Monday, May 27, 2013

Week 21: May 20th-26th...any day now

I was going to start out with how it is "that time of year" when everything piles up and I feel like I might explode...but then I realized, when is it NOT that time for me?  We're nearing the end of the quarter so it feels more so than usual, especially since I'm supposed to somehow have a 1st draft of my dissertation proposal by 6/14 and let me just say, I am definitely no where near close to having that (it's about a 40-50 page proposal of which I have maybe about 5 pages written). Add that to everything else that is going on plus trying to be somewhat excited about a trip to Hawaii that we're planning, having to worry about moving in July, and trying to not completely dread this birthday I've got coming this week. I could really use some major stress relief. Any day now.

My 5 things:

1. Went running. Unfortunately, only once...again. I went on Tuesday, and actually had to stop partway through it because of my injury. It started hurting pretty severely at just under a mile and a half. I decided not to push it and the whole rest of the day I was in pain. This pain continued (although dulled) over the next few days which lead to my pathetic running count of 1 for the week.

2. I actually wrote in here, not just on my usual Monday update. It is rare I find the combination of time/energy/motivation to sit down and compile my thoughts into print but when the planets align, it really is a wonderful outlet. There is always so much spinning around in my head and when I'm able to release an ounce of it here or there it makes a world of difference.

3. I baked cookies on Saturday for a BBQ I was attending on Sunday. I made my now-becoming-a-staple peanut butter cookies. I ran into a problem when I realized I was stuck at home without a vehicle and didn't have an eggs. Thankfully, I was able to get creative and utilized a substitute that, while it sounds disgusting, turned out to work pretty well. I only needed one egg, and a couple tbsp of mayonnaise did the trick just fine. They were a big hit with everyone, until I told J the magic ingredient and then he decided they were "gross".

4. Saturday evening my friend Rob who was down in the area for business came over to our side of the bay to get some drinks in early celebration for my birthday. Rob, J and I went to Alameda to a bar and got some drinks and toasted to me turning yet another year older. Thankfully, Rob is turning 30 this year so I didn't feel so old. I drank too much, which rarely happens and I didn't have to drive, which also rarely happens (and is likely why the 1st thing is a rarity).

5. Sunday, in all my hungover glory, we went to a BBQ at Rob's sister's house. There was tons of delicious food to which I made sure to eat any and everything available to me. I'm not sure why, but when I'm hungover it is like I am unable to get full. I just want to eat all day I did. It was nice to be outside in the sun, eating wonderful food. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Where we've been and where we're going

As I'm quickly coming upon the birthday that will bring me into the last year of my 20's, I have a number of things going through my mind. It's so easy to focus on what all we haven't done, how much time has gone by and all the opportunities that we've missed out on or have passed by and can no longer have or do.
Living in the world we do with such a focus on youth and beauty I already feel washed up and like a has-been before I've even turned 30.

Yesterday my best friend tells me that the doctors said she may have something I've only ever heard of in those commercials with wrinkly people with white hair who move slow. Some form of arthritis which I had to google in order to know what it was.

The grey hair started years ago, along with the traces of the years on my face. This is only going to continue. There is no turning back, youth leaves us a little bit more each day. I'll never be that 16 year old that could eat an entire marionberry pie in a day (that's 3,000 calories for the whole pie, by the way) followed by gallons of Mountain Dew and king sized Reese's the next day and still weigh 125lbs. Although, just the thought of all that sugar is actually making me a little nauseous. I've already noticed the impact of a life of 9 hours parked in a chair in an office and 2 hours a day sedentary as I commute. The disheartening thing, is that it only gets more difficult from here. I'm not 16 anymore and when I'm 40, I'll wish it were as simple as it was at 28 (despite how much I'm complaining now).

