thanks, former advisor, for teaching me the law of regression to the mean. It's always so helpful in restoring my sanity.

My wonderful Mom has a birthday on Saturday. Stay tuned for a post all about her. In the mean time, I'm going to react to a cognition article and work on building a website.

One thing I will say about moving out here--I'm doing a lot of things I've never really done before (exercising semi-regularly, willingly watching football games--albeit not very interestedly, making websites) and it's really showing me my potential to grow. I can do a lot more than I ever really let myself do before.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Early morning ramblings

Regardless of how I feel about my location, or my immense fear of failure at several potential benchmarks over the next several years, or how hard all of this is, I gotta say that I really can't imagine doing anything else with my life. Everything that happens makes me want to do a psych experiment.

Take, for example, interactions between new people. I'm always amazed when I meet someone new and we just "click" and it's like I'm talking to an old friend, someone who knows me and just... understands. I'm sure that there are attraction studies that I can track down that explain this very phenomenon, but it's just... nice. And interesting. And yet another reminder, that despite the fact that I had ~300 pages to read this week, plus a presentation to prepare, plus an altruism scale to find, plus things like eating and sleeping, I really do love what I do. And I really do have to say that I'm really happy with my cohort. And that my facebook stalking was wrong on almost all accounts, but in a good way. On that note, I do have to say that I have met plenty of new people for the time being, thank you very much. It's all a little overwhelming.

There's also a bit of culture shock. And I know that I'm annoying, always asking about things and commenting on how different it is back home, but back home is on my mind most of the time, and we all know how bad I am at self-regulation. The differences in little things are pretty pronounced, too. There are only 2 people in the program from North of the Mason-Dixon, and only two people from West of Texas. 3 of us are women, and we are consistently the most overdressed in the group. Wearing things that are fairly casual back home is waaaaaaay overdressed here, and I always end up feeling/looking like I'm trying too hard, but I'm just too vain to skip the makeup. Maybe that's the narcissism talking, but I just can't do it. I am quickly falling in love with "y'all" though. It's just adorable. I don't interact with very many people who have a thick accent, so I don't think I'll pick one up, but I've already started saying "y'all."

The time difference is also causing some problems. I'm having a hard time falling asleep on East Coast time, but because I haven't gotten around to it/can't really afford it, I haven't bought curtains yet. That means I'm still waking up on East Coast time, which is leading to 4 hours of sleep. Right now, it's 3 AM, and even though I woke up at 7 this morning (yes, that's right folks, we had a professional development class at 9 on a holiday), I am wide awake (also just realized I've been awake for 20 straight hours and am horrified). The massive amounts of socializing are not helping matters much either--Friday I was out until 4, Saturday until 2 (?) and I know I didn't fall asleep for at least an hour. I tried to be better tonight, deciding to stay in and bond with my roommate over boy talks and True Blood* and meeting our neighbors while watching the rain, but, alas, it didn't help. I really need to get some work done if I'm going to be up this late, so goodnight, readers.

*Which is totally jumping the shark, btw. This season is completely ridiculous, even with the massive suspension of reality required for a show about telepathic faery waitresses who date vampires and are friends with were people (animals?).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Here's to new experiences and making it work.

So I'm settling in. It's not SO bad here. I mean, a grid system would still be nice. And if they could figure out how to make cell/radio reception better around the trees, that would be helpful. And allow you to make left turns instead of constantly having to make U-Turns. But I'm going to be OK, I think.

My roommate came to me today and asked if I was really afraid of spiders. I told her that I'm not fond of them, but if she was really afraid, I'd be the designated spider killer. That talk reminded me about my personal thoughts about phobias. There are a lot of things that I'm afraid of--believe me. And there are a lot of things that could stop me dead, if I'd let them. But I don't. I'm too stubborn for that.* I think it's good that she reminded me that I'm not one to let my fears cripple me. I'm stronger than that. And you know what, every time I've stared down a fear, I've been better for it. In retrospect, not letting my fears stop me from doing something, whether it was staying at CIY last summer, or presenting at the conferences, or talking to someone, or riding a rollercoaster, I've always been glad that I could do it. I've always been proud of myself for sticking it out when it got hard. So this move? This move is just like those things. I might not like it here, but I can do it. I can even do it well, and maybe grow to like it. And after meeting with the postdoc on the project I'm on here, and being assured that there is plenty of structure and that I have plenty of support from the faculty and other people on the project, I think it will be even less scary than spiders, sooner or later.

Dr. Memory, my graduate student friend from far, far away also gave me a nice clock metaphor to help with the transition. He said that so far, I've been a gear in a clock at home, and my family, and my friends, and the old lab group, and the old school, and church, and the old job, and the old city have all rubbed me down to fit more smoothly in that clock, and I haven't even noticed it, because it's been subtle and gradual. Now, I'm in a new clock, and it'll be rough for some time, while the new town, and the new people, and the new church, and the new school, and the new friends, and the new home, and the new lab group all rub me down to fit into this new clock. And it might hurt, while the edges are smoothed over, but in the end, I'll be a more diverse piece. I'll know new things and new people and be a better gear when I leave here.

I've been exercising (what?! I know.) for the last few days. That, and having to climb 3 flights of stairs every day is making my formerly giant behind (giant for a white girl, anyway) quickly disappear. On the one hand, it's nice because my love handles are also going away, and the jeans that I shrunk before I moved are still a little tight, but I can at least button them. However, my badonadonk** was sort of my trademark. They say that exercise is supposed to help your mental state, but I don't feel any more/less crazy when I do/don't exercise, and I've certainly never experienced a runner's high. I am pretty excited for yoga to start, though.

