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.