Today I was reading something my old English teacher wrote. She mentioned something about how she taught high school for the 1st 10 years of her career. I started thinking. When I sat in her class at the age of 15, I had no idea that this woman hadn't been teaching her entire life (when you're 15, everyone over 18 seems like they're 40...turns out she was only in her late 20's!) or that she wouldn't be doing that for the rest of her career. To me, she was a teacher. That's it. That is what she did. Looking back, I see that although she spent 10 years doing that, 10 years is not your entire career. She's expanding her career and doing more than what she was doing at 28. Granted, I'm much further behind than that. I'm not into my career yet, but I am working in my field. Right now it feels like grad school is taking forever and a life time. I'm putting so much on hold in order to be doing this right now. But when I'm in my 40's, will this 5 years really seem like a lifetime or will it feel, as with most things, that it was merely a blink of an eye. I keep getting so bogged down about decisions I've had to make recently and what doors they've closed for me...and maybe for the first 10 years of my career, those doors will have to remain shut. But what is to stop me from figuring out a way to spend the following 10 doing what I set out to do? Or expanding to include some of the things I am hoping I'll get to do someday. There are a lot of politics in my field, that will make it impossible for me to do what I really want right out of graduate school, and maybe I've been looking at this all wrong. I took that as "you'll never work in the area you want because you didn't get your foot in the door in graduate school". All it really means, is I won't get to work in my area of interest for awhile. Maybe for 5 or 10 years. Maybe 15. But who is to say it will never happen? As my former teacher modeled: even if you spend 10 years working in one area of your field, it does not define your career. You can shift, you can expand, you can go in another direction if you so choose and are willing to take the steps necessary. Maybe I need those 10 or 15 years working in different areas in order to be ready for the work I want to do.

Today marks my mother's 1st day of retirement. Talk about a woman who has lived a million life times and isn't even 65. I think that is, in part, what sparked me thinking about all of this. I didn't know my mom when she was 28 (I wasn't born for another 5 years) but I'm sure the plans she had for herself, with 4 children and on her 3rd marriage, were not the same plans she had when she was 40 with 6 children and working full time. Regardless of where her 28 year old self thought she'd be when she reached her 40's, life had its own plan. Now in her 60's, she embarking on a new chapter. All her children are grown, she's no longer tied to a job where she has to be somewhere and on someone's time-clock. She's starting something completely new that she's never done before. Even with all that life behind her, she's got (hopefully) many, many years ahead of herself.

We can spend all our time mourning what we don't have and what we've missed out on, or we can open our eyes and realize all that we have in front of us...right now.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Week 20: May 14th-19th 2013. The waiting is over.

My 5 things:

  1. Went running. Only once, it was a post-Vegas run over the weekend and it was necessary. My running was on a role there. I do believe that was positively correlated with my stress level leading up to Orals. Then Vegas happened. So, it is just a matter of getting back to 3 times a week. I'm happy with 3 times a week.

  2. I actually let myself take a nap. That is rare in recent years, and I usually try to fight the urge but I was just exhausted and I allowed myself to sleep, despite not having been as productive as I'd wanted to. Turns out I was able to wake up from the nap and give my kitchen a much needed cleaning, as well as the floors in the house. So it was definitely worth it. 

  3. I made the decision to stay here. J had a business trip up north Thursday-Sunday. I wanted to go, to be able to see family, to accompany him on the road but I knew I had so much work piling up and that I really couldn't afford to take more time off with all these deadlines looming. Instead, I stayed here and holed myself up at home. Aside from going to work on Friday, I didn't leave the house. I was able to get wquite a bit of school work/dissertation and research stuff done.

  4. Watched tons of silly movies/TV that I would never subject J to out of respect for his manhood. I'm talking dramas, romantic comedy, and amultiple episodes of an ABC family TV show. Bad stuff (but oh-so-good in that horrible way)

  5. In my Women's Group that I co-lead I utilized a new technique I've never done before, that is out of my usual realm of practices. I did a spin off of Gestalt's "empty chair" technique. It actually ended up being pretty effective, although not all patients participated to the fullest..which is expected in a group. Either way, I was proud of myself for reaching outside of my usual bag of tricks for last week's group.