Tonight I'm going to go to a local bar (restaurant?) for trivia and socializing with a lot of the other graduate students. It should be a good time, I think. It will be nice to meet everyone and get out of the apartment for something not shopping- or school-related.

Also, a few weeks ago, Dad brought home a CD of some local artist who was playing in an airport (Dallas?) because he was so good that he made my Dad actually stop in an airport. That basically takes an act of God, so it was a big deal. I am deeply in love with all of his music, and you can listen to some here. His name is Brian Pounds and I sincerely hope he makes it, because he is lovely.

*When I was 9 months old, I was at a restaurant with my parents. I wanted to try the lemons that were on a plate for water and tea and such, but my mom, knowing I wouldn't like them, refused to give them to me. I kept fussing until she finally handed me the plate, thinking that one taste would end the incessant requests. I took one lick and obviously hated the sourness, but refused to give the lemons up and ate the whole plate. I was stubborn and spiteful at 9 months old. Who does that?

**Two things about this music video: Trace Adkins SHOULD NOT pretend to be a hip hop mogul, because he is NOT. Second of all, I don't know how any of those women had a hard time "[gettin] them britches on with that honky tonk badonkadonk" because at best, they barely qualified as having an ass, period, let alone a "badonkadonk."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

So I've arrived at my new home. My Mom left this morning, and it was a lot harder than I was expecting. Being on my own, with no support system to speak of, is a lot harder than I was expecting.

My last semester of undergrad, I moved from the local, smaller campus where I had been for all of the previous semesters to the larger, flagship campus about 40 minutes away. My first day was terrible. I had been out late the night before and had only gotten about 4 hours of sleep. It was unbelievably hot, and the commuter bus I took was crowded and lacked air conditioning. I got lost. One of my syllabi was misprinted and I walked into the wrong class, late. I then realized that I was in the wrong classroom, but it was unbelievably too late to make it to the first class, so I walked across campus to visit a grad student friend who was not in his office. I then walked more across campus (it's several square miles) to my next class, only to discover that the class I thought was my second class was, in fact, my first class, which I had missed entirely and I had JUST enough time to book it back across campus to what I had thought was the first class. In 115+ degree weather. In a place where I knew no one and had no friends. It was a disaster. It was a terrible day. And the only reason I had taken the extra semester was to get myself to the point where I could more easily get into a program like the one I'm in now. Today was a much worse day than that day was. That day, at least I knew I had people when I finally made it home. I had people who cared about me and would make it better. Here, I am overwhelmingly alone. Yes, I have a roommate, and yes, she and her family are perfectly nice, but they are perfect strangers. I miss the gridsystem of my home town. I have no idea where anything is here, and being lost, on the wrong side of town, is panic-inducing. I have no one to call to rescue me when my GPS leads me astray, or when I'm suddenly on a freeway I didn't know was a freeway. Or when a road curves unexpectedly and becomes another road, which becomes a freeway, then curves again and becomes the original road again. No, I am not exaggerating. That is literally the geographic shitstorm that is this town.

I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss decent Mexican food. I miss grocery stores that sell tequila instead of pickled eggs. I miss my car. I miss dry heat. I miss my bed. I miss not having to buy everything new and having no money. I miss KNOWING the people around me. I miss my refrigerator that allows easy access for gallon-sized jugs (they get stuck in this one).

And I am trying really, really hard to not hate it here. I am trying to remember where everything is. I tried to be all calm and chill when my car broke literally 5 minutes after I got the keys. I tried to calmly find my way back to something I recognized when I got lost. I thought about going out tonight with some people from the program, I really did. But I am so alone, and I am so sad, and I just didn't know it was going to be this hard, so I just stayed home and ate this and watched this on Netflix. Neither really helped.

I'm sure, that like my experience at the flagship campus, I will eventually be glad I made the decision to come here. And I know that I will eventually not get lost every single time I leave my apartment. And I will make a friend or two. But right now, it's really hard to imagine that day.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

This is the jumbled mess that happens when I only get 4 hours of sleep.

I am exhausted. My brain is sluggish. I was wide awake last night, and I am wide awake now, but oh-so-tired. When I get like this, my thoughts are a jumbled mess. I'm too tired to care. 

So the moving is starting to come along.... I did some packing with my dad last week. Now, I love my dad, and I really appreciate his help, but he does not understand me sometimes. Yes, my room was a complete disaster, with clothes literally everywhere. However, there was some semblance of order (it just wasn't apparent to him), so he just threw everything in a box. I have since kept going back to the boxes looking for pajamas and jeans and dress pants (things I would have neatly put in different boxes at a later date, because I still NEED my pajamas and jeans and dress pants for the next month), but whatever. My books are mostly packed. And some of my clothes. And the Christmas decorations. I'm making progress. Slowly. I freaking hate moving. BUT! I have a move in date. I fly out in 25 days. It's terribly exciting, except for the whole pain-in-the-butt parts. Like packing. And shipping. And lease-signing. And moving everything up to the third floor. And buying furniture. And a car. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to try to car shop from the other side of the country a month before you need the car? But I want options, dangit!

Recently, I've been thinking about all of the things I just do not understand. It's a long list.

-People who name their kids weird or stupid things. Now, I would never name my kid something like "Forever," but this is especially true for people whose last name is "Young." I also don't understand why people don't just let last names like "Buttz" die. I'm sorry, future husband, if you have a highly mock-able name like that, I'm not taking it and the kids are getting mine. They just are.
-Why we haven't figured out how to make healthy food taste better. I mean, really. I should be able to buy broccoli ice cream at this point that tastes like brownies. Science, get on that. Also, flying cars. I realize that would put my dad out of a job, but seriously.
-Why girls say they want a nice guy, but when are presented with one, couldn't get away fast enough, yet will trample their therapists to get to an a**hole who will ignore them and jerk them around. (Yes, I stole that "trampling their therapist" line from some advice columnist from some magazine or something and can't remember where. This isn't my thesis, I can plagarize if I want.) Yes, I include myself in this category. No, I don't understand why I do this.
-Lasik surgery on Groupon. If I'm going to let someone cut open my cornea and shoot lasers into my eyes, I'm damn well gonna pay full price.
-Why I can be falling asleep, right until I get into bed. Then I'm up for hours.
-Why shows in syndication always play the same episode over and over. In this period of under-employment, I've watched A LOT more television than any person really should, and I've learned that they will play the same episodes at least once a month, even though they have like 9 seasons' worth of material to work with.
-The entirety of the male species. I don't understand why they do about 96% if the things that they do, I don't WANT to understand why they do 3% and the other 1% is just sampling error.
-How normally I am a patient, understanding woman, but some things just drive me freaking nuts.
-Why people bother spending the time and money recording a cover song if the original is better. I really like country, and Blake Shelton's version of God Gave Me You would have fine if he had done it first, but he didn't. Dave Barns did. And Dave's is better.
-People who insist on paying cash. Use the freaking internet. It's easier and more eco-friendly for everyone involved if you're paying with a credit/debit card.
-Cold sales calls. If I wanted whatever it was you're selling, I would come to you. You calling, or worse, just stopping by and interrupting the workday and expecting to be accommodated really just pisses me off and makes me not want to buy from you.

I'm just so tired.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Being smart and hot are not mututally exclusive.

The idea that being beautiful and intelligent are mutually exclusive has been coming up again and again for me lately. Last week, while shopping with my parents, I picked out a hot pink purse. I'm super picky about purses. I am picky about the colors, the style, the number of pockets, where the zippers are, how long the shoulder straps are, the texture of the material... basically, out of the millions of purses out there, I only like a very small percentage. Unfortunately, the ones I like are way out of my price range more often than not. This is why I was very excited about my $35 find at Charming Charlie's. Showing my dad, expecting the obligatory endorsement of my choice, he said, "Are you sure? It's pink. When I see that I think Legally Blonde. I expect you to have a tiny dog poke out and bark at me." I reminded him that Elle Woods graduated first in her class from Harvard Law. He said, "It just doesn't make me want to take you seriously, to see you carrying around a pink purse." When I showed him a copper tote I was considering because it was a much prettier alternative to a Jansport, he pointed to a drab, multi-functional, poo-brown bag next to it and said, "This would be better. This is more serious." He's made similar comments when I pick out flashy shoes or overly frilly/sparkly/feminine clothes for work/interviews/school/conferences.

While I'm aware of the fact that appearances make a big difference in initial judgments (I'm as judgy of appearances as the next person, believe me), and I'm more than sure that some of the people men who stopped to look at my poster at the last conference I presented at did so at least partially for the "pretty girl presenter" factor (I say this because even though there seemed to be a similar number of men and women at the conference, more men than women stopped at my poster, and more men than women who stopped did not have related research interests). I also know that there are plenty of attractive, stylish people who are also incredibly intelligent, successful people. And I don't think you have to sacrifice looking nice to further yourself intellectually, and I don't think you have to dumb yourself down to be pretty. In fact, I feel LESS intelligent when I feel unattractive because my insecurity about my appearance saps my confidence and distracts me from the task at hand. Studies show that there may be a link between attractiveness and performance, and that there is a definite link between attractiveness and perceived ability.

And then I read this article on "How to Talk to Little Girls" that said, basically, you shouldn't tell little girls they're pretty, because it gives them a complex and makes them less likely to want to win the Nobel Peace Prize than America's Next Top Model. Instead, you should ask them what their favorite book is. Now, don't get me wrong--as a little girl, I loved to read and be read to. I really did. I still do. And I would gladly talk your ear off about the books I was reading then (and now). But that doesn't mean I don't still want you to think I'm pretty. And just because you think I'm pretty doesn't mean you can't ask me what my favorite book is. I think denying that appearance is a large part of a person's (especially a little girl's) self-identity and instead focusing on only part of who she is (namely, intelligence) can be just as damaging. Little girls ask you to watch them twirl in their pretty dresses because they want to show you that they're beautiful. They want to hear that they are stunning, because they are. And they also want to hear how smart they are. That's why they tell you things that they've learned and read to you. Telling her she's pretty doesn't mean you don't care what her favorite book is. And asking her favorite book doesn't mean you can't tell her she's pretty.

The thing is, I think it would be awesome to win the Nobel Prize. I love doing science, and I really hope that one day my research will make an impact on how we view moral behavior and character and the world in general. But I also think it would be really cool to win ANTM. Bestie and I even auditioned once, on a lark. I also love wearing pretty clothes and having my hair and makeup look nice. I just really don't like the idea that I have to choose--ugly purses to seem smarter, or pretty purses that make me seem flaky and flighty. Pretty or smart? I'm both. And I want to have both aspects of myself acknowledged equally. And I don't think my intelligence makes me less attractive, or that my looks and sense of style make me any less intelligent.

The whole thing is great, but the relevant part starts at 3:25.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Shopping Rant

So, readers, I went to the mall last night. There were sales. I was out of powder (and ended up getting the wrong color. Drat.). I didn't feel like sitting at home vegging out all night. I needed to get my contacts at Sam's Club by the mall. It made sense. Plus, my cousin is getting married in October, and while I have some dresses, I don't particularly want to wear any of them to the wedding, because they are either pastel (not for a fall wedding!) or the same black, a-line, tea-length dress that I've worn approximately 800 times already (seriously, the best $17 I have ever spent). So I shopped. And what I found was disappointing, readers.