After a weekend of consistently checking and rechecking my email for a message from my latest interview and watching as my phone didn't ring, Monday arrived and I was beginning to lose hope. "By the end of the week" she said. The interview took place on Thursday, so I assumed that meant Friday. When Friday came and went with nothing I assumed that perhaps meant some time over the weekend, surely by Sunday (that is, in fact, the end of the week). Sunday then came and went and Monday had arrived with not even a peep. Thankfully J came come after a weekend up north late Sunday evening so my attention was focused mostly on him. Monday morning I got up much earlier than him, had my coffee and read some research articles for my Forensics class. After a hearty breakfast of banana-oatmeal pancakes and strawberries and a silent phone, I spent the rest the morning catching up with J and hearing about his trip before he had to head to work. I checked my phone and out of no where, I had somehow missed a call and had a voicemail waiting. It was her, calling to offer me a practicum placement. FINALLY! After over a month of my hopes being hurled around on an emotional roller coaster of rejection I have a place that actually thinks I'm good enough. What a relief.
It's not what I want to be doing, it still working in substance it's actually really a killer to my future career hopes of being in Forensics field...or really any field outside of substance use. It's a residential setting for women and children (the women are in recovery). So, it's going to be an estrogen party for me on a daily basis. Oy! That's going to take some getting used to, especially since currently most my clients are male, my supervisor is male, and my clinic director is male. Soon I'll be surrounded by vaginas galore with little testosterone in sight. Should be... interesting.
 Choosing this site has closed a LOT of doors I am really not ready to close. It's actually going beyond closing them, it is flat out nailing the door shut with an extra large padlock and chains. That is going to take some mourning. I mean I can fight and fight until I'm blue in the face, but in the end I needed to make a decision: to hold onto an idea that had me drowning by myself in this ocean that was my dream , or to latch onto a lifeboat that would sail me away from that ocean and onto land where, although the safety is comforting, it won't ever make me feel the way that ocean did.
I suppose that's a common theme in life. Keep drowning for the possibility of something likely unattainable or get to safety and miss out on whatever it was I was risking my life for. The trouble is...knowing when to grab on or when to keep struggling.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Week 19: May 6th-13th Burned out and beat down...that's what Vegas does (and so does grad school, without any of the perks!)

This week's dates are a bit off, and I am a bit late on posting... BUT for good reason:
I was in VEGAS!! Such a monumental week: I passed my orals, it was J's 1st time to Vegas and our first "couples trip" with my best friend and her boyfriend. Oh, and I should also mention how my best friend got ENGAGED on the trip too! So happy I got to be a part of it: I was the photographer of the event :)
We drank, we ate, we tanned, we laughed, we adventured, we walked, we talked, we gambled, we indulged.

It was mighty difficult to adjust back to real life after such an exhausting, eventual trip. I don't have much brain power left either.
I had an interview of Monday with my top choice,but  they did not end up choosing me. I was pretty upset about it. In all honesty, I'm still pretty upset about it. It's left me feeling pretty discouraged. I have another interview tomorrow, which I actually think I have a pretty good shot is just that it's not doing what I want, at all. My professor has advised against staying in the field I'm currently in (I need a broader range) and as of now, the interview for tomorrow is still in the area of substance use.
I also got a verbal beat down yesterday from my advisor about my lack of progress on my dissertation.
Feeling pretty deflated at the moment. Man, grad school is so good at that.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Oral Comp Exam: PASSED!!!!!

I wanted to just take a second here, to commemorate this moment.
Today, I had my Oral Competency Exam at 9am PST.

It actually began a few minutes late, which was very fortunate since I arrived late. I left my house in Oakland at 7:30am thinking I was giving myself more than enough time to arrive by 8:45am. Joke's on me. Traffic was horrible, and to top it all off I had to pee so badly, it was actually quite painful that I had to pull off and find a bathroom (Target was my savior!)

I arrived at 9:01am, and no one even knew I didn't get there early. PHEW! Needless to say I was a bundle of nerves, shaky, feeling faint, out of breath, and sweaty (but really, aren't I always?)

The exam went about how I expected. Two faculty sitting across from me as I scribbled my notes on the Vignette before I had to begin speaking. I misspelled words that I've known how to spell for decades. When it came time to speak I made up some really interesting versions of words that I've never heard before all the while going completely blank on words I use on almost a daily basis in my field (ie: competent...ironic since I was taking a competency exam). I filled some of the silence with awkward ramblings and ill-received jokes.  I even quoted Forest Gump "and that's all I have to say about that" which also went unappreciated by my examiners.