First of all, why is there NOTHING between full-length dresses and dresses that barely CYA? I kid you not, there was stuff that I held up to myself that barely fell in that little crease where butt meets thigh. The mannequins wearing these dresses inevitably had them paired with 6-inch hooker heels. Here's the thing about me and high heels. I'm about 3 inches taller than the average woman and only about 2 1/2 inches shorter than the average man, so if I'm wearing heels, especially 6-inch hooker heels, I tower. Occasionally, being a giant has its benefits. Being imposing can lend me credibility when I'm trying to look older or like I have my crap together more than I actually do (caveat: this is usually undermined if you see me WALK in heels). Plus, I feel like hooker heels and barely-there dresses just scream, well, hooker. Back to full-length dresses: not appropriate for an afternoon, semi-formal wedding. Especially not strappy, backless, canary yellow dresses with cheap rhinestone and zebra accents. Yeah. They actually make those. I saw it at like 3 stores. Don't get me wrong, I like rhinestone accents done well, but done poorly and you just look cheap.

This brings me to the prices. The fabric is snagging. The beading is coming undone. Seams are loose. Things are discolored. And they still expect people to pay upwards of $100 for this crap. No thank you.

The hunt continues. I really want this dress:
but, alas, the blog I found it on said they found it in some vintage shop somewhere.

The search continues.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Life's tough. Get a helmet.

So the job I have now is not the most glamorous occupation. And, really, most idiots could do it successfully. BUT, I have learned a lot working here. Every year, camp re-iterates something for me: a lot of people raise their kids to be large children, rather than self-sufficient adults. They seem to think that giving little Johnny everything he wants will make him a successful, likable human being. They are mistaken.

Sometimes in life, your kid will not get what s/he wants. Rather than calling someone and complaining, it would be better to teach them this lesson. It would be better to let them learn to deal with disappointment. To be grateful for the things that turn out the way they wanted. To be caught up in the wonder that happens when things turn out the opposite of how you wanted and it's better than you could have imagined.

Sometimes your kid will be separated from his/her friends and might even have to work with people they don't like. Rather than trying to ensure that they are only ever surrounded by like-minded individuals, teach them that people who we thought we would hate can be our best friends (yes, Bestie, I'm referring to you). Teach them that working with people who are different from us can give us better ideas. Teach them to embrace differences. Teach them to love everyone, not just their friends.

Sometimes things will happen that are scary. Rather than protecting your nearly-adult child from scary things, teach them how to deal with their fears. Teach them that once you stand up to your fears, they aren't as scary. Teach them that someone will always be there to reassure them when things are scary, but make sure that you teach them how to cultivate a support system so they can cope when you're gone.

Sometimes things do not go according to plan. Rather than trying to force things to change back to the plan, teach your kid to roll with the punches, to pick the ball up and run in the opposite direction, to bounce back and make a new plan. Teach them to be resourceful and make the best of the situation. Teach them that if they have to be there anyway, they might as well find SOMETHING good about it. They might as well learn something.

People, teach your kids that life is more than THIS SECOND. Give them some perspective that things that seem like monumental crises now are just tiny blips in the bigger picture of life. Please. PLEASE.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Adventures in Non-Revenue Travel

Most of you readers know that my darling Daddy is a pilot. Sometimes this is a great thing. Especially when we want to travel, because when he wears his uniform, we get to cut the security line. And TSA is nicer to us. Let me tell you, it brings me great joy to skip the security line. It is also great because it means we can fly for free. Free is a beautiful thing. However, there really is no such thing as a free lunch, because free flights mean standby. When the whole family flies standby, we need 3 seats, because Dad can fly in the jumpseat. You'd be surprised how difficult it is to get three seats sometimes.

This weekend, I'm planning to go to New City to find myself a place to live. My family, being my loving, over-protective, over-involved, opinated family has all decided that they would like to come with me to help me make that decision. We were supposed to take a redeye tonight, and three days ago, there were plenty of seats. This redeye wasn't exactly ideal (sleeping on a plane and then apartment hunting didn't sound like a blast, but it would work. And give me plenty of time to go to my Cylinder girls' gradations. Unfortunately, it's a holiday weekend. Things change quickly on a holiday weekend. 10 minutes before the ceremony was supposed to start, Brother called and said I needed to leave, because the flight we were supposed to take at 10 PM was now obscenely overbooked and we needed to leave immediately. I asked some friends to apologize and explain to my girls and raced out of the stadium (where I was stopped by no less than 3 security guards for trying to go out the "wrong" part of the stadium). We got to the airport and only Dad and I could get on the flight to stop number one. Mom and Brother are stranded at home. We have been trying to do internet backflips to get them registered on any and all flights that will get them to our desired destination so that we can find me a place to live. It's not going well. And Dad and I have 4 hours to kill in his least favorite and my second-least favorite airport in the country. Mom and Brother are most likely going to be on a flight that leaves at 1:30 in the morning. I'm glad that my family has such a good sense of humor. We have to laugh, becasue if we don't we'll cry.

Monday, May 16, 2011

One is one too many, one more is never enough

-Realizing that I do things that I find maddening in other people.
-Trying to decide the best way to move. No choice is much simpler or more pleasant than any other. So not looking forward to the actual moving part of moving out. Not to mention the cost.
-People who come in to work wanting money to buy food who make my entire office reek of cigarettes. If you'd save yourself the $60/carton, you could buy a lot of food. And the associated Dr. bills from the various health problems from smoking.
-Feeling guilty for judging ^^^^
-Making the same mistake over and over and over again. 
-Not knowing everything I want to know about SPSS.
-Not knowing what the future holds.

-My friends are almost all graduated now. I'm proud of us for finishing. And on time, to boot!
-Bestie coming home for a few days before she "[says] goodbye to everyone. Forever! :("
-Friending everyone in the program on Facebook and realizing that I will probably like them. Or at least I probably won't hate them.
-My Starbucks cup. I <3 it.
-Netflix. Even if it is the single greatest waste of time ever invented in the history of man.
-Dancing like a fool.
-Not having serious anxiety over not knowing what the future holds. 
-Clinique mascara.
-Kenny Chesney's new song You and Tequila.
-The fact that it's summer and that means lots of fresh fruit.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Making Friends

In a few short weeks, I will be leaving my hometown, the house I've lived in for the last 8 years, my family, and all of my friends and moving to the other side of the country. 

While this new place is beautiful (from what I hear) and everyone is nice (from what I hear), I'm nervous. I'm nervous about making friends. I'm nervous about starting what is presumably going to be the hardest thing I've done yet with no support system. I'm really nervous about making new friends. In fact, I would say that with the exception of 1-2 close friends, I've only ever "made" friends with multiple people at once two times in my life: when I joined Drama Club (and that, for the most part, was a group of "frenemies" rather than friends), and in the last year or so. And I would say that the friends I've made in the last year or so have mostly sought me out rather than the other way around--not that I don't love them or don't want to be friends with them or something, I just would say that objectively, they did the friendship initiating. I think I'm bad at making friends. I don't think that I'm a bad friend, although I have had my days, but the actual initiating and getting to know someone part? Not so good at it. It is also a large part of why I hate dating. I'm pretty good at being a girlfriend (at least, I think I am) and I'm a pretty good friend too, if I do say so myself. But the getting to know someone? I suck at that. I'm actually pretty shy. Especially when I'm in a new environment. So the thought of having to make an entirely new set of friends is...daunting. 

I wonder if they'll like me. I wonder if I'll be the youngest (again). I wonder if I'll like them. I wonder if we'll have things in common. I wonder if they'll be gossipy or cliquey or obnoxious or welcoming or kind or funny. I wonder if I'll spend all of my time alone or on skype with family and friends a million miles away, or if I'll have people to go to dinner with or watch Glee with. And my girls keep asking what will happen if I "meet someone." I told them I'd cross that bridge if I came to it and that they'll probably get married before I do. 

I've been facebook stalking, because well, I'm me. I like to know what I'm getting myself into. And from what I can tell, I think I'll like the people. And I figure they're probably just as nervous as I am. We're all new. We're all moving. So I'm going to do my best to be intentional. I'm going to work on making the first move, initiating friendships. Because I'm pretty sure that if I don't, the other person might be too nervous too, and then I could miss out on a really great friendship. And besides, I'm plenty used to rejection at this point in my life. I might as well take the chance. It's like President Roosevelt said:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."


Or, like his wife says: "Do one thing every day that scares you." 



Monday, May 2, 2011

"Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that"

Yesterday, Osama Bin Laden, one of the worst enemies of America was killed in an attack on his compound in Pakistan. Many Americans spent the night cheering and celebrating. They were exhilarated by his death, and felt justice had finally been served for his orchestration of the 9/11 attacks. But I must pause. I don't feel the joy that my countrymen feel at his demise. It doesn't bring me happiness or a sense of vindication. Yes,  now he can no longer orchestrate massive terrorist attacks. Yes, he was a horrible man. Yes, it is his fault that many thousands of Americans and other civilians around the world have been horribly murdered. But does his death rebuild the towers? Does his death bring back the mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters that have died at his command? Does his death erase that grief? Does his death undo the damage he caused? It doesn't.

And maybe as an American, I shouldn't care how his family and friends should feel, shouldn't concern myself with their grief. After all, he was a "Bad Guy." And we all know that nobody loves Bad Guys. I understand the necessity of his capture and/or death. We couldn't let him continue to live (somewhat) freely because it was a constant sign of victory for terrorists everywhere--American forces could not locate or capture our greatest enemy. But it brings me sadness. The necessity of his death doesn't make it any less saddening.

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that" -Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Love is a four-letter word spelled T-I-M-E.

Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived in a remote inland village. One day, he handed his teacher a jar full of white sand, salt water, and seashells. Confused, the teacher asked the boy where he had gotten it, knowing that the nearest ocean was very far. He explained that he had walked many miles over several days to the coast to get it for her. The teacher was touched, but she told the boy he shouldn't have traveled so far just to get her a gift. He said, "But teacher, the journey is part of the gift."

Time is a scarce resource. It is constantly depleting, and we're not guaranteed anything more than this moment. That is why, even though people say there are five "love languages," I think there's really only one. The others are "words of affirmation," "physical touch," "gifts," and "acts of service." The thing about all of those others is that you need time for them to mean anything. You need to know someone to know what words to say that would make them feel affirmed. Getting to know someone takes time. You can't touch someone you're not spending time with. You can't buy someone something without taking time to think about what they like, what would make them happy, and then spending the time going to get it. And acts of service necessitate the time spent doing them. Time is the best way to show someone you love them because everyone has the same amount, so everyone realizes how precious each second is.

In my family, we make the time. We go to the game. We stay up late to talk, even knowing we have to get up early. We drive to the other side of town. Because the journey, the time, is part of the gift. The time shows we care.

Which is why I feel so offended, so affronted, so incensed when someone tells someone else that they "don't have time for them." It screams "you're not important." Because people find time for the things they think are important. They make it a priority to spend time with the things they value. The Bible says "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Don't get me wrong, I'm not correcting the Bible or anything, but I think even more than your treasure, your time is an indicator of where your heart is. Don't tell me you really love something that you spend no time doing. Don't tell me you love a person you never see, you never call, never text. And don't tell another person that you don't have time for them. Because at the end of the day, the homework, the job, the dishes, the trashy TV, the sleep, none of that matters if there isn't a person there.