Despite all my uncertainty, bad jokes, and ramblings I survived.
I had finished up my exam a little after 10am. I went down to the library to finish writing up an assessment report for a class (I'm still not even sure how I did school work after that!). I knew we would find out about the results via email sometime in the next couple of hours, so naturally I was refreshing my email every 5 minutes or so. at 10:55am I got the email stating: Congratulations! I didn't even read the rest of it before blurting out a loud "yeeaaaahhh I passed!!" while flailing my arms in the air right in the middle of the library. Luckily, there was a small crowd of my peers who were either waiting to take theirs or had just finished up that were there to receive my celebration and send congrats my way.

Holy mother of all that is wonderful, I still cannot believe I passed. I earned my M.S. in Clinical Psych and it is yet another hurdle I've now cleared. A BIG hurdle, one I can actually say that I feel proud of myself that I've accomplished. It's rare I actually feel like anything I do is a success, but this really does feel like one.
It was unfortunate that I had to go about my day, as though nothing was different. I still had to go to class, still had to go to Research Group, and drive an hour commute home. I suppose I did it all with my head a little higher though.

To put a cherry on my Tuesday, I got my midterm exam results back for my forensic assessment class: 97%. Today was about the most successful day I've ever had (although I'm not counting the part about backing into the iron fence in the Subway parking lot. Doh!)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Week 18: April 29th-May 5th: Worrying myself sick, literally

So typical. The minute I stop worrying about practicum interviews, I get offered two, BOTH while I'll be out of town. Ain't that a bitch?
One of the offers is from my number 1, top choice site from the initial round that didn't even offer me an interview before. It's working my my favor that it's late in the game so a lot of students have already accepted offers at other sites so there is a smaller, less competitive pool for them to choose from. Honestly, I'm fine with that because the thing is, I don't have any experience working with that population, so there is less of a reason to give me a chance. What I do have is motivation and charisma and when the pickins get slimmer, that is more likely to matter. The unfortunate thing, is that they're doing a group interview on the 13th (that they've invited me to) and when I spoke with the director on the phone, she said that if they don't find their placement on Monday that they may be able to meet me on Tuesday. Bummer. but there is also a site that wants to meet with me and is a little more flexible with time so I suppose if this one doesn't work out, the other one may.
But really, my main focus at this point is my Oral exam tomorrow. I go at 9am. There is a lot riding on this exam. It determines whether or not I get awarded my M.S., whether or not I can defend my proposal, and whether or not I will even be eligible to apply for internship. I know, I know, I can always retake it in a few months and there are other factors that may also prevent me from applying on time even if I did pass, but this exam is 3 years in the making. I've been dreading this exam since Fall 2010 when I entered into this program and I just want it to be over with already and not be drug out for another couple of months while I try to prepare all over again.
To top it all off: I'm getting sick. My body is so angry with me with all this stress and it just wants to give up. I worry that I'm going to spend my entire Vegas vacation sick. I'm trying my best to keep hydrated, to get as much sleep as my body will allow and loading up on EmergenC but despite all my best efforts, it's still creeping up on me. :/

Anyway, amidst all of that, here are my 5 things:

1. I went in an extra day to practicum to get more hours. Even though, with how chaotic things are right now with Orals and research deadlines, that was perhaps not the best decision, but it was only a half day anyway.

2. I went running three times. I finally feel like a runner again (well, I never really felt like a real one, I've always felt like a wanna-be) but I at least feel like a wanna-be runner again, and not just a total fake or failure.

3. I baked cookies yesterday and they were a big hit at the BBQ we went to.

4. I did another study session via Skype with a friend on Saturday. We went over materials for Orals from about 10am until 3pm with only a short break due to computer malfunctions. I'm really trying to get this Oral exam right the first time so as not to have to delay everything and take it again. Hopefully all this studying will pay off.

5. Yesterday was Cinco De Mayo and we went to a friend's house for a BBQ. It is a friend here, whose family has really been great and welcoming to me and J since we don't have family here so it's nice to be able to see them and spend some time with them. Plus there was some excellent food to enjoy :)