So, I know this doesn't make a lot of sense. It's a little circular. But someone I love was told that a person they love doesn't have time for them. And it hit a nerve, because I know how much it hurts to be told that the person you love doesn't have time for you. It hurts really badly. It makes you feel small. It makes you feel insignificant and unimportant and kinda worthless.

So here is my vow. I'm never going to tell someone I don't have time for them. I vow to make the time. I vow to forgo the sleep or the trashy TV or the work or the homework. I vow to figure it out. Because people are important. And the best way to show them that is by giving them my time.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Here's to saying something.

Hello, dear readers. It's been a while since I've posted, but not for lack of trying. I've started a few posts that I've since discarded because I'm caught in the tension between not wanting to be all bright and shiny and not wanting to air my dirty laundry/every stupid thought/not the nicest things to ever enter my mind in a public forum.

I've made a decision about grad school--I'm getting my MA at a school that is 2,200 miles from home. I will be an RA on a super awesome project that I'm terribly excited about. The spot that I was up for at Geographically Desirable U ultimately went to a man who is graduating from this program who has been working on this terribly exciting project. I took that as a sign that this program develops the kinds of scientists that I want to become, so I'm headed there. As my friends have all told me, I'm going to work super hard and get at least 1 JPSP and then "programs will be throwing money" at me to come there. Plus, I have a dastardly plan to apply for the NSFGRFP next year and win it and then defer and have my own sweet funding which pretty much guarantees me a spot anywhere I wanna go because schools wouldn't have to pay for me. It's genius. The place I'm moving to is very... historical. And here's the kicker--I might end up living in a house with a real white picket fence. I know. I feel so traditional =)

In other news, I've been chewing on something for a while. You see, readers, I'm not really one to hold a grudge. I know what you're going to say, best friend, and you're wrong. In most cases, most of the time, I don't hold grudges. I'm notoriously bad at the silent treatment. I cannot tell you how many times as a child that I promised myself I would NEVER speak to my parents again, only to forget my vows within the hour and return to my previously amicable self. I am still friendly with all most of my exes. I think it's because I'm socially lazy. Making friends is difficult. Making new friends while simultaneously maintaining your vitriol against old friends is especially difficult. Let's face it, maintaining vitriol against anyone is especially difficult. Being upset takes a lot of energy. Wanting to share something funny or interesting or exciting or sad or lame with someone who has been your go-to person for days or months or years and then remembering that you can't is... draining. When I was fighting with best friend last year, there were so many times when I picked up the phone to call or text her something meaningless only to remember that I couldn't. Because we were mad. And being mad precluded the 4 1/2 years of good friendship that we had. So I would tell other people about my best friend... who I wasn't speaking to. She did the same thing. It was absurd. When we finally made up, we spent about 6 weeks saying "I'm so glad we're not fighting anymore." It was such a relief. It was a weight lifted. It was like I could breathe again.

I recently read this article about how our generation has taken the stance that "if you can scream something without saying anything, the most disrespectful thing you can do is to not say anything. By saying nothing, we deprive you of the most basic thing we’ve come to hold dear: information." This is why I'm always astounded when someone I know can and does hold a grudge. For months. And I have to say, this silent treatment thing, it kills me. I can deal with screaming. I can handle cursing and crazy gestures. I can even handle things being thrown at me. But silence, silence screams something far worse than hatred. At least if someone is fighting, it means they care enough TO fight.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Love Wins

There is an author, readers, who I simply love. His name is Rob Bell. He writes about God and Christ and Love and Faith in the way I have thought of them for years but am unable to articulate. He has a new book out that has the majority of the American Christian Church up in arms. I have yet to finish it, but so far, I don't think it's quite the blasphemy everyone is claiming it is. I say this as someone with a better than average grasp of the Bible and what it says (I am by no means an expert, but I've read a lot of it and I know a lot of scriptures and I try to remember to keep things in the context they were intended).

That being said, he makes interesting points about what Heaven and Hell are, and how they are very much a part of our every day lives. His interpretation is that we bring the eternal into the present. Our actions, the way we treat people and perceive the world and the things we do--that all has an effect of creating more Heaven (a place where God's Will is done) or more Hell (a place where the opposite of God's Will is done) on Earth (a place where many wills are done).

He mentions the story of the Prodigal Son. For those of you unaware, the parable of the Prodigal Son is about a young man who goes to his father one day and asks for his inheritance before his father has died. Being gracious, the father grants him his wish and the son sets off. He quickly squanders all of his money drinking, partying, sleeping with prostitutes, and gambling and is forced to take a job as a pig feeder, where he is only able to eat the slops that the pigs leave behind. He realizes that his father is far kinder to his servants, so he sets off towards his home, hoping to beg for the lowest position, certain of his unworthiness. To his great surprise, his father welcomed him with open arms. He killed the fatted calf and threw a party for the son, much to the dismay of the boy's older brother. The older brother is outraged that his father would throw this huge party for his degenerate, low-life, inheritance-squandering brother, when he has "slaved for years" and never been given a measly little goat for a small party with his friends. In fact, he's so upset that he can't even say his name or call him his brother--he refers to him as "your son." The father replies, "We must celebrate." In his eyes, he has gotten his younger son back from the dead. Since I recently saw the after-effects of a parent who loses a child, I can say that a huge party would probably be the least of what Deana did if Kiefer came back from the dead. Bell then goes on to say "This makes what Jesus does in his story about the man with two sons particularly compelling. Jesus puts the older brother right there at the party, but...refusing to join in the celebration.
Hell is being at the party.
That's what makes it so hellish."

This resonated with me. I've been the older brother at the party. Most of high school was that for me. I was tired of being passed over for parts or stupid, meaningless awards at Thespian Banquet after slaving away, staying late, and generally being the un-sung peon of the drama club. I resented all of it, and the self-induced exclusion in the midst of the party, in the midst of the unity and the "heaven" of it all, I was in my own hell. I sentenced myself to the exclusion. This, I think, is key, and Bell goes on to say it later in the book: "His rule keeping and his law-abiding confidence in his own works has actually served to distance him from his father." This belief in our "goodness" as "Christians" separates us from other people and our Father. Some deep resentment blossoms in our hearts as we see people who have done nothing good ever in their lives welcomed into the arms of God with great celebration, even though we've been "slaving away" for years. The problem with that is this: resentment has no place in the heart of God. Resentment does not lead to unity with the Father. Resentment is being at the party, but refusing to participate. Resentment is staring at the delicious food, but being too angry to eat. Resentment is hearing joyous music but shaking too hard to be able to dance. Resentment is a scowl in the face of a smile. Resentment is separation from the perfect Love that keeps no record of wrongs.

So no, I don't think this book is blasphemy. I don't think it's a universalist manifesto. I don't think it's something produced by a false teacher. I think maybe, it's something that should have been written a long time ago.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bright and Shiny

So, readers, I should tell you something about myself. I don't have a lot of interesting, independent ideas. What I do is listen to other people talk about their ideas and that gives me ideas. I'm codependent that way. Sometimes, these ideas are a little bit off the wall, and as my advisor told me recently, he's never sure if I'm a genius or just crazy. I say I'm a little bit of both, only time will tell which wins out as my defining characteristic.

Anyway, the point of telling you that was because I was reading my bestie's blog and she was talking about how everyone else in the world is all "My life is so wonderful and my husband is so handsome and does the dishes and we NEVER fight and my baby is just the cutest baby EVER and s/he never screams all night long or says embarrassing things in public!" And it's a little... shall we say... annoying. It's annoying because, yeah, your life is wonderful and your husband is a supermodel who does the dishes and your babies are adorable, but you know what? Your husband, he's got some deadly farts. And he picks his nose while he's driving and he's got this habit of tossing his socks in the general direction of the hamper but never actually gets them in and this has lead to giant, screaming WWIII fights in your house where he tells you you're just like your mother and you say better yours than his and he storms out and you make him sleep on the couch. And your precious bundle of joy? She's asking, loudly, "Why is that man so FAT?" (true story. I was 3. My mom was mortified. My grandfather found it hilarious). He refuses to eat anything of nutritional value and when you finally draw the line in the sand and say he has to eat the freaking apple, and he's not getting up from the table until he does, and he's not eating anything else until the apple is gone, it is an 8-hour hysterical drama-fest as you try to assert your will over his.

Of course, it looks nothing like that.

But that's not the stuff you share on your blog. No, blogs are all bright and shiny.

I am not interested in bright and shiny, blogosphere. I know it sounds strange, coming from a self-professed lover of happy endings, but here's the thing: I like my happy endings in books in movies, because real life rarely has happy endings. In real life, I like, well, real life. I don't want to feel like you're lying to me about everything. I like hearing about days like this because it makes me feel like less of a failure, because if I had a dog, I could totally see that happening to me. In fact, during the dogsitting week from hell, they ate some down pillows and barfed up feathers all over the house. It's the same, right?

So, blogosphere, let's all dispense with the facade. Let's be honest with each other. But be funny about it. Or at least darkly witty. No one wants to read whiny posts by angsty teenagers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I used to believe there was a reason for everything

But now I'm not so sure. Yes, good things can come out of bad circumstances. And if I'm going to be consistent in my beliefs, I have to say that I think that "all things work together for good to those who love God." But that doesn't mean that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes things are senselessly horrible. Sometimes terrible, awful things happen and there is nothing that anyone can say to make it make sense. You can feed me platitudes, and you can repeat words of meaningless comfort and stroke my hair and hand me tissues, but you can't make things make sense.

Yesterday, I had my first real brush with an unexpected death. When my Poppy died, it wasn't a surprise. Even my not-quite-ten-year-old brain and heart saw it coming and was prepared. He had been ill, it was logical. When Papa died, it was shocking, but in retrospect, not that surprising--he was a cowardly man and suicide is often the route taken by weak men when confronted with serious failings. When Great Grammy died, it was a relief--she had been so absent for so long, her mind so ruined by Alzheimer's that she didn't know who we were anymore. But this death was unexpected. This death was a surprise. This death was a sucker punch. My brother's best friend from elementary school was found dead yesterday morning. The details are still foggy, and the rumors abound (unfortunately too easily believable). Yes, kids died when I was in high school. In fact, I had even met one of them. But I didn't KNOW any of them. It was more abstractly sad for me. I hadn't sat next to their mothers at games. I hadn't driven them home after school. They weren't in my kitchen when I woke up most Saturday mornings from 2003-2006. It was sad, and I did cry. But it wasn't really "real." This boy, this death, it's real. It hit far too close to home.

We got the news in the middle of the Apple store. I was literally explaining to my brother the amazingness of the Grocery IQ app when he got a call from his current best friend, asking if he had heard the news. As his eyes widened and his jaw dropped, I could tell that something wasn't right, but I didn't imagine anything that wrong could have happened. He ended the call, sat down on a stool, and said simply, "Kiefer died." Astonished, I asked if he was sure. It couldn't be true--his friend was a healthy 17-year-old. Healthy 17-year-olds don't just drop dead. We left the store to tell our parents and immediately tears sprang to my mother's eyes. My generally upbeat, stoic, macho brother then began to cry. My family was in shock, so I suggested that we leave the middle of the mall. Somehow the view of New York and Co. was just not what I wanted to be looking at while I processed my grief as people and shopping bags jostled me around. And as I walked out, making calls to people at church, people who could comfort the family, it struck me. The world was still turning. People were driving, people were shopping, people were working. A family's world was shattered, and the world kept turning. I just wanted everyone to STOP for just a moment, and appreciate the fact that nothing would ever be the same again. As I considered the way the family felt--the mother who lost her child, the boy who lost his older brother, my heart stopped beating. I couldn't imagine the way it would feel to lose my brother. Sure, we fight. And I tell him I hate him and want to kill him all the time, but that's simply not true. I love him. I can't imagine a life without him--and I even knew a life without him. Kiefer's brother was younger--he had never known a world without Kiefer in it.

And I guess that's part of why I'm having such a hard time. Because I would never want to know that feeling, to know a world with my brother no longer in it. I tell him he's not allowed to "bat out of order" all of the time--usually I mean he's not allowed to get married or have kids before I do. My five extra years of life should give me some sort of batting order bump. But it also goes for dying--he's not allowed to die first. I'm older, it should be my turn first. It's selfish, I know, but I don't want to experience that grief.

The other part of the difficulty is the fact that he was just a boy. If the rumors are true, and he did cause his own death (whether by accident or intent), it still isn't fair. He was just a boy. Mistakes made as a child shouldn't be that bad. Children should get a chance to try again. Children should get a Mulligan. Children shouldn't know what it's like to bury one of their own. Children aren't cognitively able to handle themselves--if he did have an accidental hand in it, he probably didn't realize the gravity of what he was getting himself into. If he had an intentional hand in it, he certainly didn't realize the fact that it gets better. Life isn't the same as it was at 17, I promise. His friends, they aren't ready to deal with this grief. The parts of our brains that process these decisions and these consequences, they aren't even done developing until we're in our mid-20s. He was just a boy, and I would do anything to be able to give him a second chance at becoming a man.

So, no, I no longer believe that there's a reason for everything. Sometimes, these things just happen. All we can do is hope that God keeps His promise, and that somehow, he can make it all turn out ok, even if I can't see how it's possible.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Figuring out life

So, dear readers, it has recently come to my attention that I am now a grownup. I know. It's ridiculous, right? Supposedly, my advanced age and the fact that I've now graduated from college and own a car and a smart phone and stuff qualifies me as a grownup. I have also been made aware that grownups do things like have their own cell phone plans and own insurance plans and will summarily be booted from their parents' plans as soon as they expire. Unfortunately, I have no grownup feelings. I don't know how to be one. But that is not important. What is important is that I don't have a choice in the matter. Sucks, right?

And all of this piles on at a time when I feel most adrift. My parents say it's because I'm in between the types of goals that I've been striving for my whole life. I say it's because I have nothing significant going on in my life at the moment. So I'm going to steal Pants' idea and do some adventuring. Because I am a very adventuresome person (ish). Ideas to include:

-Paintballing with the little brother (because you gotta try it once in your life, right?)

-Road trip (or, yanno, flight) to the beach (especially likely if I get pulled off the waitlist and accepted into GeographicallyDesirableU)
 (Again, who can blame the family and friends for wanting me to end up here? I can't.)

-Figuring out the finer points of my new camera 
-Learning how to cook yummy things that are easy and will make good leftovers so I can not eat out for every meal in grad school (ideas and recipes are requested.)
-Other ideas as they arise. I think I may adopt the Yes Man approach to life and start saying yes to everything I'm invited to. Throw caution to the wind, right?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Imposter Syndrome

Psychologists have identified this thing where people (usually capable ones) get this feeling like they’re fooling everyone else into thinking they’re actually capable of what they’re doing, even though they don’t actually think they are. They live in constant fear that someone will discover their “secret” and expose them for the “fraud” that they are. If I have learned anything from this weekend it’s that I definitely feel that way. Sure, I can talk about a dozen different articles, and I can relate everything back to something else, but that doesn’t mean that I actually feel like I know enough of anything to be… considered competent. And everyone is always telling me how much it stands out that I have conference presentations and that I’ve read these articles and that I seem to understand stuff and can talk about things intelligently, but I dunno, I don’t feel that way. I feel like words just sort of spill out of my mouth and I don’t really know what I’m saying. I mean, in the seminar I sat in on, we were discussing tragic and taboo tradeoffs (sacrificing one moral value for another and sacrificing a moral value for a monetary or other secular incentive, respectively) and how in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it’s been shown that both sides would be willing to make sacrifices, if the other one would, too, and all that was running through my head was the words to a Taylor Swift song (because in my mind, it said it in a much simpler way than the GRE vocab that everyone was using): And I would lay my armor down/if you say you would rather love than fight. It’s not necessarily that they want to keep fighting, or that they hate each other as much as it seems. I think both sides want peace. I think it’s exhausting to have that much hate and fear and violence and extremism in your beliefs all of the time; but I also think that both sides will be damned if they’re the first ones to call truce. And they sure as hell won’t go without sacrifices from the other side. And I know that grad students and professors are supposed to use big words and have these huge existential conversations about stuff, but it’s just so much simpler to quote Taylor Swift. And I feel like until I’m more inclined to use big words and have huge existential conversations instead of quoting Taylor Swift, I have no business trying to be someone who claims to know their stuff. But I love this. I had a great time in that seminar. I want to go again next week. Here’s to hoping they don’t figure out my secret.

P.S. They took us to this great restaurant that had great pear cider. Seriously delicious. Like new drink of choice delicious, even though it was $6.50 for a pint on tap. ON TAP!